Stinky kisses from the dog could mean something more sinister

THE STAR – It’s all cuddles and fun on the couch until your dog decides to yawn, blowing stinky breath right in your face.

“Our pets’ bad breath can be caused by a number of things,” said Tina Hoelscher, a veterinarian with Germany’s Aktion Tier. One cause behind the rancid smell could be a serious illness, she said. “The owner should always get to the bottom of it.”

Yes, this means smelling the breath and evaluating it. Sorry.

If your pet’s breath smells like their less-than-palatable food, then it’s probably nothing. The smell caused by disease is noticeably different – and worth a trip to the veterinarian.

Sour-smelling breath might mean that your dog or cat isn’t digesting their food right. Changing your pet food brand might be worth your while. If you decide to do so, however, introduce the new chow gradually, over the course of a week, by giving a little more of the new stuff and less of the old day by day.

It’s a bit more worrisome if your pet’s breath smells foul.

“Purulent breath is almost always a sign of inflamed gums or periodontium,” explained Hoelscher. Such a state is likely painful for your dog and should be examined by a pet doctor.

Owners can be proactive when it comes to their pet’s breath – and mouth health – by brushing their teeth. Hoelscher advises starting from a young age. “And if the animal won’t tolerate having its teeth brushed, then at least the owner can dab the gums with a chlorhexidine-based gel,” the veterinarian said.

Most pets won’t turn their noses up at it, and the gel will help against inflammation, as well as bad breath – meaning no more couch cuddles ruined by some four-legged halitosis.

If your dog’s breath is especially bad, then you should have it examined by a veterinarian to make sure it’s not due to a disease. PHOTO: THE STAR