"Bad breath" and "dog breath" are synonymous, but it's not natural for your dog's breath to peel paint off the walls and cause flowers to wilt. Your dog's less than pleasant oral odor is likely a symptom of an underlying issue such as periodontal disease, kidney disease or what he's eating. A visit to your vet is your best bet for curing bad doggy breath, although there are ways you can help keep his breath smelling sweet.
Causes of Doggy Breath
Your dog's breath isn't smelly just because he's a dog. Web MD says the most common cause of bad doggy breath is dental disease including periodontal disease and gingivitis. Unfortunately, gum and tooth trouble isn't the only possibility when bad breath is an issue. Your dog may have another, more serious problem such as distemper, leptospirosis, kidney disease including diabetes, tumors in his mouth or he could have pesticide poisoning. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says bad doggy breath also can be caused if your pooch has coprophagia, which causes him to eat feces.
Let Your Vet Weigh In
Because you should always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your dog, your vet is your best bet for identifying what's causing your dog's halitosis. He can perform the physical exam and lab work to try to determine what's making your dog's breath stink. The doctor is the only one who can take the X-rays necessary to get an inside look to see if something internal is to blame. He's also the one who can perform a dental cleaning. Bad breath isn't necessarily an emergency, but it's best to get your dog in to see his vet as soon as you notice a problem.
Brush Bad Breath Away
Brushing your dog's teeth keeps his mouth clean and reduces his chances of developing periodontal disease, as well as helping to keep his breath fresh. "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats" recommends starting toothbrushing when your dog is young, so he'll get used to it. Start without the brush, just gently handling and stroking your dog's mouth. After a few days, graduate to massaging his teeth and gums with gauze wrapped over your finger. Once your dog is used to that, switch to brushing his teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush made for pets, but only use toothpaste formulated for dogs. Toothpaste for humans can make your dog sick. Twice a day brushing would be ideal, but at least once a day will be helpful. Brushing your dog's teeth will help keep his breath smelling OK, if not pleasant, but he should still get a dental checkup from his vet annually.
Chew on This
If your dog is on a canned food diet, try switching him to dry kibble. Soft food sometimes remains in your dog's mouth, causing bad breath and contributing to dental problems. The crunchy kibble, on the other hand, will help scrape the surface of his teeth clean. Provide your dog safe chew toys, too. Hard ones such as rawhide manufactured in the United States and firm rubber ones with grooves are useful, as are the bone-shaped rope toys you can find at pet supply stores. Chewing on any of those types of toys is a natural process that helps clean your dog's teeth, but the fibers from the rope toy serve an additional purpose by flossing between his teeth as he chews.