22/06/2018 13:14 SAST | Updated 22/06/2018 13:14 SAST

How To Know When It's More Than Just Your Dog's Bad Breath

If it makes you want to puke, maybe it's worth getting it checked out.

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It's unlikely that your dog's breath will ever smell like a bunch of roses, but if it carries a stench that makes you want to pass out, something may be amiss.

"So many dog owners forget to check the condition of their pet's teeth. Bad breath is often 'brushed over', when in fact, if left untreated, can lead to the deterioration of your dog's health and standard of life," said Ashleigh Sanderson, senior brand manager at Dog Portfolio.

Smelly breath can be a sign that your pooch suffers from gum disease and cavities. However, persistent bad breath can also indicate larger medical problems in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, or internal organs, according to Pets WebMD.

"Your dog uses his teeth for much more than just eating. He uses them where we would use our hands – to hold, carry and play," said Sanderson, and this is why it's important for a pet owner to get to the bottom of what's causing the odour.

When to see the vet:

  • Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • An unusually foul odour accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas or gums could signal a liver problem.
  • Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.

Some other underlying clues include red, inflamed or bleeding gums, a receding gum line and tooth root exposure, loose teeth, tartar build up and in severe cases, a change in eating behaviour – such as preferring softer foods or chewing more on one side of the mouth.

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You can take an active role in your pet's dental care by:

1. Brushing your pet's teeth. It is recommended that all pets be trained early on to accept simple tooth brushing as part of their daily (at the very least, weekly) routine.

2. Regular dental cleanings by your vet. Your vet will carefully clean every tooth surface and remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach recesses below the gums and between teeth.

3. Ask for other dental care routines outside of brushing your dog's teeth. For example, daily oral swishes and rinses, chew treats containing anti-plaque ingredients, and specialised teeth-cleaning diets.