Bad breath in dogs is a common occurrence, but can be a sign of health issues. Today, our White Settlement vets explain what might be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help to treat and prevent it.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

Our dogs can have a bit of bad breath, which is why the term "dog breath" refers to something that smells a little off-putting. While it's perfectly normal for your dog to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys, and just generally living their lives, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest dog 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. So, why do dogs have bad breath? There are several different possible causes, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.

Oral Health Issues

This is the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. Oral health issues is an umbrella term that includes health issues ranging from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the precise cause, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your dog’s mouth if not regularly cleaned away, creating plaque and a persistent smell. 

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 wellbeing will continue to decline. 

To ensure your dog's bad breath is not due to poor oral hygiene, take care of your pet's oral health and take them to the vet for regular professional dental cleanings.

Kidney Disease

If your dog’s bad breath smells like feces or urine, it can be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is a whole other issue), but may also be a symptom of kidney issues. 

If your dog's kidneys aren't working properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, the buildup in your dog’s body may be contributing to the bad smell of their breath. This is on top of harming your dog's health! 

Liver Disease

If your dog has recently developed really bad breath, and their new scent is accompanied by symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, they may have a liver disease as the root cause of their symptoms. 

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs

The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they 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 several causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues. 

Treatments at your veterinarian’s office can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgeries. But this will depend on what part of their body it affects and its severity. Your veterinarian should be able to give you advice on what the best course of treatment is for the health issue underlying your dog’s bad breath. 

Home Treatment for Stinky Dog 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 us are actually quite toxic for our pets. Make sure you know the kinds of substances you have in your house that could cause organ disease or failure in your dog. Keep them out of reach as much 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 your dog's breath getting increasingly worse? Contact our White Settlement vets to book an examination for your pup.