Bad Breath In Dogs – Systemic Causes

Bad breath in dogs is commonly caused by poor dental health and also, can come from the occasionaly foray into the cat box or eating other stinky garbage. 

And while we mentioned in passing in another other post about possible systemic causes for your dog’s bad breath, we didn’t go into any of those causes in any detail. Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes now:

One – Sinusitis and rhinitis . Inflammation of the sinuses and also the nasal cavities can cause bad breath in your dog. Symptoms include discharge from the nose, labored breathing, and redness of the eyes. There are many causes for both these conditions, including foreign bodies, infection, parasites, or even a tumor. 

Two – Diseases of the digestive tract. Symptoms of gastrointestinal tract disease can include changes in your dog’s appetite, vomiting or diarrhea and sometimes weight loss. Examples of such diseases are infection, a condition called mega-esophagus where the esophagus (the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach) becomes enlarged, throat inflammation, or cancer can all be the source of your dog’s bad breath.

Three – Liver disease. Unlike the bad breath that comes with dental disease, the breath that is associated with liver disease in dogs is unusually awful. Dogs with liver disease are very sick and require immediate attention from your veterinarian. Besides bad breath, dogs with liver disease usually have a host of other symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting and jaundice, which makes the dog’s gums and whites of the eyes turn yellow.

Four – Kidney disease. This disease can cause your dog’s breath to smell like urine. Like liver disease, this is a serious illness and requires prompt veterinary attention. Other symptoms include a loss of appetite, frequent urination, more water consumption and lethargy.

Five – Diabetes. If your dog’s breath smells fruity and sweet, this may well be a symptom of diabetes. This condition leads to dangerously high levels of glucose in the bloodstream and comes about as a result of the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. This is a very serious condition that is life threatening and must be treated by your veterinarian immediately.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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