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What is Chronic Bad Breath?

Bad breath in dogs is referred to as halitosis. Halitosis is not only a bothersome condition, it often indicates the presence of an underlying disease that may require treatment. The most common cause of halitosis is periodontal disease, a disease of the gums. Cancer of the mouth, gastrointestinal disease, or metabolic diseases can also cause chronic bad breath.Halitosis, the formal definition for bad breath, is correlated to odor-producing bacteria in your dog's mouth, lungs, kidneys, or gastrointestinal tract. Most veterinarian cases relate canine bad breath to dental or gum disease, especially in small dog breeds. Although brushing and frequent oral care are important, halitosis can be the sign of a deep-rooted problem in the respiratory system, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, or other key organs. Do not hesitate to investigate halitosis, as it is a key health indicator that should not go unnoticed.

Chronic Bad Breath Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $75 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Chronic Bad Breath in Dogs

Aside from an offensive odor coming from your pet’s mouth, symptoms of underlying causes may be present, including:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding or red gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Irritability or anti-social behavior
  • Rubbing face on the floor
  • Excessive drooling
  • Blood in saliva, water bowl, or on chew toys
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Causes of Chronic Bad Breath in Dogs

A number of conditions can result in chronic halitosis including:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Coprophagia (eating feces)
  • Respiratory passage inflammation
  • Viral, bacterial or fungal infection of the mouth or throat
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Diagnosis of Chronic Bad Breath in Dogs

If your pet has chronic bad breath, it is important to visit the veterinarian to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will want to know when you first noticed the bad breath, how long it has been present, your pet’s eating habits, behavior changes, and any other relevant history.

The veterinarian will conduct a physical and oral examination. Particularly painful or nervous pets may require sedation or anesthesia to allow the veterinarian to conduct a full oral examination.

Blood chemistry, cell count, and urinalysis may be requested to rule out underlying metabolic disorders such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease.

X-ray may be required to examine the throat and airways for possible tumors or infection.

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Treatment of Chronic Bad Breath in Dogs

Once the underlying cause of the bad breath is diagnosed, your veterinarian will being treatment.

Dental Cleaning

Treatment for periodontal disease will involve a full dental cleaning under general anesthesia which may need to be scheduled for a future appointment. Cleaning will remove tartar and plaque. Tooth extractions may be required for dying or broken teeth. The pet is usually kept for 4-7 hours for the procedure.

Medical Treatment

Antibiotics or anti-inflammatories or antifungals may be required to treat infections. A diagnosis of diabetes will require treatment with insulin.

Surgery

In cases of severe gastrointestinal disease or cancer, surgery may be required to repair or remove damaged tissue.

Coprophagia

Coprophagia (eating feces) may or may not cause bad breath. If it is determined to be the cause, there are several commercially available products you can try.

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Recovery of Chronic Bad Breath in Dogs

Always be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely when giving medications.

Recovery from surgery can take weeks to months and require several follow-up appointments. If surgery or tooth extractions are involved, pain medications and antibiotics will need to be administered for several weeks. You may need to feed your pet a soft diet or his normal kibble soaked in warm water and eliminate hard chew toys for 3-4 weeks to allow the teeth and gums to heal.

Brush your pet’s teeth twice daily to minimize bacteria. Animal approved toothpastes are available the most pet stores and are flavored so most dogs learn to tolerate and even enjoy tooth brushing. A child’s soft-bristled toothbrush can be used. Position your pet on his back or side, however he is comfortable, and gently introduce the brush with the toothpaste, adding a few seconds each day to brushing time until the pet adapts. Offer your pet dental chews and treats.

Take your dog for regular oral examinations and schedule annual cleanings to remove any tartar that has built up and give the teeth a full cleaning.

Periodontal disease occurs in 80% of pets over the age of 3 years. This disease is the number one cause of chronic halitosis and is preventable with proper oral hygiene.

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Chronic Bad Breath Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $75 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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Chronic Bad Breath Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Zoe

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Cockapoo

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Zoe has had 3 dental surgeries in the past 5 months for unbearable odor from mouth. Teeth extracted, extensive cleaning each time. Odor goes away for about 1 week and comes back. A lot of mouth rubbing on carpet and paw rubbing.

March 3, 2018

Zoe's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without seeing Zoe, unfortunately, I can't determine what might be going on with her. If she is continuing to have problems with her mouth, she may need dental x-rays, or further evaluation. I hope that she is okay.

March 4, 2018

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Sadie

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Jack Russell

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Very Bad Breath

My dog's breath is unbearable. It stinks like nothing I've ever smelt before. It has always stunk but seems to be getting worse. She eats can dog food because she refuses dry food and would constantly paw at her mouth when she ate dry food.

Feb. 26, 2018

Sadie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. If Sadie has not had regular dental care, it is possible that she has dental disease, which might include pain, abscesses, and terrible odor. It would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, as the fact that she paws at her mouth might indicate dental pain, which is awful to live with. I hope that she is okay.

Feb. 26, 2018

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Lizzie

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Her Legs Give Out When Walking

My 15 yr.old Chihuahua Lizzie has been falling over when she walks,her quality of life is not very good,she now has extremely bad breath,and vomits some of what she drinks or eats.I am considering putting her to sleep.Money has always been tight to of given her proper vet care. Not sure what to do.

Jan. 18, 2018

Lizzie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without seeing her, I cannot comment on whether it may be best to euthanize Lizzie. It would make sense to have her see a veterinarian and have an exam, as there may be something that could be done to make her more comfortable. your veterinarian will be able to give you an opinion on what the next best step might be for her.

Jan. 19, 2018

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Manny

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Labrador

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

New Onset Horrible Bad Breath

Numerous fatty lumps but his belly seems to be more distended. He is spry acting. Runs, jumps, swims a couple times a week. Loves to eat bit I have noticed he is drinking more

Dec. 29, 2017

Manny's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email about Manny. It is good that he is still eating well, and active. His distended abdomen may be normal, as soem dog's bodies change as they get older. It would be a good idea to have him seen by your veteinarian and get some senior bloodwork run, to make sure that changes aren't starting to happen that you may be able to manage if caught early. I hope that everything goes well with him.

Dec. 29, 2017

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Cyrus

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Mixed

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath

My dog always has had bad breath since as long as I can remember it's like a hot garbage smell with a bit of a fishy odor he also isn't very social or constantly barking crazily at strangers

July 26, 2017

Cyrus' Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Bad breath in dogs is usually caused by bad teeth or gum disease; other causes include respiratory problems and stomach problems; bring this up with your Veterinarian at your next visit. Behavioural problems may be caused by multiple factors like lack of socialisation as a puppy, to bad experiences etc… a Behavioural Specialist will be able to help you better by observing Cyrus’ behaviour and will advise you of corrective actions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

I have a 9 month old greater swiss mountain dog. His breath has been very smelly since he started loosing teeth. It seems to be getting worse instead of better because he should be done with teething. I brush his teeth regularly which helps at the time but the smell comes back. He doesn't have an foreign bodies in his mouth along with no bumps or redness on the gums. He ha always had trouble with digestion for as long as I can remember. He has loose stool very often and because of this I have him on a probiotic. Could this be a gastrointestinal problem? If so what and what is the treatment?

July 26, 2017

Becky P.


My 10 yr old lab just started having bad breath and has been eating 💩 outside which he has never done before. He also has a couple more fatty tumors as he ages. Any correlate?

Dec. 29, 2017

Tamara C.

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Moose

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Yellow Lab

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Smelly Breath

My 80lb yellow lab Moose had horrible breath until we got him on the correct food (i.e. no grains or corn fillers) and have his teeth cleaned every 6 months to 1 year with anesthesia free cleaning. We did anesthesia cleanings once a year until he was 9 years old. We use enzymatic toothpaste after every meal and let him lick it and then rub it on his gums. He is 15.5 years old now and still going! He can still jump on the sofa and take 1/4 to 1/2 mile walks and I sware it is mostly food related. He has been on raw food (wild elk and venison meat) for over 3 years now and I wish every day I started him on this food years ago. You are what you eat, so take a look at the food you are giving your fur babies and have teeth cleaning done every year or close to it (anesthesia free if an option in your area, especially for older dogs since anesthesia is a risk at older ages).

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Bijou

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miniature poodle

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Barf Poop Smell
Poop Mouth

My dogs breath smells like shit. And just like some symptoms listed he does have attitude problems, he is nervous and agressive and acts strange overal, he seems like a wierdo with his scary breath and all, for the love of cheese can someone please help me, the vets here are not doing anything productive about it and its been years.

Chronic Bad Breath Average Cost

From 26 quotes ranging from $75 - $1,000

Average Cost

$400

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