Symptoms and Causes of Nausea in Dogs

Nausea in dogs is a very common problem. This symptom can occur by itself but is also very common just prior to the act of vomiting. In humans, nausea is also referred to as “feeling sick to your stomach” or “queasy” and is associated with a feeling of discomfort and unease in the stomach. In dogs, nausea is harder to define since dogs can’t tell you they are “sick to their stomach.” In many occasions, it is unclear that there is an issue until the dog vomits.

The most common symptoms of nausea in dogs are lack of appetite, licking, restlessness, and drooling. Nausea can make some dogs restless during which time they will pace and appear unable to get comfortable. This is common just prior to vomiting. Other dogs with nausea will lie in the same spot drooling.

Overview of Canine Nausea

Nausea is a nonspecific symptom, which means there are many different possible causes. Common reasons for canine nausea include eating too fast or overeating, changes in diet, eating something indigestible or spoiled, licking something with an unpleasant taste (such as cleaning chemicals or topical flea prevention products), motion sickness, side effects of some medications, and any disease or condition that would cause vomiting.

Nausea in dogs can be caused by disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines) or it can be secondary to a disease from a different system cancer, acute kidney failure, chronic kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, or various infectious diseases. The variety of causes can make finding the root cause of nausea a challenge.

At one time or another, your dog may have episodes of vomiting before which he probably had a period of nausea. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem or it may be a sign of something very serious.

**An occasional, isolated episode of nausea with or without vomiting is usually normal and not a reason for major concern.**

The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine whether specific diagnostic tests are recommended. Important considerations include the duration and frequency of the nausea, so it is important to monitor these things. If your dog vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, or has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the nausea and vomiting continues after your dog eats, if your dog acts lethargic, or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted. Learn more about what you can do at home for the vomiting dog.

Canine Nausea – What to Watch For:

Common signs of nausea in dogs may include:

Other signs that can be associated with nausea may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dry heaving (this can be associated with an emergency condition called “bloat”).
  • Dehydration (persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration)
  • Abnormal behavior or physical abnormalities associated with prolonged vomiting such as the presence of lethargy (reluctance to move), abdominal pain, lack of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting or other physical abnormalities.

Diagnosis of Nausea in Dogs

Optimal therapy for any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of nausea and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination, including abdominal palpation. Medical history will most likely include questions regarding the following: exposure to trash; vaccination history; diet; appetite; general health; associated vomiting and character of vomitus (frequency, progression, presence of blood duration of vomiting); weight loss; past medical problems; medication history and presence of other gastrointestinal signs such as diarrhea.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend a number of laboratory tests which may include a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemical panel, and a urinalysis.
  • Fecal examination (to determine presence of parasites or blood)
  • Plain radiography (X-rays) or contrast X-rays (X-rays performed after your dog is given a contrast material such as barium or aqueous iodine) which can help to determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that allows visualization of abdominal structures by recording reflection (echoes) of inaudible sound waves to determine the size and shape of abdominal organs, it can also detect changes in the consistency or texture of organs.
  • Endoscopy may be useful for diagnosis or to remove certain foreign bodies in the stomach. This technology can also be used for examination of the stomach and a portion of the intestine and to obtain biopsies of abnormal areas noted during the exam.

Treatment of Nausea in Dogs

Common treatments for canine nausea may include one or more of the following:

  • Eliminate the predisposing cause (e.g. exposure to trash, change in diet, stop any medications that may be contributing to the nausea, etc.) can help. Patients who eat too quickly or overeat can be treated by feeding small portions at a time or by using feeders designed to slow eating.
  • An acute episode of nausea with or without vomiting in a playful dog, in the absence of other physical abnormalities, may be treated symptomatically without hospitalization (outpatient treatment). This may consist of subcutaneous fluids, injectable antiemetics (drugs used to control nausea and vomiting), and a follow-up appointment if the symptoms are not resolved immediately.  A drug commonly used to treat nausea is Maropitant (commonly known by the brand name Cerenia).  This drug comes in both injectable and oral forms. Many times a dog is given an injection and sent home with the oral pills.
  • Dogs with abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy or any other physical abnormality may be treated with hospitalization. Therapy may include intravenous fluid administration, 24-hour monitoring, and drug treatment. This is often combined with diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Sick dogs may require referral to an emergency or 24-hour hospital that offers care around the clock.

Home Care and Prevention of Nausea in Dogs

Follow-up with your veterinarian for [[AWT|5679|re-examinations]] of your dog as recommended and administer any medications they prescribe. If your dog experiences an inadequate response to previous medical measures, a further workup may be indicated to determine the underlying cause of the nausea.

  • Treatment for nausea is dependent on the cause. Symptomatic therapy of an episode of nausea and vomiting includes withholding food and water for 3 to 4 hours. If your dog has not vomited by the end of this time, offer water a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to offer small amounts of water every 20 minutes or so until your dog is hydrated.
  • After the small increments of water are offered, gradually offer an easily digestible food. Small frequent feedings of a bland digestible diet such as Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D, Iams Recovery Diet, Provision EN, or Waltham Low Fat are usually recommended. Homemade diets of boiled rice or potatoes (as the carbohydrate source) and lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese as a protein source are also recommended. Here are instructions on how to make a bland diet at home.
  • Medications to reduce stomach acid may be recommended. A common and safe medication commonly used at home is famotidine (Pepcid). For dosage and medication information, go to the Drug Library article on Pepcid.
  • Gradually return your dog to regular food over 1 or 2 days. If vomiting continues at any time or you note the onset of other symptoms, call your veterinarian promptly.
  • If your dog is not eating, acts lethargic, vomiting starts or continues, or any of the other physical abnormalities mentioned above begin, it is important to see your veterinarian. Your dog needs your help and the professional care your veterinarian can provide. If your dog is having the clinical signs mentioned above, expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and make treatment recommendations. These recommendations will be dependent upon the severity and nature of the clinical signs.

Prevention of nausea in dogs is aimed at minimizing your dog’s exposure to trash (bones, food products), foreign material (socks, strings, etc.) or toxins. Walk your dog on a leash to minimize exposure to foreign material that may be located outside. Monitor your dog’s appetite and general health as well. If your dog is overeating, feed smaller and more frequent meals to prevent further nausea.

What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

Bad breath is one of the most common symptoms in dogs and is a very common complaint from dog owners. It most often occurs in adult or senior dogs but puppies can get bad breath too!  Learn more about the Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs? and Why Some Dogs Breath Smells like Fish.

Below, we will review common causes of bad breath in puppies, how to stop bad breath, and review products you can use to make puppy’s bad breath better.

Here’s Why Puppy’s Get Bad Breath

The reasons puppies get bad breath can be some of the same reasons as older dogs although there are some differences in puppies.

Below are 8 possible causes of bad breath in puppies:

  1. Ingestion of Stinky Stuff. Puppies explore the world with their mouths and can chew on and/or ingest things as they explore. This is especially true with puppies that are teething between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months. Learn more about Teething in Puppies. Puppies may ingest foul and sometimes stinky things that can cause bad breath. Some examples include dead animals they may find in the yard, mulch, compost, trash, and/or spoiled food.
  2. Ingestion of Foreign Bodies. Puppies may ingest un-digestible objects that can lead to problems that cause bad breath. Ingested items can get stuck in the stomach and intestinal tract that can cause vomiting and bad breath. Learn more about Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies in Dogs and Puppies.
  3. Tooth Abscess. A tooth abscess is an infection around the tooth that can cause bad breath. Although less common in puppies, it is possible to have a bad tooth at any age.
  4. Oral Ulcerations and Infections. Ulcers in the mouth can occur from a puppy that ingests or licks caustic substances. Because puppies are curious and commonly get into things causing chemical exposure that can lead to oral ulcerations and infections. Caustic substances that a puppy may lick or chew on include cleaning chemicals, soap and detergents, laundry or dishwater detergent pods and liquid potpourri.  These agents can cause oral ulcerations and infections that cause bad breath in puppies. Another cause for an oral infection is wounds that occur from a fight. Some dogs sustain bites around and in the mouth from fights with other animals.
  5. Respiratory Infections. Pneumonia and infections of the trachea can cause foul smelling breath. It can be especially noticeable during exhalation (breathing out) and coughing.
  6. Problems with Bones. Some bones given to puppies can break and splinter causing trauma to the oral tissues. Bones can also become lodged in the roof of the mouth or around the lower teeth and jaw. This can cause trauma to the tissues, an infection, and foul odor.
  7. Digestive Problems.  Some puppies may have digestive problems that can lead to bad breath. Feeding a high quality easily digestible food formulated for puppies can help digestion.  In addition, puppies commonly have worms which should be treated by your veterinarian with a deworming medication.
  8. Other. There are additional causes of foul breath in dogs that don’t commonly occur in puppies but are common in adult dogs. They may include gum disease, periodontal disease, oral tumors, lung cancer, kidney disease, and uncontrolled diabetes (diabetic ketoacidosis). Some pet owners even describe their dogs breath to have a foul fish type odor.  Learn more in Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

If you suspect your puppy has any of the problems identified above, is not eating, vomiting, appears lethargic, is coughing, and/or seems painful around the mouth, please see your veterinarian as soon as possible. They can help you evaluate your puppy for abnormalities that can cause bad breath.

How to Help Stop Bad Breath in Puppies

Below are a few tips to help stop bad breath in puppies:

Brush those teeth. One of the best things you can do to help bad breath in puppies is to brush their teeth. Make it a positive experience. Pick out a veterinary approved toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste that has an appealing flavor to your puppy. Start slowly by touching your puppy’s teeth and gums gently and rewarding your puppy with praise for positive behavior.  Learn more about How to Brush Your Dog Teeth. Here is an article on dental products for dogs.

Provide safe chew toys. Ensure your puppy has plenty of safe chew toys that cannot be ingested. Some puppies will chew on and ingest toys, which can lead to life-threatening obstruction in the stomach or intestines. Ensure they are safe for your puppy’s size and are not a choking hazard.

Here’s How to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath

Believe it or not – one of the most commonly searched terms on the Internet is “dog bad breath cure”. Because bad breath in dogs is such a common problem, there are literally thousands of products on the market to treat or help bad dog breath. There are dozens of commercials and infomercials promoting dog bad breath products that “cure bad dog breath.” This has led me to test many of these products over the past decade. Products include various foods, treats, chews, water supplements, pills, capsules, powders, liquids, herbal therapies, and more.

First, an important question is “how do you identify what is causing your dog’s bad breath” and “how can you cure it?” Which products really work?

First, let’s identify what can cause bad breath.

How To Identify What’s Causing Your Dog’s Bad Breath

To identify the underlying cause of your dog’s breath may require a visit to your veterinarian.

Your vet may ask you the following questions:

  • How long has your dog had bad breath? Was it recent or has it been months?
  • What do you feed your dog? What brand and flavor of food are you feeding? What treats are you giving? Has there been any recent change in the food?
  • Does your dog have exposure to trash, dead animals, compost, the litter box, or other items that can be ingested, chewed, and that could lead to bad breath?
  • Does your dog have other symptoms? Respiratory diseases or infections, lung tumors, nasal tumors, and diabetes can all cause bad breath in dogs. Is your dog sneezing? Coughing? Having trouble breathing? Exercise intolerance? Increased thirst or urination? Has there been any recent change in weight e.g. unexplained weight loss or gain?
  • Is your dog vomiting or having diarrhea? Diseases involving the esophagus, stomach or intestines can cause bad breath.

Please discuss any abnormalities or concerns with your veterinarian.

Once your vet has a good history on your dog, they will likely perform a physical examination that includes listening to the heart and lungs, feeling the abdomen, and most importantly evaluating the teeth and mouth. Diseases of the teeth, mouth, and gums are the most common causes of bad dog breath.  Learn more about the causes of bad breath in this article My Dog’s Breath Stinks: What Are the Causes of Bad Breath? This article is also helpful – Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

What Kind of Treatment Will Help Eliminate Your Dog’s Stinky Breath

The best things you can do to help your dog’s bad breath is to see your veterinarian and allow them to help you determine the underlying cause of the bad breath. Based on the cause, they can recommend a dog bad breath cure. For example, if the cause is a respiratory infection, the treatment cure may be antibiotics. If the underlying problem is diabetes, they can treat your dog with insulin. If the cause is dental disease, the best treatment cure is a dental cleaning or other procedures to fix the underlying tooth or gum problem.

The ideal way to treat and cure stinky dog breath is to prevent it before it starts. Before your dog has dental disease, brush your dog’s teeth at daily. Plaque forms daily and takes 24 to 48 hours to turn to tartar. By brushing daily, you can remove the plaque and prevent it from turning to tartar.

The ideal time to begin brushing your dog’s teeth is either after a dental cleaning or when your dog is young and teeth are new and clean. In puppies, the ideal way to start is by touching your dog’s teeth and gums and give positive reinforcement for good behavior. Puppies do get bad breath as well. Learn about What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

To begin your tooth brushing routine, you will need a soft toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste with a flavor appealing to your dog. Do not use human toothpaste. Pick a time that works with your schedule so this can be part of your daily routine. Do not begin by brushing all your dog’s teeth in one session. Begin slowly by offering your dog the toothpaste only and provide plenty of praise when your dog responds positively. Gradually work up to a full 30-second brushing of all the teeth over a few weeks. For more details – go to “How to Brush Your Dog Teeth”. This article includes excellent information written by a veterinary dentist. Even with daily brushing, your dog may need thorough periodic professional dental cleanings.

Try These Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath

Clients often ask for dog bad breath home remedy options.  We will give you suggestions for things you can do or make at home to help your dog’s bad breath. A veterinarian should see dogs with oral diseases or illnesses causing bad breath. They can identify the underlying cause of the bad breath and provide treatment recommendations to address the problem. This is the most effective way to treat bad breath in dogs.

11 Home Remedies to Help Bad Dog Breath

If your veterinarian examines your dog and determines his breath to be just bad “doggy breath” then the following home remedies may help your dog’s breath.

Here are some of our favorite home remedy options:

Fresh herbs. Fresh cut mint or parsley can help freshen breath. Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of your dog’s food daily. You can also make an herbal tea by mixing 1 tablespoon of fresh cut herb with 1 cup of hot water. Allow it to simmer then cool. Refrigerate and store in a sealed container. Add 1 teaspoon of this tea to your dog’s fresh water daily.

Coriander. Coriander is a green leafy herb that can help fight canine bad breath. You can add a small amount of chopped coriander to your dog’s food or create a tea. To make this home remedy, add three coriander leaves to one cup of hot water to make a coriander tea. Add 1 teaspoon to your dog’s fresh clean water once daily. Continue this for one week and repeat as needed.

Brush those teeth. A great way to treat bad breath is to prevent it by brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis. This is the best way to help prevent tartar from sticking to the teeth. All you need is a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a cooperative dog! Get our tips on How to Brush Your Dogs Teeth.

Try a home remedy toothbrush kit. Some dog owners make their own dental toothbrush kit using soft gauze wrapped around their finger for the brush and making a paste out of baking soda and water. This can work but most dogs often prefer flavored toothpaste and made for dogs.

Pick your dog’s food with care. Feed a high-quality dog diet formulated for your dog’s age and life stage. Poor quality foods made with inferior ingredients and preservatives can cause foul breath in dogs. Research the dog food and feed the best you can afford from a company you trust.  Good quality companies that make dog food include Acana, Fromm, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Foods, Natures Recipe, Orijen, Stella and Chewy’s, Taste of the Wild, Wellness Core and Zignature. Ensure that the foods you feed are not expired. Seal open bags or transfer kibble to a sealed container.

Water. Encourage your dog to drink by providing fresh clean water daily. Some dogs drink out of mud puddles or old smelly dishes with foul water. No wonder their breath stinks!

Clean the dog bowls. Consider not only what your dog eats but the bowls that he eats and drinks from. Dirty bowls can harbor bacteria and odors that can lead to bad breath.  Scrub your dogs bowls at least weekly with mild soap and water and rinse well. Running the bowls through the dishwasher is another great way to get them clean.

Chew toys. Buy chew toys that can help your dog to naturally scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth. Ensure the toy size is appropriate and durable for your dog. Toys too big or small can cause choking hazards. Toys with loose parts or that can be chewed up can be ingesting causing a gastrointestinal foreign body.

Probiotics.  Bad breath in dogs can be caused by digestive issues. Probiotics can help. Probiotics are substances that stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal flora. They consist of live bacteria and yeasts which can restore the good bacteria and reestablish the right balance of intestinal flora. Learn more about using probiotics and prebiotics in dogs.  Some probiotics come as a powder and others as a capsule. You can sprinkle the powder on the food or give your dog the capsule. You can open the capsule and sprinkle on the food or mix in the water.  You can also mix the contents of the powder or capsule with water, pull it up in a syringe, and give it orally. This is a great option if your dog won’t eat it on the food or take the capsule. Follow package directions or instructions from your veterinarian.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Have you ever noticed that your dog has stinky breath? Some pet owners notice and complain that their dog’s breath smells like fish.  A fish odor can occur for several reasons, which we will review below.

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis.” Bad breath can be caused by a dogs diet, ingestion of different foods or trash, be a warning sign of oral or dental disease, or can be a sign of a respiratory disease, infections, or other systemic problems such as diabetes.

What Can Cause Fishy Smelling Breath in Dogs?

There are dozens of causes of canine bad breath. Bad breath is considered a symptom. What that means is there are many potential underlying causes of bad breath. For example, dog breath smells like fish could be from something your dog ate, an ulcer in the mouth, or from a tooth infection. Some of the possible causes of fishy smelling breath are minor and others are more serious and require treatment.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs include:

  • Dietary indiscretion. A common cause for bad breath in dogs is their dietary indiscretion. Ingestion of dead animals, garbage, animal feces, compost, litter box wastes, or spoiled food can give your dog breath that smells like fish.
  • Gum disease.  Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue which is commonly caused by dental plaque. This results in swelling and redness of the gums as well as bad breath. Plaque develops when the normal bacteria in the mouth mix with proteins and starches found in saliva. This mix produces plaque material that adheres to the teeth. Eventually, plaque turns into tartar, which firmly adheres to the teeth. It is most obvious just below the gum line where it accumulates. A dog with breath that smelled like fish. This dog has plaque, tartar and an infected tooth as the dark black tooth on the right.
  • Periodontal disease.  Peritonitis is a disease of the tissues that support the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in dogs. This disease affects over 80 percent of dogs over three years of age. Peritonitis is caused by bacteria that make up plaque. The total impact of periodontal disease is difficult to determine in dogs. It has been well studied in humans and is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” due to its destructive nature. In humans, in addition to tooth list, periodontal disease can cause aspiration pneumonia from small amounts of bacteria that are released into the bloodstream (bacteremia) resulting from when we chew or brush our teeth.
  • Tooth abscess. An abscessed tooth can cause dog breath that has the foul odor of fish. Some tooth abscesses are contained within the mouth and others will abscess up through the skin. It is common for a dog to present to the veterinarian for a draining wound on the cheek just below the eye.  Inspection of the wound can reveal an abscessed tooth. Treatment includes dental cleaning and possible tooth extraction (removal).
  • Oral ulcerations. Ulcers in the mouth can occur due to infections, reactions to certain drug therapy, or from a dog ingesting or licking caustic substances. Caustic substances may include cleaning chemicals, soap, and detergents, or liquid potpourri.
  • Many cleaning chemicals such as bleach or lye can cause oral ulcerations.
    • Laundry and dishwasher pods are colorful, soft and can look like a dog toy. Dogs can chew on or ingest these laundry or dishwater pods which can cause severe oral ulcerations. To learn more – go to Laundry or dishwater detergent pod toxicity in dogs.
    • Liquid potpourri is a common household item. Potpourri is scented and can be appealing to some dogs.  It can be found as concentrates added to water and heated slowly in simmer pots. The ingredient of potpourri includes essential oils and cationic detergents that can case ulcerations of the mouth, gum tissues, and/or esophagus. For more information, read about Potpourri Toxicity in Dogs.
  • Oral infections. Oral tissue can be traumatized and infected by burns or from trauma resulting chewing on sharp bones, sticks or other sharp objects. Another cause of oral tissue trauma is from bite wounds. Some dogs sustain bites in the mouth from fights with other animals.
  • Foreign material. Bone or hair can become caught in the mouth causing a foul odor. This is a common reason for fishy smelling breath.
  • Oral tumors.  Tumors in the mouth can become infected or parts of the tumor can begin to die which can lead to a foul odor.
  • Digestive problems.  Some dogs with stomach or digestive problems can have bad breath.  Dogs that vomit often have foul smelling breath.

Other Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

  • Lung cancer. Cancer of the throat, mouth, lungs, and nose can cause foul breath.
  • Respiratory infections. Various infections of the respiratory tract can cause foul smelling breath. It can be especially noticeable during exhalation or coughing.
  • Kidney disease. A decline in kidney function can cause some dog’s breath to have the odor of ammonia.
  • Diabetes. Another disease that can cause an abnormal oral odor is diabetes. A severe form of uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, can cause an abnormal sweet fruity odor.

How to Make Fishing Smelling Breath Go Away

The best way to make bad breath go way in your dog is to identify and treat the underlying problem that is causing the bad breath. You can sometimes identify the cause of your dog’s bad breath by the following:

  • Has your dog eaten anything abnormal such as compost? A dead animal carcass?  Got into the litter box? Trash?
  • Is your dog showing any signs of respiratory symptoms such as coughing or trouble breathing? Sneezing? Bloody nose?
  • Is your dog showing any signs of diabetes such as drinking more or urinating more?
  • Is your dog vomiting? Not eating? Losing weight?
  • Does your dog have signs of dental disease? Look in your dog’s mouth if you can do so safely. If you carefully lift up your dog’s lip, you can sometimes see red inflamed gums and tartar build-up on the teeth.  Many times the worst teeth and odor problems occur in the back of the mouth. If possible, look at the top teeth in the very back of the mouth for signs of redness, inflammation, and tartar build-up. In addition to bad breath, tartar build-up, redness, and/or swollen gums are all signs of problems.

If you notice any abnormalities in your dog, please see your veterinarian. Many of the dental problems can be very painful. If you don’t notice any problems but are still worried about your dog’s bad breath, make an appointment and allow your veterinarian to examine your dog and evaluate for possible underlying problems.

Products That Can Help Bad Breath in Dogs

There are many products on the market that can help bad breath in dogs.  The effectiveness largely depends on the underlying cause for bad breath. If your dog has a bad tooth or oral infection, no product will mask that smell without treating the infection or bad tooth.  Learn more about Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath or  Tips to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Dog Breath that Smells Like Fish:

My Dog’s Breath Stinks: What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?

A foul odor coming from a dog’s mouth is a reason pet owners inquire about dog bad breath causes. Below we will review the causes of bad breath in dogs and tips on how to make the bad breath go away.

First, let’s consider what causes bad breath in dogs? Bad breath is not a disease but is considered a “symptom.” Many pet owners are confused by the difference between a disease and a symptom. So, what is a symptom?

A symptom is defined as “a physical sign or physical sensation that is evidence a disease is present.” A symptom can be caused by many different underlying diseases. To help explain what a symptom is, here is an example of the symptom limping. Limping can be caused by a torn ligament, a thorn in the paw pad, a broken nail, or from a fractured bone. Like limping, bad breath has many different possible causes.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

Some pet owners notice that their dog’s breath smells like fish.  It’s more than just “doggie breath.” This foul and offensive odor can occur for multiple reasons that we will discuss below.

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis.” Bad breath can be a warning sign of oral and dental diseases, respiratory infections, tumors of the oral or respiratory systems, digestion problems, as well as systemic diseases.

Causes of bad breath in dogs include:

  1. Oral and dental diseases. This may include gum disease, periodontal disease (disease of the tissues that surround the gums), tooth problems such as an abscess, oral ulcerations, oral infections, and/or bone or hair caught in the mouth.
  2. Oral tumors. These types of tumors can become infected as a part of the tumor begins to die. This can lead to a foul odor.
  3. Respiratory problems. Various diseases of the nose, sinus, trachea, and lungs can cause halitosis in dogs. For example, dogs with lung cancer, tumors of the nose, sinus infections, and/or respiratory infections such as pneumonia can cause bad breath.
  4. Systemic diseases. Diseases such as kidney failure or diabetes mellitus can cause bad breath.  A decline in kidney function can cause some dog’s breath to have the odor of ammonia. A severe form of uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, can cause an abnormal sweet fruity odor.
  5. Dietary indiscretion. Another cause for bad breath is some dog’s dietary indiscretion. Some dogs eat just about anything that may include other animal’s feces, garbage, compost, mulch, and dead animal carcass. Ingesting these foul things can definitely give your dog breath that smells like fish.
  6. Digestive or stomach issues. Some dogs with digestive issues can have bad breath.  Any problem that causes vomiting can also cause bad breath. Stomach ulcers, inflammatory gastrointestinal problems, or tumors involving the stomach or intestine can cause bad canine breath.

Some dog owners believe their dog’s breath has the foul odor of fish. Learn more details about possible causes of Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Puppies can also have bad breath too. The causes of bad breath in puppies are often different from those of adult dogs. Adult dogs have had months or years to develop gum and tooth problems that can cause bad breath. Learn more about What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

How Do You Make the Bad Doggy Breath Go Away?

The best way to make bad dog breath go away is to see your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of the bad odor and treat that cause. For example, if the cause is from gum disease or a bad tooth, then a dental cleaning is the best option to eliminate the bad breath. If the bad odor is from your dog eating trash, then minimize your dog’s exposure to trash by covering trash cans or preventing exposure in other ways such as by keeping your dog on a leash or in a fenced in yard.

There are products on the market that claim that they eliminate bad dog breath. Many are water supplements or treats. Over the years we have tested dozens of the products to find they don’t work or only mask the odor of the underlying medical problem for the short term.  There are some products that can help that I’ll share with you in these two articles- Here’s How to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath and Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath.

Tips To Help Bad Dog Breath

If your dog does not have a significant medical problem causing bad breath, there are some simple things you can do that may help your dog’s’ bad breath. The following are four tips that can help bad doggy breath go away:

  1. Brush your dog’s’ teeth. Purchase a doggy toothbrush and some dog formulated and flavored toothpaste. Daily brushing can remove plaque which turns to tartar which causes a foul odor. Learn more about how to brush your dog’s teeth.  This is the best thing you can do to prevent bad breath and dental disease in your dog.
  2. Oravet dental hygiene chews.  These treats fight the source of bad breath as well as tartar and plaque. These are one the only dog treats that we have found that help with tartar and odors.
  3. Periodic dental cleanings. Allow your veterinarian to perform annual dental cleanings on your dog. This is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy. February is “dental month” and often a great time to get special pricing for dental cleanings.
  4. Safe chew toys. Provide your dog with veterinary approved safe chew toys appropriately sized for your dog. Chew toys are a way to help a dog care for their teeth in a natural way. The act of chewing can prevent or eliminate plaque and tartar build-up.

We hope this article helps you learn a little more about the causes of bad breath in dogs.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Dog Bad Breath Causes:

What’s the Right Canine Epilepsy Diet?

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that has no known underlying cause. Epilepsy can be treated with various seizure medications with the goal is to decrease the frequency of the seizures, the severity of the seizures, and how long it takes your pet to recover from a seizure. Seizure medications are used to control seizures but generally do not totally eliminate seizures. Clients commonly ask their veterinarian if there is a canine epilepsy diet that can help control this disease. Below we will review what are seizures and epilepsy, treatment options, and discuss the potential benefits of a canine epilepsy diet.

What are Seizures?

Seizures, also known as convulsions or fits, are classified as a symptom and are not a disease. What this means is that seizures can be caused many different underlying problems such as trauma to the head such as that occurs when hit by a car or hit with a ball bat, ingestion of various toxins, brain tumors, infections, organ failure and many more possible causes. Learn more about Causes of Seizures. Epilepsy is a seizure disorder when no underlying cause has been identified.

A seizure occurs when excessive electrical activity occurs in the brain that results in a series of involuntary contractions of the muscles, abnormal sensations or behaviors, or some combination of these events. Most often seizures occur at night or early in the morning while a dog is at rest.

Many believe there may be a genetic basis for epilepsy but the cause of epilepsy is largely unknown. It is believed that the incidence rate of epilepsy in dogs is 0.5% to over 2% of all dogs. Epilepsy generally begins in dogs that are fairly young ranging from 6 months to 5 years. Epilepsy can occur in females and males equally.

Tests for Epilepsy in Dogs

  • Diagnostic tests are recommended to look for an underlying cause for the seizures. Testing recommendations may depend on your dog’s symptoms and may include:
  • Bloodwork that includes a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile to evaluate for signs of infection, anemia, kidney or liver abnormalities
  • Urinalysis to evaluate kidney function
  • Bile acid blood test to evaluate for liver disease
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for structures changes in the brain or tumors
  • Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) tap to look for signs of inflammation or infection
  • Fecal examination to check for parasites

These tests can help determine if there is an underlying cause for the seizures. If there is not an underlying cause found, epilepsy is often diagnosed.

Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

Treatment of epilepsy will depend on the frequency of the seizures. If the seizures occur more than once every 4 to 6 weeks or a dog has more than one seizure in any 24 hour period, the medical therapy is often recommended.

Treatment generally includes medications designed to manage the seizures by decreasing the frequency and severity of the seizures.  Common medications used for canine epilepsy are Phenobarbital, Potassium bromide, Diazepam (Valium), Zonisamide, Levetiracetam, Felbamate, Gabapentin, Clorazepate, and/or Topiramate.  

It is important to carefully follow your veterinary instructions regarding these medications. These drugs should not be started, stopped, increased or decreased without the approval of your veterinarian.  Some drugs, such as phenobarbital, require regular blood testing to determine if the amount of the drug in the blood is therapeutic.

What You Should Feed Your Dog if He Has Epilepsy

Nutrition is important for overall health of all dogs. Specific diet recommendations for dogs with epilepsy include:

  • There appears to be benefits in feeding dogs with epilepsy a medium chain triglyceride (MCT)-based diet. Diets that were developed for the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction were was studied to determine if there were any benefits in dogs with epilepsy. The results suggested that the frequency of seizures were lower in dogs fed this diet compared to a placebo food. You can supplement MCT’s in your dog diet by offering your dog natural coconut oil with his food. Coconut oil is a very good source of all four MCT’s. The coconut oil dose most commonly used is ¼ of a teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight twice daily. For example, a 40-pound dog would require 1 teaspoon every 12 hours. A MCT-based dog food is Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula.
  • There have been studies to evaluate high-fat and low carbohydrate diets and their impact on epilepsy. These studies have shown no improvement in seizure control in dogs with epilepsy.
  • If your dog is overweight, a diet plan for a weight-reducing plan is recommended to optimize your dog health.  Many dogs on seizure medications can gain weight while on therapy.
  • Dogs receiving potassium bromide medications require study levels of dietary salt. Too much salt can increase the excretion of bromide which decreases the bromide blood level. Too little salt can lead to increased bromide levels.

Can You Feed Dogs with Epilepsy Human Food?

You can feed your dog some human foods but he doesn’t actually need human foods. What he needs is a good quality balanced dog food. It is important to know that some human foods can be dangerous and even toxic. Read more about Dangerous Foods – Learn What is harmful to Your Dog.

Here’s What to do After Your Dog Has a Seizure

Seizures in dogs can be scary to watch and seem to last forever.  Seizures cause involuntary contractions of muscles due to the sudden and excessive firing of nerves in the brain.  How a seizure looks in dogs can vary from dog to dog. Signs can range from falling over to one side, padding of all limbs, teeth chattering, foaming at the mouth, barking or vocalizations, urinating, and/or defecating. Some dogs will have focal seizures that cause abnormal muscle movements in one group of muscles such as facial twitching.  Clients commonly call veterinary hospitals wondering about dog seizures and what to do after.

First, let’s talk about the components of a seizure. This will help you understand what to expect and what to do after a seizure.

There are three phases of a dog seizure:

  1. Aura Phase. The first phase of a seizure is the Aura phase. Some dogs have this and others don’t. Certain signs of an impending seizure may be evident, such as restlessness, whining, shaking, salivation, wandering, hiding or some dogs will seek affection. These signs may persist from seconds to days in duration and may or may not be apparent to you. Some dogs will run to you or seem “needy” just prior to a seizure.
  2. Ictal Phase. During the ictal phase of a seizure, the actual seizure occurs. The seizure may last from seconds or minutes. The typical generalized seizure looks like this: your dog falls on his side and begins paddling and chomping his jaws. Some owners will notice dog teeth chattering. They may drool, foam at the mouth, urinate and move their bowels. They may bark or vocalize. Dogs are unaware of their surroundings during this time.
  3. Post-ictial Phase. This phase of a seizure occurs immediately after the seizure. Dogs will appear confused and disoriented and may wander or pace. Some dogs will be temporarily blind and may run into objects. The typical post ictal dog will wander around aimlessly, be unsteady on their feet, may stumble over to their water dish and overdrink and/or overeat, drool, and seem generally confused. This phase may last a few minutes to hours.

What To Do and NOT to Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure

Clients commonly want to know what do and what not to do if a dog has a seizure. Seizures can be really scary and often seem to last forever when it is only a few minutes. Clients commonly ask if their dog will die from a seizure. Learn more about the risk of death in Can a Dog Die From a Seizure?

In general, the recommendations on what to do when your pet is having a seizure are:

  • Don’t panic. Even though it is really scary, understand that your dog is unconscious and not in pain. He is not aware that he is seizing.  He is not aware you are there and may react in fear, including to bite.
  • Be safe. Pets do not swallow their tongues. Do NOT put your hand or any other object in your dogs’ mouth. This is how many pet owners get bit.
  • Remove kids and pets. Keep children and other pets (both cats and dogs) away from seizing pets. They are often scared and their reactions can be unpredictable. There have been reports of attacks to both seizing dogs and people during this stressful and confusing time to the other household pets.
  • Time the seizure. Look at your watch and time the seizure. Seizures often seem like they are taking forever but may only be seconds.
  • Protect your pet. Seizuring pets can thrash and hurt themselves. Protect your dog from water, stairs, and sharp objects. We generally recommend pulling your dog gently toward the center of the room by the back legs. Many dogs may urinate or defecate. If you have a towel handy, place this under their back end.
  • Observe the seizure. Notice how your pet behaves and moves during the seizure. Is there padding of all legs or just the front? Is there chomping? Foaming? Does your dog urinate or defecate?
  • Comfort your pet. Stay with your dog but away from his/her mouth. You may calm your dog by speaking softly and petting your dog.
  • Be ready to go. If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately. If you have any questions – call your vet. They can help guide you on if you should come in or if any treatments are recommended.

What to Do After a Dog Seizures

The period after the seizure is called the post-ictal period. This can last from minutes to hours. Typically dogs are disoriented, often lethargic, with inappropriate behavior such as stumbling, walking into walls, overdrinking at the water bowl.

Can a Dog Die From a Seizure?

Clients commonly ask if dogs can die from seizures. The answer is yes. The risk largely depends on the underlying cause of the seizure. Seizures that result from head trauma, brain tumors, organ malfunction, toxins, and other serious medical problems are at high risk for dying. Learn more about the possible Causes of Seizures in Dogs.

Seizures caused by epilepsy, which means there is no known underlying cause for the seizures, are at much lower risk of dying from a seizure. Epilepsy most often occurs in young healthy dogs. Even though a seizure is scary and it seems like your dog is in pain or may die, this is unlikely when there is a single seizure event in a young healthy epileptic dog.

Situations that Increase the Risk of Death from Seizures

As identified above, the risk of death from seizures in dogs will be very dependent on the underlying cause. If the cause is from a serious medical problem, the risk of death can be high.

If a seizure occurs once in a young healthy dog with no trauma or toxin exposure, the risk of death is lower.

However, prolonged or recurrent generalized seizures can be life-threatening and increase the risk of your dog dying during or from secondary complications from the seizure. Two multiple seizure events include:

  • Cluster seizures occur when multiple seizures occur in one day.
  • Status epilepticus occurs when there is continuous seizure activity or seizures that reoccur without recovery between seizures.

When either of these multiple seizure situations occurs, there is potential for the body temperature to increase due to the increased muscle activity associated with the padding and muscle movements. Some dogs can quickly increase their body temperatures from normal (which is 100 to 102.5°F [degrees Fahrenheit]) to over 108°F. This produces a potentially life-threatening problem of hyperthermia (high body temperature). This is a form of a Heat stoke.  At temperatures > 109°F critical organ failure can develop.

The elevated body temperature can lead to additional abnormal neurological symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, or coma. Life-threatening secondary complications may include disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), gastrointestinal ulceration, low blood pressure (hypotension), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), infections, and/or renal failure.

The treatment for hyperthermia from seizure activity focuses on immediately stopping the seizures and decreasing the body temperature. Intravenous (IV) diazepam (valium) is commonly used to stop seizure activity. If that doesn’t work, other injectable drugs such as propofol may be used.  Cooling methods may include a cool water bath, cool fan, and IV fluid therapy. For more information on various cooling methods, please read Heat stoke in Dogs.

Hyperthermia is an emergency and is why if a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes – you should head to your veterinarian or your closest veterinary emergency clinic.

When To See Your Vet

It is best to see your veterinarian for the following:

  • Any Seizures that lasts longer than 5 minutes
  • When there are more than three seizures in a 24 hour time period
  • Seizures that begin before your pet has completely recovered from the previous seizure
  • Abnormal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, bleeding or any other concerns develop as or after your dog is recovering from the seizure

How to Help Your Dog if They are Having a Seizure

During a seizure event, the best things you can do are to ensure your safety and your dog’s safety.

The general rules of how to help your dog if he or she is having a seizure include:

  • Be safe. Don’t move your dog unless he in a location where he can be injured during the seizure.  If your dog is near the stairs, gently move him away from the stairs. The safest way to do this is to gently drag your dog by his back legs. If your dog is outside, make sure he is not near the road, sharp objects or bodies of water such as a pond, lake or swimming pool where he could fall in and drown. Again, if he is near anything dangerous, carefully and gently drag your dog by his back legs to an area of safety.
  • Don’t touch your dog’s mouth. There is an old wives tale that a dog will swallow their tongue during a seizure. This is NOT true.  Do not get near your dog’s mouth and don’t put anything your dog’s mouth. Many pet owners get bit from being too close to their dog’s mouths or worrying about them swallowing their tongue during a seizure.
  • Time the Seizure. Check your watch and notice how long the seizure lasts. Many pet owners believe a seizure lasts several minutes when it is only seconds. The seizure event is a stressful time and the actual seizure can seem to last longer than it actually is.
  • Start a Seizure Log. Develop a system or calendar to document this seizure, time of day, length of seizure and anything your dog was doing immediately before the seizure.
  • Call Your Vet. If you have any questions or concerns, please call your veterinarian.  They can help guide you on when you should have your dog evaluated and if treatment or testing is indicated.

Additional Articles of Interest about Canine Seizures:

What’s the Best Tasting Dry Dog Food for Your Pet?

Dogs have different tastes, just like people. What flavor or texture that appeals to one dog may not appeal to another dog.  Some dogs prefer dry kibble, some semi-moist kibble, and others canned food. Some prefer foods that have certain aromas and other dogs don’t seem to care either way and will eat just about anything. Dog owners commonly ask about what is the best tasting dry dog food.

Recommendations for Dry Dog Food

Good quality dry dog food can be good for dogs of all sizes and life stages. Recommendations include:

  1. Trust. Find a company you trust that provides consistent high-quality foods made in the USA. It is ideal for the company to source quality ingredients from the USA with quality control measures and no recalls. Find a company that makes you feel good about what you are feeding your dog. You may want to do your own research or review our recommendations below.
  2. Quality. Whatever dog you feed needs to conform to AAFCO standards. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” dog foods. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations will state on the label: “formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage). This indicates the manufacturer is following the national consensus recommendations for dog foods.
  3. Life Stage. Pick the food for your dog’s life stage. This includes puppies, adults, breeding, working dogs, and senior pets.
  4. Feed to Optimize Health. It is important to feed to maintain your dog at an ideal weight and avoid obesity. If your dog is overweight, a weight-reducing diet plan is recommended to optimize your dog health.  Don’t over or under feed. You can use the guidelines on the bag as a baseline to determine how much to feed your dog but monitor your dog weight and adjust accordingly to maintain and ideal weight. Some dogs need more calories and others less.
  5. Water. As part of a healthy diet, provide plenty of fresh clean water at all times. Carefully clean and wash out the water dishes every other day.

For more information about the best recommendations for feeding your dog – go to Nutrition in Dogs.

How to Choose the Right Food for Your Dog’s Diet

After researching various dog food companies, we have found the following food brands to be both good quality and highly palpable:

  • Stella and Chewy’s
  • Zignature
  • Fromm
  • Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Foods
  • Acana
  • Orijen
  • Natures Recipe
  • Wellness Core
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Best Breed
  • Halo
  • Grandma Lucy’s
  • Orijen
  • Wellness Core
  • Merrick
  • Primal Pet Foods

How to Tell if Your Dog Likes It

Pet owners want to feed a food their dogs’ food that they really like. One way that you can test if your dog likes a food is by the blind brown bag taste test.

How to Do a Blind Dry Dog Food Taste Test On Your Dog

This test goes like this:

  1. Obtain food samples you want to test.  Some pet stores will sell or provide free samples for you to try.
  2. Remove your dog from the room where you are going to test the food.
  3. Place paper on the floor in the form of a long rectangle.
  4. Place small samples of each food (1 to 2 tablespoons) spaced out on the paper 6 to 8 inches apart. Label the paper with the name of the food above the samples.
  5. Open the door for your dog to come in the room. Do not speak, pet or stimulate your dog. Allow your dog to find the food.
  6. Note your dog’s preferences. Some dogs will smell all samples then go back and eat their favorite first.
  7. This test works best for “Picky” dogs. Some dogs love to eat and will eat anything and everything. If that is the case, choose a company you believe produces high-quality food and stick with it.

How to Change Your Dog’s Food If you decide to change your dog’s food – make sure you do it right which is gradual. Any food change can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs. Get our tips on the best way to change foods to avoid problems. Go to: How To Switch Your Dog’s Food: Vet Recommendations.

We hope these tips help you choose the best tasting dry dog food.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Food for Picky Dogs: