Why Do Dogs Have Bad Breath?

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Dogs can have bad breath for several reasons. First, have you seen some of the things your dog puts in his mouth? Seriously, dogs eat some horrible stuff. Dogs may be carnivores by ancestry, but they are scavengers by nature and they are always checking things out and tasting anything they can find. How many times have you caught your dog eating something awful out of the trash?

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All kidding aside, while dogs have a great sense of smell, their taste buds are much less developed than yours. Humans have about six times as many taste buds as dogs. Dogs do not have a very sophisticated palate when it comes to food or other things they try to eat. Things have to have a strong flavor for your dog to be able to taste it and they can taste some flavors better than others. For instance, they don’t taste salt very well. This explains why your dog favors things that are rotting, or poop, or other things that would make you queasy. So, when your dog eats these very flavorful things, they can leave his breath smelling pretty bad.

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Dogs can also have bad breath if they have dental problems. Gum disease is common in mature dogs. If you have ever had a dog with a rotten tooth, then you probably know that your dog can have breath like a zombie. If you have a dog that suddenly loses interest in his food and he has very bad breath, it’s very possible that he has a bad tooth and it is painful for him to eat. Your dog needs to see the vet so he can have the bad tooth removed. This often happens with senior dogs, unfortunately. Owners sometimes believe that the elderly dog has lost interest in eating and living when, in fact, the poor dog just has a painful tooth and can’t eat. The dog should be fine as soon as he has the bad tooth removed. He’s not ready to die!

Younger dogs can also have problems with a cracked or broken tooth if they chew on rocks or other things they shouldn’t. Again, the telltale sign of a rotten tooth, regardless of the dog’s age, is horrible breath. Not just ordinary doggy breath but really awful breath. If you think your dog has a problem tooth, take him to the vet.

You can help your dog have better breath by giving him dental chews to freshen his breath and help prevent plaque and tartar. Many of these chews are made with mint to help your dog’s breath smell better. It also helps to keep your dog out of the trash and other places where he can get yucky things to eat. You can brush your dog’s teeth with a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste regularly. Or use a good dental spray for dogs. Have your vet check your dog’s teeth when you visit so you can make sure they are in good shape. Lots of dogs need to have their teeth professionally cleaned by their vet at some point in their life. You don’t have to see a specialist. This is something that your vet can do when your dog is under anesthesia. You can usually schedule a teeth cleaning if your dog has to be under anesthesia for another procedure.

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 Adoptashelter.com 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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