Treating Bad Breath in Dogs With Chlorhexidine

A variety of underlying medical conditions may contribute to bad breath in dogs, some of which are more serious than others. If your dog has unusually bad breath, consider treating his condition with a chlorhexidine mouthwash or rinse. In a case of canine halitosis, it is important to determine what may be giving your dog bad breath. If your dog has abnormally bad breath, take him to a veterinarian for further examination. Remember that bad breath is a symptom of another condition or disease, and treating the symptom alone may not resolve the condition.

Underlying Causes of Canine Halitosis and Related Symptoms

Foul breath may be caused by a variety of oral and non-oral medical conditions. Some of the most common conditions that lead to bad breath in dogs include the following:

  • Tooth infection or abscess
  • Food, bone or other foreign objects stuck in the teeth or mouth
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or periodontal area (periodontitis)
  • Oral tumor
  • Kidney or liver disease

Some of these conditions may cause other symptoms as well, including discharge or bleeding from the mouth and difficulty eating. In any case, take a pet with bad breath to the vet for a physical examination.

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs

There are a number of treatments for bad breath in dogs. Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment program based upon the condition that contributes to your dog's bad breath. In some cases, oral surgery may be necessary. Additionally, a tooth scraping or foreign object removal may prove helpful in diminishing your dog's halitosis. Consult with your veterinarian about whether these treatment options may be appropriate.

What is Chlorhexidine?

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic drug that kills bacteria in the mouth. Many veterinary mouthwashes and oral rinses contain chlorhexidine as an active ingredient for its ability to reduce plaque and kill germs.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a chlorhexidine-based spray to help combat your dog's bad breath. Typically, a chlorhexidine spray of this kind will have a concentration of 0.12 percent. Spray the solution into your dog's mouth once daily for one week, or as directed by your vet.

Sometimes, your vet will prescribe chlorhexidine as one of a number of treatments for bad breath. To promote general oral health, as well as reduce bad breath, brush your dog's teeth at least 3 times per week using special veterinary toothpaste and toothbrushes. Do not use human toothpaste with your dog, as it contains ingredients that are poisonous to him. Additionally, consider modifying your dog's diet to include food that is helpful in reducing plaque and tartar buildup.

If your dog has bad breath, watch for any other signs of oral disease or other medical complications. Take your dog to a veterinarian for a check-up, and ensure that you are keeping his teeth and mouth adequately clean by feeding him an appropriate diet and brushing his teeth regularly. For specific treatment programs for your dog, speak with a veterinarian.