Why does my Chihuahua have bad breath?
My Chihuahua doesn’t hold back when she gives us those large slobbery kisses and, most of the times, her breath is pleasantly fresh. However, on certain days, when I have been lazy about her oral care, her breath smells quite unpleasant.
Dogs are famous for stinky dog breath and they don’t think twice about it while they lick our faces – but bad breath or halitosis in dogs isn’t something you ought to take lightly.
Sometimes, simple tooth brushing may be all that is needed to freshen up your Chihuahua’s breath but at other times, there could be a serious issue that could require a trip to the vet.
Find out the answers to ‘why does my Chihuahua have bad breath’ and know when to see a vet for it (while I go brush my Chihuahua’s teeth)!
Why Does My Chihuahua Have Bad Breath? (Short Answer)
Doggy breath is something we pet parents are mostly aware of and also used to. It is the characteristic bad odor that all dogs’ mouths have.
But if your pooch’s mouth starts producing an odor that is intolerable, then there could be some illness or dental issue affecting your poor guy or girl.
Bad breath or halitosis in dogs can have several root causes. But the three main causes of bad breath in Chihuahuas (or dogs in general) are: poor oral hygiene resulting in tooth decay, dietary or microbiome issues, and/or underlying diseases.
If you have been regular with your Chihuahua’s teeth brushing then it may simply be that your pet ate something from the trash can or just hasn’t had adequate water intake resulting in dry mouth that leads to foul odor.
However, if dental care has been lacking for a while, and you haven’t given a second thought to your dog’s teeth, then you may might want to take action to mitigate the issue.
In the next section, I will discuss in detail the reasons ‘why does my Chihuahua have bad breath?’
Why Does My Chihuahua Have Bad Breath? (Detailed Answer)
If your Chihuahua is suffering from bad breath or halitosis, then the following reasons could be responsible:
1. Poor dental hygiene
Many Chihuahua parents forget to brush their pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Sometimes, they think that dogs do not need brushing since, in the wild, no body brushes dogs’ teeth, so why do it at home?
However, we mustn’t forget the fact that we have domesticated dogs and their diets are not exactly the diets of their ancestors – wolves.
In the wild, wolves eat raw meat including raw bones which do not stick to their teeth like commercial dog food does. Commercial dog foods especially wet or canned food tends to stick to the teeth and if your Chi does not drink water afterward or you do not clean its teeth then the stuck food bits could lead to a serious buildup of tartar and plaque on the gums and teeth.
Overtime, this can result in tooth decay and periodontal disease, gingivitis, and other serious oral problems.
Lack of oral hygiene is therefore the number one cause of bad breath in Chihuahuas.
2. Poor diet
The second most common cause of bad breath in Chihuahuas is a poor diet. Dietary inadequacies can lead to poor gut microflora and the bad bacteria that builds up can also lead to a foul mouth odor.
Sometimes, your Chihuahua might also pick food out of the trash can or eat stuff that it finds on the road or in the dog park. This gross habit of raiding the trash can could lead to halitosis.
Then there are some dogs that eat other dog’s poop too and this can cause a really foul breath as well.
3. Underlying diseases
The third common cause of foul breath in Chihuahuas are underlying health issues or diseases:
- Diabetes – Chihuahuas with diabetes are more likely to develop foul breath because of the sugar imbalances in their bloodstream. The buildup of ketones in the body results in a fruity or ‘alcoholic’ nail-polish remover smell. In addition to having sweet breath, a diabetic Chihuahua might drink more water than usual and also urinate more frequently.
- Kidney disease – Dogs with kidney disease also develop foul breath because of the high urea levels. This kind of bad breath is typically a fishy smell or ‘urine-like odor.
- Liver disease – This also leads to bad breath and may be accompanied by yellow eyes, teeth, and vomiting, among other symptoms.
If you suspect any of the above, please consult your vet right away for further treatment.
When Should You Worry About Chihuahua’s Bad Breath?
Sometimes, simple oral care, brushing, and administering dental chew sticks or water additives can resolve your Chihuahua’s bad breath issue. For hardened plaque or tartar, your vet might recommend dental scaling procedure or professional dental cleaning which can also show fantastic results.
However, in cases where underlying health issues are the cause bad breath, then you have no option but to seek veterinary treatment.
Below are some indications that can tell you when you should see your vet for your Chi’s bad breath:
1. Sweet fruity odor
If your Chihuahua’s breath is consistently fruit-like or sweet-smelling, it could be a sign that it has diabetes. Is your dog drinking more water than usual? Urinating more frequently? Then it is definitely time to consult your vet.
2. Injury or trauma
Does your dog have a visible dental injury or trauma? Can you see any external swelling under the eye region or on its muzzle? Is your pet pawing its face? Are its teeth rotten? Are the gums swollen and bleeding? Is your Chihuahua having difficult or pain while eating?
Then wait no more and see your Chihuahua’s vet immediately. Sometimes, a thorough professional dental cleaning along with some home care tips are all it might take to resolve the issue.
3. Loss of appetite or vomiting
In addition to bad breath, is your Chihuahua vomiting or showing a lack of appetite? Is it hiding or reluctant to go on its walks? Does it have a fishy breath? Alternatively, is its breath urine-like?
Not always, but most of these signs indicate liver or kidney disease. Please have your vet conduct further tests for an accurate diagnosis and further treatment.
How to Treat Bad Breath on Chihuahua?
Bad breath in your Chihuahua might not always need attention from a vet. You can start using regular oral hygiene products such as daily teeth brushing to resolve the issue.
However, if despite all these measures, and if your dog is showing other symptoms, please consider your vet’s treatment. Here are some steps to take to treat halitosis in Chihuahuas:
1. Identify the cause
Identify the root cause of the issue as that will dictate the treatment. If your Chi has diabetes, kidney or liver disease, then manage those conditions with medicines and healthy and appropriate diet.
2. Keep your pet out of the trash can
If your Chihuahua has been raiding the trash can and the bad breath is a result of that, then please keep all trash out of your pet’s reach.
If your Chihuahua picks up food on the road during its walks, consider using a muzzle to prevent it.
In case your pet eats other dog’s poop, please consult your vet. Feeding pineapple, adding anti-coprophagia food additives, using odor sprays, and strict training (Drop it command) can help prevent this behavior.
3. Practice good oral hygiene
Use toothbrush and enzymatic toothpaste to brush your Chihuahua’s teeth every day. This will prevent tartar and plaque buildup and keep your pet’s breath fresh and clean.
From time to time, schedule deeper dental cleaning sessions at the vet. These help in multiple ways: they remove hardened plaque and tartar left behind despite regular home cleaning and also catch dental disease symptoms early on to prevent complications down the line.
Also read: Best Toothbrush for Chihuahua
What Other Products Can You Use to Prevent Bad Breath in Chihuahua?
In addition to the toothbrush and enzymatic toothpaste set, you can use the following dental care products to keep your Chihuahua’s teeth clean and breath fresh:
1. Dental chews
Dog dental chews are designed to remove bad breath by clearing up tartar and plaque. Even vets recommend these dental treats as they are clinically proven to reduce bad breath.
2. Feed it special dog food
Many commercial dog foods for Chihuahuas are designed with special kibble texture and interlocking fiber technology that removes accumulated plaque and tartar.
We recommend Hill’s Oral Care for Dental Health Dog food .
3. Use pet dental water additives
If your Chihuahua is aggressive or doesn’t let you brush your teeth, you can use special pet water additives to prevent bad breath and dental disease.
Simply add it to your dog’s water bowl to eliminate plaque, tartar, and freshen up breath.
4. Provide chew toys
Chew toys help in two ways: they keep your Chihuahua occupied and distracted – no more bad-behaviors like chewing furniture, barking, etc. and secondly, they eliminate plaque and tartar buildup.
We recommend Petstages Chewable Sticks for dogs to help satisfy your Chi’s natural chewing instinct and also eliminate plaque and tartar.
What Foods Can You Feed your Chihuahua to Prevent Bad Breath?
If your Chihuahua does not have any major health issues, then the following natural foods can help eliminate stinky breath too:
Give your Chi a nice big carrot to chew after each meal. The texture of carrot removes plaque and tartar and freshens up its breath. It makes for a healthy snack too.
2. Coconut oil
Have your Chihuahua lick a teaspoon or two of organic coconut oil. Coconut oil clears away bad breath and acts as a natural breath-freshening toothpaste for your pet.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your Chihuahua’s water bowl can also clear away bad breath. The acetic acid in ACV eliminates bacteria and deodorizes your pet’s tongue.
Add some yogurt to your Chihuahua’s food. This will provide probiotics or good bacteria which eliminate bad bacteria which result in microbiome imbalance and bad breath.
Also Read: 30 Foods Dog Cannot Eat
FAQs on Why Does My Chihuahua Have Bad Breath?
1. Is bad breath in Chihuahua a sign of illness?
In case of lack of regular oral hygiene, bad breath could indicate tartar and plaque buildup. It can also mean periodontal disease, tooth infection, or gum disease.
If the breath is distinctly sweet-smelling, or fishy breath or urine-like odor, then it can be an indication of diabetes, or kidney or liver disease.
2.Why is my Chihuahua’s breath smelling like something is dead?
A foul-smelling bad breath that smells musty or like a dead animal means that your dog’s liver is not able to process the food and there is a buildup of sulfurous compounds and toxins.
3. How can I clear up my dog’s breath without brushing its teeth?
You can offer your Chi some dental bones, Dental chews, chew toys, rope toys etc. to eliminate tartar/plaque buildup. Also let it chew on some carrot pieces and feed it a teaspoon of coconut oil. This will eliminate your dog’s bad breath right away.
4. What should my Chihuahua’s breath smell like?
All dogs have a bit of characteristic doggy odor around their mouths and that is okay and normal. The breath should be slightly gamey but it should not be foul, fishy, urine-like, or sweet smelling. Also, the bad breath should clear up after you brush its teeth.
Why does my Chihuahua have bad breath?
Many factors can cause bad breath in Chihuahuas. In most cases, lack of oral hygiene or regular brushing may be the culprit. Years of neglect of oral hygiene can lead to tartar and plaque buildup that may even need professional dental cleaning.
Sometimes, dietary issues or microbiome imbalance can also cause foul odor or doggy breath in your Chi.
In rare cases, your pet might have an underlying disease which may be the culprit behind the bad breath. We hope this guide helps you rule these out and gives your pet a fresher breath.