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Bad Breath

Chihuahua Bad Breath Issues


Since the grooming needs of a Chihuahua in terms of brushing, baths, and shedding is on the low to moderate level, most owners find it quite easy to keep their Chi smelling nice.

Despite this, lingering bad breath problems (medically called halitosis) can be a problem with this breed. For some,it will be a specific strong smell that is there at all times. For others, it may be a vague odor that seems to come and go. But in all cases, owners struggle to keep their Chihuahua's breath fresh and worry if this is caused by a health issue.

This section is going to cover what you can do to resolve this, including: 
  • The most common reasons why a Chihuahua may have bad breath
  • More serious health issues that can cause this
  • What certain smells may point to
  • Easy at home remedies to treat halitosis
  • Steps you can take to keep a Chihuahua's breath smelling nice and clean

The 2 Top Causes of Bad Breath with Chihuahuas

#1 Teething
What happens: 

For course, this only applies to puppies. Teething will begin around the age of 3 months and last until just about 6 months. During this short period of time, bad breath may be a side effect of the teething process.

As milk teeth loosen and fall out, there is some bleeding on a puppy's gums that owners may or may not notice. When this is combined with the moist environment of the mouth, bacteria may grow. This sort of bad breath issue may have a semi-sweet, sourly odor.

How to fix this: 
To fix this, gently brush the teeth and gums. At this young age, a finger brush may work, though a proper brush made for toy breeds is often tolerated as well. Since teething can cause very itchy gums, many Chihuahua puppies actually enjoy the feeling of the bristles as it relieves itching.

By providing this type of care at a young age, you will be setting a good foundation for an older dog that should have daily cleanings.
#2 Bad Oral Hygiene
What happens: 

This breed is very prone to tooth decay and dental infections. For the Chihuahua, plaque quickly builds up without regular at-home dental care. If it is not fully removed, it hardens into tarter (also known as calculus), and this can start to happen in as soon as 3 days.  Both of these substances can grow at the gum line and then under the gum line, which can cause problems unseen by the eye.

Just a buildup of plaque (before it hardens) can lead to gingivitis (Inflammation of the gum tissue) and this can lead to periodontitis (a disease that affects the tissues that surrounds and support the teeth). Both of these conditions can cause moderate to severe bad breath problems.

This is the main reason for why a Chihuahua's breath smells bad for those 1-year-old and up.

How to fix this:

During your Chihuahua's yearly wellness check, teeth should be checked. If your Chihuahua has not been to the vet for this once-a-year examination, or if bad breath has developed since the last checkup, now is the time to make an appointment. 

Even if you have been taking care of the teeth at home, this is not a 100% guarantee of stopping dental issues. And if you have not been doing the best job with at-home dental care, there is indeed a good chance that something is happening that needs to be addressed. 

Do please keep in mind that dental decay is not a painless issue; oral infections can be quite horrendous, infection can spread up into the sinuses or develop into full-body sepsis, and tooth loss is practically inevitable. 

If the veterinarian decides that a 'full dental' is needed, this involves light sedation while x-rays are taken and teeth are scraped clean. It should be noted that while there are some risks, the majority of dogs that are given anesthesia do not suffer any negative consequences. Additionally, there are some services that offer anesthesia-free cleanings.
Once your Chihuahua's teeth have been professionally cleaned, and any possible dental issues are resolved, be sure to stick to a strict at-home care plan for good oral hygiene. 

Other Possible Causes

Medical Conditions

There are a variety of health conditions in which halitosis is one sign. This includes:

• Diabetes
• Respiratory infection
• Gastrointestinal conditions
• Sinusitis (infection of the nasal cavities)
• Tonsillitis (infection of the tonsils)
• Foreign body stuck in the teeth or in the throat

If your Chihuahua has unexplained bad breath that is not fixed with brushing, dental treats and chew toys, it is important to bring the puppy or dog to the vet for a complete checkup to narrow down the possible causes, since some can be quite serious.
Eating Feces

If a dog eats feces (his own or that of another dog) this is referred to as coprophagia and it can cause many issues. Worms and bad breath are just two of the possible consequences. It is often a sign of malnutrition, even if that dogs eats plenty of his own food. 

The most common reason for this is a diet that is bulked up with fillers yet has very little nutritional value. Among the 5 ways to stop coprophagia, changing to a quality dog food often resolves this.

In addition, owners are encouraged to watch their dog at all times to prevent the ingestion of feces. When on leash, your dog should be close to you. In fact, for proper heeling, he should be directly to your left side. Allowing a dog to lead the way when walking only opens the possibility for him to ingest weeds, flowers, bugs and feces and he will have the resulting bad breath that follows.

Resolving boredom and stress issues also plays a role. 

Particular Smells

Particular smells may point to certain conditions:

Fishy odor - When a Chihuahua puppy or dog has breath that has a fishy smell (and they have not just ingested fish) this can point to an infection. It may not be related to the gums, but may be in the throat or other areas of the mouth.

Fruity/ Overly sweet odor- When there are very high levels of sugar in the bloodstream it can cause this sort of odor on the breath and is an indication that a dog may have diabetes. Other signs are drinking more than normal (which leads to more frequent urination), larger than normal appetite, and unexplained weight changes.

Urine - When the odor of urine emanates from the mouth, this can point to kidney disease.

Maintaining Fresh Breath on a Regular Basis

There are several things that you can do to keep your Chi puppy or dog's breath smelling pleasant (once dental issues or other health conditions have been ruled out). 
1. Brush your Chihuahua's teeth every day. Tartar itself can smell quite bad, and of course decay has its own terrible odor. And as we discussed, proper oral hygiene is needed to prevent dental issues. 

Never use human paste, since this foams (which can cause choking); so be sure to use a canine paste with an appealing flavor. 

You'll also want a canine toothbrush that is small enough to fit in your tiny Chihuahua's mouth. And, a multi-sided brush is a great choice. 
The Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Triple Action Puppy Dental Kit offers both an effective paste and a small enough brush (designed for puppies, but perfect for Chi). 
2. If your Chihuahua does not tolerate brushing, you may want to opt for a spray. While this is not quite as effective as brushing is for removing smelly tartar, it is a good option if brushing is not possible. 
One like Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Spray is sprayed directly onto a dog's teeth and gums, works to remove plaque and tartar, and freshens breath. 
3. Give a daily dental treat. Make one of your Chihuahua's snacks be a dental treat instead. One of the most popular and effective ones is Greenies Teenie Dental Dog Treats; since this is a hard chew (it has to be to remove what is stuck onto teeth), you'll want to supervise your dog while he chews on this. 
4. Canine breath freshener treats can help if your Chihuahua has a severe case of bad breath that just never seems to go away, but all dental issues have been ruled out. This can offer little boosts throughout the day. 

While these will not remove plaque, and brushing and a dental treat are still needed, ones like Old Mother Hubbard's Minty Fresh Breath Natural Dog Treats contain natural breath fresheners like spearmint, parsley, and fennel. 

These are made with chicken, oatmeal, apples, and carrots, so they're are pretty tasty. Your Chihuahua will never know that it's to fix his breath. 
5. Use a water additive. While these are advertised as replacing brushings, this may be an exaggeration. However, one like Oxyfresh Pet Oral Hygiene Solution works to kill bacteria both in the water bowl and in a dog's mouth.

A Final Word

A dog's breath will never naturally smell minty and super clean; however, it is not normal for a dog to have offensively bad breath. So, this is not something that should be ignored. 

Our dogs depend on us to take care of them, and are completely at our mercy to help prevent painful dental issues. Seeking veterinary help to rule out serious problems and taking steps at home to keep up good oral hygiene is the best method to keep bad breath away for good. 
You May Also Like: 
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How to Train a Chihuahua to Stop Barking - If your puppy or dog barks up a storm, see exactly how to respond for each type of trigger. 
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