What causes bad breath in dogs?
The most common causes of bad breath in dogs are poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease. Teeth get a covering of plaque and tartar if not kept clean. This allows bacteria to develop which cause bad breath. If this is not removed, the gums become red and inflamed and start to be pushed away from the teeth. More space is created for bacteria to attack, leading to cavities, infections, tissue destruction and tooth loss. Pus pockets can form, and the dog’s breath will be very, very bad. Smaller dogs seem to be more prone to these problems, as their teeth are smaller and close together, and can have a higher build-up of plaque and tartar.
Bad breath may follow the dog eating something nasty. This could be a rubbish bin raid, dead animal or faeces. Particularly adept at causing bad breath when eaten are the faeces of cats and dogs – from another dog or even their own. This is coprophagia and is something many dog owners battle at some point with their dogs. Other problem items a dog can eat include unsuitable bones and sticks, which can lodge in the mouth or teeth. Some toxic substances like antifreeze or rodenticides can give a noticeable taint to breath if consumed. If you are unsure what your dog may have eaten, a vet visit is the safest option.
A number of serious diseases can have bad breath as a symptom, which is why a vet should examine a dog with bad breath but no obvious cause. Among the issues bad breath can herald are diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. All of these very serious conditions require veterinary treatment.
Also requiring urgent treatment if the cause of dog bad breath, cancer can occur as oral tumours. These often grow too fast for blood vessels to keep up, meaning areas of tissue die. These dead areas provide a home for bacteria, causing a foul odour. Any unusual lumps and bumps in the mouth need checking by a vet.
The food a dog eats can affect their breath. Different food types have varying pros and cons when it comes to keeping mouths and teeth healthy. Poor quality foods can also have a detrimental effect on the dog's general health, which can lead to problems. If food is not digested properly, bad breath can occur.