To treat halitosis, you’ll first need to determine the underlying condition that caused the odor with the help of your veterinarian. Generally speaking, if the bad breath is severe and chronic, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to treat it on your own.
If an underlying metabolic or organ disease is suspected, lab tests will be recommended. Usually these are accompanied by additional clinical signs such as weight loss, increased thirst and urination and decreased appetite. Once an underlying condition is diagnosed, it needs to be the target for treatment since the bad breath is a secondary symptom.
For most dogs with dental disease, a dental cleaning under general anaesthesia will be recommended. Their teeth will be scaled and polished under anesthesia to remove the tartar and plaque build-up below and above the gum line.
Dental Cleaning and Care
In addition to a dental cleaning, your veterinarian will examine each tooth for periodontal support loss and some patients may require dental x-rays for further oral assessment of the teeth rots.
If any tooth is badly affected, it may need to be extracted to prevent infecting healthy teeth and to eliminate a chronic source of pain and infection. Of course, removing the tooth should also improve the dog’s bad breath. All of this is why you should only consult a veterinarian (and not a human dentist/hygienist) – in particular any dental cleaning that does not require the dog to be under general anesthesia will only be cosmetic and won’t address the root cause.
Pro Tip: Any kind of dental cleaning that doesn’t require your dog to go under general anesthesia will not address the underlying cause of bad breath.
After identifying and eliminating the cause of the halitosis, you may need to develop a regular cleaning routine for plaque control and to prevent the condition from recurring. It is important to note that if the dental disease is severe, practicing good oral health at that point will not fix the underlying problem.
Your veterinarian will recommend how to prevent bad breath and will advise on products that can decrease plaque accumulation on the teeth. Whenever possible, daily tooth brushing is strongly advised.
Preventative Oral Health
Dental disease in dogs begins early in life, as young as age three. One of the early signs is bad breath, so early detection is not only vital, but can save you thousands of dollars in emergency vet bills later in your dog’s life.