There are a wide variety of reasons as to why a little dog has bad breath. These reasons vary wildly from oral hygiene to more serious harmful reasons like disease. Possibly even resulting in a visit to the vet to resolve your little dog’s breath problem. Poor oral hygiene left untreated could lead into something far more complicated and expensive like periodontal disease. Their diet is also a huge influence on how their breath smells. Their breath smelling bad or smelling very different or fruity could be a sign of either diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease. Some of these diagnoses will require a veterinarian and an involved owner like yourself.
Oral Hygiene and Periodontal Disease
Oral hygiene is immensely important for little dogs and their overall health because poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of ailments to their little bodies. Bad oral hygiene occurs when a little dog’s teeth are not brushed regularly, which causes tartar and plaque to build upon their teeth which invites bacteria into the party. On this occasion, your little dog’s bad breath is more than likely due to plaque build-up and can be easily remedied by brushing their teeth regularly.
If their teeth continue in this condition long enough, then they will develop what is called periodontal disease which occurs when the tartar and plaque build-up pushes the teeth and gums apart to expose more gum areas for bacteria to infect. Not only is this painful and inflammatory to your little dog, but it also leads to pus, cavities, infections, tooth and gum loss.
There are a few options when it comes to brushing little dogs teeth (we use all of them for Ponyo). Firstly we decided to do this very early on, and brush quite regular (almost daily). Please don’t use human tooth paste if you do decide to have a go at brushing your dog’s teeth. There are special tooth paste just for dog’s which is safe, a little tasty and works well. If you are interested in the tooth paste we use you can find it here. As for tooth brushes, we have gone through quite a few variations by trial and effort as to which one suits us (and Ponyo) the best. We started off with a small kids tooth brush with soft bristles which you can find at any normal supermarket. I would absolutely make sure the bristles are soft as you really don’t want to cause any gum damage. If you want to upgrade from a kids soft brush then perhaps a specialized dog brush maybe for you. We use both a special dog tooth brush which has a small soft bristle round end which allows us to easily reach to his back teeth. We also use (because we are a bit pedantic) a finger brush. The finger brush is far easier to not only hold but also allows greater control to get into those tight and difficult spots.
We tried a few of these and they work okay-ish. Essentially a chew toy that cleans their teeth while they play and chew. To encourage them to chew and get a deeper clean you can apply a bit of dog tooth paste which was mentioned above (again please don’t use normal human tooth paste!).
These are great, we always have some of these laying around. At the very least you can do to help clean your little guys teeth is give them a dental treat. They come in many varieties and flavors. It would be great if Ponyo loved minty dental treats but he does have a preference for grape flavors, so that’s what we stick to. It might take a few tries to find a flavor that your dog will like, so don’t get discouraged if at first they don’t’ like and don’t chew on the one you chose. Try another until you find a winning flavor. We buy ours at our local pet store, but if you’re looking on amazon try here.
Your little dog’s diet is also immensely important to the way their breath smells. It goes without saying that if you little one is getting into places where food is and they are not meant to be there, then their breath is going to be rather off putting. Yes I’m talking about garbage bin or scraps. Our garbage bins at home are within a cupboard so it’s near impossible for our little dog Ponyo, to get in there and eat to his heart’s content. Keeping garbage bins inside a cupboard may be a potential solution for some, but not always practical or possible solution for others. Not letting the garbage bin overflow, finding a bin with a secure lid by either clip or screw lid are simple solutions to stop these little guys delving into garbage, and in turn saving their breath.
An obvious idea might be to switch out their regular food and try something different. Each dog is unique in their own way and food reacts differently. Trying a different diet, whether that be dried, wet or both might be worth a try.
As a little dog owner, you should pay close attention to your dog. I goes without saying to keep an eye on any developing health problems before they become huge problems for you and your little dog. One such health problem that a lot of dogs can face is diabetes. An indicator that your little dog is developing diabetes is the fact that their breath will change in smell to be fruity and/or sweet-smelling. Sometimes your little dog’s breath suddenly changing to smelling sweet is not a good thing, particularly if you have not addressed their bad breath. If you unsure, a trip to the vet might be in order.
Liver disease is a serious problem for your little dog and shows several symptoms. This is where knowing your dog and how he/she looks on a healthy and happy day is important. Liver disease in your little dog will show up in a number of symptoms such as throwing up, yellow-tinged gums, little to no appetite and a strong pungent breath. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, they might have liver disease and they should be brought to a vet immediately. Liver disease can be a symptom of another problem, so it is important that you act and bring your little dog to the vet.
Like liver disease, kidney disease is also a very serious condition for your little dog to have. Its main symptom shows up in your little dog’s breath, so again, remember to be sure of the changes (any changes) in your little dog’s breath, whether they seem to be good or bad. These are serious symptoms which could lead to a number of conditions. A little dog that has kidney disease will have breath that smells like urine. This is due to their kidneys, which cleans and filters their urine, are not functioning properly. Take your little dog to a vet straight away if you even suspect that they have symptom.
Q: How can I prevent my little dog from getting bad breath to begin with?
A: The best prevention is to keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean. If you can brush your dog’s teeth as often as you can, it will ensure far healthier gums and teeth and will save you money down the line too. If you can’t do that or time is an issue, then dental sticks are a reasonably cheap hassle free way to go. It may take a while for you to find one your dog likes as it did with us. It’s worth it in the long run though. This should be the last thing they chew on for the day or night. i.e., no treats or snacks after this. Another option you should also consider is having your little dogs teeth professionally cleaned regularly, as well as buy them lots of chew toys to help them naturally prevent tartar and plaque build-up on their teeth.
Q: Are little dogs more prone to oral health issues than larger dogs?
A: The short answer is no, any dog, whether they are big or little can develop the same health problems, the same bad breath if their teeth are not kept clean.
Q: How often should I get my little dog’s teeth cleaned?
A: Most pet owners have a very hard time trying to properly clean their little dog’s teeth, so it is often easier for owners to just pay for professional cleaning. At a minimum, you should have your little dog’s teeth cleaned once a year.