Here Are the Causes and Remedies for Your Dog's Bad Breath!
Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on May 16th 2022
Do you find that you recoil from your pup when they come in for a cuddle or apologize to guests for the smell? Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions, especially as they grow older, and can be a sign of severe health issues in your pooch. Here at Volhard, we explain what might be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help to treat or even prevent it.
There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something a little off-putting, and that is that often our dogs have a little bit of bad breath. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys, and just generally living their lives, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.
And while you may be tempted to just grin and bear the smell, more often than not, the stink in your dog's bad breath is a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are several different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.
How Do Dogs Clean Their Teeth?
'Oral health issues' is an umbrella term including health issues ranging from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the precise cause, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pooch's mouth if not regularly cleaned away, creating plaque and a persistent smell.
If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Although if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger, and your pet's oral health and well-being will decline.
First, let's learn how dogs keep their pearly whites clean. Unlike humans, dogs have no toothpaste, toothbrushes, or tooth floss to rely on. Instead, they make the best of bones (and the meat on the bones) for brushing and flossing. It's the act of ripping that allows the teeth to clean themselves; the fascia, tendons, and ligaments of the bone meat slide straight between the teeth for natural flossing. This is the reason why we recommend feeding meaty bones to your dog; the bone and meat together act as a natural oral care regimen. However, be sure to toss the bone away after two to three hours to prevent decay and digestive distress.
Also, we recommend avoiding manufactured dental sticks for dogs and other oral care products since Mother Nature has already equipped dogs with an effective, natural oral care regimen.
Causes of Your Dog's Bad Breath
#1: Canine Periodontal Disease
Canine periodontal disease is the leading cause of bad breath in dogs. A lack of oral health care allows a plaque biofilm (made out of food residue and bacteria) to form on your dog's teeth and gums. Once it hardens, this biofilm turns into tartar and starts digging under the gingival sulcus (i.e., the link between teeth and gums), thus causing gum inflammation (i.e., gingivitis) and infecting the tooth root (i.e., periodontitis).
The overall decay process will release smelly sulfur compounds in the oral cavity, which not only break the tooth's barriers against bacteria but also cause your dog's breath to become odorous.
#2: An Upset Digestive System
Next on the list we have gastrointestinal disorders linked to an imbalanced gut microbiome. When suffering from the leaky gut syndrome, your dog's microbiome is no longer strong enough to repel foreign pathogens. As a result, harmful bacteria will be free to permeate the intestines and invade the rest of the body through the lymphatic system. Some of these bacteria will exit the canine body through the oral cavity, rendering the breath odorous on the way.
#3: Smaller Dogs Experience Bad Breath More Often
Small and flat-faced breeds have a documented history of odorous breath. Small teeth, short snouts, and crowded oral cavities make the perfect recipe for plaque and tartar buildup and, consequently, bad breath. Canine halitosis is an everyday occurrence for such dog breeds that dog parents must attend to with patience and a strict oral care regimen.
The same can be said about dog breeds with long hair around their mouths, who unwillingly gather saliva and food debris around the oral cavity. This, in turn, becomes the ideal environment for bacteria to flourish and affect your dog's breath.
#4: Chronic Medical Conditions
Chronic medical conditions often manifest themselves through an odorous breath. For example, if bad breath is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, your dog might be at risk for liver disease. Furthermore, if you detect any sweet or fruity smell in your dog's breath, as well as frequent drinking and urination, be sure to immediately seek medical help as these symptoms could point towards diabetes. Finally, dogs with kidney issues have a harder time processing and filtering waste materials, which is why some debris can build up inside their bodies and lead to odorous breath.
#5: Some Dogs Eat Poop
An interesting yet nauseating cause of canine bad breath is coprophagia (i.e., the consumption of feces). Whether it's because your dog is nursing and wants to keep the den clean or wants to attract your attention, poop eating does occur in some dogs, with obvious effects on their breath.
Don't be quick to punish your dog for eating poop! In some cases, dogs make up for missing nutrients by consuming horse and cat feces or try to relieve gastrointestinal distress. In other cases, poop eating is a manifestation of anxiety or the fear of being punished for an accident. Before dismissing this behavior, be sure to analyze your dog's behavior and unearth any potentially hidden diseases.
#6: Unpleasant Dietary Habits
As if eating poop was not nauseating in and of itself, dogs have other dietary habits that might make some of us skip a meal. If your dog is suddenly manifesting odorous breath without any clear causes, you might be dealing with an "unsupervised snacking" episode. Eating out of the garbage or snacking on decomposing carcasses is not a novelty for most dogs, and you can solve this behavior by keeping your garbage cans locked and teaching your dog the " Leave It" command.
#7: Dry Kibble Feeds Oral Health Issues and Bad Breath
Dry kibble is the tooth's greatest enemy by a long shot. Although you might have heard or read companies advertising kibble as an effective tooth cleaning solution, kibble composition and texture says otherwise. Due to its starchy, carbohydrate-rich composition (anywhere between 30%-70%), kibble is more likely to stick to your teeth and favor plaque development. Furthermore, kibble's complete lack of abrasive qualities unquestionably hinders any oral hygiene regimen, causing a vicious circle of poor dental hygiene and bad breath. Finally, the sugars found in kibble provide food for bacteria to multiply and spread. Aside from its poor nutrition value, kibble also promotes tooth decay, another reason for you to choose a healthier alternative for your dog.
How to Address Your Dog's Bad Breath
Regardless of what causes your dog's bad breath, it's time for you, the dog parent, to take action and implement clear solutions. As long as he does not suffer from a chronic disease, your dog will see tremendous improvements in his breath odor as long as he sees changes in two main areas: oral health care and nutrition.
#1: Proper Oral Care
Any effective oral care regimen must start with basic dental care tools, meaning toothbrush and toothpaste. Bones alone are not enough to ensure a healthy oral cavity, which is why the dog parent's contribution is irreplaceable. Experts recommend brushing your dog's teeth at least three times a week for plaque and tartar buildup prevention.
From the start, make sure that your dog is comfortable with playing in and around his mouth area; this way, he will be more receptive to toothbrushing. Then, make sure that you're using the right tools. Dogs easily get startled at the sound of electric toothbrushes, which is why you'll need a noiseless tool such as the Emmi®-Pet toothbrush. Make sure to point the toothbrush at a 45° angle towards where teeth and gums meet, where most of the plaque builds up, for maximum efficiency.
The final and crucial ingredient of your dog's oral care regimen is toothpaste. Right off the bat, it's critical to remember that human toothpaste must be avoided at all costs, as it contains xylitol, a naturally-occurring sweetener with serious side effects, such as gastric distress, hypoglycemia (i.e., blood sugar drops), liver damage, and even death. If you have reasons to believe that your dog has ingested xylitol in any form, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
#2: Volhard Food for a Healthy Digestive Tract
The second essential step towards improving your dog's breath is choosing a healthier diet. As we mentioned earlier, dry kibble is utterly improper for oral care; with its starchy, carbohydrate-rich composition, dry kibble will turn your dog's teeth into a haven for bacteria. Therefore, putting an end to your dog's kibble-based diet is imperative.
Instead, what your dog needs is the Volhard Natural Diet, a safe, easy-to-chew alternative to commercial diets that improves diseases such as halitosis, gingivitis, and periodontitis and helps prevent them from ever reoccurring. With its correct acid/alkaline balance and decreased carbohydrates, the Volhard Natural Diet supports oral health without hurting your dog's teeth in any way!
How to Improve the Volhard Diet for a Refreshing Breath?
Although the Volhard Diet is enough in itself to improve canine oral health, research has revealed specific foods that can take your dog's oral care regimen to the next level.
The first ingredient on the list is parsley, the king of human food garnishes. With its vast array of vitamins and minerals, this versatile herb serves numerous bodily functions, including immunity, vision, and kidney health. Furthermore, its richness and antioxidants protect against free radicals and, consequently, relieve swelling. Aside from these amazing benefits, parsley is also a fantastic breath freshener. You can serve parsley to your dog in homemade treats and juice. Just remember to always purchase a curly leaf variety of parsley and avoid spring parsley, which poses dangerous toxicity levels to your dog.
#2: Coconut Oil
Aside from its incredible benefits to the canine digestive system, as well as skin and coat, coconut oil can help your dog's breath stay minty fresh. In addition, coconut oil can serve as a practical option for dogs unused to the taste of toothpaste. Apply to the surface of your dog's teeth and brush with a noiseless toothbrush. Trust us; your dog will adore its taste!
#3: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider viagra is another powerful remedy against dental health issues and bad breath. Its chemical composition makes it ideal for breaking down plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth, as well as refreshing his breath. All you have to do is add ½ teaspoon of raw, organic apple cider vinegar to your dog's water bowl, and you're all set. However, make sure that your dog gets a chance to sample the apple cider vinegar before adding it to the water bowl. If unfamiliar with it, your dog may associate the foreign scent with actual water and refuse to drink any in the future, something any dog parent must undoubtedly avoid.
#4: Yogurt and Probiotics
Healthy bacteria sometimes need a helping hand in repelling harmful invaders, and their most potent ally resides in probiotics. The most common (and one of the healthiest) probiotic sources is yogurt.
Yogurt contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacterium typically produced in the intestinal tract, which creates an undesirable environment for fungi and microbes to thrive in. Also, yogurt contains colicine, a weak antibiotic substance that helps the canine immune system repel foreign bacteria. As a result, a healthier gut will become manifest in your dog's fresh, minty breath!
Plain Greek yogurt is the healthiest choice for probiotic supplementation in dogs. You can increase yogurt's palatability with fruit, veggies, peanut butter, and other foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
A Parting Reminder
Numerous medical issues and problematic behaviors manifest themselves through odorous breath, and it's the dog parent's responsibility to identify and fix the causes before putting the dog's health in jeopardy. Luckily, a proper oral care regimen and purposeful dietary changes are enough to bring your dog's oral health back in order and prevent bad breath from returning. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
To help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods, Volhard Dog Nutrition and its nutritionists are now offering online consultations! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to check out our consultation page!