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Why does my dog’s breath smell and how can I fix it?

May 28, 2023

Duncan Houston

Sure, let's begin with the reasons why a dog's breath might smell, then discuss possible solutions for each.

**Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs**

1. **Dental Disease**: Dental disease is the most common reason for bad breath in dogs. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis, which results in a foul smell.

2. **Diet**: A poor diet can lead to bad breath in dogs. This includes high protein diets that are not balanced, or diets rich in foods that promote plaque and tartar buildup.

3. **Gastrointestinal Disease**: Any issue with a dog's gastrointestinal system, like gastroenteritis, colitis, or stomach and intestinal tumors can cause bad breath.

4. **Kidney Disease**: Dogs with kidney disease can have breath that smells like ammonia or urine.

5. **Diabetes**: If a dog's breath smells unusually sweet or fruity, it could be a sign of diabetes.

6. **Oral Tumors**: Tumors in a dog's mouth can produce a very foul smell.

7. **Foreign Objects**: If a dog chews on something inappropriate, or if a piece of food gets lodged in its teeth, this can cause bad breath.

**Solutions for Bad Breath in Dogs**

1. **Regular Dental Checkups**: Routine veterinary dental checkups can prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar that can lead to bad breath. Your vet can recommend a schedule based on your dog's specific needs.

2. **Brushing Teeth**: Brush your dog's teeth regularly using a canine-specific toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste as it may contain ingredients harmful to dogs.

3. **Dental Treats and Toys**: These can help keep your dog's teeth clean by scraping off plaque and tartar, and they can also stimulate saliva production which naturally cleans the teeth.

4. **Healthy Diet**: Ensure your dog is on a balanced diet appropriate for its age, breed, and health status. Avoid giving your dog too many treats or human food, which can lead to obesity and other health problems that can worsen bad breath.

5. **Probiotics**: Some studies suggest that probiotics can help balance gut bacteria, which may improve digestion and decrease the likelihood of bad breath.

6. **Water Additives**: There are products available that you can add to your dog's water to help freshen their breath. These typically contain enzymes that break down bacteria in the mouth.

7. **Medical Treatment**: If your dog's bad breath is caused by a more serious underlying health issue, like gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or oral tumors, these conditions will need to be treated by a vet. Treatment may include medication, dietary changes, or in some cases, surgery.

8. **Coconut Oil**: Used in moderation, coconut oil can help freshen your dog's breath and improve oral health due to its antimicrobial properties. However, always consult your vet before making changes to your pet's diet.

9. **Natural Chews**: Certain natural chews like rawhide-free options or dental sticks can help clean a dog's teeth and freshen their breath.

10. **Parsley**: Parsley is safe for most dogs to eat and can help freshen their breath. However, always introduce new foods to your dog slowly and in small amounts.

Always remember to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's routine or diet to ensure that they are safe and appropriate for your dog's individual needs.