is bad breath in a dog a sign of illness

Is Bad Breath in a Dog a Sign of Illness?


The answer to the question “Is bad breath in a dog a sign of illness?” is … it depends. The presence of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth is not a sign of illness. However, this is not the only cause of bad breath in dogs.

Bad breath in dogs due to dental calculus?

Plaque and tartar are mixtures of dead cells, bacteria and residue that build up on the surface of teeth. The tartar is mineralized dental plaque, therefore become hard. This is called a biofilm. These are bacteria that form a colony on dental surfaces and make this matrix to attach to them. They can then develop without constraint and without risk because they are protected by a kind of shell, tartar. Small breed dogs such as Yorkshire or Poodle are more affected by pie and plaque problems.

Bacteria are naturally present in the dog’s mouth. But when they multiply abnormally or form their biofilm, tartar, they can create significant and deleterious inflammation in the gum. Bad breath in dogs results from the multiplication of these bacteria in the mouth and the increase in their production of volatile sulfur compounds. These volatile compounds therefore generate a bad odor.

is halitosis a dog a sign of illness

When inflammation and tartar develop, the dog has bad breath. Over time the gingivitis triggered by the presence of bacteria and tartar will get worse. Holes and deep lesions develop in the gums and they start bleeding, until the jaw bone can appear. We talk about periodontal disease. So it’s no longer just a bad breath problem.

In addition, the presence of a large number of bacteria in the mouth can induce the diffusion of bacteria through the blood and risk creating infections in other organs.

Is bad breath in a dog a sign of illness? Other causes of halitosis in dogs

The list of potential illnesses creating bad breath in dogs is quite long and may be one of the following condition:

  • The presence of malignant or benign oral tumors
  • Infections or inflammation caused by trauma to the oral cavity
  • Affections of the oro-nasal sphere
  • Digestive disorders and in particular in the esophagus
  • General illnesses like diabetes or kidney failure in dogs
  • Coprophagia (dog eating stool)

Treatment for a dog’s bad breath

Look at the gums and teeth of your dog. If there is tartar or the gum is red or damaged, the dog has bad breath because of his oral condition. Take him to the veterinarian who, after checking his state of health with a full clinical examination, will tell you whether descaling is necessary or not. Descaling is one of the solutions to remove tartar from the dog and cure it of its bad breath. Descaling is an operation which consists in removing the dental plaque from the tooth. The veterinarian usually uses a tool that creates ultrasound by vibrating.

clean dog's teeth


Descaling for dogs should be done under general anesthesia. Your veterinarian will examine his heart and may take a blood test to make sure he can do the anesthesia safely.

During descaling it may be necessary to tear off certain teeth and possibly to polish them to prevent the reappearance of tartar. After descaling your dog will be given antibiotics and all the advice and tips to prevent the appearance of tartar recommended by your veterinarian must be observed.

If your dog has bad breath but has other symptoms such as digestive problems, polydipsia, lumps in the mouth or abnormal behavior such as coprophagia he will do additional tests to find the cause of the problem. He will take a blood test to assess the health of his organs. It may be necessary to use medical imaging (radiography, ultrasound and possibly endoscopy of the ENT sphere). He will administer appropriate treatment based on his diagnosis.

Is bad breath in a dog a sign of illness? Prevention is important!

Oral hygiene is the best prevention of the appearance of bad breath in dogs. The recommended routine is to brush, 3 times a week, the teeth with a toothbrush (be careful to do it gently so as not to do a traumatic brushing for the gum) or with a rubber finger pad normally supplied with dog toothpaste.

dog's dental hygiene

In addition to brushing, you can offer him a chewing bar every day to improve dental hygiene. This will keep him busy and take care of his teeth and prevent tartar buildup and the onset of periodontal disease.

Some natural seaweed treatments are sometimes used to prevent bad breath and the appearance of tartar. Large kibbles that are hard enough to force the dog to bite into are good solutions to prevent dental plaque from settling (in addition to brushing).

Is bad breath in a dog a sign of illness? Prevention tricks from Grandma!

Other than the basic preventive and maintenance measures mentioned above, there are methods as natural as ancestral to help your dog to take care of his teeth, his mouth and allow him not to smell good. Some of them will surprise you!

1. Baking soda on a wet compress

It’s a bit of the secret that all of the world’s grandmothers share: baking soda. This product is very effective as it combats bad odors and removes almost all stains. Also, to prevent the plaque that causes tartar and bad breath, you can brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a week. You just need to put a little baking soda on a wet compress wrapped around your finger and make some delicate back and forth rubbing on its fangs!

2. Large raw bones

Yes to the bones but not just any! Use the big uncooked bones. By chewing them, the dog naturally cleans the teeth and therefore fights against the pie. Small bones are a risk of suffocation and cooked bones are brittle and therefore potentially dangerous.

dog chewing toy

3. The apple wedges

While some fruits and vegetables are toxic to pets, others are good for their health. This is particularly the case with apples! A few quarters of apples on a daily basis (make sure to carefully remove the seeds) will help your dog keep its breath fresh and fight against dental plaque.

4. Mint and parsley

Aromatic plants are generally not very dangerous for the dog. So you can put a few fresh mint or parsley leaves in your dog’s diet! His breath will be less smelly.

5. Vegetable charcoal

Dog’s bad breath can be caused by something other than its mouth. Indeed, poor digestive and intestinal functions can also be responsible for the obnoxious aroma coming out of its mouth. So think of giving him a little vegetable charcoal from time to time!

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