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Why Do Dogs Have Bad Breath?

It's more than just annoying for dog owners - bad breath from your dog can indicate some serious health conditions.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, which brings up the unpleasant topic of bad breath! All of us dog owners have dealt with our dogs having less than flowery breath from time to time. What causes bad breath in dogs, and should we be concerned?

Bad breath, much like in humans, is caused by the build up of bacteria in your dog's mouth which produces the unpleasant order we know as halitosis. One of the most common reasons that dogs have bad breath is lack of proper dental care, including lack of brushing, which allows plaque and tartar to build up. Regular brushing and cleaning can solve halitosis quite easily and is recommended for all dogs. Giving dogs regular items to chew on such as hard toys designed for dental health can also help keep a dog's teeth in shape.

However, bad breath can indicate more serious conditions for your dog. If you notice any of the following from your dog, it's time to take them to see your veterinarian:

  • very unpleasant bad breath odor, coupled with yellowish corneas and/or gums, and/or vomiting and a lack of interest in food may be the warning signs of liver disease.

  • an odor similar to urine in your dog's breath can indicate possible kidney disease.

  • breath that has a sweet smell, along with increased drinking of water and urination, may be a sign your dog has diabetes.

If you notice that your dog has any of the symptoms above, or simply unusually strong bad breath, don't ignore the signs and figure that bad breath is simply part of being a dog. Visit your veterinarian and discuss options available to improve your dog's breath, including changing your dog's diet, regular brushing, appropriate chew toys and prescription and over the counter oral products created to improve pet dental health.

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