My dog’s breath stinks – do they need to see a Vet?

Many owners simply accept that their dogs have stinky ‘dog breath’, it’s just part of owning a dog, right? As February is Pet Dental Health Month, our Head Vet is here to tell you why bad breath is the most common sign that things aren’t as they should be inside your dog’s mouth.


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Caring for your dog’s teeth

You should ideally care for your dog’s teeth daily, as you would your own, to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. We recommend checking your dog’s teeth regularly for any issues too, as with any health problem it is always better to start treatment early.


Pet Dental Health Month in February shines a spotlight on oral healthcare. At Northlands Veterinary Group, we strongly believe that the key to good oral health is owner education, as most of a dog’s dental needs will be taken care of at home. That’s why our Head Vet is sharing the seven signs that your dog needs to see a Vet so you know what to look out for:


  1. Bad smelling dog breath

  2. Red gums that may be swollen or bleeding

  3. Build-up of plaque around the gum line (clear/yellow soft substance)

  4. Tartar deposits (hard yellow/brown coating on teeth)

  5. Discoloured, misaligned, or broken teeth

  6. Your dog shows reluctance or aggression when you go near their mouth

  7. Reduced appetite and possible weight loss – this could be related to many other conditions so it is always important to get your dog checked by one of our Vets.


Poor dental health can be painful for your dog and can make it difficult for them to eat and drink. It can also affect their general wellbeing so it is best not to wait if you notice a problem. Contact us about your dog’s teeth.

Why dogs get dental problems

The most common root cause of many dental issues is a build-up of plaque and tartar deposits. Left untreated, they can lead to painful periodontal disease (the name given to any disease of the teeth and surrounding supports i.e. gums, ligaments, and bone.)


Some dogs are predisposed to dental problems. Tooth misalignment is a major issue, as it causes food, dirt, and bacteria to get trapped, making it hard to remove through natural means and home care. Factors for this include short-nosed dog breeds, congenital abnormalities (such as overbite/underbite), trauma, and adult teeth at odd angles due to baby teeth not falling out. Another predisposing factor to dental issues in dogs is an unsuitable diet. Good quality dry food will help to remove plaque. You can also buy specific dental-care dog foods.

Can you improve dog breath smells at home?

Cleaning your dog’s teeth daily is the best action you can take towards achieving good oral health. Combine this with regular dental check-ups, the right food, and dental aids for even better care. However, when there is an underlying problem causing your dog’s bad breath, veterinary intervention is important to help your dog feel and smell better.


We recommend these 5 dental aids:

  • Pet-specific oral gel – to be used with a finger brush or pet toothbrush

  • Dental products that can be mixed into water or sprinkled over food

  • Dental chews can help, but be wary of the calories

  • Carrots make good dental chews in moderation

  • Toys designed to give your dog’s teeth a dental workout


When you book an appointment with one of our Vets, they can check for any issues and help you put together the best home-care routine for your dog’s dental needs.


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My dog’s breath stinks – do they need to see a Vet?