We all love getting kisses from our pets, but sometimes it can be hard to accept that love when their breath smells like they’ve been eating trash. Sometimes bad breath is just a fact of life for anyone, be it on four legs or two. But if your pet’s breath smells worse than normal, it might be a sign that there’s a bigger issue.

The three most common reasons your dog’s breath stinks are:

  1. Dental disease. This is the most common culprit. This happens when enough bacteria builds up in your pet’s mouth that it causes an infection. What you’re smelling when this happens is the infection. That’s why it’s important to get your pet’s teeth examined regularly (annually at minimum). Just like in humans, dental disease is painful and may result in loss of teeth. If dental disease progresses it can lead to heart and/or kidney disease, so early prevention is crucial.
  2. Stomach issues. Sometimes smelly odor isn’t coming from the mouth, but the the stomach. Gastrointestinal problems like upset stomach, ulcers, bacterial infections, or foreign bodies in the intestines can all have a particularly nasty smell that can travel up the esophagus. If your pet is exhibiting a loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, and/or vomiting, than you should have them examined immediately
  3. A foreign object in the teeth. Humans are supposed to floss for a reason, but flossing a dog or cat’s teeth? That’s another story. If you notice that your pet’s breath is changing on a daily basis, there’s a chance something like a twig or a toy is stuck between their teeth. The easiest solution is a complete oral exam and a removal from the object from a trained professional.

After getting an exam and determining there isn’t anything serious going on, pet dental rinses and water additives will prevent the funky smells and keep dental diseases at bay. Never use human dental rinses on your pet, these are not designed to be swallowed and your pet will not know to spit them out. Brushing your pet’s teeth will also help with the odor. But beware, even if you do everything right, you may just have a burpy pet, which can still make some nasty smells from time to time.

If you notice a foul odor coming from your pet’s mouth, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian during a regular exam, so they can help rule out any serious issues. That way those kisses can be a lot nicer for both parties!

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