Let’s face it. Some dog’s “puppy breath” persists and becomes a seriously stinky problem. Is that really so surprising? We brush our teeth twice a day, and sometimes we stink, too.
But persistent bad breath in dogs is no laughing matter – bad breath can be a sign of underlying medical conditions!
Before figuring out the best treatment for your dog’s puppy breath, you need to identify the underlying cause. This may require a trip to the vet – but let’s lay out the possibilities before you pull out the phone.
If you see any major changes in behavior or physique accompanying bad breath, you should call your vet right away.
Causes of Bad Dog Breath: Is It A Medical Issue?
It’s important to identify the causes of bad breath before trying to treat it. If you skip this step, you could end up masking a real issue or wasting money on something that will never fix your problem. Some possible causes of bad canine breath include:
1. Tartar Buildup or Gum Disease
Stinky dog breath usually stems from bacteria buildup in your dog’s mouth or gut. Especially common in small dogs, this is usually the first suspect in cases of stinky breath. Along with your dog’s bad breath, you may notice tooth discoloration.
Luckily, bacteria buildup in the mouth is a problem that can be easily fixed at home through brushing or dental treats (which we’ll discuss in more detail below). It likely won’t require significant veterinary care, unlike some other causes of bad breath.
Some dogs are especially prone to tartar buildup or gum disease, in which case you may need to become a regular tooth-brushing pro to keep this problem at bay!
Ketosis in dogs, just like in people, can cause a weirdly sweet or fruity smell. If you’re noticing unusual smells from your dog’s breath, it may be a sign that your dog has diabetes.
Take your dog to the vet if you notice that she’s been drinking and urinating more often than usual – another sign that diabetes could be a problem. Dogs can live with diabetes, but it’s going to be a long journey and they’ll require special treatment from your vet.
3. Kidney Disease
If you find that your dog’s breath reeks of urine, he may have kidney disease. You’ll want to go to the vet to find out for sure. Kidney disease will require ongoing care and is a serious medical issue. This is why it’s so important to diagnose the cause of bad dog breath before ignoring or masking it!
Like diabetes, other symptoms of kidney disease include increased water consumption. Keep an eye out for pale gums and a chemical smell to your dog’s breath as well.
4. Liver Problems
Really foul-smelling puppy breath accompanied by vomiting and yellowish eyes and gums could be a sign of liver problems, in which case you’ll need to take your dog to the vet right away.
How to Cure A Dog’s Bad Breath
If you read through the above causes of bad dog breath and conclude your dog’s stinky breath is nothing serious, you can begin treating that smelly dog breath. Here are some solutions for curing bad dog breath.
1. Give Dog Bowls A Good Cleaning
Sound too simple? It’s not. Think about it – if you’re like most of us, you pour kibble into the same bowl every day without giving it a good cleaning.
Take the time to wash out your dog’s food and water bowls. While you’re at it, wash their toys! There could be some pretty major bacteria buildup there causing your dog’s stinky breath. You’ll never make headway on bad breath if they constantly chew on gross-smelling things. You may also want to consider purchasing a dog water fountain, which provides a steady stream of clean, fresh water for your pooch.
2. Provide Your Dog With Dental-Friendly Toys
There are many dog treats and toys that are specifically designed to freshen your pup’s breath and keep their mouths clean. Wondering – what can I give my dog for bad breath? Some popular options include:
- Hemp Ropes. Hemp ropes are designed to naturally floss your dog’s teeth with the rope’s hair fibers. Plus, these ropes can be used for a fun game of tug-o-war, so you can have fun with your pup while keeping her teeth clean!
- Dental Ball Toys. Dental ball toys are specially-designed toys to help clean teeth and massage gums. They have specially designed soft teeth that help get into the cracks of your dog’s teeth.
Some dogs will just chew away on their own, or you can smear peanut butter into the cracks and freeze the toy to encourage chewing. These strong, bouncy toys can also be used for fetch!
- Greenies. Greenies are chewy treats that you should give your dog every day for clean teeth. As dogs chew on them, they help clean off plaque and buildup on teeth.
They are a tasty, safe, easy option for dental care for your dog. Unlike dental ball toys and hemp ropes, though, you’ll need to give your dog a new one every day.
Bonus tip: Use Greenies to help kennel-train your dog. These slow-to-eat treats are great to keep dogs calm and focused during potentially stressful situations!
Dental-designed toys and treats like these can help reduce plaque buildup on your pup’s teeth. Look for veterinarian-approved toys and be sure to supervise strong chewers so they don’t swallow anything.
Giving your dog a fun way to clean her own teeth is a great way to compliment tooth-brushing!
3. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth!
Dogs need their teeth brushed regularly, just like people do!
When it comes to canine teeth brushing, you have two main options: learn to brush your dog’s teeth on your own, or commit to paying for a professional to do it.
If you opt out of brushing your dog’s teeth, you’ll likely need to make regular trips to the vet to keep tooth decay at bay.
If you learn how to brush your dog’s teeth yourself, you won’t have to visit the vet quite as often. A visit to your vet for professional deep cleaning once a year or so is always good practice, even if your dog has minty-fresh breath!
We really suggest that you aim to brush your dog’s teeth regularly yourself at home – after all, imagine what would happen if you only brushed your teeth when you visited the dentist!
If you want to brush your dog’s teeth at home, be sure to take it slow and ideally introduce your dog to tooth brushing when they’re a puppy so that they get used to it early on.
Many dogs are uncomfortable with this. Be sure to have lots of treats on hand to make tooth-brushing a positive and safe experience! There are a lot of options for dog toothbrushes to help with apprehensive dogs.
In addition to helping keep your dog’s teeth clean, spending time in your dog’s mouth can alert you to any other oral issues that may need attention. Plus, you may learn something new about your pup – you may discover that your dog has dark spots on her tongue you never noticed before!
Want a few more tips? Check out this great video from Petcha showing a quick look at what can be done to alleviate that stinky breath!
Do you regularly brush your dog’s teeth? Do you have favorite dental treats and toys? Share your suggestions!