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Why Your Pet Gets Bad Breath



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Dental or Gum Disease
Bad breath (known medically as halitosis) in dogs can occur when your dog has a dental condition—from gum disease or infection to tooth decay.

“A lot of times you can lift up the dog’s lip, look at their gums, [and see that] they’re very red and inflamed,” says Dr. Jeffrey Stupine, VMD, Head Veterinarian, Wellness of the Pennsylvania SPCA. “You can see the tartar build up on the teeth.” He notes that some issues can’t be seen though, including cavities below the gum line.

Although your vet looks for obvious signs of dental disease during your dog’s annual checkup, it’s a good idea to make an appointment in between visits if you suspect a dental issue.


Diabetes, specifically diabetic ketoacidosis, can also make a dog’s breath smell unusual, giving it a sweet, almost fruity smell. Uncontrolled diabetes can also “suppress the immune system, allowing bacteria in the mouth to grow unchecked,” according to Barghusen.

Foreign Substances

Unfortunately, dogs eat plenty of non-food items that aren’t good for their bodies or their breath.  Dr. Jennifer Quammen, DVM, of Grants Lick Veterinary Hospital in Kentucky says that she has seen bones, fishing hooks and sticks all cause foul breath in dogs. Those objects can all get stuck in a dog’s mouth or teeth, she says.

Barghusen agrees that dogs do sometimes eat some pretty undesirable things: “Eating disgusting stuff like feces and long-dead animals can also cause significantly bad breath.”

About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area.David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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