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Bad Breath

Chihuahua Bad Breath Issues

Overview

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 clean.

Despite this, lingering bad breath problems (medically called halitosis) can be a problem with the Chihuahua. For some, it will be a specific strong smell. For others, it may seem to come and go at various times. But in all cases, owners struggle to keep the breath fresh and worry if this is caused by a health issue.
This section is going to cover:
  • 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
  • More serious health issues that can cause this
  • Steps you can take to keep a Chihuahua's breath smelling nice and clean
The 2 Top Reasons for Bad Breath with the Chihuahua Breed
1) Teething

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

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). Both of these substances can grow at the gum line and then under the gum line, which can cause problems unseen the 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:

If you have always brushed at home: If you are unsure if you are reaching everything, it is a good idea to have a professional veterinarian that has experience with the Chihuahua breed to perform a dental evaluation. Even with brushings, it may be time for a scraping. In the best case scenario, decayed teeth or infected gums can be ruled out, allowing you to proceed to resolve bad breath with other methods.

If dental care has been lacking: A full evaluation will be necessary. Many owners hesitate because they do not want their dog to be put under anesthesia. And this is a legitimate concern. Others worry that they will be judged on the lack of care that was given in this area; however a bit of embarrassment is well worth preventing a dog from losing his teeth and the pain that goes along with that.

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.

While you may wish to discuss the option with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to discuss your dog's age and overall health to decide the best method of performing a thorough cleaning. Once it is complete, following a good hygiene plan at home can prevent any further need for professional treatment.
Other Causes and Treatments

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. Changing to a quality dog food often resolves this.

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.

Particular Smells

Fish- 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 the dog may have diabetes. Other signs are drinking more than normal (which leads to more frequent urination), larger than normal appetite and unexplained weight loss.

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

Home Remedies to Fix a Chihuahua's Bad Breath Problem

1) Fresh Herbs

Encouraging a dog to chew on fresh peppermint leaves may freshen the breath; though without proper dental care it will be temporary. Some owners have found luck with fresh parsley leaves as well. Both of these herbs also have some small antibacterial properties that may lend to fixing the problem.

2) Lemon

Fresh, concentrated lemon juice may work. Be sure to only add a few drops (2 to 3) to one full bowl of fresh water. If to much is added, a dog may refuse to drink his water. It is thought that the high level of citric acid works to kill bacteria in the mouth.
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 you have ruled out any dental issues or medical conditions). Have the right supplies at home:

1) The right toothpaste. Most of you know to never use human toothpaste (it can be harmful if swallowed while canine brands can safely be ingested) however that does not mean that any canine paste is fine. 

The cheap generic brands offer little to no protection against plague buildup or halitosis. Look for ingredients such as vanilla or a combination of vanilla and mint. These types of products - when used on a consistent basis - work excellent.

2) -The right brush. How do you properly clean when the Chi has such a tiny mouth? With a tiny brush! Your options are a small finger brush or a brush that is built specifically for toy/small breeds. This eliminates any discomfort for the dog and cuts down on frustration for the owner.
 
Most people find that once they start a regular routine of this grooming element, that dogs learn to enjoy it. It's a great way for a Chihuahua to feel pampered and receive full attention. 

Teething puppies often enjoy having teeth brushed, as it helps scratch those terribly itchy gums. As the pup matures, he will have grown accustomed to having this done.

3) Fresh breath chews. Though crunching on hard treats and chews will remove some plague, you'll want to choose a canine treat that is made specifically to resolve bad breath problems.

Steer clear of any that contain artificial coloring or flavoring. Opt for those that have dill, parsley and/or mint. These wholesome ingredients work well to rid a dog of halitosis.

*** If you are not happy with the products that you are using or if you wish to see recommended fresh breath chews, brushes and pastes, you may wish to look under 'Dental' in the Chihuahua Specialty Shoppe.
A Final Thought 

Unless specific at-home care is provided and the mouth is inspected by both owner and a veterinarian, dental problems will not be noticed until it is too late. Many Chihuahua dogs that lacked proper care when adolescents and adults become senior dogs with partial or full tooth loss.

Here are some quick tips to remember:

1) With puppies, issues do not go away when adult teeth emerge; gums and jaw may be damaged so that when teething is done, there is no healthy foundation for the adult teeth.

2) Schedule regular times each day (or at least 3 times per week) for brushing the teeth.

3) Change at least one snack a day to a quality dental hygiene chew.
4) If you see any other signs of a health issue or if bad breath is chronic and does not respond to at home remedies, do not hesitate to seek professional veterinary assistance, as many treatments are more successful when issues are caught early.
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