5 month old Basenji mix with Acetone Breath

  • Hi. I adopted a dog about 2 months ago. At the time, the rescue had him listed as a Rat terrier/Chihuahua mix. I took him to the vet about 2 weeks after adopting him just for a check up, and to have them look at the incision site where he was neutered (he was neutered before I even adopted him, and yes, he was very young when they did it.) Everything appeared fine at the visit, but the vet tech kept mentioning that she thought he was part basenji. When I got home I looked up Basenjis and realized he most likely was part Basenji - not only did he have many of the physical characteristics (ears, curly tail, color and markings, whiskers), but he also showed many behavioral characteristics typical of Basenjis (standing up on his hind legs frequently, cleaning himself like a cat, grumbling or "yodeling", etc.) I'm not sure if he could be full breed or not, but I think he is likely a Basenji/Rat terrier mix. I am attaching pictures of Frankie for anyone who'd like to see.

    Last night I noticed that Frankie's breath smelled like nail polish remover. I was freaked out and thought he had eaten something bad, but he wasn't acting sick, and I knew there wasn't any way he could have gotten to any nail polish remover, so I thought maybe he was just chewing on his new bed that smelled a little plasticy. Today my mom smelled his breath and announced that he had ketones. I am a type 1 diabetic, and I guess my mom had smelled the acetone smell on my breath in the past, so she was able to quickly identify it.

    I tried testing Frankie's blood sugar with my glucometer, but I couldn't get enough blood and he was getting traumatized, so I stopped trying. I immediate thought of type 1 diabetes, but I remembered reading something about Fanconi syndrome so I looked that up. Obviously, with the exception of his age, Fanconi seems like a major possibility at this point. Ketones point to an inability to metabolize glucose.

    I am going to go to the drug store immediately after posting this message to get some urine glucose test strips and I will test his urine for glucose.

    My question is: is it even possible for a dog to get Fanconi at 5 months old? I know his age is correct because he just lost all of his baby teeth and he has been growing pretty rapidly. Has anyone ever smelled Acetone on their Fanconi-affected dog's breath?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond,



  • Fanconi dogs do not spill Ketones like diabetics do. They spill sugar and proteins because their kidneys no longer reabsorb nutrients efficiently so nutrients spill into the urine.

    It is possible that the dog is diabetic.

  • He is very cute, most likely basenji mix, and though I have never heard of one becoming diabetic that young, that could be it. By all means check the urine, and if he is spilling sugar, he will need blood tests as well. If both are elevated, he is diabetic. If blood sugar is normal and urine has sugar, that could be Fanconi.

    It seems a vet visit is in your future. I had a basenji who developed diabetes at about age 12 Yrs, after she got used to her shots twice a day she fared well for a couple more years. If indeed this darling boy is diabetic, how lucky that he wound up with you, who will know exactly what he needs! I know of a Great Dane who lived to a very old age with eating just meat, and supplements…no grains or other carbs at all. Treatment for canine diabetes has come a long way since I had to deal with it...sort of adjusting insulin by how much water she was drinking with blood tests occasionally!

    At any rate, thank you for adopting this darling boy and for being on top of whatever is going on with him.

  • Frankie is A D O R A B L E! hope you find him in good health… ps when my husband and kids run a temperature, their breath smells like nail polish too. Is he running a temp? could be an infection from the procedure? I dont even have to use a thermometer to tell when they have one. I can smell it. weird.

  • Thank you all so much for your quick replies! The acetone smell went away last night. He could have been running a fever…I suspect that his incision site is not really healing well. When the vet looked at it not too long ago she said it was fine though, and to just apply neosporin. The problem is, the neosporin only lasts about 3 seconds before Frankie furiously licks it off, and I don't want to keep applying more and have him ingest a bunch of antibiotic ointment. I think he is going to have to go to the vet this week, although I might try some more warm compresses and neosporin over the next few days and see if there is some improvement, since she didn't seem concerned at all the last time she looked at it.

    Also, I bought some dual ketone and glucose urine strips last night and he was negative for both, although by the time I was successfully able to get his pee on the stick instead of all over my hand, the acetone smell had vanished. 😉

    I know...I'm a paranoid dog mom, but I just don't want anything to happen to him, or for anything to be wrong with him and it go unchecked for any amount of time. Being an untreated T1 Diabetic will wreak havoc on a dog or human body, and from what I read, so will untreated Fanconi.

    Anyway, sorry for my looong posts and thanks again for your feedback!


  • Glad the smell went away. Now you have the glucose strips to test him monthly, so you are ahead of the game. Welcome to Forum, Frankie is most likely a basenji or basenji-mix.

  • First Basenji's

    Hi there, and welcome to you and your cutie!

    I use Neosporin wound cleanser for kids on my dogs. It foams instantly, and is a bit thinner – I think it absorbs into the skin more quickly, and doesn't leave a sticky, lickable residue like the regular ointment. If you hold your dog still for a few seconds and give the stuff time to do its "magic", that might help too. More frequent reapplication than the ointment is necessary, but if Frankie is licking the stuff off anyway, that's a given.

  • Puppies who are going through teething will sometimes have weird smelling breath. It's possible that is all it is.

  • Robyn is right - teething puppies have very malodorous breath that can smells like what I would expect from a dog with kidney disease. In addition certain foods can leave the breath smelling similalry as it is digested. At this stage I would not be too worried.

    As for the neosporin - apply right before a walk or eating so his mind and tongue are engaged elsewhere. Even 10 minutes on the skin without interruption is good.

    Glass Bubblers

  • Here's my neosporin trick. Quickly without a fuss put it where needed, then make a HUGE show out of putting a little neo somewhere else that is easy for him to lick - I like to use the top of a front foot. I say things like "OH my goodness, look at this foot!!!! We are going to have to put this stuff right here on this foot. Whatever you do DON'T lick you foot" etc. I drag this out (time wise) with as little neosporin as possible but go on about how much this foot needs the neo. So, when the dog is released, he'll go lick his foot and forget about the owie place. It's sort of a game. Basenji thinks he got one up on you and you think you got one up on him. (Yea, I'm easily amused.)

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