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Bad Breath

Boxer Dog Bad Breath Issues


Bad breath with dogs can be baffling. Your Boxer can look great and be super clean…. But then he opens his mouth and his stinky breath just about knocks you over.

'What in the world has he been eating?' many owners yell out… (Or silently worry)…and while we can joke around a bit about how dogs can have some smelly traits (gas and such), with bad breath, there can be some troubling causes.

For this reason, we are going to go into details about what might cause this sort of problem and exactly what to do to fix it.

Please note: This section is specifically for bad odors that are emanating directly from the mouth. For issues of smells in general, see: Boxer Dog Smells and Odors

How Bad Breath and Dental Health are Closely Related

There are several elements to keep in mind regarding dental issues with this breed.

Even with regular dental care, a dog can develop an infected tooth. And without regular cleanings, it is almost a given.

When a tooth is infected, it emits a pretty bad odor and that odor is not localized. It can permeate throughout the entire mouth and travel on the dog's breath.

Trouble begins with plaque buildup. Some of it is scraped away when a Boxer chews on toys or rawhide alternatives (never give rawhides). And some of it is removed during the brushings that you do at home. 
Canine dental treats can be a great additional method of keeping teeth clean and gums healthy.

But, some plague may build up and when it hardens, it becomes tarter. Each dog is different, but for some Boxers, the process of plague into tarter and then tarter buildup affecting the integrity of the tooth, leading to invasion of bacteria and an infection which can cause terrible breath happens at a fast pace.
Not only will tarter affect teeth, it also crawls its way under the gum line… At this point, it needs to be scraped away by a professional and at-home care will not be able to remove it. Owners must take care to not let things reach this point, because infection of the gums or teeth (which can be 1 cause of bad breath) can travel throughout the body. It can reach a dog's liver, lungs and/or heart.

Therefore, while owners may look to a dog's tongue and visible tooth surfaces for the cause of stinky breath, the reason is often hidden near or under the gum line.

The first step is to take up a daily routine of brushing your Boxer's teeth. Even puppies need this done to keep gums strong and ready for adult teeth to push through.

If your Boxer is due for a professional cleaning and evaluation, it will be time to schedule the appointment.

If your dog is up-to-par regarding dental care, it will be time to look for other causes of bad breath. 

Certain, Particular Smelly Breath

Does Your Boxer Dog's Breath Smell Like Fish? If it does and your dog didn't just eat fish, this can be a sign of infection. And it may not be related to the teeth at all. It can be in another area of the mouth or in the throat.

Does It Have a Fruity/ Sweet Odor? If there are elevated levels of sugar in a dog's bloodstream it can cause the breath to have a fruity smell. The most common reason for such high sugar levels (if your dog didn't just raid the cookie jar) is canine diabetes. Other signs of this health issue are drinking more water than normal (which leads to more frequent urination).

Does it Smell Like Urine? When bad breath has the odor of urine, it can point to kidney disease.

4 Top Reasons for Boxer Bad Breath

1) As discussed above, unclean teeth is a common reason for bad breath. 

The smell will be strong regardless of whether a dog just ate or not. If you brush the teeth and it goes away temporarily, but returns just as strong a few hours later, this can point to there being an infection.

Owners should begin dental care at home from the day that a puppy is brought into the household. Boxers do fairly well at tolerating grooming elements if they are exposed to them at a young age. However, it is never too late to begin brushing even with an adult dog that is not used to it.

If you suspect tooth or gum infection, a professional evaluation is needed. This will be followed by home care that will include proper cleaning, quality dental snacks and proper chews that should keep breath smelling clean and fresh.

2) Teething. 

As milk teeth loosen and fall out, there is some bleeding on the gums that may or may not be noticeable. This, combined with the natural moisture of the mouth, can cause bacteria to grow. With this sort of bacterial issue, the bad breath will have a sweet sour odor.

If you suspect this is the reason for a Boxer puppy's bad breath, the first step is to gently clean the mouth. Using a soft finger brush at this young age often works better than a toothbrush. Be sure to use canine toothpaste, since most of it gets swallowed and human products are toxic to dogs.

The bristles of the finger-brush relieve itchy gums, so many teething puppies actually love to have this done.

Encouraging a teething puppy to drink and offering a wide variety of chew toys - that are thrown away when dirtied and replaced - can also help a great deal.

3) Health Conditions.

There are a variety of health conditions in which bad breath (halitosis) is one sign. It should be noted that bad breath - in and of itself- without any other symptoms will not point to the following conditions. These will have other symptoms along with stinky breath:
  • Diabetes - Aside from sweet smelling breath, other signs are change in appetite, excessive thirst, weight loss, Increased urination and/or weakness
  • Respiratory infection - Along with a sour type bad breath odor, there will be coughing and difficult breathing or raspy breath
  • Gastrointestinal conditions - Along with bad breath, there will be a wide range of issues including vomiting, dry heaving, diarrhea, constipation, burping, passing gas, loss of bowel control and/or stomach bloating
  • Sinusitis (infection of the nasal cavities) - One of the main signs of this is discharge from the nose which can have a terrible smell. Since the nasal cavity is connected to the throat, a dog's breath may smell horrible as well. Other signs are sneezing and rubbing the nose onto surfaces
  • Tonsillitis (infection of the tonsils) - Aside from what can sometimes be quite a noxious odor on the breath, other signs are fever, coughing, gagging, pain when swallowing, and/or a loss of appetite.
  •  Foreign body or food stuck in the teeth or in the throat - Small food particles can become lodged between teeth. These minuscule amounts of food will essentially rot away… and the smell from that can be overpowering. Regular brushing can keep this from happening. Another issue may be a foreign body stuck between the teeth and causing bad breath problems. This can happen if a Boxer was chewing on a stick from a tree or other type of object in which a small piece has broken away and become lodged. Taking a good look around the mouth with a strong flashlight (having an assistant is recommended) may allow you to find the culprit.
4) Eating feces.

If a dog eats feces (his own or that of another dog) it can cause many issues. Worms and bad breath are just 2 of the likely outcomes.

The main reason that a dog will eat feces is due to malnutrition. Malnutrition can develop even if a dog is given 3 meals a day and snacks. How? If that food is of low quality and has been plumped up with fillers. Changing to a quality dog food or healthy, home cooking often resolves this.

Home Remedies to Fix a Boxer's Bad Breath

If your Boxer's teeth are cleaned and he is cleared for any of the above medical issues, there are some home remedies that can resolve bad breath problems:

1) Peppermint Leaves. Fresh peppermint leaves - which are perfectly safe for dogs to chew on - can be a great way to keep breath fresh.

2) Concentrated Lemon Juice. 3 to 4 drops of fresh concentrated lemon added to a full bowl of fresh, cool water can keep breath fresh. Be careful to only use a few drops because if the water is too sour, a dog will not drink it.

3) Fresh Breath Chews. The right chew can help quite a bit with bad breath. Be careful when looking for a product. Any chew that contains artificial coloring, artificial flavoring or byproducts can cause more problems than it tries to fix.

Those containing parsley, mint and/or dill work best. 

Some Points to Remember

Many dogs suffer in silence with tooth decay until an owner finally notices due to a tooth falling out or bleeding in the mouth. Please be sure to begin or to continue on with at-home dental cleanings. In addition, an evaluation of the mouth and teeth should be done at least once a year at the vets.

With Boxer puppies, issues do not go away when adult teeth surface; the gums and jaw may be damaged so that when the teething process is complete, there is no healthy foundation for the adult teeth.

With adult dogs, bad breath that is caused by bad teeth is not the only problem. Those dogs will mature into seniors that have trouble eating at best and possible fatal infection at worst.

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.
You may also be interested in:

Boxer dog drooling - Just how much slobbering is normal.  How to keep your Boxer's face wrinkles clean and signs when this can point to a medical issue. 
Boxer dog ear infections- These can be really painful for a dog. Symptoms, treatment (both at home and with the vet) and prevention. 
Boxer dog acne - This most often strikes Boxer dogs during the adolescent phase and typically occurs on the chin.
Grooming a Boxer - How to space apart baths and regular grooming tasks that should be done on a routine basis.
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