Phew! My Dog Has Bad Breath!

If your dog has bad breath it may be the result of poor dental health or it could be a symptom of an underlying health problem and your pet's health may be at risk! Learn what can cause canine bad breath and what you can do to remedy it!

My Dog Has Bad Breath - Why?

Despite the term 'dog breath' our pets aren't meant to have bad breath, but if they do it could be a sign that all is not well with your pooch.

Do I have dog bad breath?

The most likely causes of dog bad breath are dental problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease, decaying teeth, or mouth infections.

A smelly breath can also be a sign that your Cocker has a more serious health problem such as gastrointestinal disease, cancer, or kidney disease.

If your dogs bad breath continues for any longer than a couple of days (and you're sure his dental health is good) I recommend you book him in to see his vet to make sure he's okay.

Poor Dental Hygiene Can Cause Dog Breath

Food particles left in your pet's mouth attract bacteria and when food and bacteria combine, plaque begins to form and your Spaniel will likely develop bad dog breath.

If plaque isn't removed, a hard residue called tartar will form which will attract more bacteria to the surface of the tooth and to the gum line, which then creates even more plaque and tartar - and so the cycle continues.

If your dog has bad breath, and you don't clean his teeth regularly, you may be heading for trouble unless you begin brushing your dog's teeth soon!

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

Bacteria will cause your Cocker's gums to become inflamed and infected, and may cause bleeding.

This condition is known as gingivitis and if not treated it will lead to periodontal disease.

If the tartar isn't removed it builds up underneath the gums causing damage to the tissue that surrounds and supports your dog's teeth.

It's at this point that the damage is referred to as 'periodontal disease', which can be very painful for your pet and can lead to abscesses, loosening of teeth, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Advanced periodontal disease is irreversible.

In severe cases, the bacteria enters the bloodstream and can lead to damage of vital organs such as the heart, the liver and the kidneys.

Symptoms of gingivitis and periodontal disease may be shown as:

  • Really smelly bad dog breath;
  • Inflamed, red, or discolored gums;
  • Bleeding gums;
  • Receding gums;
  • Swelling of the gums;
  • Pockets of pus;
  • Damaged, loose, or missing teeth;
  • Sensitivity around the mouth (your pet may paw at his mouth);
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat hard foods;
  • Drooling.

The good news is that gingivitis and periodontal disease are easily prevented.

Brushing kills bacteria and with regular brushing as well as making sure the vet gives them a thorough check each time you visit his surgery, you can be certain your Cocker's teeth and gums will remain healthy.

Unfortunately you can't remove tartar just by brushing so it's best not to let it form in the first place.

If his teeth do have tartar you'll need to take him to see the vet for de-scaling under anesthesia. However, once done you'll then be able to keep plaque and tartar at bay by brushing your dog's teeth every day.

Feeding him dry dog food (kibble) rather than wet food will also help to keep his teeth clean and his breath smelling sweet...well, sweetish!

I don't have dog breath either, do I?

You can also encourage your Cocker to chew on rawhide chews, chew toys, raw vegetables, or raw bones (not chicken) to help keep his teeth and gums healthy.

You can also buy dental chew toys which are specially developed to help clean your dog's teeth as he chews.

If your dog has bad breath, you can even buy 'pet breath mints' which can sometimes help with the problem - haven't tried them myself, so I can't really say one way or another.

However, regardless of whether or not your dog has bad breath, I strongly recommend that you set up a good dental health routine for him.

An ideal time to begin is when he's very young, but you'll probably need to get him used to having his teeth brushed first - this is a gradual process, so don't try to rush it.

If your Spaniel is an older dog, please don't let that stop you - begin today. It may take a little longer to accustom him to having his mouth and teeth inspected and brushed, but it will be the first step to making sure his mouth stays clean and healthy.

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