What Is Causing Bad Breath In Dogs?

Bad breath in dogs is quite common but really unnecessary. Does your doggy suffer from bad breath (halitosis)? Perhaps he doesn’t care about it (yet) but YOU should!

Usually, an unpleasant doggie breath has oral causes.

These are:

  • Inflammation of the gums due to tartar (gingivitis).
  • Inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the tooth (periodontitis).
  • Abscessed tooth or teeth and oral ulcerations.
  • Tumors of the mouth (oral neoplasia).

The most common cause is inflammation of the gums due to tartar. This can be treated really well so don’t go jump to conclusions after reading that last bullet. Sometimes the breath issues in your dog are caused by other diseases including lung cancer and severe kidney disease.

About 85 percent of all dogs have inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease by 3 years of age. Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem in adult dogs. Some breeds are more susceptible than others. Especially small breeds, such as poodles and terriers, are prone to dental disease. This has to do with the acidity and mineral composition of their saliva.

If you notice your dog’s gums bleed when he has been chewing on a bone, he is due for a dental check-up at the vet’s.

Risks Of Dental Disease In Dogs

Not only is bad breath an unattractive feature in a furry friend, periodontal disease has other – more severe – effects.

The bacteria that cause the smell enter the bloodstream and can move to any organ’s in your dog’s body and cause inflammations. Secondary inflammations can be found in the lungs, joints, kidneys, liver, and heart.

Steps Towards Periodontal Disease In Your Dog

  1. Food particles adhere to the tooth.
  2. Oral bacteria multiply in the food particles resulting in plaque.
  3. When plaque is not removed (by brushing or chewing on bone or rawhide), the plaque becomes mineralized by calcium present in your dog’s saliva. This explains also why tartar is most prominent near the saliva glands. Mineralized plaque, also known as tartar, is a hard white to yellowish material.
  4. As tartar is especially present on the tooth surface next to the gum line, it’s easy for food particles to get stuck here.
  5. When bacteria multiply in plaque, chemicals are released that irritate the gums.
  6. The inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) erodes the bone that holds your dog’s teeth in place.
  7. Tooth become loose and fall out.


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Prevention Is Key And It’s Very Easy

bulldog teeth need brushing-too

Brush your dog’s teeth regularly (for prevention)

It’s funny really that we usually don’t know how to prevent this in our dogs, whilst we exactly know how to prevent this when it concerns our own teeth. Many people wonder whether it’s caused by the dog food they are feeding their pooch.

You don’t need to switch dog food to prevent or cure irritated gums. What do you do when you have plaque? Exactly… you brush your teeth! So that’s exactly what we are supposed to do.

Brush your doggie’s teeth. You may use special dog toothpaste that comes in various flavors (chicken, beef etc) but plain water will do the job just fine. You can even do without an actual brush, especially when your dog is not (yet) used to having his teeth brushed. Just wrap a piece of cloth around your finger and rub this across the surface of the outer teeth. Even if you don’t reach every bit of surface, it’s still better than doing nothing.

The cause of periodontal disease in man and dogs is the same and so, in fact, is the action to be taken: brush more often! This is different in cats, as these creatures have better chewing habits than dogs. Dogs often need help in the mechanical cleaning of their teeth.

In addition to brushing, you can give your dog a safe Nylabone, a fresh bone or a piece of rawhide to chew on. It’s a perfect dessert after he’s finished his dinner. Many dogs that chew regularly on bones, rawhide or hard biscuits have significantly less plaque compared to dogs who don’t.

You can also find chew toys that have rough surfaces, specially designed to scrape the surface of your dog’s teeth and massage the gums.

doggie dentistWhen it’s a bit too late for prevention then visit a vet to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned.

It’s also a good idea to go for a regular cleaning job every year when your dog is 3 years or older.

Calculus can be removed using an ultrasonic device. Specialized veterinarians can even do this without sedating your dog, but only when your dog is behaving very cooperatively.

Nutritional Management Of Dogs With Dental Disease

Specialized Dog Food Can Help

Dog food diets designed for teeth problems in dogs are not aiming at cleaning the teeth when plaque is already mineralized. Instead, these diets work towards prevention of rapid tartar build up after a good cleaning of the teeth.

Candy or canned dog food is not a major cause of tartar problems in dogs. Of course remaining food particles are causing the build-up of plaque but this can happen with all kinds of food. As long as your dog can chew and/or you brush regularly you are diminishing the chances of inflammation of the gums.

Examples Of Oral Care Dog Food Diets

Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D Oral Care
Characterized by big elastic chunks that are high in fiber. When your dog eats this food, his teeth disappear in the chunk so the plaque gets removed before it can turn into tartar. This dog food brand is available only through veterinarians and is clinically proven to reduce the accumulation of plaque, tartar, and gingivitis.Royal Canin Dental
Characterized by a lower mineral content (calcium and phosphorous) so the dog’s saliva will have fewer minerals and tartar formation slows down.

Why Cheap Dog Food Is (Often) Not A Good Choice

When your dog is prone to periodontal disease (hereditary in Poodles and Terriers) then pay attention when choosing a dog food brand. Sometimes the cheap brands can be very high in minerals. Though these are still considered to be complete dog food diets, these are not the best choice for your tail-wagger.

Budget Tip To Prevent Bad Breath In Dogs

Buy a small bag of Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D Oral Care and throw your dog a couple of chunks after every meal. It’s special fiber matrix scrubs the exposed tooth surface like an edible toothbrush, reducing bacteria-laden plaque. It’s a bit like the chewing gum you are perhaps using after your dinner.

These are just some examples of dog food for preventing and managing dental disease. When choosing the best dog food for your dog to improve his breath and reduce inflammation you should emember all the rules. One rule is that your dog will have to eat this food, so if he really dislikes the shape, smell or taste then even the most expensive prescription dog food is not the best dog food for your tail-wagger.

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