Do you find that you recoil from your pup when they come in for a cuddle or apologize to guests for the smell? Stinky dog breath is quite common in our canine companions — especially as they grow older — and can be a sign of serious health issues in your pooch. Here, our Glendale vets explain what might be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help to treat or even prevent it.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

There's a reason why 'dog breath' is such a common phrase when describing something unpleasant, and it's because our dogs frequently have bad breath. While it's normal for your pup to have some odor on their breath from eating, playing with toys, and just living their lives, this odor can sometimes develop into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.

And while you may be tempted to just grin and bear the smell, more often than not the stink in your dog's bad breath is actually a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. Why do dogs have bad breath? There are a number of different possibilities, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.

Kidney Disease

If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is something you should look into on its own) or a symptom of kidney issues. 

If your dog's kidneys aren't working properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, their buildup in the pup's body may be contributing to the bad smell of their breath, in addition to causing health problems!

Liver Disease

If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, they may be suffering from liver disease.

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, and they include everything from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the exact cause, bacteria and food debris accumulate in your dog's mouth over time if not regularly cleaned away, resulting in plaque and a persistent odor.

If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Although if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and well-being will continue to decline. 

How to treat bad breath in dogs?

The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment it will require. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.

That being said, whenever you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath you shouldn't assume its cause or that it is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since a number of causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues. 

Treatments at your veterinarian may include prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgery to help treat your pet's condition, depending on the part of their body affected and the severity of the condition. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for the underlying health issue causing your dog's bad breath.

What can I do to treat my dog's stinky breath?

While you aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, one way you can help to treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is ensuring your pup gets the routine oral hygiene care they need every day in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.

You should brush your dog's teeth every day, spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing.

Either in addition to this or if you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate brushing, instead of brushing, there are also a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.

Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.

When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take to help your pup avoid these causes of bad breath.

Some human medications, common houseplants, and foods that are safe for humans are extremely toxic to our pets. Make a list of any substances in your home that could cause organ disease or failure in your dog and keep them as far away from him as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed a change in the way your dog's breath smells? Are you finding you dread puppy kisses? Contact Limehouse Veterinary Clinic to book an appointment for your canine companion as soon as possible to have the cause of their bad breath diagnosed and treated.