What can you do about dog 'death' breath? Tony Buckwell advises

Q: One of our dogs has absolutely awful breath. Both dogs are fed the same and the other dog’s breath isn’t half as bad. My wife has tried brushing his teeth, but he doesn’t like it. We have tried dental chews and they have plenty of toys to chew on. Any other suggestions on how to get rid of it?

A: Bad breath, which is technically termed halitosis, is one of the most common dental problems faced by dog owners.

Bad breath in dogs can typically be 
a result of periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, the accumulation of food and plaque and the consequential build-up of odour-producing bacteria 
in the mouth.

It can also be caused by digestive system problems. Just because two dogs are fed similar food doesn’t necessarily mean that their breath will smell the same.

Bad breath can also indicate that something may be wrong with the liver (unusually foul odour accompanying vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged eyes or gums) or kidney problems (when the breath often smells like urine). Unusually sweet-smelling breath could be an indication of diabetes (particularly if the dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual).

Take a good look in the dog’s mouth. Most often, canine bad breath is caused by dental or gum disease, and certain dogs, particularly small ones, are especially prone to plaque and tartar. 
If this is the case the dog may need dental treatment by your vet.

If you are unable to see exactly 
what is causing the bad breath then 
certainly visit a vet as they can diagnose the cause and advise on treatment. Prevention is always better than 
cure and a dental check-up as part 
of an annual visit to the vet can 
help. Brushing your dog’s teeth on 
a regular basis is a good idea and you should find videos online that best demonstrate the technique.

Bad breath in dogs – what to remember

  • It can be a sign of dental disease
  • It can be a build-up of tarter/plaque around the top of the teeth
  • A clean and polish by the dentist could resolve the smell issue
  • Healthy gums should be an even, pink colour
  • Infected guns will be reddish where the teeth meet the gums
  • Dental chews will help
  • Make a monthly inspection of your dog’s teeth