Chances are good that if you have taken the time to read this post, you have  a four-legged friend  in your life that is suffering from bad breath.  It may be a simple case  of “morning breath” or it can be the most horrible smelling halitosis that you can imagine. In either case, bad breath can definitely strain a relationship. This is as true for humans as it is for dogs. While most cases of bad breath in dogs points to a lack of good dental hygiene, it can be an indicator of a more serious illness. Once upon a time, I knew a woman who developed a serious case of really funky breath.  One day her breath was fine and the next day it wasn’t. Turns out, she had a brain tumor and once the tumor was treated, her breath no longer had a bad smell!  So if you have dogs with bad breath, please read on, there is hope.


Causes of Bad Breath

  • Periodontal Disease – this is the most common cause of bad breath. It can begin due to bacteria that turns into plaque that can cause gingivitis. Periodontal disease is painful and if left untreated, can eventually affect the heart and kidneys
  • Oral Disease  – which can include inflammation and tumors
  • Gastrointestinal Disease – Health issues of the stomach, esophagus or intestines can contribute to bad breath
  • Metabolic Disease – disturbance of metabolic or toxins levels within the blood system can be to blame for foul breath



The first place to look for the source of bad breath is naturally the dog’s mouth. If you see any of the following , it is very important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.  If you see none of the signs below and you regularly brush your dog’s teeth, it is also very important to see your vet.


  1. Bleeding gums
  2. Red or swollen gums
  3. Constant chewing
  4. Excessive licking or pawing of the face


The best way to prevent dental disease is to develop good dental hygiene , including tooth brushing, when your dog is young.


  1. Brush your dog’s teeth daily.  To make it routine, choose a time that your dog is relaxed
  2. Always check your dog’s mouth for any signs of injury or disease
  3. Use a brush and toothpaste that is designed for dogs or you may choose to use wipes that are made to clean a dog’s teeth and mouth
  4. Before using a toothbrush, use a finger to apply small amounts  of the toothpaste. Gently massage the gums until your dog becomes used it
  5.  Don’t try to clean all of your dog’s teeth at once.  Gradually increase the number of teeth that you clean until covering all teeth is comfortable to your dog



If you are guilty of not caring for your dog’s mouth,  don’t beat yourself up since it is never too late to begin. It does require patience, though, as you will have to allow time for your dog to get used to it.  If your dog requires a professional cleaning, please know that is can be expensive since your vet will need to anesthetize your dog in order to clean the teeth and remove plaque.  My dog, who needed surgery, was also suffering from bad breath.  When I scheduled her procedure, my vet suggested that I also have her teeth cleaned at the same time, since she was going to be asleep it would save some money.  I agreed to this and it turns out that my dog had a broken tooth that was causing her pain  and the bacteria  involved was to blame for the bad breath. Lastly, keep in mind that February is Pet Dental Health Month and that most veterinarians offer specials so that their patients can take advantage of a professional cleaning.




In additional to consistent mouth care, make sure that your dog  has clean food bowls and always has access to fresh water. Make sure that your dog’s food and treats are nutritious and of high quality. Lastly, remember that oral exercise is very important to your dog’s health. Invest in chewing toys that not only work the  jaw but can also serve to remove plaque too.


So there you have it, there is help for dogs with bad breath.  I would love to hear your comments or your stories about your battle with a dog’s bad breath and any tricks that you have learned about this unpleasant subject!

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