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Bad Breath

Maltipoo Bad Breath Issues

Overview

There's nothing like that feeling once you have your Maltipoo groomed perfectly… the coat looks great, tear stains are cleared away… and your puppy or dog comes bouncing over to you…
And then you're knocked over by a whiff of bad breath that is so overpowering, you're wondering if your Maltipoo just ate straight from the garbage. If this has ever happened to you, you're not alone. 

Whether there are random acute episodes of your Maltipoo having stinking breath or if your dog has a stubborn, chronic issue that is not going away, halitosis is not uncommon with canines. 

In this section we are going to cover:
  • Is bad breath normal for dogs?
  • The top reasons why a Maltipoo may have bad breath
  • Detailed steps to resolve each possible cause
  • Helpful tips to keep your dog's breath smelling great
Maltipoo newborn puppy
Newborn Maltipoo puppy
Photo courtesy of Hilde Abruzzo
Is Bad Breath Normal?

Most people associate good smelling breath with minty scents. Many toothpastes, mouth washes, breath mints (hence the worth minty) and gum that is marketed to improve breath use either spearmint or peppermint. Since it is hard (but not impossible, see more ahead) for our dogs to have breath that smells like mint, owners do expect that the breath be neutral in order to classify as non-smelly.  

While this can be achieved, it should be noted that it is normal for a Maltipoo's breath to smell like the food that he just ate. This is particularly true of dry kibble and is caused by tiny particles of the food remaining in the grooved ridges on the tongue, in the oral tissue (most often the inside of the cheeks) and between teeth. For dogs that always smell like dog food, there is help (more ahead). 

It is not normal for a dog to have breath that smells like feces, urine, a very sour smell or any other odor that is considered foul and powerful enough to notice when the dog breathes near you. 
5 Top Reasons for Bad Breath with Maltipoo Dogs

1) Teeth & Dental Issues - This may even seem obvious to some owners yet this is still overlooked due to some Maltipoo dogs not showing any signs of issues and the teeth themselves looking quite good. 
However, there are several elements that can be happening in, under and around the teeth that can cause very stinky breath.

Plaque, tartar and dental infection are the main leading causes of both bad breath and un-diagnosed dental issues. A long time ago, it was thought that pet dogs cleaned their own teeth by chewing on toys and treats. This has long been proven false yet is still believed by some owners. Without routine teeth cleaning (with proper canine dental products) at home, there will be a gradual buildup of film. And even so, those with soft teeth or those prone to decay will need yearly or every other year professional cleanings. 

Plaque is always present in the mouth; it is a sticky substance that will build up and become thick around the teeth and at or even under the gum line if not brushed away. As this sits on a dog's pearly whites, it slowly eats away at the enamel. Tartar, also known as calculus, is what happens when the plaque is not cleaned away. It is colored either yellow or brown and further damages the teeth.

Tooth infection is not uncommon with dogs in general and with the Maltipoo having a Poodle parent, since Poodles are prone to tooth problems, many Maltipoos will be as well. Eventually, tooth infection will lead to quite a bit of discomfort which often manifests are reluctance to eat and the tooth can either crack or loosen.  
With canines, infection can travel from the tooth into the bloodstream, where it can then spread throughout the body to vital organs, including the heart and brain. Therefore, ruling this out as a cause of bad breath is important.

What to do:   

1) If you suspect that bad breath may be stemming from unclean or infected teeth - and this is especially a possibility if the Maltipoo has not had regular brushing at home and/or his teeth have not been recently examined by the vet, the dog should be brought to the veterinarian for a full dental. This involves a complete examination to look for infection and then under anesthesia, x-rays, a full cleaning which will involve scraping both under the gum line and on all teeth and finally a rinse. 

If an abscess is found, treatment is necessary to prevent the infection from spreading and causing further health issues. Often, the two choices are a root canal or an extraction of the tooth. 

This gives your Maltipoo a 'clean slate' to then begin taking care of this at home. 

2) Whether you have a brand new Maltipoo puppy or a senior dog, now is the time to start brushing your Maltipoo's teeth. It only takes a few minutes per day and will have a huge impact on your dog's dental health. Not only is this the best remedy for bad breath, it will help your dog hold onto his pearly whites for his lifetime.

If you already brush your dog's teeth, you will want to reassess what type of products you are using; subpar brushes won't remove much and cheap paste can be essentially useless. Put as much time and effort into choosing these things as you do for shampoo, leave-in spritzes and tear stain formulas. 
Maltipoo at lake
Charlie, 3 years old
"At the lake for the 1st time" 
Photo courtesy of Rhonda, Fairfield, CT
Here's what to look for:

Toothbrush - This should be appropriately sized (look for those labeled for toy breed dogs). Three-sided brushes work well as they can clean all 3 visible sides at once, which cuts down on the amount of time that your Maltipoo needs to sit still. You'll also want to obtain a quality brush that has the right textured bristles to do a thorough job. Check the brush to see if there has been a wearing down of the bristles; just like those for humans, these need to be replaced every so often.  For small dogs like the Maltipoo, you'll want to throw away the old one and use a new one every 4 to 6 months. 

Paste - Human toothpaste contains fluoride which is toxic to dogs. Choose a quality canine toothpaste that is safe to swallow and has the right abrasive qualities to be safe for teeth yet strong enough to scrub away bacteria, plaque and sticky food particle debris. Many will come in chicken flavor or other flavors that dogs like, so this can make this grooming task much easier. On the other hand, you can opt for a quality mint flavor, which will give your Maltipoo super clean smelling breath for up to 3 hours afterward. When done every day, this can really go a long way in a keeping a dog's bad mouth odors at bay.

2) Teething - In regard to Maltipoo puppies that have bad breath, this can often be attributed to teething issues. It is not uncommon for the breath to have a sort of sweet-sour smell. Some owners describe this as a sour milk smell. 
This sort of bad breath is due to mild bleeding that occurs in the mouth that mixes with saliva and bacteria that is normally present.  

What to do: While this will resolve itself once the teething phase is done, brushing the teeth now will help in several ways:

1. It will help prevent future infection since infection in the gums now can affect the adult teeth that are going to emerge.

2. It will help keep gums strong which is the foundation needed for a healthy bite set.

3. It will help temporarily relieve the itch; most Maltipoo puppies love to have a nice scrubbing since the bristles feel great on those scratchy gums.

4. It establishes good habits for a lifetime; puppies that become used to this now will grow up to be adult dogs that sit nice for this grooming task. 
female Maltipoo named Molly
Mollie, 3 years old
Photo courtesy of Sharon Carpenter 
3) Dog Food Breath - As we touched on above, it's common for a dog to smell like the food that he just ate. This is what many refer to when they speak of 'dog breath' and it can linger for hours after a Maltipoo eats a meal. In most cases, this happens with very dry kibble due to the chalky consistency of the fine particles. As this mixes with saliva, it can form a sort of paste that is difficult for the dog to swallow. It can end up packed up around the teeth, causing the smell of the food to remain in the mouth for quite a while. Each time the Maltipoo exhales, that odor will be released. 

What to do: Most high quality kibbles with wholesome ingredients will not cause these problems, so reassessing the quality of the food that you feed to your Maltipoo may be in order. Additionally, any food that has gone stale will be more apt to chalk up and then produce bad smells, so if you tend to buy large bags of food that takes too long for your dog to eat, you may want to downsize to smaller containers that are finished off quicker.

It can also help to encourage your Maltipoo to drink right after eating. Water fountains are a great choice for boosting water consumption since dogs are attracted to the flowing water, though even offering an ice cube after a meal can do the trick. 
4) Bad Breath from Eating Poop - If your Maltipoo's breath smells like feces, he very well may have eaten feces, either his own or that of another dog. This is known as Coprophagia. While many owners will notice their dog doing this, some may not for a variety of reasons. 
In some rare cases, a dog can have vomit (and hence the mouth) that smells like feces or even looks like poop. This can point to a dangerous bowel obstruction and is considered an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary care.  

What to do - A great method to stop a dog from doing this is to add a safe supplement to his food that tastes just fine going in but makes feces taste really horrible; often bad enough to discourage a dog from eating them. And of course, you'll want to keep an eye on your Maltipoo and stop him if he even attempts to ingest feces. Often a loud clap, followed by a distraction such as offering a chew toy and then praising the action of mouthing the toy will work. 

In regard to a very overpowering feces smell coming from the mouth, you'll want to make sure that this is not due to bowel obstruction. While the vomit can smell like poop, if a Maltipoo is throwing up just a little bit and then swallowing it, this can make the breath smell like feces even if the vomit is not hitting the floor. Other signs include lack of appetite, straining to go to the bathroom, weakness, panicked behavior and/or dark stools. When in doubt, contact the vet. 
4) Foreign Object - There are many things that a Maltipoo can mouth that can get stuck between the teeth or even pierce the inside of the cheek or tongue. If this happens, there will be localized inflammation and possibly infection that can cause a noxious mouth odor. What can get stuck in the mouth is only limited to what a Maltipoo has had access to. A chuck of food may be wedged between the teeth, though small strings and wooden splinters are two of the most common culprits.

What to do - In some cases, you can remove a piece of food with your dog's toothbrush. Also, if your dog stays still and with the help of an assistant, a string of floss may work, particularly if something is wedged between the teeth.  You won't want to try to use a toothpick or other sharp object, since the dog can jump and this can cause additional injury. 
Maltipoo sleeping on her back
Bella
Photo courtesy of Carol Blackerby
In the case of a splinter in the mouth, this is something that the vet should handle to make sure that the entire object has been removed and to prescribe antibiotic medication if needed. 

5) Health Issues - There are a wide range of health conditions that have bad breath among the symptoms:
  • Diabetes can cause a dog's breath to smell very fruity and sweet. While this is more common with senior dogs, juvenile diabetes can strike younger dogs. Other signs include changes in appetite, weight loss or gain, weakness, changes in urination and/or increased UTI's. 
  • Kidney issues - Bad breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, increased thirst and/or lethargy. 
  • Liver or lung disease - With both liver and lung disease, there may be strong chronic bad breath. 
  • Digestive issues - If there is excess gas in the stomach, this can cause a dog to burp quite a bit, which in turn can cause bad breath as the smell of stomach acid and digesting food are expelled from the mouth. It should be noted that burping may also be caused by eating too quickly and can often be remedied by offering meals in a slow-feeder bowl which displaces the food to encourage slower ingestion. See also: Upset Stomach
If your Maltipoo has very sweet breath, a scent of urine coming from the mouth or bad breath that does not respond to any at-home remedies, it will be time for a full checkup with the veterinarian to rule out possible health conditions. 
Maltipoo for blog
Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"

Translation: 

"Tweets for treats...? ... or share for... ahh... a pear??? 
Well, you get the gist! Show me some love & share this site before you read on."
How to Keep Your Maltipoo's Breath Smelling Nice

If you have had all possible health issues ruled out and you are looking for at-home remedies to make a puppy or dog's breath smell fresh, fortunately there are several effective methods.

1) Once-per-day brushing. This is by far the most important prevention and treatment not only for halitosis but also prevention for tooth decay and infection. With a quality toothbrush and effective paste, you only need to brush for 3 to 4 minutes, once per day. Most Maltipoo may resist at first, however will settle down and get accustomed to this within just a week or so. 

Using a flavored paste that dogs are receptive to, such as chicken or beef flavor, will often help. Since canines are incredible time keepers, it's suggested to set aside a certain time each day that this is done such as after dinner.  
2) Dental dog chews - If you are going to give your Maltipoo a snack, why not have it be one that wipes away bad breath and promotes good oral hygiene? Dental treats will be textured to help remove plaque and will contain antiseptics that fight against bacteria. Look for treats that have no added by products, or artificial colors. Treats that contain real ingredients and not artificial flavors are the ones that will actually work. Look for ones made with dill, parsley and mint.
light apricot Maltipoo
Eva, 3 months old
Photo courtesy of Terrell Johnson 
3) Canine mouth wash - Luckily, you don't have to teach your Maltipoo to swish and spit. There are canine mouth washes that are actually added to a dog's water and are meant to be ingested. These work by killing bad bacteria in the mouth and also in the bowl and can be a great method to help combat bad breath. Look for a flavorless canine mouthwash that does not affect the taste of the water. With quality brands, you only need to add 1 teaspoon for each full cup of water. Steer clear of cheap ones; they can have a drying effect which can make things worse.
Lou, 4 months old
Photo courtesy of Lainie 
4) Encourage the use of chew toys - While chewing on toys alone without any other methods involved will not be sufficient enough for clean teeth and fresh breath, they do have their place. Every Maltipoo needs a proper toy collection. Toys are self-soothing instruments, combat boredom, give a dog a way to release energy and direct curiosity. At the same time, chewing will trigger the production of saliva that keeps the mouth moist which then in turn helps wash away odor and cavity causing bacteria.

*** If you would like to see recommendations for effective toothbrushes, paste, dental treats and canine water additives for fresh breath, look to 'Dental Care' in the Maltipoo Specialty Shoppe
A Final Word

It is never normal for a dog to have bad breath to the point that you need to turn your face away or wrinkle your nose. For odor that overpowering, there is always an underlying cause. 

If home remedies do not work, do please have your Maltipoo examined by the veterinarian, since both prognosis and treatment is best when a medical issue is caught early. 
Things to do now:

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