Vet Sarah Aldridge explains causes of bad dog breath and when to be concerned

February 7, 2024

Northamptonshire dog owners are no strangers to the unique scents that come with pet ownership, but one smell that often raises concern is bad dog breath. While it’s not uncommon for dogs to have occasional odorous breath, persistent bad breath, or halitosis, can indicate underlying health issues that require attention.

Our Vet Sarah Aldridge has put together the following article about the causes of bad dog breath, when it’s normal, and when it’s a sign of something more serious. Don’t forget that the nurses at Daventry Veterinary Clinic can demonstrate tooth brushing – call us on 01327 877767 to get booked in for a doggy dental demonstration!

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Normal causes of bad dog breath

Occasional bad breath in dogs is not unusual and can be attributed to factors like eating smelly foods, chewing on certain toys, or simply waking up from a nap. If your dog’s breath is only temporarily bad and improves after a short time, it’s likely nothing to worry about:

  • Diet: According to Sarah, the food your dog eats can have a significant impact on their breath. Some dog foods may contribute to stronger odours, whilst high-quality diets teamed with practising good dental hygiene can help minimise it.
  • Oral hygiene: Just like humans, dogs need proper dental care. Without it, plaque and tartar can build up, leading to bad breath. Regular brushing and dental check-ups at Daventry Vets are essential.
  • Chewing habits: Dogs often chew on various objects that can affect their breath. However, the action of chewing on dental toys and chews can help clean their teeth and stop bad breath.

Abnormal causes of bad dog breath

Persistent and extreme bad dog breath is not normal and is one of the signs of dental disease and some illnesses:

  • Dental disease: Persistent bad breath is often a sign of dental issues such as gum disease, periodontal disease, tooth decay, fractured teeth or infected gums. Sarah advises that these conditions can lead to chronic pain and health problems if left untreated.
  • Digestive problems: Sometimes, digestive issues can cause foul-smelling breath. Gastrointestinal problems or an upset stomach can result in odorous breath.
  • Oral infections: Infections in the mouth, throat, or respiratory system can lead to bad breath. These infections need prompt medical attention.
  • Underlying medical conditions: In some cases, bad breath can be a symptom of underlying medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or liver problems.
  • Oral Tumours: Sometimes bad breath is the first thing an owner notices when their dog has a tumour in it’s mouth.

Taking action

As with all dog health concerns, prevention is better than cure, and early intervention is always the best route as this will give your pet the best chance of a fast recovery. Sarah recommends that dog owners in Northamptonshire should take note of the advice below:

  1. Regular dental care: Establish a routine of brushing your dog’s teeth, just like humans daily brushing is advised to keep plaque at bay. Providing dental chews or toys designed to promote good oral health. You can have peace of mind the manufacturers have done their homework and their products really do work by choosing ones accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council Their list includes diets too.
  2. Diet: Feed your dog a balanced diet with dental-friendly options. Talk to our team for dietary recommendations.
  3. Veterinary check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with our team, including dental exams, to catch and address any potential issues early.
  4. Stay alert: Pay attention to changes in your dog’s breath. If it becomes consistently foul, contact us to book a dental check-up.
  5. Professional treatment: When necessary, our vets may recommend a professional dental to address any existing dental problems.

While some degree of bad dog breath is normal, persistent and foul-smelling breath should not be ignored. It’s often a sign of an underlying issue that requires attention. Regular dental care, a balanced diet, and vigilant observation of your dog’s health can help keep their breath fresh and their overall wellbeing in check.

Contact our vets at Daventry Veterinary Clinic on 01327 877767 to discuss your dog’s dental care and how you can help at home.

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