Dogs, like humans, can have bad breath from time to time.
Sometimes, however, your pup having very bad breath all of a sudden can be a sign of something more concerning, especially if you brush their teeth regularly.
It can be alarming when this happens, but the team at Pawp is here for you 24/7 to help with all your pet needs, including sudden bad breath.
Here are some common reasons why pups may suddenly have a malodorous mouth and what you should do to treat it.
There are several things that could cause your dog to have bad breath all of a sudden. The most common culprits according to Pawp veterinarian Jo Myers, DVM are:
Your dog just ate something unpleasant, like poop or something rotten and/or dead
A foreign object like a piece of a stick or bone (Dr. Myers has once even seen a LEGO) has become stuck in your dog's mouth and it's now causing a draining sore
A piece of food has become lodged in your dog's mouth somewhere and is rotting
Your dog has a broken tooth that has abscessed
The presence of some other type of oral pathology, like a tumor
Sometimes, daily brushing isn't enough for dogs, and your pup may have also developed dental decay or periodontal disease despite your best efforts.
“Keep an eye out for other symptoms like difficulty eating, pain with chewing, or any other signs of a potential problem,” Dr. Myers adds, as those signs can point to something being stuck in their mouth or another dental problem like a cracked tooth.
Bad breath can also be a symptom of kidney, liver disease, or diabetes. If they have kidney issues, their breath might smell like urine or feces (something your dog’s mouth might also smell like if they just ate poop). If your dog has liver issues, bad breath often occurs with other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. If their breath has a sweet smell to it and they have other symptoms like change in appetite and increased thirst and urination, they might have diabetes.
If your dog suddenly has smelly breath, try to see if there’s anything stuck in their mouth that has led to an abscess or an infection.
“If it's possible, a really thorough look inside the oral cavity will usually reveal the source of the odor,” explains Dr. Myers. “It's important to look everywhere, including the roof of the mouth, way in the back, and under the tongue.”
Depending on the temperament of your dog, you may need your vet to do this for you, and in some cases, sedation is necessary to perform a thorough examination. If you are able to get a good look and your pup’s mouth and don’t see anything, or if you see something and don’t want to or can’t remove it yourself, a visit with a vet will be necessary.
If that bad breath continues or is associated with other symptoms, it’s best to make a vet appointment to make sure your pup doesn’t have any of the aforementioned underlying conditions.
Your vet can also offer other treatments to your pup depending on the cause of their bad breath. These treatments can range from medications to special diets, and sometimes even surgery depending on the root cause of the problem.
Whatever the cause of your pup’s sudden bad breath, it’s also important to brush your dog’s teeth, ideally every day if you can. Doing so will reduce the risk of periodontal disease—one of the common causes of bad breath—and will also make your dog happier and healthier.