Symptoms of Halitosis
Bad breath is one of the most common complaints of concerned canine owners. The “symptom” of halitosis, obviously, is a foul smell coming from the dog’s mouth. However, it is important to identify the other symptoms associated with the specific cause of the condition. These will vary widely depending upon the underlying disease process.
For example, a dog with cancer (neoplasia) that originates in or has spread to the mouth may have painful, necrotic oral masses that are causing or contributing to its malodorous breath. Dogs whose halitosis is caused by gum and dental disease may have red, painful, inflamed bleeding gums, loose teeth and visible plaque or calculus build-up. They also may be reluctant to eat and therefore lose weight because of the pain associated with dental disorders. Dogs with bad breath that is attributable to chronic licking of their anal area, caused by tumors or anal sac impaction, infection or abscessation, may have redness, swelling, bleeding and/or ulceration in that area.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Small breed dogs and brachycephalic breeds (those with wide heads and very short flat faces, such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers) are particularly predisposed to halitosis caused by oral disease, because their teeth are unusually close together and their skull and jaw structure is abnormal. In addition, small dog typically have a longer life span than larger dogs, and their owners often feed them soft/wet/canned food rather than dry kibble, both of which can increase the risk of developing age and dental-associated halitosis. Dogs with systemic (body-wide) infections or illnesses, such as diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, liver disease or cancer, are also at increased risk of developing bad breath from the build-up of toxic substances in their blood stream. There is no described gender or breed predisposition to developing halitosis. However, the chance of developing bad breath does increase with age.