One of the most delightful things about puppies is the sweet smell of puppy breath. Most dog lovers find it irresistible. Normal puppy breath smells sweet and indicates a healthy puppy. If your puppy has bad breath, there could be trouble.
Why Puppy Breath Smells So Doggone Good
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Puppy breath smells so good because of the puppy’s healthy and mild diet of mother’s milk. The lactose in milk smells sweet. The digestive enzymes in the puppy’s tummy that break down the proteins in the milk also add to the sweet aroma. South Florida veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Prior says puppy breath may be the result of the esophagus, which is still developing in young puppies, leaking gases into the puppy’s tummy. If the puppy’s breath smells bad, it could just be you are one of the few people who find puppy breath resistible, even foul. Or, it could indicate a serious health problem.
Hounds with Halitosis
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One of the first things veterinarians look at when presented with a hound with halitosis is their pearly whites. Dental problems like gum disease and impacted teeth could make a dog’s breath smell bad. Since a puppy’s teeth are brand new and still developing, it’s unlikely the foul odor is the result of a dental problem. However, it’s not impossible, so check your puppy’s mouth for signs of redness or swelling. Checking and cleaning your dog’s mouth is a good habit to get into, so start when your dog is still a puppy. If all is well with his mouth, there may be some other problems to consider.
Worms, Not Just a City in Germany
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Intestinal parasites are another common cause of bad breath, especially in puppies. Parasites can be passed from the mother to the puppies either in utero or the mother’s milk. The most common internal parasites are tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Other symptoms of worms include failure to gain weight, vomiting, diarrhea and coughing. Puppies should be tested for worms if they have bad breath so deworming treatment can begin early. A severe worm infestation can cause death in a young puppy, so be sure to rule out worms when looking for the cause of bad puppy breath.
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Coprophagia is a fancy-schmancy medical term for a disgustingly gross habit – eating poo. Dogs don’t think it’s gross to eat poo. In fact, in nature they do it routinely. Mother dogs eat puppy poo to keep the nest clean. Puppies, out of natural curiosity, will also dine on doodoo. They go through a stage in their development where they mouth everything in an effort to learn about the world around them. Sometimes, they eat poo while mouthing their siblings. They grow out of this stage quickly, thank heavens, or they would never have become man’s best friend. Draw your own conclusions as to why this may cause bad breath.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.