Halitosis: Why Your Dog Has Bad Breath and Ways to Treat it
Wed, April 21, 2021

Halitosis: Why Your Dog Has Bad Breath and Ways to Treat it

Bad breath or halitosis in dogs may not be a big deal at first but it can be an inconvenience when brushing doesn’t help. Constant halitosis can even be a sign that your pet is suffering from a serious health problem.

Periodontal Disease in Dogs

American Veterinary Medical Association’s president John de Jong recently shared via home and DIY idea platform Southern Living that canine bad breath may be caused by periodontal disease, lack of dental care, or tooth decay. Localized infections, cavities, broken or loose teeth, and plaque buildup because of dog antlers that it often chews may also cause bad breath. Many dog owners may not be aware of this, but diabetes can also make their pet’s breath smell unusually fruity and sweet.

Dr. de Jong added that some dogs suffer from laceration or bleeding in their mouth along with the bad breath. Excessive pawing at a particular side of its face, excessive drooling, and other signs of pain can be treated by a couple of visits to a veterinarian near you. The vet may advise necessary medications or extractions as well as a thorough cleaning.

He said that it is important for pet parents to make an appointment with a veterinarian if their dog’s breath has been unbearable for more than a few days already. The pet may have an infection in its oral cavity that can lead to other problems with its health, such as the bacteria from their gums going into their bloodstream. When this happens, it can also impact other organs in the body, leading to kidney disease, bacterial endocarditis, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disease.

Prevention Is Always Better

Prevention is always better, Dr. de Jong said. Having a full physical checkup, including dental cleaning, at least once a year is advised. Dog owners may also use a human toothbrush but dog toothpaste. Their toothpaste tastes different because it comes with poultry or other enticing flavors. Not all dogs enjoy toothbrushing but if you get them the toothpaste first as a form of a dog treat, they will enjoy it and you'll soon be able to put it on the toothbrush. There are also rubber finger brushes that are available in the market for pet owners to use because it can brush even the back teeth portion. It is sufficient to brush the dog’s teeth for two minutes every other day just to remove the tartar, plaque, and bacteria.

Tips to Bust the Bad Breath

*Add plain yogurt to your dog’s diet if it is lactose tolerant –Dog health online magazine Dog’s Best Life’s owner Sara B. Hansen shared that adding plain yogurt into your dog’s daily food is a natural remedy to bust bad breath. She warned not to add fruity-flavored yogurt or other sugar substitutes but just plain yogurt. However, sugar substitutes, such as Xylitol, can be dangerous for dogs. A teaspoonful or two of plain yogurt will do. Signs of lactose intolerance in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, flatulence, and bloating, especially if some of these happen after consuming dairy.

*Consider dental sealants – These products are a one-step application that keeps the gumline of dogs clean and prevents plaque buildup and tooth decay.

*Use a rubber dog toy designed for cleaning the gums and teeth – There are certain rubber dog toys created to clean the animals’ gums and teeth when chewed. An example of this would be the KONG rubber dog toy. The smooth surfaces of the toy provide flexibility when chewed and it can gather tooth-chipping debris. Other chews are likewise infused with medication that keep the canine’s teeth and gums clean.

*Use ginger tea as a natural remedy – If you suspect that indigestion or an upset stomach is the cause of your dog’s bad breath, pet care platform Care.org suggests giving one or two teaspoons of ginger tea to your dog. Once you have put one or two slices of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water, allow it to cool down before giving it to your dog.

If you are in doubt of the home treatments you've given your pet, the best solution is a trip to a veterinarian’s office.

Global Pet Oral Care Market

Oral health problem is one of the most common insurance claims among pet owners. Pet insurance company Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. surveyed 500,000 policyholders. It found that these pet owners spent over US$11.2 million on dental conditions and procedures in 2013 alone. Meanwhile, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) noted that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they reach 3 years old. The policyholder statistics from VPI Co. also show that spending on pet dental conditions rose steadily from $7.2 million in 2009 to $11.2 million in 2013.

In a 2017 survey by database company, it shows that the size of the pet oral market worldwide was approximately US$ 1.54 billion. This was also forecast to increase to about $2.21 billion by 2022. In Canada, global market research company Ipsos published that although most (68%) pet owners say they brush their own teeth more than once a day or at least once a day (27%), only one in ten brush their dog’s teeth more than once in a day or once a day (7%). Four in ten (43%) dog owners admit they never brush their dog’s teeth.

Number of Pet Owners Who Brush Their Pet’s Teeth

The difference was also observed among the habits of pet owners when it comes to brushing. Older dog owners (48%) say they never brush their pet’s teeth compared to younger (25%) and middle-aged owners (36%). For their common excuses, 82% said that brushing their pet’s teeth is an inconvenience for them and their pet and the process is difficult. However, 91% of these pet owners know that the inconvenience and difficulty of brushing their pet’s teeth is worth it as they agree that bad breath in their pet could be a sign of dental disease.

Don’t shame your pup just because their mouth smells bad. Instead, help them by seeing a vet regularly. Remember that good dental health is also vital for a dog’s happy and long life.