PDF Print

How do I cure my dog's bad breath?

My dog has very bad breath. I give him Milk Bones regularly and brush his teeth, but it does not help. What can I do to eliminate the odor?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by many different medical and dental problems -- some of which may be serious. Because a potentially serious problem may be the cause of your dog's bad breath, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination to determine the cause. Some smaller breeds of dogs, such as poodles and Schnauzers, are well known for being predisposed to dental disease. Brachycephalic, or short-headed, dog breeds like the pug and bulldog also have a higher risk of developing dental problems.

Bad breath in dogs may be due to dental disorders such as periodontal disease, gingivitis and plaque buildup on the teeth, significant oral cavity disease such as abscesses, sores or ulcers, decaying tissue associated with cancer, and infections. Kidney and other organ system disease and diabetes and other metabolic problems may also cause halitosis. Although some tartar control treats and brushing are helpful, if your dog's foul odor is due to plaque buildup, a professional dental cleaning will be necessary. More extensive dental problems may require specialized veterinary dental care.

If other problems exist, such as infection, abscess, tumors, or metabolic or other systemic diseases, they will require veterinary attention. Please consult your veterinarian promptly. For more information on eliminating bad breath in dogs and cats, please see our article in the Magazine section, titled: "When a Good Pet Has Bad Breath." To view this article, click on "Magazine" from the VetCentric homepage and enter the words, "bad breath" in the search box.