I don’t know about everyone else, but I love kisses from my pups. However, canine bad breath is not something you want to get up close and personal with. If the dog’s breath is unbearable, it’s time for a visit to the vet.
Dogs should get a dental cleaning by a veterinarian at least once a year. Just like people, dogs need regular professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing alone cannot remove.
Chronic bad breath may also indicate a bigger health problem. Most often, a dog’s bad breath is caused by dental or gum disease, and small dogs are especially prone to plaque and tartar. However, ongoing bad breath can indicate medical problems in a pet’s mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or organs.
Tips to combat canine bad breath:
- HAVE A VET examine teeth at regular checkups to make sure there are no underlying medical issues that may be the culprit.
- FEED A HIGH-QUALITY, easy-to-digest food.
- BRUSH TEETH often with toothpaste that is specially formulated for canines. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste can be found in the dental section of most pet stores.
- PROVIDE HARD, safe chew toys that allow the dog’s teeth to be cleaned by the natural process of chewing.
- GET ANNUAL dental cleanings.
What happens during a dental cleaning?
When my dogs go in for their annual professional teeth cleanings, my vet runs blood work beforehand to make sure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, because it is necessary for the procedure. While people can open up and say “Ahh,” dogs are not going to stay still for a cleaning. A canine dental is a same-day procedure, so pets are usually dropped off in the morning and picked up at the end of the day.
During the procedure, the teeth will be cleaned and polished with professional equipment that removes tartar and plaque and smooths the surface of the teeth.
Once the cleaning is complete, the pet will be carefully brought out of anesthesia, and after several hours of recovery, he will be released to go home. Antibiotics and/or pain medications may be needed post-procedure depending on the extent of disease or buildup and if any teeth needed to be extracted during the cleaning. Instructions will be sent home for post-dental cleaning care, and most pets will need to be on soft food for a few days.
If a dog’s breath suddenly takes on an unusual odor, search his mouth for any foreign objects or growths. Bad breath can sometimes be caused by a piece of food that has gotten stuck or even a tumor growth. If there are any growths detected inside the dog’s mouth, have him examined by a vet immediately.
Symptoms that signal medical problems that need immediate attention:
- Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if a dog has been drinking water and urinating more frequently than usual.
- Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
- An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite or yellow-tinged corneas or gums could signal a liver problem.
Dental care is very important to the overall health of our pets. If the dog’s breath is less than fresh and the dental sticks just aren’t cutting it, it’s time to go in for a checkup to rule out any serious medical issues.