We all love our dogs, no matter what anyone says about them. But even so, the smell that wafts out of your dog’s mouth is bound to irk you at some point or another. So, is bad breath necessarily a bad thing for your dog? And what are some of the solutions that you can undertake to make stinky breath go away?
What is bad breath?
Nobody likes bad breath, whether the source is human or animal. While some degree of bad breath may be normal for your dog, too much of it is a bad thing, especially when it starts out of nowhere. The medical name for bad breath is halitosis, and it happens when there is a build-up of bacteria in the mouth or possibly the digestive tract of your dog.
Because of this, it can actually be a pretty good indicator that something is wrong with your dog’s dental hygiene or his or her digestive tract when the smell becomes too much.
What causes bad breath?
Dogs aren’t exactly the kind of animals that’ll wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, and brush their teeth. It’s just not one of the things most pet owners give attention to either, which means that a lot of dogs are at risk of having poor dental hygiene. This, in particular, includes infections of the mouth or gums.
However, in some cases, this may be indicative of a larger problem involving the dog’s intestine and gut. The exact cause of the bad breath may need to be determined by a vet, but there may be several factors causing this, including your dog’s lifestyle, food, and whatever practices you undertake to ensure his or her dental safety.
Should I go to the vet?
If you think the dog’s breath is worse than before, or that there is a smell that you cannot explain, you should definitely visit the vet, if just to put your mind at ease. Your vet should be examining your dog’s teeth and gums on regular visits, so a good way to catch any upcoming problems in time is to visit the vet often. Here are some smells that you should never ignore your dog:
- An abrupt change in the smell.
- Fruity smells.
- Urine smells.
- Change in the smell coupled with other symptoms.
What can happen if my dog has bad breath?
Although the presence of bad breath in your dog’s mouth can be annoying enough on its own, you should also hasten to treat it because untreated problems can cause serious issues in the future for your dog’s teeth and gums. The painful ordeal of tooth decay is something no dog should have to go through, so it’s very important to get treatment ASAP.
How is bad breath treated?
When you take your dog to the vet, he or she will try and determine the cause of the bad breath. In case that the cause is related to bacterial growth in the mouth, your vet may recommend some kind of dog ‘mouthwash’ with special enzymes that prevent bacterial growth and help your dog’s mouth go back to the way it should be.
In the case of issues with the diet, the vet will probably recommend alternatives for the food you are taking. However, if the issue is slightly more serious and is actually a problem with the gastrointestinal tract or other organs, your vet will design an appropriate plan of treatment and then administer it.
How can my dog avoid bad breath?
Like any other potential problem that your dog can face, the best course of action for you is to use preventative measures to stop bad breath in the first place.
It may seem unnecessary to you, but brushing your dog’s teeth is actually the best way to prevent problems with bad breath, just like humans. This helps to prevent a build-up of bacteria in his or her mouth, which in turn takes down the smell. It’s important to use special brushes and paste, as human pastes won’t do the trick.
If you’re concerned about your dog not allowing you to brush his or her teeth, you have a legitimate worry. However, dogs can easily be trained to allow brushing, using reinforcement based training methods and a lot of care and patience. Puppies easily pick up these habits too, which is a great sign that he or she will have a healthy and great dental life ahead.
There are a couple of items that you can use at home to improve your dog’s bad breath situation. Please note, however, that you should always get a vet’s advice before you start giving your dog anything.
- Wheatgrass: the chlorophyll in this helps to improve your dog’s breath.
- Coconut oil: reduces the smell and provides a lot of other health benefits.
- Neem: improves your dog’s oral hygiene along with the coat and fur health.
Have you ever wondered why dogs like chewing on things like bones, furniture, and other items? This is because this habit naturally helps them clean out their teeth and get rid of the bacteria that cause the smell. You should look to get your dog some new chew toys, which are especially helpful as your dog will appreciate a fun toy and a way to clean its teeth.
Another alternative for you is to use dental sticks for your dog. These are also designed to be chewed on and help clean out the spaces between the dog’s teeth and make the overall dental hygiene of your dog much better.
Your dog’s diet, especially if it is geared towards only dry food, can actually cause him or her to be more susceptible to bad breath and dental problems. Consuming raw diets, however (provided they are properly handled and sourced) are a great alternative because they mimic the dog’s natural food source, and allow the teeth to be properly cleaned out.
The high carbohydrate content in dry food doesn’t help either and can become a cause of bacterial growth. However, if you are attached to the idea of dry food for your dog, you can try switching it to a no-grain, no-filler brand, which has the appropriate carbohydrates but no more than what your dog needs for a balanced diet.
Getting rid of bacteria in your dog’s mouth doesn’t mean that all bacteria are bad. Usually, healthy dogs have normal bacteria growing in their mouths. These are beneficial and do not allow the bad breath-causing bacteria to grow in big numbers. So, a great way to keep bad breath away is to use probiotics to get the helpful bacteria to grow better.
Visit the Vet
The vet shouldn’t be where you only take your dog when there is an emergency. A healthy dog should get a vet appointment at least 4-5 times a year, with the ideal being monthly check-ups. This way, even a slight change within a month can be noticed and picked up by the expert vet on regular visits.
No matter what, you’ll love your dog. However, with a little bit of care and pampering, you can make sure he or she lives their best healthy and happy life.