Why Is My Dog’s Breath So Bad? What’s Causing It?

If you were a kid growing up in the 90s or 80s, I’m sure you’ve heard the insult “dog breath” before, amiright? Come on, who hasn’t felt the stinging humiliation of someone insinuating that our own breath rivaled that of a street mongrel!

Hurtful playground talks aside, if your dog had bad breath, that could be a sign of something much more important than their self-esteem. While it doesn’t always lead to it, more often than not, chronic bad breath can be a sign of a medical issue.

Time to take Fido to the doggy dentist’s office and see what’s going on in there!

Is bad breath normal for dogs?

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “pfft, of course a dog’s breath smells bad! They eat the same dry kibble every day, and then go eat whatever gross edibles they can find in the yard!”

That is true. No Fido, no matter how well behaved they are, can resist the tasty morsel of a dead bird carcass they run across during the evening walk. But that’s not the bad breath in dog I want to address here with you guys.

The problem arises when the bad breath becomes chronic, which is medically referred to as halitosis.

A clear sign of this is that not only does the stinky odor come from Fido’s breath, but it lingers in whatever his little heart decides to lick, indicating that the saliva itself is also smelly. These are indicators that there may be a bigger issue at hand.

What causes halitosis?

There are 2 major factors that contribute bad breath in dogs:

  1. Gum Disease
  2. Dental health issues

The 2 are actually quite closely related, as the foul odor tends to come as a result of tartar and plaque buildup on their teeth. When all this goes wrong, it leaves your poor pup’s mouth vulnerable to periodontal disease.

When periodontal disease does set in, and the bacterium start to build up on the tartar and plaque covering on their teeth, you have what we in the vet business like to call “grandma sally’s best recipe for halitosis”

And by “we in the vet business” I mean just me. Cuz I just made it up now. As I wrote this..

The point still stands though! When the bacteria have that optimal environment for growth, the puppy’s gonna end up with a smelly breath.

Dogs with what is referred to as brachycephalic, or rounder skulls with shorters muzzles(example breeds being pugs, bulldogs, and bullmastiffs), are particularly vulnerable to this, as their smaller jaws are harder to clean, and therefore make unfortunately ideal growing grounds for bacteria.

How can I avoid bad puppy breath?

The steps to avoid this, ya’ll be happy to know, is very simple!

  1. Get regular checkups and dental
    • Seriously, a yearly checkup and dental cleaning will do you wonders
    • They’ll be able to clean out what regular brushing can’t!
  2. Give your dog a sturdy chew toy to chomp on
    • You give them this, and as they chew away and have fun, they’ll also be unintentionally cleaning their teeth! Win-win
    • Just make sure to get properly sized one, to avoid choking hazards
  3. Select a high-quality dry food
    • Wet food can be given, but just as a treat, as the moisture in them can be detrimental to dental health
  4. Provide your pup with healthy dental chews
    • There are a myriad of products out there that serve as both treats AND dental cleaners.
    • Just off the top of my head are: dentastix and greenies

This is what the company’s statement for greenies is, “GREENIES Dental Treats for Dogs feature a unique texture that’s enjoyable to chew and designed to clean all the way down to the gumline.

One GREENIES Dental Chew each day is all it takes for your dog to enjoy clean teeth, fresh breath and tail-wagging flavor.

Your dog will fall head over tails for GREENIES Dental Treats and you will like that they clean their mouth from top to bottom –– or your money back!”

6. Brush your dog’s teeth!

  • Make this a routine as it’s a routine for you!
  • You’ll get the added bonus of Fido being used to having his teeth examined.

Of all the health aspects to maintain, dental health is probably the easiest and the most passive one you can successfully maintain. Just have the doc look at ‘em and give them a nice hard chew toy. Keep it simple, keep it clean.

Usually most of your dog’s bad breath problems can be solved easily with some chewables like the two that I mentioned above, but there are times where the bad breath can come from the food that they eat. If that’s the case, then you might want to switch the foods around.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this article. It was short, but straight-forward. Dont forget to check out our other articles!


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