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Odds are your Yorkie’s breath never smelled great. Dog’s aren’t exactly known for being choosy about what they eat, and Yorkshire Terriers, especially, are prone to bad breath.
But if your Yorkie’s breath truly stinks, you may have halitosis on your hands, and you’ll need to inspect your pup for underlying health conditions.
In this guide:
Why do Yorkies have bad breath?
Technically called halitosis, Yorkie bad breath can occur for a number of reasons ranging from a poor diet to issues with their internal organs. However, most cases are due to dental issues.
Depending on the age of your pup, halitosis may be caused either by normal teething or periodontal disease. Apart from what’s below, you can learn more about both in our guide to Yorkie teeth.
Many people like the scent of puppy breath, which tends to smell sweeter thanks to a puppy’s clean mouth and milk-based diet early in life. But at around 4 months of age, long after the puppy has weaned and the process of teething has begun, this “milk breath” can turn sour.
The change is most likely due to the build-up of blood and saliva formed as your dog’s new teeth penetrate the gums, as well as the changing flora in their mouth and throat. You shouldn’t be alarmed by this change. It is, unfortunately, inevitable, and you can keep it at bay by brushing their teeth on a daily basis.
However, if your Yorkie puppy’s breath starts to really smell foul, there could be a periodontal issue.
If you’ve ever wondered why your Yorkie has bad breath, periodontal disease is probably the answer.
Yorkies are prone to dental issues because their tiny jaws lead to overcrowded teeth. Overcrowded teeth lead to more food getting stuck between the teeth than normal, and an excess build-up of food debris means more plaque and tartar are on the way. Once these set in, decay and gum disease aren’t far behind.
The best way to prevent periodontal disease from causing bad breath is to get ahead of the issue. “Initial dental cleaning and oral assessment are advised, particularly for Yorkies prior to two years of age,” said Dr. Steven Thompson, DVM, DABVP. Brush your dog’s teeth every day and have them cleaned professionally at least once a year.
However, if your Yorkie’s breath already stinks, a dead or abscessed tooth may be to blame. In this case, you may need to have the tooth extracted by a veterinarian.
Other health issues
Although dental issues are usually to blame, bad Yorkie breath can also be a symptom of a few serious medical conditions. If you’ve examined your pup’s mouth and see no signs of periodontal decay, ask your vet about these issues:
- Respiratory infections: If the bad breath is accompanied by wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, your Yorkie may have a respiratory infection. You and your vet should also inspect your Yorkie’s throat for any foreign objects.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Acidic breath, vomiting, and diarrhea may indicate your Yorkie is having problems digesting food. This could be due to their diet or a gastrointestinal infection. The problem needs to be resolved quickly since Yorkies have such high metabolisms and are prone to hypoglycemia.
- Liver shunts: This birth defect prevents the liver from properly filtering toxins, which may then spread throughout the rest of the body. Other symptoms may include a lack of appetite, vomiting, and yellow corneas.
- Diabetes: May cause unusually sweet or fruity breath, not to be confused with the sweet-smelling milk breath your puppy has during the first few months of their life.
- Kidney malfunction: The kidneys’ inability to properly excrete waste may leave your Yorkie’s breath smelling like urine. Another sign may be your Yorkie’s inability to urinate more than a few drops.
>> Read more:
Another less-serious cause of your Yorkie’s bad breath may be their diet. For starters, dog food doesn’t smell good. But canines are also known for chowing down on almost anything else they can sink their teeth into, including their own poop.
If you’re just noticing bad Yorkie breath for the first time, scan the area for signs your pup has been eating something they found outside or under the furniture. If you don’t see anything, check their dog food to see if it’s stale or spoiled.
The type of food could also affect your dog’s breath. Wet food clings to the teeth more than abrasive kibble and does less to remove existing plaque. So if your dog is on a wet food diet, you may want to transition them to a 50-50 kibble-wet-food mix. If wet food is a necessity for your pup for other reasons, consider brushing their teeth after each meal.
Finally, a recent change in diet could be affecting your dog’s digestion. Did you recently switch your dog to a new food brand or slip them a few too many table scraps last night? Their digestive system may still be adjusting.
As stated in the previous section, acidic breath, vomiting, and diarrhea are signs of gastrointestinal problems. Consult our guide to what human foods Yorkies can eat if you’ve recently changed your dog to a homemade diet.
>> Read more: What Are Yorkies Allergic To?
Yorkie bad breath remedies
Daily brushing & annual cleanings
You should brush your Yorkie’s teeth every day. Your dog’s mouth works similarly to your own. If you’ve eaten something smelly or if you haven’t brushed for eight hours, your breath is going to stink.
Brushing a dog’s teeth isn’t always easy, but the guide linked above provides tips for conditioning your pup to cooperate with the process. It also offers some suggestions about the types of products that work for little breeds like Yorkies. Please note that you can’t use human toothpaste or toothbrushes for this task. Instead, we’d recommend checking out Bark Bright’s dental kit subscription. It comes with the toothpaste, supplies, and treats you need to keep your dog’s breath fresh every day, and The Dog Tale readers can get an extra month free.
In addition to daily brushings, you’ll need to have your dog’s teeth cleaned professionally at least once per year. Brushing helps remove plaque and food debris, but once plaque has calcified or spread beneath the gums, it needs to be scraped.
“Extending beyond 12–15 months typically will reveal advanced periodontal disease progression with multiple oral surgeries and extractions,” said Dr. Thompson.
If you’re expecting to have some dental work done on your dog this year, it may be a good time to look into the optional preventative dental coverage options under either Lemonade Pet Insurance, Embrace or Pumpkin Pet Insurance.
Feed your dog high-quality dry food & dental treats
As we discussed above, your dog’s diet could be affecting both their dental hygiene and digestive health. Cheap dog food is full of artificial ingredients and fillers to help cut costs and improve the food’s shelf life. This robs your dog of necessary nutrition and could be contributing to their awful breath.
Additionally, most vets recommend feeding Yorkies dry food since they’re already prone to dental issues. Dry dog food acts as a natural abrasive that can help remove existing plaque while your dog eats. If you’ve got a picky eater who prefers a wet brand, at least consider transitioning your Yorkie into a mixture of high-quality dry and wet food.
Dental treats, such as Greenies, are also a great way to show your pup some love while counteracting the buildup of plaque that causes bad breath.
Yogurt & parsley
Some dog owners have also claimed success by introducing healthy gut bacteria into their dog’s diet. If you see signs of digestive issues and suspect this is the cause for your Yorkie’s bad breath, consider adding one teaspoon of plain Greek yogurt with live active cultures to their meals. Make sure this yogurt has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners (like xylitol).
If you decide to take this approach, you should carefully monitor your pup for any lactose intolerance, which would likely take the form of gas or diarrhea.
Another home remedy for bad Yorkie breath is fresh parsley. Parsley is antimicrobial, and many cultures use it to freshen breath after especially pungent meals. Chop a fresh spring of parsley into small pieces and sprinkle it over your dog’s food.
Give your pup dental chew toys
Daily brushing is crucial for maintaining good health, but odds are your pup won’t like it. A great way to trick them into cleaning their own teeth is by giving them a dental chew toy. (Note: this isn’t a replacement for brushing—just a supplement).
Dental chew toys have pliable nubs and ridges that get in between your dog’s teeth to rub away the plaque that has built up throughout the day. You know they’re going to be chewing on something anyway, so it might as well be something that helps fight bad breath! Just make sure you get a toy meant for small dog breeds, such as Hartz’s Chew ‘n Clean Dental Duo. Bigger toys may be too large for your Yorkie’s mouth.
Finally, a dog-friendly mouthwash could help to curb your Yorkie’s bad breath. Unlike human mouthwash, which would be dangerous for pets, dog mouthwash uses safe, digestible ingredients that fight bacteria in your dog’s mouth as they drink. It usually comes in a gel form, which you add to your dog’s water bowl.
Our recommendation would be Bodhi Dog’s Peppermint Dental Water Additive, which is made with peppermint, cinnamon, aloe vera, honey, and cloves.