Puppy breath is the best, but icky, rancid dog breath is the worst. If your dog’s breath has been noticeably awful lately, it could be time for a visit to the vet.

Chronic bad breath may indicate a bigger health problem. Most often, it's caused by dental or gum disease, and small dogs are especially prone to plaque and tartar. However, ongoing bad breath can indicate medical problems in a pet’s mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or organs.

Following are several steps to take to prevent bad breath:

  • Have a vet examine teeth at regular checkups to make sure there are no underlying medical issues that may be the culprit.
  • Get annual dental cleanings.
  • Feed a high-quality, easy-to-digest food.
  • Brush teeth often with toothpaste that is specially formulated for canines. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste can be found in the dental section of most pet stores.
  • Provide safe, hard chew toys that allow the dog’s teeth to be cleaned by the natural process of chewing.

If a dog’s breath suddenly has an unusual odor, search his mouth for any foreign objects or growths. Bad breath can sometimes be caused by a piece of food that has gotten stuck, or even a tumor. If any growths are detected inside the dog's mouth, have him examined by a vet immediately.

The following symptoms can signal medical problems that need immediate attention:

  • Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if a dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite and yellow-tinged corneas or gums could signal a liver problem.

If a dog has chronic bad breath, have him evaluated by a vet to rule out serious medical problems. 

Events

JANUARY: Join NOLA Tribe Yoga and some adoptable felines at the Louisiana SPCA for "Meowmasté: Yoga with Kittens." Classes will run every Saturday in January. Check-in begins at 9:45 a.m. with class from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pre-purchase of tickets is required; tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/meowmaste-yoga-with-kittens-tickets-53913861812.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans is holding volunteer orientation from noon to 1 p.m. Preregistration is required. Register online and get more info on age requirements and volunteer opportunities at www.animalrescueneworleans.org/volunteer.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be at center court of The Esplanade, 1401 W Esplanade Ave, Kenner, from noon to 3 p.m. with adoptable dogs and information on fostering, volunteering and adopting. For more info email adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org.

SATURDAY: Basic Manners, a five-week group training class, starts at 9 a.m. at Jefferson Feed on Jefferson Highway. Taught by a certified trainer from the Louisiana SPCA, the class covers behaviors such as sit, down, stay, come, leave-it and focus. To attend Basic Manners, register in advance at la-spca.org/grouptraining or email training@la-spca.org.

SUNDAY: A free, two-hour class called "Feral Cat TNR, The Basics and Beyond" will be taught at the Louisiana SPCA from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Learn to get started practicing TNR, how to mediate problems, advocate for cats and how to solve difficult trapping situations. This is also a great opportunity to learn more about Orleans Parish municipal ordinances pertaining to cats. This workshop is free, but register in advance at www.la-spca.org/tnrclass.

MONDAY: At 7 p.m., the Reactive Rover Workshop at the Louisiana SPCA will help pet owners who struggle with a dog that barks or lunges at other dogs while on-leash. The workshop will lay out the genetic and environmental underpinnings of dog-dog reactivity, discuss the underlying causes and suggest ways to change the behavior. To register, visit www.la-spca.org/trainingworkshops.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net. In St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.


Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator and marketing director of Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.