Pay attention to changes in your dog’s breath. For example, a foul odor that crops up out of the blue could mean she has an infection.
“The odor of a bad tooth infection is very unpleasant,” says Dr. Laurie Coger, a holistic veterinarian and dog trainer.
Bad breath may also indicate kidney disease or diabetes.
The breath of a dog with kidney failure can smell like urine, or have a metallic odor, says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. If this describes your dog’s breath, she should see a vet right away.
“It’s absolutely different than run-of-the-mill bad breath due to bad teeth,” Hohenhaus says.
Late-stage diabetes may also produce a unique scent.
“Without insulin, the body can’t use the food it eats,” Hohenhaus explains. “A diabetic pet will eat tons of food, but they lose weight like crazy, and can’t use the food that’s digested by the body. They break down their own body for nutrients.”
That generates ketones, which produce a distinctive odor on the breath. Some say it smells like nail polish remover, others think the odor is sweet.
“Once you smell a pet with ketones on the breath, you’ll never forget it,” Hohenhaus says.
If your pet has this symptom, take her to the vet immediately.