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What Your Dog’s Bad Breath Is Urgently Saying About Their Health

I doubt there is anyone who has been around dogs for an extended period of time that hasn’t caught a whiff of the classic “doggy breath”. It has a become a pretty common joke and pet companies have played into it – you can even buy mints designed to tackle it on Amazon. What many don’t realize, however, is that a dog’s breath gives multiple important indicators- blaring signals of their overall health and insight into potentially serious issues. As responsible owners, we all should be aware of the urgent indicators presented in doggy breath that could have dire consequences if left unchecked.

Below are the top four doggy health issues that can be marked by bad breath:

(As with all these potential issues listed below -please visit your vet if you have any further questions or feel that there is something serious that needs addressed.)

Kidney disease

Metabolic diseases like kidney disease or failure can cause bad breath. A decrease in kidney function can make a dog’s breath smell much like ammonia. The waste products that would normally be eliminated build up in the blood stream and show up in the breath.


Diabetes (a.k.a diabetic ketoacidosis) can make a dog’s breath smell quite unusual, giving it an almost sweet fruity smell. Untreated diabetes can also move to suppress the immune system, allowing bacteria in the mouth to grow unchecked.

Oral Tumors

A dog’s teeth and gums aren’t the only problem areas when it comes to possible causes of bad breath. Oral tumors are another potential cause. Their growth is often too fast for blood vessels to keep up, thus causing dead areas. Bacteria then moves in and takes over the dead areas which causes a foul odor. These areas can continue to deteriorate and in some dogs become cancerous.

Oral tumors come in many shapes and sizes and manifest themselves in the noticeable masses or discolorations. If you suspect this in any way shape or form, go to the vet immediately.

Dental and gum disease

According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) 80% of dogs suffer silently with dental disease. This tends to be the biggest cause of bad breath. On top of that, this condition can be heartbreakingly painful for our dogs.

The following video is from a real dental cleaning at our resident vet’s clinic (Dr. Kathryn Primm). You will see discolored teeth, loose teeth, receding gums and more. This is EXTREMELY painful for the pup and requires a very intensive and invasive cleaning from your Vet.

The good news is that there is a lot we can do with our pups to keep this issue in check so that bigger more complicated health issues do not arise. So, where do we start managing our pup’s teeth?

Focus on controlling/ removing tartar and plaque. Brushing is a key part of this. The concept of brushing your dog’s teeth is much like brushing your own.  The goal is to help remove tartar and plaque with light friction. You can find toothbrushes specifically for dogs at almost any pet retail store or on

Lately there have been some great developments in new doggy dental products that help us easily and conveniently care for the dental health of our pups. Two of the top used products are:

These are super straightforward to use if your pup is fine with you wiping their teeth as the wipes are made to be super palatable for dogs. Most dogs can get used to this method if it is done consistently. Project Paws makes one of the highest quality dental wipes you can get here: Project Paws Dental Wipes (plus they feed shelter dogs with every purchase).

The consensus seems to be that as part of a complete dental plan, dental spray can make a solid impact on doggy hygiene. It is instant and the easiest of the two to administer. You simply open your pup’s mouth and spray according to the dosage instructions on the bottle. It not only adds to healthy hygiene, it smells fantastic.  Project Paws has an all natural pepperminty version you can get here: Project Paws Peppermint Dental Spray (plus they feed shelter dogs with every purchase).


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Written by Marshall Morris
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