Dealing with Bad Breath in Dogs

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Nothing is worse than cuddling up to your furry best friend just to be hit with a wave of odor. Bad breath is dogs is so common that there is even a name for it – dog breath. What many pet owners do not realize is that this problem is completely treatable. Your dog doesn’t need to have bad breath, nor should he, and there are many ways to prevent it.

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Causes of Bad Breath

The clinical name for bad breath is halitosis and it is a problem that can affect dogs just as much (or more than) humans. For humans, bad breath can easily be handled with a dental cleaning or something as simple as brushing your teeth. Your dog, however, cannot brush his own teeth and many dog owners simply do not consider dental care as something they need to do. Bad breath in dogs is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, the lungs, or the digestive tract. In many cases, bad breath simply means that your dog needs a dental cleaning but, in some cases, it can point toward a larger issue such as a problem with the kidneys, liver, or intestinal tract.

All dogs are prone to developing bad breath without proper dental care. There are some breeds, however, that are especially at risk – especially small breeds like Chihuahuas. In most cases, bad breath in dogs results from gum disease which is caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar. In order to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s bad breath, you should consult your veterinarian. Your vet will perform a routine exam, including a dental exam, to identify the cause of your dog’s bad breath.

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs

Treatments for bad breath in dogs vary depending on the cause of the problem. If an accumulation of plaque or tartar is the culprit, giving your dog’s teeth a good cleaning may be enough to solve the problem. It is also possible for your dog’s diet to cause bad breath, in which case you may need to switch to another formula. In general, solid commercial diets (often referred to as kibble) is better for cleaning your dog’s teeth and preventing plaque buildup than canned items. If your dog’s bad breath is caused by an underlying condition, your veterinarian will be able to determine the proper course of treatment.

Tips for Preventing Bad Breath

Though brushing your dog’s teeth probably doesn’t sound like a pleasant task, it is the best way to prevent bad breath and other dental problems. In an ideal situation, you would brush your dog’s teeth every day using a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dogs. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth every day, try to get around to it a few times a week at the very least. Making sure your dog’s diet is healthy and easy to digest is another easy way to prevent bad breath – you may even want to switch to treats that are formulated to help prevent mouth odor. Another simple way to combat bad breath in dogs is to give your dog hard chew toys like rawhide bones that will help to clean plaque off his teeth as he chews it.

Bad breath is a very common problem in dogs and many dog owners do not realize that it is completely treatable. In addition to taking your dog in for regular checkups and dental cleanings, you should try to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis and provide him with safe, hard chew toys to help minimize plaque buildup.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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