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Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell?

Just For Pets

3 min read

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell?

Love them or loathe them, dog kisses can be a little smelly. There are a number of reasons why a dog’s breath might be on the nose, and they range from harmless to serious. If you suspect the smell is more than just the aftermath of a meaty meal, you should seek advice from a vet. Underlying illnesses, such as kidney disease and diabetes, can cause bad breath and need to be ruled out by a professional.

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is dental disease. Dental disease is a term used by veterinarians to describe a group of dental issues including gingivitis, periodontal disease, abscesses and infections. As well as dental check-ups and professional cleaning by your vet, there are a number of steps you can take to help prevent dental disease and, in turn, your dog’s smelly breath.

Teeth cleaning

Just like humans, dogs should undergo regular teeth-brushing – at least weekly, if not daily. Puppies should be taught from a young age to tolerate teeth-brushing, while older dogs who resist may benefit from medication, gels or water additives to help with oral hygiene.

Brushing can be done with a specific canine toothbrush and paste, or with a soft bristle human toothbrush and water. Brush your dogs’ teeth in a circular motion and ensure you include teeth at the back.

Dental chew treats

While there’s no substitute for brushing, dental chews can assist by encouraging slow chewing movement that gently cleans teeth and massages gums. There are a wide range of chews on the market in all different shapes, sizes, textures, and consistencies. It’s important to choose treats that take your dog a while to chew through, because treats that are eaten too quickly or ‘gulped’ down defeat the purpose.

If your dog has a sensitive stomach or food allergies, seek advice from your local Just For Pets Independent pet store about what ingredients to look for when buying dental chews.

Raw bones can also be effective teeth-cleaners. Raw bones are considered safer than cooked because they don’t splinter as easily. However, the bone should be large enough so that the dog can’t swallow it or fit the whole thing in its mouth. It’s also best to supervise a dog as it chews on anything, particularly bones.

Dental diets

Dog food generally comes in either wet or dry form. Too much wet food can cause bacteria build-up and lead to dental disease including bad breath. Dry food is a better option for teeth, and should be given with or after wet food to encourage chewing and prevent bacteria build-up.

There are also many dog foods designed with dental health in mind. These foods will typically consist of large-sized kibble with a coarse texture designed to assist with plaque removal while your dog chews. Look out for Oral Care or Dental Care on the bag!

A note on smaller breeds

Vets and the RSPCA also recommend paying particular attention to the breath and teeth of smaller breed dogs. As small breed dogs age, their risk of dental disease increases with periodontitis and plaque tending to accumulate on the back teeth. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs also tend to have increased risk of dental disease due to the shape of their mouths and crowded teeth.

For any advice on dental health for your dogs or cats speak to the pet experts at your local Just For Pets independent pet store.

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