We’ve all experienced that moment when your loyal canine companion decides to give you a big, wet kiss, and their breath nearly knocks you off your feet. Yes, we’re talking about the dreaded doggie breath!
We all adore our dogs, but dealing with their not-so-pleasant breath can be quite a challenge. In fact, in my practice as a veterinarian, the topic of what owners can do about their dog’s bad breath must come up on a daily basis!
Well, there’s good news. There are numerous natural remedies that not only freshen up your dog’s breath but also safeguard against further dental disease. So, let’s dive into some of the best home remedies for bad dog breath:
Causes of Bad Breath (halitosis) in Dogs
As a veterinarian, I frequently encounter stinky dog breath in my daily practice. In fact, dental disease is one of the most common issues dogs face; a study by the Royal Veterinary College in London showed that dental disease affects 1 in 8 dogs every year, with smaller dogs being more affected, and that number only increases with age.
Bad breath in dogs, also known as halitosis, isn’t just as simple as a bad smell – it’s often an indicator of underlying disease, of which there are many causes.
The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is poor dental hygiene. When dogs don’t receive regular teeth cleaning, plaque and tartar can build up, creating a breeding ground for bacteria that produce foul-smelling gases.
In addition to poor dental hygiene, dietary factors can also play a role, with certain foods and garbage scavenging being common culprits. Digestive problems and gastrointestinal disorders can also contribute to halitosis, such as obstructions and infections along the digestive tract, leading to bad breath.
It’s important to note that bad breath in dogs can also be a sign of underlying health problems. For example, diabetes and kidney disease can affect a dog’s chemical balance, resulting in distinctive oral odors. If your dog is showing symptoms of being unwell in any other way, booking a consultation with your vet is essential.
That’s why I recommend taking a proactive approach to your dog’s dental hygiene to prevent bad dog breath. Regular teeth cleaning at home and by a vet can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and avoiding scavenging can also help prevent bad breath.
But if your dog’s breath smells already, some simple home remedies can help freshen up their mouth.
Here are some effective home remedies for stinky dog breath:
1. Dog Toothbrushing and Toothpaste
As a veterinarian, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene. Daily brushing using the right toothpaste and toothbrush is the gold standard for managing your dog’s bad breath and preventing dental disease. After all, we brush our own teeth, so why wouldn’t we brush our dogs?
Let’s take a closer look at how to select the right dog toothpaste, toothbrush and general tips to make the process easier:
Selecting the Right Dog Toothpaste
Choose a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs; human toothpaste contains ingredients like fluoride or xylitol that are toxic to pets and can cause severe health issues if ingested. Enzymatic dog toothpaste, on the other hand, contains enzymes that help break down plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth and reduce bacteria that cause foul-smelling breath.
One of my recommended go-to options for dogs is the enzymatic toothpaste from Virbac. I use it in my dog, and she loves the meaty taste of it so much that she actually looks forward to tooth brushing time.
Toothbrush Options For Dogs
In addition to selecting suitable toothpaste, choosing the right kind of brush is equally important in maintaining your pet’s oral hygiene routine. There are numerous options available, but I prefer finger brushes that fit over your fingertip, allowing for better control while cleaning those hard to get to parts of your dog’s mouth.
Alternatively, traditional-style brushes with bristles at different angles are great for getting at those back teeth. There are even electric toothbrushes available, similar to those used by humans.
Tips To Make Toothbrushing Easier:
Brushing your dog’s teeth can be a challenging task, but with these tips, you can make the process easier for both you and your furry friend:
2. Carrot Sticks and Apple Slices
A simple and often underrated solution to bad dog breath is adding carrot sticks and apple slices into a dog’s diet. It’s surprising how many owners I see that haven’t been incorporating these into their dog’s routine, but many come back reporting great results.
These crunchy snacks help mechanically clean your dog’s teeth, removing plaque build-up that often leads to bad breath. Plus, they’re packed with vitamins that promote overall health and oral health in dogs.
To incorporate these snacks into your dog’s diet, simply wash and cut up some carrots and apples into small pieces. You can also freeze them for a refreshing treat on hot days. Just be sure to remove any apple seeds, as they can be harmful to dogs.
3. Water and Food Additives
Water and food additives could be the solution if you’re looking for a way to freshen your dog’s breath. Similar to human mouthwash, these products are designed to reduce the bacteria that cause bad odors in your pet’s mouth, and they’re approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Adding these dental solutions to your dog’s food or drinking water can help improve their oral health and prevent bad breath.
When choosing a water additive for your pet care routine, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol or any harmful substances like xylitol, which can be toxic for dogs. Instead, look out for those containing chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride as active ingredients. Both have been proven effective at fighting gum disease and maintaining good oral hygiene.
One of the best water additives on the market is the PetLab Co. Dental Formula. While it may be a bit more expensive than other options, it’s far more effective in my experience. It’s safe for pets to ingest and contains chlorhexidine as an active ingredient, which helps fight gum disease and maintain good oral hygiene.
Another option I recommend is adding PlaqueOff to your dog’s food. This product is a seaweed-based powder that helps reduce plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth. It’s safe for pets to ingest and is a great way to maintain good oral hygiene.
4. Dog Dental Chews
Dog dental chews are an effective way to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent bad breath in your furry friend. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, making choosing the right one for your dog easy.
Dental chews are designed to remove plaque and tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth. These treats help prevent bad breath and promote overall oral health by reducing the risk of periodontal disease, a leading cause of bad breath in dogs. Additionally, chewing stimulates saliva production, which further helps clean your pet’s mouth.
When selecting a dental chew, it is crucial to consider the size of your dog and their chewing habits. Look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to ensure they meet specific standards set out to protect and enhance a dog’s oral health. Some popular options include Greenies, Pedigree Dentastix, or Purina DentaLife, all have VOHC approval.
5. Fresh Herbs
Where possible, I always try to recommend natural remedies for my patient, and one of the simplest and most effective home remedies for bad dog breath is the use of fresh herbs. Two herbs, mint, and parsley, can be helpful in improving a dog’s breath smell without resorting to harsh chemicals or expensive treatments.
The Power of Mint
Mint is a refreshing herb that is known for its ability to fight off bacteria that may cause dental disease within a dog’s mouth. Adding small amounts of fresh mint leaves to your dog’s meals or treats can effectively freshen their breath.
In addition to its oral health benefits, mint is also rich in chlorophyll, which can help reduce bad breath by neutralizing odors.
Parsley: More Than Just A Garnish
Parsley is another herb that can have powerful antibacterial properties that are known to treat bad breath in dogs. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals that can improve overall health. Chewing on raw parsley leaves can naturally clean your canine friend’s teeth while neutralizing any foul odors from their mouth. Just make sure it’s the curly-leafed variety, as other types of parsley can be toxic to our canine friends
The American Kennel Club suggests adding chopped-up sprigs of parsley directly onto your pup’s food bowl. This will improve their breath and add a fresh flavor to their meal.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an easy remedy for bad breath that I often recommend as a veterinarian. Coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties that can help reduce the buildup of harmful bacteria in your pet’s mouth, reducing the risk of dental problems.
How To Use Coconut Oil For Your Dog’s Bad Breath
If you’re wondering how to use coconut oil to treat your dog’s bad breath, there are a few ways to do it. Here are some of the most effective methods:
- Add it to their food: Add about one teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of body weight to their food each day. This will help improve their skin and coat health as well as their breath.
- Use it during tooth brushing sessions: Dip a soft-bristle toothbrush into some melted coconut oil and gently brush along all surfaces of the teeth at least once daily. This isn’t a substitute for specially formulated dog toothpaste but can help reduce plaque buildup.
It’s important to note that you should use high-quality coconut oil, preferably organic and cold-pressed.
7. Yogurt and Probiotics
Probiotics are one of those remedies that perhaps every dog should be receiving – they’re not only effective in fighting off dental disease, but they also have a host of benefits for your dog’s digestive system and skin.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support digestive health, which in turn can help treat bad breath. They work by outcompeting the harmful bacteria that cause the foul odor in your dog’s mouth.
How To Implement This Remedy?
Yogurt is one such source of probiotics, but be sure to use unsweetened varieties, as sugar can exacerbate dental issues. Begin with small servings – about one teaspoon per day for smaller breeds, while larger dogs may benefit from up to two tablespoons daily. Monitor your dog closely for adverse reactions such as diarrhea or vomiting since some dogs may have difficulty digesting lactose in dairy products like yogurt.
Probiotic supplements are an even better option – they’re formulated specifically for dogs and avoid the risk of an adverse reaction to lactose. When it comes to choosing a probiotic for your dog, the options can be confusing, but choosing a high-quality and reputable brand is vital.
As a vet, I’d only ever recommend probiotics from Purina ProPlan or Zesty Paws. These brands have a reputation for producing high-quality, safe, and effective supplements for dogs, and I’ve seen the results firsthand.
Whether you choose to use yogurt or a probiotic supplement, be sure to start with small servings and monitor your dog closely for any adverse reactions.
Professional Treatment for Dog Bad Breath
While these home remedies can help with mild cases of doggy dental disease, sometimes they just won’t cut it when it comes to bad dog breath. That’s where vets come in; if your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, then a professional dental procedure might be needed:
- Bleeding gums or loose teeth
- A sudden change in appetite or weight loss
- Pawing at the mouth or a face
- Nasal discharge or swelling around the mouth
These can indicate severe periodontal disease. At this point, home remedies will unlikely help, so it might be time to bring out the big guns. Here are some common professional treatments for dog bad breath:
Dental Cleaning and Polishing
A dental cleaning under anesthesia is like a spa day for your dog’s mouth. It removes plaque and tartar buildup, especially in those hard-to-reach places that a toothbrush can’t get to. And to top it off, the vet will give your dog’s teeth a nice polish to make them shine like a Hollywood smile. This procedure can help prevent dental disease, which can cause bad breath, pain, and tooth loss.
Extractions might be necessary if your pup’s teeth are in bad shape. Don’t fret; only those teeth that are giving your pup grief will be removed. This can help alleviate pain and prevent further infection, which can cause bad breath. It’s important to note that dental disease can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the heart and kidneys, so it’s crucial to address the issue as soon as possible.
In some extreme cases, your dog might need oral surgery. Any evidence of tumors, cysts, fractures, or other serious oral diseases may warrant a slightly more complex procedure. This can help prevent the spread of infection and alleviate pain, which can cause bad breath. Your veterinarian will discuss the best action for your pup’s needs if this is the case.
Treatment for Underlying Health Conditions
If your dog’s bad breath is a symptom of a bigger health issue, like diabetes or kidney disease, treating the underlying condition will freshen up their mouth. Your veterinarian may recommend a specific diet, medication, or other treatment to help manage the condition and improve your pup’s overall health. Bad breath is likely the least of your dog’s concerns in this case, so it’s important to address any underlying health issues as soon as possible to prevent further complications.