When my dog, Wyatt, was dying of kidney failure, there was a distinct odor to his breath that my vet said was due to his failing kidneys. His breath had always been unique to him. None of the other dogs I encountered had his distinct odor of breath and I encountered a good many through work in the four years I had him. Early on I didn’t think much of it because he had a penchant for eating poop and I associated it with that and it wasn’t until the end that it became noticeably strong.
Recently, while playing with my five month old puppy, Fleegle, I smelled this same distinct odor on his breath. Fleegle is related to Wyatt. He was sired by one of Wyatt’s littermates and as I remembered my vet telling me there could be a genetic component to kidney disease in dogs, I began to worry.
When I took Fleegle in to my vet and explained to her what I had smelled, she restated the genetic factors involved, but when she leaned over and sniffed his breath, her expression relaxed, but turned awkward.
Looking at me, she asked, “Has Fleegle been licking his boy parts?”
Fleegle is intact, and so was Wyatt. That is the common factor between them and explains the odor to their breath. It also explains why I wasn’t smelling it on other dogs because it’s rare I meet a dog that’s intact. The mistake I made was thinking that his regular breath odor was the same as the stronger one he got when his kidneys were failing. The two were one and the same to me, but in hindsight, or hindscent, they weren’t.
To reassure myself concerning Fleegle, I had a blood panel done, and when my vet called the next day and told me the results were fine, the first thought to cross my mind was: Fleegle is safe to love.
Fleegle has a growing number of pet names, the latest addition being, Nut Breath. I see one of those finger thimble toothbrushes and some enzymatic toothpaste in his near future. Liver flavor anyone?