Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath

I’ve loved each and every one of our dogs, but there were days when doggy kisses were out of the question.  

The quick and general explanation of bad breath is this.  There are bacteria in every mouth, whether that mouth is human, feline, elephant, or canine, and these bacteria are supposed to be there.  The bacteria digest and decompose the bits of food that remain in the mouth, and some of the waste products of that process plain smell bad.  

So what causes bad breath in dogs?

Most of dog halitosis comes from problems with teeth and gums. 

pug with doggy breath

The most common problem has to do with plaque and tartar build-up on a dog’s teeth.  Plaque is made up of bacteria, decomposed food, and minerals and sticks to the thin layer’s teeth.  Tartar is formed when layers of plaque build-up and harden into a coating beginning at the teeth’ base.  This is most noticeable on the outside of the large molars.  As the tartar layer thickens, the gums become irritated and inflamed.  They may ooze blood serum, which is digested by the bacteria, and it creates more malodorous waste products and more plaque.  

As the gums recede, a dog will have more gum problems and may develop loose or infected teeth, which leads to more bacteria and nastier dog breath.  

A puppy with bad breath may not have a tartar buildup, but he may be losing his baby teeth before growing in his permanent teeth.  As these baby teeth are shed, the puppy may drool more and may have some bleeding associated with teething.  This can lead to a temporary increase in breath odor.  It should go away after the permanent teeth have fully erupted.

An unfortunate result of having tooth and gum problems is that your dog may drool more than usual.  The drool may get into the various folds and wrinkles on a dog’s lips and face.  The dried saliva can develop an odor of its own.  And if the moistness and bacteria remain, there is always the possibility of an infection developing, which can also create bad smells.  

Older dogs may develop liver and kidney diseases that can affect their breathing.  This is something that needs to be first diagnosed and treated as best it can by a veterinarian.  

Fortunately, with a little patience and good dental care for your dog, it’s easy to eliminate your dog’s bad breath.

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