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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18168
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My dog a westie, 12yrs old got a foul smelling breath, she

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My dog a westie, 12yrs old got a foul smelling breath, she also has a tendency to constipation. When she is like that her tummy rumbles noisely. She is not anxious for her food when this happens. What can I do to help her.Thank you Ellie
Hello, my name Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I am sorry to hear that Fifi has foul breath and a tendency to suffer from constipation.
Bad breath could be a sign of nausea or an abnormal bacteria population in her intestinal tract (secondary to eating the wrong thing but in some cases due to internal organ disease or intestinal disease), but it can also be a sign of an infected tooth or a foreign body caught between his teeth, on the roof of her mouth or in the back of her throat. It can also be secondary to an oral mass, either under her tongue, on her gums or even on her tonsils which can be difficult to see.
I do recommend rinsing out her mouth with an antibacterial mouth rinse such as CHX rinse once or twice a day for several days to see if that helps. You can purchase this online at or in many pet stores.
You might also wish to add a probiotic to her diet such as Fortiflora, Proviable, or Benebac to make sure her gastrointestinal bacteria population is normal. Replacing good bacteria can help with digestion and may decrease her troubles with constipation as well. These are also available online or at pet stores.
If she will let you examine inside her mouth for swelling, reddened areas or any sign of trauma, a bad tooth, a mass or a foreign body. I understand if she won't let you do this. Sometimes we need to sedate them and really look close to find the problem. Even with a normal looking crown sometimes a tooth root is infected and we cannot see that until dental radiographs are taken.
Older dogs tend to have slower gastrointestinal motility. When that happens water is reabsorbed from the feces and can lead to constipation. Their organ function, especially kidney function, may also not be optimal which can lead to mild dehydration, dry stools due to poor water conservation by the kidneys, and increased organ wastes which can change the gut bacteria population. All of these changes can change her breath and predispose to constipation. They can also cause stomach upset, increased gastrointestinal noise and nausea, which would affect her appetite.
Because she seems to respond to milk of magnesia and adding charcoal to her food I suspect that she needs something to decrease acid and soothe her stomach and that she may indeed have some early kidney failure, not uncommon at her age.
Things that you can do to help her feel better include using an acid reducing medication, increasing fluid intake and adding fiber.
To try and settle her stomach today you can try an acid reducer, either:
1) Pepcid-ac (famotidine) at a dose of one half of a 10mg tablet per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight every 12 hours.
2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at a dose of one half of a 10mg tablet per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight every 24 hours.
These will reduce stomach acid and should help if this is related to simple nausea and gastrointestinal irritation.
 These medications are quite safe and can be used as needed long term.
Increasing the amount of fluids in her diet in general will help. You can feed the canned version of her normal diet and add low salt chicken or beef broth to her food. The more fluids she takes in the better so if she likes to lick ice cubes give her those as well.
Increase fiber by adding canned pumpkin (not pie filling, just pumpkin) to each meal. One tablespoon to each meal for a small (Poodle or Westie sized) dog to 2 tablespoons to start. These are just guidelines, you can adjust the amount based on her ease passing stool as well as whether her stool is too soft or hard. Fiber stimulates intestinal motility and helps keep water in the intestinal tract.
Slow walks can also sometimes help to get and keep the intestinal tract moving properly.
The next step then if she still isn't doing well, along with some blood tests to make sure her internal organ function is normal, would be sedation and close examination of her mouth and throat dental and abdominal radiographs.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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