Most dog owners have had the experience. Your darling pet knows something exciting is about to happen, and starts running round, panting in anticipation. Then, without warning, he pants full blast in your face, treating you to a lungful of evil-smelling fumes. Or worse, he jumps up at a not-too-keen-on-dogs guest and confirms them once and for all in their resolution never ever to share space with a dog.
Some dog-owners treat living with bad, smelly breath as an unavoidable fact of life, especially as the hound gets older. But doggy breath is always caused by something—in most cases it is treatable or preventable, and in some cases it is symptomatic of an underlying problem that needs treatment.
The first thing to look for, if your pooch develops antisocial breath, is what she has been eating. Some dogs are very partial to feces, to sampling a long-dead rodent, or to stealing from the cat’s bowl. But even without such exotic treats, there are plenty of dietary elements in the breath smell.
Some canned foods, oily foods, or large quantities of raw meat, can be the culprits, so you should begin by checking your dog’s habits and looking again at how you feed her, perhaps moving to higher quality food.
Plaque, Tartar, and Gum Disease
Bad smells are often caused by bacterial activity in the mouth. This bacterial build-up accompanies plaque and tartar on the teeth. Constant snacking can speed up the formation of plaque in the mouth, so try to encourage him to eat his meals properly and not leave some for later. Bones and formulated chew toys can do much to help keep teeth clean. A visit to your veterinarian for professional cleaning should be carried out on an annual basis.
Pieces of food can get stuck in the mouth, and you may need to look carefully for these. If lodged between the gums and the teeth, particles of food can develop into gum disease. There is a real possibility that gum disease can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream and have serious consequences for your dog’s health, being linked to a risk of heart disease.
A veterinary examination may also reveal an object stuck in the nasal cavities, which can give off unpleasant odors and may develop into infection.
Symptoms of Another Problem?
Sometimes a bad breath problem can be a symptom of a more serious issue that needs to be investigated. A bad breath smell can be associated with diabetes, kidney or liver problems. So if you cannot see an obvious cause for the problem, or if there are other symptoms or variations in his normal behavior, it is important to get your pet checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Of course it will be easier to identify potentially serious illness if you already have a proper regime for your pet’s dental health. So there is much to be said for a careful program started from an early age.