Most people wouldn’t automatically associate dog breath with a great smell, but there are many puppy owners who know and love the scent of sweet puppy breath. I think about half of the people who come to my house to get a puppy pick one up and exclaim, “Ohh…PUPPY BREATH!!”
Ever wondered why a puppy’s breath could smell so good while a dog’s is generally horrid? The origin of this pleasant-smelling breath is largely unknown to puppy parents.
Why Does Puppy Breath Smell Good to Some People?
A puppy’s sweet breath may be the combination of a couple of different things. “Puppies are still drinking their mother’s milk and are not yet exposed to the sometimes stinky foods that larger dogs eat,” says Dr. Thomas E. Catanzaro, a veterinarian at Veterinary Consulting International. “Their breath has that sweet mother’s milk smell because their mouths are clean and haven’t yet developed any bacteria or plaque, which typically causes odors.”
Pleasant — or at least non-offensive — puppy breath has a lot to do with good oral health. “Before puppies start to teethe, their mouths are clean and healthy. Once they are teething, their gums bleed and the pooled blood can start to cause unpleasant smells,” Dr. Jeff Webber, a veterinarian in California, says. “Once dogs reach the age of three and older, they start to develop plaque and bacteria, possibly creating even more bad odors.”
Dr. Catanzaro also notes that some vets believe sweet-smelling puppy breath is “the result of gas leaking into the puppy’s stomach from his developing esophagus.
“How Long Does It Last?
Sweet puppy breath usually disappears after a few months, unfortunately, according to Dr. Catanzaro. “A high percentage of dogs (and cats) develop some type of periodontal disease after the age of three,” says Dr. Werber. “This is the ideal time for pet owners to take their puppies to a vet for a professional examination and teeth cleaning.”
Can Puppy Breath Be Prolonged?
Subsequently, with preventative care and routine maintenance, unpleasant-smelling breath doesn’t necessarily have to be the next step. It IS absolutely to prolong sweet breath but to help prevent bad odors you can be proactive with your puppy’s oral care.
Dr. Catanzaro recommends using a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste at least a couple of times a week on your growing dog. It’s important to take this activity seriously. “As bad breath is often an indicator of periodontal disease, taking the time to do regular cleaning and maintenance of your dog’s teeth may help to prolong his life,” he warns. But many of us who feed a raw diet never deal with tarter or periodontal disease. So if up until this point you have had to deal with tarter, you may want to start with a clean slate (veterinarian teeth cleaning) before starting your raw diet. This ground, meaty bone mixture will keep the teeth naturally tarter free and your wallet fuller because you won’t need veterinary care for your dog’s mouth–EVER again. And NO, KIBBLE DOES NOT PREVENT TARTER–IN FACT, IT CAUSES IT! Kibble is loaded with starches and sugar and is the major cause of tartar build-up. Feeding a fully raw diet, or at least feeding it 1/2 of the time, will allow your dog to reap the benefits– not only in his mouth but in his entire body!
Dr. Karen Becker, DVM (Mercola Healthy Pets) says,
“Diet can play a significant role in the development of tartar on your pet’s teeth. Wild dogs have strong, healthy teeth partly because they eat raw meaty bones.
Raw diets – even prepared, ground raw diets – help control tartar. Raw ground bone is a gentle dental abrasive, acting like fine sandpaper when chewed, which helps remove debris stuck on teeth. The meat contains natural enzymes, and in addition, raw food doesn’t stick to teeth, unlike starchy kibble. Dry pet food is promoted as helping to keep teeth clean, but it’s a myth. Kibble is no better for your pet’s teeth than crunchy human food is for your teeth. It would never occur to you to eat a handful of peanut brittle to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. The idea that dry food keeps your pet’s teeth clean is just as silly!”
Using dental chew toys or putting additives, daily, in your dog’s water helps tremendously, as well, with overall dental hygiene, but will not take the place of a change to raw/paleo species-appropriate diet.