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Dog breath: A cause for concern?

 by lucy on 25 Jan 2017 |
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Dogs are famous for chewing on rancid, rotten and otherwise offensive objects, and they aren’t shy about sharing their bad breath with humans. Sometimes, a toothbrush can fix the problem, but a foul mouth can also be a sign something is wrong. By learning the common causes behind bad breath, you can better recognize when Fido’s “dog breath” is a cause for concern.
 
Officially known as halitosis, bad breath can arise when your pet is facing dental issues such as gum disease, infections and tooth decay. One sure sign an oral issue is behind bad breath is gum inflammation, indicated by red, swollen or bleeding gums. Some issues, such as cavities, aren’t visible, but tartar buildup can be a good sign your dog is having dental problems. Mouth tumors can also cause a foul odor, as they often grow too fast for the body, causing dead areas to form and bacteria to take over. If you suspect Fido’s bad breath is a result of dental issues, arrange an appointment with your veterinarian.
 
Other medical issues can cause bad breath, too. Kidney disease or failure can cause an offensive odor, as the organ isn’t doing its job of eliminating waste products from the bloodstream. Look out for an ammonia-like smell, as well as changes in appetites, increases or decreases in drinking and urination, and other behavioral changes such as depression, which could indicate this is the problem. Diabetes can also cause strange breath, usually with a sweeter or fruity smell. Dogs can have bad breath due to sinus infections, which lead to mouth breathing, or gastrointestinal problems, often accompanied by changes in appetite, nausea or vomiting. Ingesting toxic substances can cause a foul mouth, too, and if you suspect Fido has found his way into something poisonous, you should call your veterinarian immediately for emergency care.
 
Sometimes, however, Fido’s foul mouth is simply the result something he ate. Feasting on fish bones or feces will obviously cause offensive breath, but even his regular dog food can cause your pet’s bad breath. If you think your dog’s dish is the source of his bad breath, talk to your veterinarian about other options for his food. Daily tooth brushing is key in keeping your pet’s breath fresh, too.
 
While bad breath isn’t always a medical emergency, knowing the signs can help you know when to take your pet to the vet. If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by a sudden change in appetite, pawing at his face and mouth, or compulsive nose licking, call your veterinarian, as these and the symptoms listed above can indicate there’s something seriously wrong.

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