What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

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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.

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