Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell so Bad?

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Many dogs love to cuddle, but what do you do if being near your dog almost knocks you out?

There are many reasons why your dog may be experiencing halitosis or bad breath. Most often, it is caused by odorous bacteria build up in your dog's mouth or intestinal tract. In this article, we'll go over some of the most common causes of halitosis in your dog and what can be done to treat it.

Dental or Gum Disease

Proper dental health is much more important for your pet's health than most pet parents realize. Among other things, infection in your dog's gums can be a cause of bad breath. Additionally, plaque buildup and tooth decay can also lead to halitosis.

Try lifting up your dog's lips to look at his gums and see if they are red and inflamed, or if his teeth have significant plaque buildup. If so, it may be time to schedule a checkup or cleaning with your vet so they can determine the extent of the issue.

Regular cleaning at home is the best prevention for gum disease and plaque buildup in your dog.

Kidney Disease

Your dog's kidneys are responsible for removing waste products in his bloodstream. However, if the kidneys aren't functioning like they should, these waste products can build up and cause bad breath in affected dogs, among other problems.

One of the telltale signs of kidney malfunctions is if your dog's bad breath smells like ammonia or urine. This can be indicative of a serious problem that needs to be looked at by your vet immediately.

Diabetes

Dogs with early diabetes and dogs that have been diagnosed with diabetes but have it well-regulated don't typically have an abnormal odor to their breath. But if the disease is allowed to rage uncontrolled causing the dog's blood sugar to remain elevated for a period of time, a situation known as diabetic ketoacidosis occurs. This is a life-threatening condition and must be treated immediately, or the patient will likely die.

In ketoacidosis, levels of a metabolic by-product known as ketones rise dramatically. This causes the breath to smell sweet – many have compared it to the smell of acetone nail polish remover. If you notice this smell on your dog's breath, he needs emergency care at once in order to treat this serious condition.

Foreign objects stuck in the mouth

Sometimes when dogs chew on sticks, bones or other foreign objects, a piece can get lodged up in their gums or mouth somewhere. If left unattended, that piece can irritate the flesh around it and become infected, causing your dog to have bad breath. If you notice bad breath coming from your dog, check inside his mouth for any objects that may have gotten stuck in there. And always discourage stick-chewing, before it becomes a habit

Oral Tumors

When a tumor is growing inside your dog's mouth, the tumor growth is often faster than the blood vessels can keep up with. This causes dead areas around the tumor. These dead areas are then taken over by bacteria, giving your dog bad breath. If your dog has halitosis, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get the inside of his mouth thoroughly checked for any abnormal growths.

Diet

Sometimes even your dog's food will cause bad breath. Both wet and dry food can cause halitosis. If you think it's the food you're feeding that is causing the halitosis problem in your dog, work with your vet to find another solution that will work well for your dog's specific dietary needs.

Gastrointestinal Disease

If your dog has a disease bothering his stomach or intestinal system, this can lead to an imbalance in the intestinal bacteria population, and subsequently cause bad breath. This is a less common cause of halitosis, but if in addition to halitosis your dog starts to show signs of intestinal upset like loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, take him to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.

Written by PetCoach Editorial September 12, 2018
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