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Dog Bad Breath: Causes & Remedies

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Many pet parents love a good cuddle with their dog, but one of the things that can bring this bonding time to an abrupt halt is bad dog breath! Here we explain why dogs get bad breath, how it can be an early warning sign of serious dental disease and other health conditions, and how you can help your canine companion to regain fresh breath, as well a healthy mouth, teeth and gums for years to come.

What causes bad dog breath?

Bacteria from plaque and tartar

One of the easiest ways to prevent bad breath in your pet, is to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar. While we’re likely familiar with terms ‘plaque’ and ‘tartar’, here’s a quick explanation on the difference between the two and how they can lead to bad breath in dogs

When your pet eats, bacteria in their mouth combines with proteins and food residue to form a sticky biofilm that coats the teeth above and just below the gumline. This is what forms plaque. Plaque is initially relatively soft and can be removed by brushing or the use of dental chews. The bacteria in plaque often causes gum disease and can potentially damage the natural enamel that protects teeth. It’s these bacteria that can be a cause of bad breath.

Once plaque is present in the mouth, it combines with calcium in saliva, causing it to mineralise (harden) and form tartar. Tartar can form above and below the gumline causing dental disease and of course, bad dog breath. Tartar is very difficult to remove without a visit to the vet for a dental clean under general anaesthetic, which is why it’s so important to prevent it forming in the first place.

Bacteria on the back of the tongue

Dogs have naturally occurring bacteria in their mouths that form part of the oral microbiome. Certain sulphur-producing bacteria on the back of the tongue can break down proteins at a very high rate producing foul smelling volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). These VSCs cause bad breath even if the dog’s teeth are clean.

Zamipet Dog Bad Breath Prevention

Underlying health conditions

There are various health conditions that exhibit bad breath as some of their symptoms, including diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. Gut disorders can lead to reflux, causing bad breath. If your dog has a skin condition, like pyoderma, they often lick the area transferring bacteria into their mouths causing foul smelling bad breath.

Your dog has eaten something horrible

It’s common knowledge that dogs will eat almost anything under the sun, including the contents of rubbish bins, dead animals they may encounter on walks or even faeces. If these objects are ingested, they’re likely to cause bad breath.

Complications of bad dog breath

Letting bad breath go unchecked in your canine pal can have serious consequences.

Periodontal disease

Bad breath in dogs can be an early warning sign of periodontal disease in your pet. By the age of three years old, up to 80 per cent of dogs have some form of dental disease.

Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis (inflammation redness of the gums) and if left untreated, the infection often spreads deeper into the tooth socket, destroying the bone. Ultimately, the tooth becomes loose and may fall out over time or will be removed by the vet.

Heart disease as a result of periodontal disease

One of the little mentioned reasons to take good care of your dog’s oral health is that poor dental hygiene can lead to heart disease and potentially a shortened lifespan of your best friend.

Plaque and tartar that builds up in the mouth can be riddled with bacteria. In cases of severe periodontal disease, bacteria can travel from the mouth via the bloodstream to vital internal organs. The bacteria can lodge in the heart causing endocarditis and/or valvular disease, which affects the heart’s lining and valves. While these conditions can be treated with antibiotics and ongoing medication for heart failure, it’s a serious risk to the health and lifespan of your companion that can be avoided by a good oral health routine.

Make Your Dog Dental Care Plaque and Tartar Free

Dog bad breath remedies

So, what should you do if your dog has bad breath? There are many dog bad breath remedies you can include in your regular canine dental routine to minimise bad breath and keep dental issues at bay for longer. However, if your pet still has bad breath despite a thorough oral hygiene routine, head to your vet to further investigate the cause and find a solution.

Regular brushing

Daily tooth brushing, when done correctly, is the most effective way to prevent dental disease. Be sure to use a properly designed toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs that won’t cause any irritation or harm if swallowed.

Regular vet visits

Maintain regular vet visits ensuring your dog receives an annual dental check-up. This enables your vet to identify any plaque and tartar build up, spot other signs of dental or gum disease and set up an appropriate treatment plan if needed. If your dog requires a dental clean, they will undergo a general anaesthetic for this procedure. Taking good care of your pet’s oral health daily can help extend the time period between undergoing this serious and somewhat costly procedure.

Dog bad breath treats

One of the easiest ways to clean your dog’s teeth and avoid bad breath is the regular use of dental treats for dogs. These usually come in stick form and the best dog bad breath chews will have ridges that provide gentle abrasion between the teeth right down to the gums, to help remove plaque before it develops into tartar. Dog dental sticks are best given to your dog daily to help remove plaque, prevent tartar from forming and freshen the breath.

ZamiPet Dental Sticks

ZamiPet Dental Sticks for dogs address overall oral hygiene for dogs with added health benefits. The unique ZamiDental formula (including natural Ascophyllum Nodosum seaweed, Sodium Tripolyphosphate and Zinc Sulphate) helps reduce plaque, tartar and bad breath, whilst the four-leaf clover shape gently cleans the teeth. ZamiPet Dental Sticks also include key active ingredients to support joints, nervous system health and general health and immunity in adults, plus healthy growth and development in puppies.

Home remedies for dogs with bad bread

Be wary of using dog bad breath home remedies – while it may be tempting to avoid the vet, bad breath in dogs can be an early warning sign of dental and gum disease or other more serious health conditions. Using a home remedy that’s not effective may leave your dog in pain from an untreated condition, leading to a more expensive solution from the vet.

The information in this article was checked by ZamiPet Veterinarian and General Manager Dr Andrew McKay, BVSc, University of Melbourne, 2000. Vet Registration No: V3985

Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.


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