Bad dog breath (Canine Halitosis) can be quite offensive. In really bad cases, the sulfur odor can be detected throughout the house. Dogs like a lot of attention and we like to give them attention, so bad dog breath can seriously affect our relationship with our dogs.

The main cause of bad dog breath

The most common cause of bad dog breath is periodontal disease, or gingivitis. In a healthy dog, the gums are a coral pink color and the breath may not smell like roses, but it’s not foul. In the early stages of gingivitis a dog will have brownish deposits on the back of his teeth and you might also see a thin red line running along the gums and his breath may well be foul. These symptoms are unfortunately fairly common in a two or three year old dog whose mouth has not been properly cared for– so starting good dental habits when your dog is a puppy is vitally important.

Moderate periodontal disease is the result of neglecting the dog’s mouth for several years. When your dog reaches this stage, its root attachment has started to deteriorate and part of the bone structure providing the tooth with support is gone. These factors make it difficult for your pet to chew, and lack of chewing actually worsens the problem.

Other causes of bad dog breath

Consistent bad dog breath is most often a sign that something else is seriously wrong. It’s the result of a build-up of odor-producing bacteria in your dogs mouth, lungs or gut. Most often bad dog breath indicates that something is wrong with your dogs teeth, but it could also be an indication that something is wrong with his gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. Without exception, bad dog breath is a red flag that should be investigated by a veterinarian.

Even if you think your dogs bad breath is a result of a dental problem, it’s still necessary to see a vet as soon as possible– cavities can easily get infected and quickly become life-threatening.

How can you prevent bad dog breath?

First, start taking preventative measures as soon as possible, ideally when your dog is still a puppy. Here are some things you can do at home that will help you maintain your dog’s oral health.

  • Bring your dog in for regular checkups to make sure he has no underlying medical issues that may cause halitosis.
  • Feed your dog a high-quality, easy-to-digest food.
  • Be aware of everything your dog eats– you may realize that eating garbage can produce bad dog breath, but did you know that feeding your dog raw meat will always produce bad breath? Canned dog food can also produce bad dog breath.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth frequently—every day is ideal. This becomes much easier if you start when your dog is still a puppy. (Please be sure to use toothpaste formulated for dogs as human toothpaste can upset a canine’s stomach.)
  • Provide hard, safe chew toys that allow your dog’s teeth to be cleaned by the natural process of chewing

Bad dog breath may seem like a funny subject at first, but it’s not. It’s the tip of an iceberg that can lead to serious and maybe even life threatening problems. Take every step you can to promote oral health in your puppy and if he has bad breath for more than a week or so, make sure he sees a veterinarian.