Dog Health

Blowing bad breath away

Bad breath (halitosis) is a common pet odour complaint, but it can be prevented. Here are the causes, diagnosis and treatment of this health problem in dogs.

Halitosis is an unpleasant odour, also called bad breath, which is defined as an offensive odour from the oral Dog Healthcavity of a canine. In the majority of cases, the predominant source of halitosis in dogs and cats is within the oral cavity. Microbial metabolism or protein-containing substances such as food debris, exfoliated epithelium, saliva and blood result in the production of volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). These compounds, particularly mercaptyl sulphide and hydrogen sulphide, produce breath malodor when exhaled.

Common cause of halitosis

The most common cause of halitosis is periodontal disease caused by plaque (bacteria). Bacteria are attracted to the tooth surface within hours of teeth cleaning. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralised producing calculus. As plaque ages and gingivitis develops into periodontitis (bone loss), bacteria change from fairly irritating strains to bone destroying types which produce hydrogen sulphide, causing halitosis.

Other causes of halitosis

  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Gastrointestinal disease, including cancers, obstructions, and certain infections.
  • Infections of areas around the mouth, such as the folds of the lips.
  • Respiratory disease, e.g. sinus infections.
  • Dietary “indiscretions,” such as eating stool or spoiled garbage.
  • Other oral disease, such as tonsillitis, cancer, trauma, and some autoimmune diseases.

What are the signs of halitosis?

Periodontal disease is painful. Some dogs and cats may have problems chewing hard food, while others may paw at their mouths. Unfortunately, most of the dogs do not show any signs.


It usually isn’t too difficult to identify where the smell is coming from, although there are other locations which need to be eliminated as the source of the bad smell, which include:

  • Ear infections can be quite strong and can permeate through the coat.
  • A discharging abscess or a skin ulcer – located anywhere on the body.
  • In dogs discharged anal sacs (“scent glands”) give off a very strong odour which can permeate throughout the body coat.
  • A dirty, soiled coat. Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the bad breath and help guide subsequent treatment recommendations. Some tests may include:
    • A complete medical history and physical examination.
    • A complete oral exam, which may require a brief anaesthetic.
    • Periodontal probing (a blunt probe that is used to check the gum/tooth interface) to identify gum and periodontal diseases.

Full-mouth radiographs (X-rays) with a dental machine.


Halitosis treatment depends on the cause; while optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of halitosis and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Initial therapy should be aimed at the underlying cause. This treatment may include:

  • Removal of foreign object if present.
  • Treatment of any oral tumours as needed.
  • Periodontal therapy and root planning (cleaning/scraping the teeth under the gums).
  • Antibiotics may be used to annihilate bacteria causing periodontal disease and halitosis. Often the antibiotics are used in a pulse therapy fashion (given the first five days of each month). Odour neutralisation of hydrogen sulphide occurs with the use of zinc citrate.

Living and management

Home care recommendations will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. Some steps that you can take to eliminate your dog’s bad breath include:

  • Provide your dog with fresh water at all times. Water helps to wash away food particles that can become lodged between the teeth. It is important that your dog always has fresh supply of water.
  • Brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Tooth brushes/finger brushes and special toothpastes are available from your veterinarian/ pet shops.
  • Provide your dog with rawhide bones, chew toys, and biscuits to keep his teeth free of plaque. Regular chewing of such items will help remove plaque naturally, as well as aid in keeping the teeth strong and healthy.
  • Spraying 0.12 percent chlorhexidine (prescribed by your veterinarian) into your dog’s mouth once a day for seven to fourteen days.
  • Supplementation of diet with
    • digestive enzymes are often very helpful
    • beneficial bacteria in the form of probiotics supplement improve normal bacterial populations.
    • Aloe Vera – heals the mucosal lining of oral cavity.

(Dr S S Patil and Dr K B Kore are Ph D scholars and Dr P P Mirajkar is MVSc scholar at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI).)

Basset Hound:eyes that take your breath away!

If you have seen that cute brand ambassador of Hush Puppies, then I am sure you will never forget those soulful eyes and the long droopy ears. Yes, I am talking about the Basset Hound. ABasset Hound is a dog you can never forget. His soulful eyes, the droopy look, wrinkled face, ears touching the ground, nose sniffing, all make him very special and different. A dog who brings out compassion and love at the same time! Contrary to his sad look, he is a comical dog. He will make you laugh even at the toughest times. He can become that special family member whom your children will love and adore and who will adore your children as well.

“With his guileless disposition, soulful eyes and comical ways, the Basset, is one of the real characters of the dog world. The expression of the Basset would melt even hard-hearted person’s heart. They have an ability to put on a smile on people’s face. Everyday, when I go for the morning walk with my Bassets and my Dachshunds, people stop by and cars slow down, just to get a glimpse of my Bassets and their faces are all lit up. It makes my day!” shares Mr. Padmachandran of Chennai, a proud owner of Basset Hounds.

The general appearance

A Basset Hound is a long, low-slung, heavy-boned scent hound bred for hunting small game, primarily rabbits. His long ears were developed to stir up ground scent for his large nose to smell. The folds of skin under his chin are useful for trapping and holding the scent. His large feet give him steadiness and his heavy bone makes him sturdy.

According to Mr. Padmachandran, “Till about four weeks, the growth of a Basset puppy is quiet symmetrical. The ears of the Basset starts growing at a faster rate between the fourth to the eighth week, as result, they trip over their ears, hence after a while they stick the neck up to avoid falling and while moving in pack they look like the elephants moving around in the movie “The Jungle Book.“ Believe me, it’s a sight to behold!”

The Basset Hound has the head of a bloodhound and the body of a Dachshund. He has a fat body but short legs. His bones are heavier than other breeds of the same size. You will love and laugh to see him move. His movement is humorous and slow, but not clumsy. A lovely and amusing household pet for people with a good sense of humour!

Bassets are considered a medium-sized breed, although a male Basset can weigh (23-29 kg)! Females generally weigh (20-27 kg). The average height of dogs is 12-15 inches while that for females is 11-14 inches.


Although the Basset Hound is mild, but sometimes he can be as stubborn as a bull. According to Mr. Padmachandran, “He is mild, never sharp or timid. He is enduring and is extreme in his devotion. He is perhaps best known for the lovable nature which led him to be dubbed ‘the armchair clown’.” Basset Hounds have a very deep bark and have a tendency to howl. Mr. Padmachandran gives a word of caution that in case you are living in an apartment, this could disturb your neighbours, especially the old people. “Given the opportunity, the Basset Hound is a potential wanderer. One sniff at an interesting scent and away he goes, nose to the ground and tail aloft, apparently oblivious to anything or anybody. Because he does have a stubborn streak, the Basset requires firm but sympathetic handling. The Basset is a “big dog on short legs” and he is extremely strong and heavy for his height and should not be considered by owners who want a small dog,” adds Mr. Padmachandran.

The Basset Hound is among the most good-natured and easygoing of breeds. Basset Hounds are quite social. But, they have a laid-back attitude, which makes them look lazy, but they can sweep you off your feet when they get kinky.

Absolutely obedient and devoted to his master, he makes a wonderful family companion. They adore children as much as they are adored by them. They are very tolerant; however, we must be careful that children do not injure them.

“At home, the ?Basset will assume his subtle manner of “ruling the roost.” He refuses to accept the fact that he is a dog by devious methods. He can affect poor hearing when he doesn’t want to obey or pretend to sleep so soundly that you do not have the heart to disturb him. But his alertness miraculously returns if you open the refrigerator door ever so stealthily. He is a built-in babysitter, an ideal family pet. A Basset needs firm convincing that his big, brown eyes will get him nowhere. But first convince yourself of this, if you can. He will do his best to outmanoeuvre you to gain his own way, and he will make you like it. You need only one Basset to fill the house with laughter,” says Mr. Padmachandran.


Bassets are easy to maintain. Regular brushing will keep the shedding to a minimum. Except for ears and drool, the Basset is an easy care pet. His short coat repels dirt and water and needs minimal brushing to remove loose hair and dirt. He needs few baths and appreciates rubdowns with a coarse cloth or glove. According to Ms. Tejinder Sidhu, “One needs to be careful with the ears. Each time they are fed, I put a rubber band and after every meal their faces are cleaned. I even clean his ears after every walk.”


Although he is generally healthy, the Basset is susceptible to ear infections, glaucoma, obesity, gastric torsion etc. His long back predisposes him to disc problems and can cause problems if he is overweight, out of condition, or jumps on and off furniture. Like other deep-chested breeds, Bassets should be fed twice a day throughout their lives to minimize chances of bloat.

They should have a daily walk and a moderate diet to avoid the problems that can come with overweight.

Bring up your Basset with kindness, patience and affection and your world will be a brighter place because of him!

(Inputs by Mr. Padmachandran-Chennai ( and Ms. Tejinder Sidhu – Gurgaon.)