Bad Dog Breath

We’ve all been there — you’re lounging on the couch and your dog shoves their face into yours. Normally it’s an endearing gesture and merits lots of pets, but today it’s leaving you gagging. Why? Bad dog breath. It’s okay, we’ve been there too. Dogs have a habit of getting into things they shouldn’t, which can affect how much they smell. So if your dog has bad breath, here are some things you can do to fix it. 

Bad Dog Breath is Not Normal

The first thing that you should know is that bad dog breath is not normal. While your dog may have eaten something stinky or gotten into the garbage, it usually is a sign of an underlying oral condition.  Most lasting cases of doggy breath stem from periodontal disease, bacteria deposited in a film on the tooth — known as plaque — that develops into a mineralized layer of tartar.

Just like with humans, bacteria can accumulate in your dog’s mouth and cause gum, teeth, and other health problems if left unchecked. Long-term dental disease also can contribute to cardiovascular disease. By the time you can smell bad breath, periodontal disease has already started. 

So, what could bad breath be trying to tell you? 

  • Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if a dog has been drinking 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 and yellow-tinged corneas or gums could signal a liver problem
  • Sudden bad breath could be a sign of stuck food

If your dog’s breath has been noticeably awful lately and brushing their teeth doesn’t help, it could be time for a visit to the vet.

Genetics Play a Role in Dental Health

While any dog can potentially develop dental disease, certain breeds are particularly susceptible to mouth problems. 

Toy breeds like miniature Dachshunds, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pomeranians are commonly affected, as are longer-nosed breeds like Shelties and Collies. This is because smaller breeds tend to have teeth that are closer together, which promotes plaque and tartar build-up, so make sure you provide them with plenty of chew toys from a young age and brush their teeth regularly.

Choose Safe Dental Chews to Complement Brushing

You can complement regular teeth brushing with treats and toys that are good for your dog’s teeth. Water additives have anti-plaque ingredients and can help slow down redevelopment of bacteria on teeth. Many dog bones have ridges that are designed to “brush” away plaque and tartar while your dog is biting on them. These bones may cause bleeding when used in excess, so regulate how much your do guses them. 

We recommend avoiding rawhide chews, ribs, and soup bones, especially if your dog inhales their food. Some breeds don’t take the time to chew properly and swallow large, indigestible hunks. They can not only harm their stomach, but can break teeth too! We at Doggy Brace prefer bones like  Zuke’s Z-Bones if you want to use edible bones instead of toys. 

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth is the Best Fix

No matter what, you can’t avoid the obvious solution: brushing your dog’s teeth. We know this is such a hassle and most dogs hate it, but it can save you so much money in the long run, and save your dog from discomfort as they get older. After all, doggy dentures don’t really exist yet! 

You don’t have to start with 2 minutes a day. Start small, with only 15-30 seconds at first with a small pediatric or finger toothbrush. Gradually work up to 2 minutes if possible. Use positive reinforcement and make sure your dog associates their toothpaste with a treat. Just remember to only use toothpaste that is designed for pets! Never brush your dog’s teeth with toothpaste meant for people, as it may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like xylitol. Dogs swallow toothpaste, while we spit it out. This is just to make sure they’re not digesting anything harmful. 

Finally, if their bad breath persists after all of that, or if you’re not comfortable brushing your dog’s teeth, call your vet. They can do it all for you and check for any diseases or tooth decay. It may not be fun — after all, no one really likes the dentist — but it’s for your dog’s best interest. That’s something that should never be overlooked! 

While we at Doggy Brace can’t help with dog teeth (we’re not that kind of brace), we can help at supporting other areas of your dog. If you notice your dog has hind-leg problems, check out our dog ACL brace today. It will support your dog’s legs while you help support their teeth.