Help! My dog’s breath smells bad!

Is your “good morning” kiss from your dog so stinky that their breath makes you want to cover your face with a pillow? Bad breath in dogs is not only undesirable — it’s not normal.

While eating poop or getting into some old food in the trash bin might come with some gross smells, your dog’s bad breath — vets call it halitosis — is possibly the result of dental disease (or more accurately, periodontal disease). In some cases, it may indicate an underlying health condition like kidney disease or diabetes.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

Dental Disease

Periodontal disease in dogs is inflammation, and sometimes infection, of the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums, the structures that hold the teeth in place, and even the jawbone. Periodontal disease is very common in pets. This disease is caused by untreated tartar (also called calculus) build-up leading to the formation of plaque on the teeth and is typically a result of poor dental care.

When a dog suffers from periodontal disease, even a mild form, they can and frequently do develop bad breath. The source of bad breath is bacteria that accumulate with tartar and become adhered to teeth in plaque, causing inflammation and tissue damage that worsen over time when not treated. This is why it is very important to take care of your dog’s mouth with dedicated teeth brushing at home and regular professional dental cleanings for your dog.

Signs of Dental Disease as the Cause of Bad Breath

If your dog has bad breath from dental disease, you may notice issues with their teeth or mouth, their overall comfort, or even their behaviour. Things to be on the watch for include, but are not limited to:

  • Discoloration of your dog’s teeth
  • Visible tartar on the surface of the teeth (grey, brown, or yellow concrete-looking build-up)
  • Inflamed/red gums (gingivitis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing only on one side of the mouth
  • Blood on toys or chews
  • Loss of appetite or avoiding food (especially dry food like kibble)
  • Teeth grinding

What to Do If Your Dog Has Bad Breath

We always recommend a dental health check at least once a year. Dental procedures are intricate surgeries and as a result it can lead to a very expensive veterinary bill. Early detection of problems is always important and in the long run, much more cost effective! Not all conditions are covered by pet insurance (always check your policy details) so this makes early detection all the more important!

We currently have an offer of £50 off all dental treatment, so if there was ever a time to book in for a dental health check, it is now!

How to Prevent Bad Breath in Your Dog

There are things you can do to help prevent bad breath before it starts and keep your dog healthy.

  • Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth will help reduce tartar build-up and prevent tartar from becoming plaque, which is adhered to your teeth and much harder to remove. It’s important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs — human toothbrushes are often too abrasive and human toothpaste can be toxic to pets.
  • Dental treats, and specific dental diets that help prevent tartar build-up on the teeth, can be used in conjunction with — but never in place of — daily brushing and regular check-ups.
  • Keep a watchful eye on your dog’s chewing habits. Chewing on the wrong things can break teeth, irritate or damage the gums, or even result in objects getting lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat.

Even with dedication to brushing and following the tips above, dogs still need regular professional dental exams and cleanings. Think about us humans. Even though we brush and floss regularly, we still need to visit the dentist for a thorough dental examination and teeth cleaning. Regular dental cleanings are considered part of your dog’s routine preventive care. They’re essential to allow your veterinarian to remove tartar and plaque not only on the teeth but beneath the gum-line — where a typical toothbrush can’t reach — before they can cause damage, discomfort, and the need for expensive treatment.