This is far from accurate as dogs have germs present in the mouth at all times and like humans, can suffer from an array of dental issues including infection and decay. On the other side of the coin, are those that say that it is normal for a dog to have 'dog breath'. This is a bit of truth to this, however there is a catch.
This only applies to the fact that many dogs ingest dog food and this has a smell of its own. After eating, the scent of this manufactured food
can linger and therefore it is true that a good portion of puppies and dogs will smell like dog food. However, this being said, while it is not the most tantalizing smell in the world, it is not foul smelling or offensive as what would be true of an actual bad breath issue.
#1 Reason when a Shih Tzu has Chronic Bad Breath
is the most common reason for canine Halitosis. It should be noted that an acute smell can be due to a piece of food that has become wedged between teeth. As the food decays, it can emit quite a terrible odor. More typical however, is an issue in which bacteria and decay have developed around the teeth and at and even below the gum line. The culprit may be plaque; once it builds up a normal brushing at home will not remove it and therefore brushing the teeth even on a regular schedule at this time will not resolve the bad breath problems.
It is very important to have any possible dental issues to be taken care of as soon as possible. A buildup of tarter and plaque will rot away teeth making them weak and for many dogs, eventually causing them to fall out. In addition, a dental infection can spread via the bloodstream into the body. It can reach a dog's brain, heart and lungs, among other organs.
What to do:
If you have been regularly brushing your Shih Tzu's teeth
with a quality brush and paste, the teeth should still be examined at least once per year during regular wellness checks. If your Shih Tzu has been having an issue with really smelly breath even if you have been performing at-home cleanings, a checkup will be in order to check for issues. Some dogs have soft teeth and are more prone to issues even with routine care. A scraping may need to be done and teeth will be evaluated for potential issues which are always easier to deal with when caught early.
If you have not been brushing the teeth and your Shih Tzu has an ongoing problem with very stinky breath, you will want to first have the veterinarian perform a 'full dental' that will clear away both plaque and tarter so that you can start with a fresh slate afterward. Choose a good 3-sided brush that is appropriately sized for toy breeds and a quality paste that has the right mixture of abrasive elements to properly scrub away particles that become stuck to teeth. Set aside a certain time each day to clean the teeth for a good 3 minutes.
Less Common Health Issues that Can Cause Bad Breath Problems with a Shih Tzu
There are a range of health conditions
that can cause a dog's breath to smell bad or odd. It should be noted that most are rare but should be considered in cases of a Shih Tzu having an issue that is not easily cleared up and dental issues have been ruled out.
Diabetes - With this, abnormal sugar levels in the bloodstream can cause the breath to have an unusual fruity or sweet scent.
Liver disease - Typically this condition causes very strong bad breath however will have other symptoms that include a yellowing of the eyes and/or gums, decreased appetite and/or stomach distress including vomiting.
Kidney disease - If a dog's breath has the distinct smell of urine, an issue with the kidneys is always a top concern.
Lung disease - There can be issues with the lungs, including cancer, that cause a foul smell to be emitted when the dog breaths.
If a Shih Tzu has a sudden problem with stinky breath odor, this may be a case of the dog having ingested something that smells bad and particles of that are still in the mouth. Examples are rotted food taken from the trash or even feces in the case of Coprophagia.
If this is the case, a good cleaning with canine toothpaste
should resolve the issue. To prevent this problem, trash cans should be kept under counters if at all possible.
Problems with Coprophagia will need to be dealt with. Many cases are due to a lack of proper nutrition and reassessing what you are feeding your dog is a good idea. If your Shih Tzu's breath smells like poop and you suspect that he/she is eating his/her own feces, one method that works very well is to offer a supplement that is sprinkled onto meals; it tastes very good when a dog is ingesting it however it works to make stools taste horrible.
As we touched on above, something may have gotten stuck between the teeth may be the cause of a bad smell coming from the mouth. The culprit may be food, a splinter from a stick or other small object that is wedged and causing over salivation and even possible swelling and bleeding. Essentially, when your Shih Tzu is outside and sniffing the ground he or she can mouth just about anything in the blink of an eye.
If possible, you can do an inspection with a flashlight to see if you can spot anything. With the help of an assistant, you may be able to remove it either using floss or a small plaque scraper. However, if your Shih Tzu is not tolerant to this or removal is proving to be difficult, it will be best to have the veterinarian take care of this.
Also, as we mentioned earlier, food itself can cause a case of bad breath. Wet commercial food can tend to stick to the teeth which can cause a Shih Tzu to smell like dog food with each breath for hours after eating. Even dry food can cause issues if it contains high levels of fish oil, which in turn can cause a Shih Tzu's breath to have a rotting fish smell.
If food is found to be the cause and a dog's breath is stinky enough to really be causing an issue for owners who find that they have to turn their heads away when they are close to their dog, a change in brands may be warranted. Do take care to make changes gradually, since a fast switch can cause intestinal upset.