Dog breath isn't known for smelling like roses, but it should never be so offensive that you must hold your breath when your furry friend comes around. If your dog's breath is super stinky or has recently become smellier than usual, it is time to visit the vet.
Your dog's diet can cause bad breath, especially if he eats a lot of table food. Offering your dog extra water to drink and brushing his teeth regularly may stop bad breath odor associated with diet. If these do not help, try changing his diet and cutting out all table food. In some cases, food intolerance can trigger bad breath, but most dogs with a food intolerance will also develop diarrhea or another symptom along with the bad breath.
Gum and Dental Disease
Most dogs with stinky breath suffer from dental or gum disease, and your dog's mouth should be the primary suspect when looking for a cause of mouth odor. Gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth abscesses, oral ulcers and simple cavities can all cause bad breath. Proper dental care goes a long way toward preventing gum and dental disease in dogs, but some breeds are just prone to dental problems.
Underlying Health Problems
Sometimes an underlying medical problem is to blame for bad breath. Lung, throat and sinus diseases are common causes, and foreign bodies lodged in the mouth, throat, esophagus or elsewhere can also result in mouth odor. The specific characteristics of your dog's breath odor can be a clue to its cause. For example, fruity-smelling breath may indicate diabetes, while urine-scented breath is a sign of kidney dysfunction. Additionally, really foul breath odor, especially if accompanied by reduced appetite, jaundice or vomiting, points to liver disease.
Other Causes of Stinky Breath
Some cases of bad breath are caused by unusual and often overlooked things, such as bacterial infections around the mouth that are hidden by fur. Eating feces is another potential cause of smelly breath that many people fail to consider. If your dog has undergone a full dental and medical examination and the cause of her breath odor is still unknown, watch her closely for several days and see if she is getting into the garbage, eating cat poop or engaging in some other stinky behavior.
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.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."