Vet Blog

Does diet affect my dog’s breath?

February 27, 2019

A little bad breath isn't usually anything to be concerned about unless it doesn't resolve itself fairly quickly.

However, if your dog has a persistently stinking odor emanating from his mouth, you really need to seek the advice of your pet dentist in Birmingham, AL. But what exactly is causing your canine pal to have bad breath? Is it something to do with his diet? Let's find out.

Many people are surprised to learn that the two key causes of bad breath in dogs is virtually identical to what triggers bad breath in us, their human owners. These are: diet and dental hygiene and the relationship between the two. While there are also other causes, such as kidney disease or diabetes, these are much rarer.

The relationship between your dog's diet and his dental health

Bad breath is nearly always caused by one main element of poor dental health - excess bacteria. These bacteria release sulphuric gases as a by-product, and it is these gases that cause us and your dog to experience stinky, unpleasant breath. Unfortunately, the number of bacteria present in your dog's mouth can be much higher than is ideal and this is normally due to the combination of a diet high in carbohydrates and the fact that your dog cannot brush his own teeth.

One of the most important things to understand about dogs is that their saliva doesn't contain an important enzyme called amylase, which is something we have in abundance. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates so that we can swallow them with our food before they have chance to cause damage to our teeth. Any remaining sugars will hopefully be cleaned off of our teeth at the end of the day, preventing them from interacting with our oral bacteria and causing plaque to develop. Unfortunately, the lack of amylase in your dog's saliva, combined with an inability to brush their teeth as comprehensively as our own means that our canine companions are likely to have carbohydrate molecules still on their teeth at the end of the day - something which can fuel bacteria growth.

When your dog has excessive bacteria growth, he is at risk of developing a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms that include bad breath, discolored teeth, bleeding gums and pain. Eventually, he could suffer from dental disease - an inflammatory condition that occurs when the bacteria in plaque spread onto the gum and cause irritation and infection. Left untreated, dental disease can lead to general medical conditions including respiratory infections, heart disease and diabetes, which develop due to the bacteria entering the bloodstream and reaching your dog's vital organs.

Changing your dog's diet could improve his breath and reduce the risk of dental problems

In addition to receiving routine pet dentistry care and brushing your dog's teeth as often as you can at home, you can help to boost his dental health by making sure he has the appropriate diet. When you are considering your dog's diet, look for products that have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) as this means that they have been endorsed by the VOHC as being great for your dog's dental health because they are specially formulated to help remove tartar and plaque from his teeth, reducing both tooth and gum disease.

If you are unsure which is the best diet for your dog's dental health, your pet dentistry team will be happy to make a personal recommendation based upon your dog's individual dental and medical history.

If your dog's breath is making spending time with him unpleasant, our professional pet dentistry team would be delighted to assess his dental health to determine the cause of his funky odor. Please call (205) 236-1800 and visit our vets in Birmingham, AL today to schedule an appointment.