Ask the Vet: Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

Ask the Vet: Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

English Bulldog Yawning
Most dog owners love a good hug or lick from their furry friends. But getting so close can also mean the occasional whiff of your dog’s breath — and that can send you reeling.

Dogs notoriously have bad breath, but what exactly causes it? Our vets explore this question and its answer below.

Why do dogs have bad breath?

For most dogs with bad breath, a buildup of plaque and tartar is the root cause. Food particles lodged in the teeth can become odorous themselves or lead to an infected or abscessed tooth or periodontal disease — all of which can contribute to a foul smell. In some rare cases, an underlying health issue may also lead to bad breath as a symptom.

What underlying health issues are associated with bad breath in dogs?

Bad breath may be a sign of certain systemic illnesses in dogs — for example:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease


What additional symptoms should you be on the lookout for?

This depends on the cause of the bad breath. However, if you notice bad breath in conjunction with increased thirst, pawing at the mouth, a reluctance to eat, or eating on just one side of the mouth, contact your veterinarian.

What should you do if you’re concerned about bad breath in your dog?

Most of the time, bad breath is a sign of tartar buildup, in which case you should certainly begin brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. Dog dental cleaning appointments can also help, and certain dog treats designed to treat tartar buildup and bad breath are good too.

If brushing is not helping your dog’s breath or other symptoms are giving you cause for concern, make a regular appointment at Sunset Veterinary Clinic today. Any change in breath or eating/drinking behavior should be investigated by a veterinarian.

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