What Bad Breath Says About Your Dog’s Dental Health

We’ve all been there—that awkward moment when your dog goes to give you a kiss and you have to back away. Or those times when they’re panting in the car after a trip to the park and you have to roll all of the windows down to get the smell out. Dog lovers are no strangers to stinky breath, but what causes bad breath? Should you be worried if your dog’s breath smells unusually bad? 

Sometimes bad breath is a sign of an underlying health problem, gum disease, or dental trauma. Dr. Tony Woodward at Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery has over 20 years experience treating pets for dental issues big and small. Read on to learn more about what your dog’s bad breath says about their health. 

What Causes Bad Dog Breath?

There are many things that can lead to very stinky breath in dogs, from the type of food they eat to whatever garbage, dead animals, or feces they might find outside. However, there are several dental and health problems that can be accompanied by persistent, extreme bad breath (halitosis). 

Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

When humans go without brushing their teeth for long periods of time, their breath can get really stinky! The same thing happens to dogs—foul breath is most commonly caused by plaque, tartar, and bacteria buildup in your dog’s mouth. In many cases, there are deep defects in the bone where the bad-smelling bacteria can hide. These areas of damaged bone are termed “periodontal pockets”.

Daily brushing gets rid of odor-causing bacteria and helps to prevent periodontal disease. You should brush your dog’s teeth twice daily to maintain optimum oral health and prevent bad breath—it’s a win-win! It is easy to do in the vast majority of dogs and we are happy to show you how.

Diabetes and Kidney Disease

Some breath odors are due to problems other than dental disease. If you notice that your dog’s breath smells sweet or fruity, it could be a sign that they have canine diabetes. Make an appointment with your veterinarian, and keep an eye out for other signs of diabetes like more frequent drinking and urination. 

If your dog’s breath smells like urine, it could be a warning sign of kidney disease. Kidney disease is very serious and often fatal. If bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms of kidney disease, you should visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

How To Treat Bad Dog Breath

Treatment for your dog’s bad breath depends on the cause. In most cases, dental disease is the culprit and is first addressed with a complete dental cleaning and dental x-rays. Once any existing problems are corrected, regular home care will help prevent the recurrence of the smell.  This will include, brushing your dog’s teeth more often in order to kill those odor-causing bacteria by slowing down plaque and tartar buildup. There are also mouth rinses and other products that can dramatically improve your pet’s breath.

If your dog’s bad breath is caused by the things they eat outside, such as roadkill or feces, they may need stricter supervision. If the bad breath is caused by systemic disease, treating the disease appropriately should help resolve the issue. 

Do You Need a Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist in Bozeman?

If you’ve tried everything to get rid of your dog’s bad breath but it just won’t go away, come to Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery. We can help find the cause of your pup’s halitosis, so that you can get back to regular puppy kisses without the bad breath. Dr. Tony Woodward is on site at our Bozeman office four days a week. Give us a call to schedule your appointment today.