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Can you cure bad breath in dogs? Here’s how to improve matters

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

Bad breath in dogs

Bad breath in dogs

Q: Can you advise on the cause of my dog’s bad breath? I have tried brushing his teeth but he doesn’t like it. I have also tried dental chews and he otherwise has plenty of items to chew on. Have you any other suggestions?

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


Bad breath seems to be more common in smaller dogs

Causes of canine halitosis

Bad breath in dogs can 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. (Read tips on keeping your dog’s teeth free from tartar.)

Take a good look in your dog’s mouth. Look for any sign of dental or gum disease. Many dogs, particularly small ones, are prone to plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth, in which case they will need treatment by your vet. Bad breath can also be caused by digestive system problems. It might 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.

If you are unable to see exactly what is causing the bad breath, do visit a vet. 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 prevent the problem.

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

Shopping list for bad breath in dogs

Toothbrush & Toothpaste Dental Care Kit

For dogs. Includes a Double-Ended Toothbrush & Liver-Flavoured Enzymatic Toothpaste, 100g Tube

Finger toothbrush

Ideal for sensitive dogs. Fits comfortably over the end of your finger allowing closer and more accurate teeth cleaning