Bad breath or halitosis can be caused by many different medical and dental problems - some of which can be serious. You should make an appointment to visit your Veterinary Surgeon for an examination to determine the cause of any smell of bad breath from your dog.
Bad breath in dogs and cats may be due to dental disorders such as periodontal disease, gingivitis and plaque build-up on the teeth, significant oral cavity disease such as abscesses, sores or ulcers, decaying tissue associated with cancer, and infections. Kidney and other organ system disease and diabetes and other metabolic problems may also cause bad breath.
Although brushing your dog's teeth and control treats are very helpful, if your dog's foul odour is due to plaque build-up, professional dental cleaning by your veterinary team may be necessary.
Brushing your dog's teeth, combined with professional dental cleanings by your veterinary team, form a very important part of maintaining your pet's health. A dog with healthy gums and teeth is more likely to keep it's teeth, continue to eat hard food, and have less breath odour. In addition, dogs that have a consistent dental health regime are less likely to develop bacterial infections of the bloodstream. Bacteria from the teeth are known to colonise the valves of the heart, causing a type of heart disease called bacterial endocarditis.
Dogs, especially smaller breeds, require the same kind of care for their teeth as people do for theirs. It is therefore a good idea to brush your dog's teeth from an early age. Never use human toothpaste, since it contains foaming agents that can cause a dog to vomit if swallowed. Veterinary toothpaste does not contain foaming agents and so a dog may safely swallow it and most dogs love veterinary toothpaste as it comes in a variety of flavours, including poultry and beef.
There are many different types of toothbrushes designed for dogs. Some fit over the finger and are called finger brushes, while others are very long and angled, with a wide brush head. These can be purchased from veterinary surgeons or pet stores. It is possible to use a human toothbrush to brush your dog's teeth, just make sure the bristle is very soft.