Diagnosing Bad Breath in Dogs

Bad breath in dogs is usually the sign of an underlying health problem. It could be a problem in the mouth such as excessive plaque buildup or it could be a problem within the dog such as stomach ulcers or kidney disease. No matter what the cause, bad breath is not just an annoyance and should be checked out by a veterinarian.

Mouth Diseases Leading to Bad Breath

The most common cause of bad breath is a problem with the teeth or gums. This can be as mild as excessive plaque buildup that has caused bacteria to accumulate in his mouth or as serious as an oral ulceration or tumor. An abscessed tooth or oral ulceration will often cause pain when the dog chews, which can be a good sign you are dealing with a mouth problem.

Gum disease such as gingivitis, which causes inflammation of the gums, or periodontis, which causes inflammation of the tissue around the tooth, can also be the culprit. If this is the case, you will often see bleeding of the gums when your dog is chewing on a bone or other hard object.

Other symptoms of mouth problems include oral discharge (often bloody), sneezing, nasal discharge, pawing at the mouth, excessive drooling, trouble swallowing, depression and facial swelling.

Other Health Problems Causing Bad Breath in Dogs

If your dog's halitosis is not caused by a problem in the mouth, it could be caused by an illness affecting other parts of the body. Many types of illnesses can cause halitosis such as lung problems or lung cancer, several types of kidney disease, bleeding stomach ulcers or uncontrolled diabetes.

Obviously, each of these illnesses may have other symptoms and varying treatment options. Lung problems could also cause difficulty breathing and decreased energy levels. Kidney diseases can be recognized by changes in eating or drinking patterns, general lethargy, change in urine patterns or concentration, or sudden weight loss. A bleeding ulcer may also be identified by bloody stool and may be treated with surgery or medication. Diabetes would have to be treated with insulin.

Treatment Options for Bad Dog Breath

Treatment of mouth diseases depend on the cause but usually are resolved with improved dental care. Your dog will need to have his teeth cleaned and may need other dental surgery to eliminate the halitosis-causing agent. To prevent future recurrences, improve home dental care by brushing your dog's teeth daily or providing bones that self-clean.

Mouth drops can help kill germs and bacteria in your dog's mouth if he doesn't tolerate having his teeth brushed. The herb Echinacea can also be used as a tea or mouthwash to promote a healthy immune system and healthy mouth.

Be sure to treat this problem, whatever the cause, because bacteria buildup in the mouth can lead to future health problems in the heart, liver and kidneys.

Halitosis is not just an annoyance. It can be an indicator of your dog's overall health and should be dealt with immediately so additional problems don't develop or worsen.