Say Goodbye to Doggy Breath

Normal, healthy dogs have minimal breath odor, and foul breath can indicate a problem. Doggy breath has a few different causes, but the most likely and prevalent of these is dental disease (i.e., periodontal disease). Our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team wants to help dog owners understand dental disease and other potential bad breath causes.

Potential doggy breath causes

Most dogs with bad breath have a dental problem. However, other problems or health conditions can result in abnormal breath odor, including the following:

  • Puppy teething — When puppies lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth erupt, a characteristic coppery-smelling puppy breath results.
  • Eating something unpleasant — If your dog eats smelly food or nonfood items (e.g., feces), their breath can temporarily have a foul odor.
  • Acid reflux or upset stomach — Chronic upset stomach can produce an acidic, vomit-like breath odor, often in conjunction with frequent burping or regurgitation.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes — Diabetes causes dogs’ bodies to break down fat into ketones, which produce a sweet breath odor.
  • Kidney disease — These kidneys filter blood, and if they are not functioning properly, can lead to toxin buildup that creates an ammonia breath odor.

Dental disease in dogs

Periodontal disease (i.e., gum disease) is the most common reason for bad breath in dogs. Bad breath’s causes include periodontal disease and other dental health issues:

  • Periodontal disease — Of 2-year-old dogs, 80% have periodontal disease signs, which are fueled by plaque and bacteria biofilm on their teeth. Oral bacteria irritate the gums (i.e., gingivitis), and eventually cause deeper inflammation and tissue, bone, and tooth damage (i.e., periodontitis). Periodontal disease will result in slow, painful tooth loss over months to years.
  • Complicated tooth fracture — Dogs, especially aggressive chewers, commonly experience fractured teeth. If the fracture exposes the sensitive inner tooth pulp, bacteria can enter and create a tooth root infection or abscess.
  • Gingival hyperplasia — Boxers most frequently experience overgrown gum tissue, but any dog can develop this issue. The extra gum tissue traps bacteria and can perpetuate gingivitis and periodontal disease.
  • Oral masses — Oral tumors can ulcerate and become infected.

Diagnosing your dog’s bad breath

Schedule a visit with our veterinarian if your dog’s breath has become stinky. If your dog’s breath hasn’t changed, they may still have dental disease if they exhibit these other signs:

  • Drooling
  • Dropping food
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Red, bleeding gums
  • Yellow or brown plaque on the teeth

Our veterinary team can often identify dental disease during your dog’s physical examination, but we may order blood and urine tests for your furry pal if dental disease is not obvious. If those tests are normal, dental disease may still be to blame, since 28% of dogs with healthy-looking teeth actually have an undetected dental abnormality below the gumline, which we can only diagnose by taking intraoral X-rays.

Treating your dog’s bad breath

A professional pet dental cleaning performed while your pet is under anesthesia is the definitive dental disease treatment. During this procedure, our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team will clean and polish your dog’s teeth, take X-rays, examine their mouth thoroughly, and perform extractions or other treatments as needed. Dental cleanings are highly effective for treating current oral disease and preventing the disease’s progression to nearby teeth and jawbone structures. 

Untreated dental disease can lead to your dog’s long-term pain and suffering. If you forgo your dog’s oral health care, they can experience the following complications:

  • Jaw fractures
  • Eye problems
  • Bacterial blood infection
  • Nasal and sinus problems
  • Oral cancer

If an underlying disease is causing your dog’s bad breath, treatment will focus on the primary disease. If kidney or liver disease, or diabetes, is to blame, our veterinarian may prescribe a specialized diet and medication regimen. Some pets have dental disease in addition to their underlying health condition, and may require professional dental treatments—but only after their primary disease process is treated and stabilized.

Preventing your dog’s bad breath

Dental disease prevention strategies are best started when your dog is young, or a few weeks after a professional cleaning so their mouth is a pain-free clean slate. Effective dental disease prevention includes:

  • Daily toothbrushing — This is the most effective strategy to remove plaque before the sticky substance can progress to gum disease. Try this low-stress toothbrushing method to get started.
  • Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved dental health products — In addition to toothbrushing, or if your dog refuses to tolerate the routine, these dental products can help remove plaque.
  • Regular professional teeth cleanings — Your veterinarian can recommend the best schedule for your dog’s age, breed, health status, and individual needs.

Other diseases causing a dog’s bad breath may not be preventable, but you can increase treatment success through early detection by scheduling your dog’s annual or twice yearly veterinary wellness visits. To help ensure your dog’s optimum health, feed them a healthy diet, provide them with daily exercise, and help them maintain a lean weight. 

Doggy breath is not normal, but we can help diagnose the cause for the foul odor emitting from your furry pal’s mouth. If your pet has bad breath, other dental disease signs, or any concerning health changes, schedule a consultation with our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team.

By |2024-02-15T00:00:14+00:00May 1st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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