What Does Bad Dog Breath Mean for Park Ridge Pet Owners?

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Doggy Breath. We have all experienced it. It might be with your own pet. It might be with your Great Aunt’s scraggly little ankle biter. It might be with your best friend’s mastiff. Some dogs have BAD breath.

In this article, we’ll go over what causes bad dog breath for Park Ridge pet owners and what to do to get rid of it. 

bad dog breath in park ridge, nj

Is Bad Dog Breath Normal?

Bad breath is not normal. A normal, healthy dog’s breath will have a slight “odor”, but it shouldn’t be foul. A dog’s breath should never be so smelly it drives you to gag. It shouldn’t leave a lingering odor on your skin after they lick you.

If you, or someone you know, have a dog whose breath is retched, they need to see a veterinarian right away.

What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

There are a variety of causes in dogs. All of them cause bad breath for a different reason. Dental disease is the most obvious, but even kidney disease, diabetes, oral foreign bodies, coprophagia, and oral tumors can cause it.

This is why it is so important to make a veterinary visit when you notice bad breath. Ignoring the problem can make it so much worse.

Dental Disease Is Dangerous for Dogs

Accumulation of dental plaque and tartar is the most common source of bad breath. Bacteria live within the tartar, and get shoved under the gum line when tartar builds up too much.

This causes gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue- just like in people). Gingivitis leads to a loss of gum tissue and bone over time, which means pockets of infection can build up around the roots of the teeth.

Stages of Dental Disease

There are 4 recognized stages of dental disease. Stage 1 exists in pretty much any animal of any of age. Thin layers of plaque and tartar exist on the teeth, but there is no further disease present.

Stage 2 is when build-up becomes a little thicker, and causes a little bit of irritation to the gums. In Stage 3, we start to see more advanced problems with gum inflammation, loss of gum tissue and bone. In Stage 4, abscesses are forming and teeth start falling out.

Your veterinarian should check your dog’s teeth at every vet visit. When visible plaque and tartar have accumulated, it’s time for a professional cleaning. It’s not a good idea to wait until the teeth get “bad” before cleaning- you don’t want your pet in pain after all. And abscessed and loose teeth are incredibly painful.

How to Prevent Bad Breath for Your Dog

If your pets teeth are in good shape and you want to keep them that way, check out the Veterinary Oral Health Council. They have a list of products that have been shown to help maintain oral health.

These products won’t reverse disease, but they can slow progression of dental disease in otherwise healthy mouths.

What Dogs Get Dental Disease?

There is definitely a correlation between little dogs and dental disease. Because of poor breeding, inbreeding, and a lack of effort to breed dental disease out of many dogs, little dogs are more prone to dental disease.

Short- nosed dogs are more prone too. Their mouths are too small for all the teeth they have (42 to be exact), so a lot of those teeth end up growing in sideways. When this happens, food particles get stuck more easily, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s dental health, and find out if you should get a dental cleaning scheduled!

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Some other common causes of bad breath might not be front of mind for most owners.

  • Kidney disease is caused by diminished function in the kidneys- they can’t filter waste products out of the blood stream as effectively. This leads to a build-up of toxic waste products in the blood stream. This can cause a change in breath odor called Uremic Breath- it might smell like ammonia. This build-up of toxic substances might also lead to oral ulcers.
  • Diabetes can also cause a change in your dog’s breath odor. If diabetes is present but hasn’t been diagnosed, or it has been diagnosed but isn’t well controlled, the body might start to produce ketones. This leads to a condition called Ketosis. While we won’t delve into the body chemistry behind ketosis, what’s important to note is that Ketosis can change breath odor. You might notice your dog’s breath smells like acetone, or some other chemical.
  • Oral foreign bodies can also cause bad breath. An Oral foreign body is defined as an object in a body space where it doesn’t belong. The most common oral foreign bodies seen by veterinarians are sticks or bone fragments, which get wedged between teeth or stuck to the roof of the mouth. If they’re in there for long enough, they can cause tissue irritation and create pockets in which food particles can get wedged. This creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Coprophagia. What is it? Simply put, its poop eating. This cause of bad breath is pretty self explanatory. If your dog eats poop, their breath smells bad.
  • Mouth cancer. Tumors in the mouth are not unheard of in animals, and sometimes they sit just beyond sight- tucked into the cheeks, under the tongue, or way in the back. The tumor itself doesn’t exude an odor, but if it is a mass that gets damaged, or starts breaking down and becoming necrotic (the tissue dies), then the odor will appear.
  • All causes of bad breath in dogs are concerning. If you or a loved one have a dog whose breath offends, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away. It may mean the difference between treating a curable condition, and facing an uncertain future.

Keep an Eye (or Nose) On Your Dog’s Breath in Park Ridge, NJ

Pet care involves so much more than feeding, walking and cuddling. You have to pay close attention to your pet’s health because they’re unable to tell you when something’s wrong.

If you notice your dog’s breath is unusually bad and it’s not going away, don’t hesitate to call us. Our veterinarians are dedicated to providing exceptional care for pets in Park Ridge, NJ and the surrounding areas.

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About Park Ridge Animal Hospital

Progressive Medicine, Heartfelt Care.

As your one-stop-shop veterinarian in Park Ridge, NJ, we make it easy for pet parents to access full-service, high-quality, less-stress pet care all in one visit. Tailor your pet’s stay with us!