Does your dog’s breath make you back away or hold your nose? Many dog owners chalk it up to old age or something minor, but your dog’s breath may be telling you something. It could be an outward sign of oral problems or underlying diseases that may be causing the foul odor. So, here are some tips on what to do if your pooch has “doggie breath.”

Possible Causes & Things to Watch For

Getting to the root of the cause is very important. It might be something minor with an easy fix, such as adding a dental chew … or it could be something more serious that requires your vet’s attention. Bad breath is a common sign of oral disease, but here are some other possible causes:

  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth (gingivitis)
  • An abscessed tooth
  • Ulcers or tumors in the mouth
  • Something stuck between his teeth
  • Lung disease
  • Severe kidney disease

When you notice your dog’s breath is foul, some other things to watch for include:

  • Oral pain making it difficult to eat or play with toys
  • Discharges from the mouth, some bloody
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Depression

For proper diagnosis, you’ll want to take your dog to his veterinarian to be examined and run some tests.

Treatment & Home Care

Your vet will come up with a treatment plan once the underlying cause is determined. This could include removing some foreign object stuck in his teeth, treating any oral ulcers or tumors, or cleaning/scraping the teeth under the gums.

Once home, your vet may have you provide care options over several days. Here are some steps to get his bad breath under control and others to keep it away:

  • Brushing your dog’s teeth daily with a finger brush and toothpaste available from your veterinarian
  • Spraying 0.12% chlorhexidine (prescribed by your vet) into your dog’s mouth for 1-2 weeks
  • A special diet which may have less calories, healthier ingredients or whole grains
  • Dental chews made for removing tartar and freshening breath
  • Fresh parsley, chopped and added to your dog’s food
  • Breath sprays found at the pet store
  • Keeping your dog’s bowls clean, especially his water dish
  • Adding a probiotic or digestive enzymes to his diet
  • Chewing on a whole carrot, uncooked beef bone or hard chew toy
  • Adding apple cider vinegar to his water (1/2 tsp of raw organic variety)

So, the next time you notice your dog’s breath is smelling bad, set the kidding aside. It could be the sign of something more serious and should be checked out at your earliest convenience.

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