5 Vet-Approved Home Remedies to Tackle Bad Dog Breath

Bad breath is dogs is normal, right? Well, that might not be the case! Read on to discover 7 expert-approved bad dog breath home remedies every pet parent needs to know.

Jun 05, 2024·10 min read
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5 Vet-Approved Home Remedies to Tackle Bad Dog Breath

Does your dog’s breath make you want to hold your nose? You’re not alone! 

Finding an easy home dog bad breath remedy can be difficult. Bad breath in dogs is usually a sign of an underlying problem. Dogs can also get bad breath if they eat something rotten or have recently vomited. According to Dr. JoAnna Pendregrass, bad breath is not necessarily a medical emergency but could signal that veterinary care is needed.

Bad breath can be caused by various dental issues, such as something a dog eats, decomposing food that is stuck in the mouth, and buildup of dirt and tartar.

Toy breeds are especially prone to dental issues because they have small mouths. Their teeth tend to crowd each other, increasing the risk of dental issues and complications.

It’s not always easy to tell if something is wrong just by smelling your dog’s breath. However, if you notice other troubling symptoms to go along with the breath (e.g., excessive drooling, refusing to eat, behavior changes), then it’s definitely time to take your dog to your vet.

The good news is that we have several vet-recommended dog bad breath home remedies that can help keep your dog’s breath fresh and their mouth healthy!

1. Regular Brushing

Just like humans, dogs need their teeth brushed regularly to prevent tartar buildup. Ideally, pet parents should brush their dog’s teeth once a day. This isn’t always practical, depending on the dog, so brushing a few days a week could also go a long way to maintaining good dental health, says Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass. 

Brushing your dog’s teeth is a great way to stave off bad breath. But if your dog won’t tolerate having their teeth brushed, you can also use products like dental water additives, dental wipes, dental powders for dogs, and chewable treats.

Step-by-Step Guide to Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth starts with acclimating them to the process. 

  • Gently lift your dog’s lips and rub a soft, damp cloth along the outer surfaces of their teeth in a back-and-forth motion. 
  • Next, apply some dog toothpaste to your finger and let your dog lick it off. 
  • Then, apply the toothpaste to the cloth. 
  • After these steps, progress to putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, using the same gentle back-and-forth motion as with the soft cloth.
  • Focus on the gum line where plaque tends to accumulate.

Give your dog lots of verbal praise while you’re brushing their teeth, and make sure they’re comfortable. 

Always use dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes, as human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs.

2. Healthy Diet and Hydration

What your dog eats plays a big role in their oral health. If your dog likes to rummage through the kitchen garbage, their breath will smell like whatever they got into while sifting through the trash. 

Crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, and apples can help clean your dog’s teeth. The abrasive action of these vegetables can help naturally remove tartar and dirt build-up as they chew.

JoAnna Pendergrass headshot

Dry food, due to its crunchiness, can help remove plaque from the teeth, which is good for dental health.

Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass

Hydration is another key aspect of keeping your dog’s oral hygiene. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Proper hydration helps wash away food particles and bacteria.

A balanced diet and plenty of water can help keep your dog’s mouth clean and breath fresh. This is one of the easier dog bad breath home remedies for busy pet parents.

A brown and white dog is chewing on a red toy while lying on a wooden deck. The dog is holding the toy between its front paws.

3. Dental Chews and Toys

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean doesn’t have to be a chore – dental chews and toys can make it a fun and engaging process for your furry friend. These products are designed to help maintain oral hygiene by scraping off dirt and tartar as your dog chews, promoting a healthier mouth and fresher breath.

JoAnna Pendergrass headshot

The mechanical action of chewing on the dental chews and toys helps to break up dirt, debris, and tartar on the teeth.

Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass

How Dental Chews and Toys Work

Dental chews and toys are textured in a way that they clean your dog’s teeth as they chew. The action of chewing stimulates saliva production, which naturally helps to rinse away food particles and target tartar buildup.

Look for chews and toys with ridges, nubs, and varying textures.

Safety Tips

  • Supervision is Key: Always supervise your dog when they’re using dental chews and toys to prevent choking or swallowing large pieces. Monitor the condition of the toys regularly and replace them if they become too worn or damaged.
  • Choose the Right Size: Ensure that the chew or toy is appropriate for your dog’s size and chewing strength. A chew that is too small can pose a choking hazard, while one that is too large might not be as effective.
  • Avoid Certain Materials: Stay away from chews and toys made from hard materials like antlers or bones, which can cause tooth fractures. Opt for softer, flexible materials that can still clean teeth effectively without risking injury.

Benefits of Regular Use

Incorporating dental chews and toys into your dog’s routine can significantly enhance their oral health:

  • Targets Tartar Build-up: Regular use helps keep tartar at bay..
  • Promotes Fresh Breath: By removing food particles and bacteria, these products help to freshen your dog’s breath.
  • Stimulates Mental and Physical Activity: Chewing is a natural and satisfying activity for dogs, providing both mental stimulation and physical exercise.
  • Enhances Bonding Time: Playing with dental toys together can strengthen the bond between you and your dog, making dental care a fun and interactive experience.

Using dental chews and toys is an easy and enjoyable way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. By choosing the right products and using them safely, you can help ensure your dog’s oral hygiene and overall well-being.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics aren’t just good for humans – they can help your dog’s oral health too! 

Commonly used to support good gut health, probiotics can also support good oral health by restoring a healthy balance of good versus bad bacteria in the mouth (from human research). 

They can be incorporated into dog dental products or as chewable tablets to be taken according to label instructions. Look for probiotic supplements designed for dogs, or foods like plain yogurt that contain live cultures.

Always consult with your vet before giving your dog any type of supplement.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular natural remedy with many potential benefits, including freshening your dog’s breath. While there is anecdotal support for its effectiveness, it’s important to note that scientific studies specifically supporting ACV for dog breath are lacking. However, its antimicrobial properties may help reduce the bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath. Brookfield Animal Hospital states that apple cider vinegar’s antimicrobial properties can kill bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath but, again, scientific evidence isn’t available to back up this claim.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Incorporating ACV into your dog’s routine can be simple and effective if done correctly:

  • Add to Water: The easiest way to give ACV to your dog is by adding it to their water bowl.
  • Serving: Start with about one teaspoon of ACV for every 50 pounds of body weight, added to their water once a day. Adjust the dosage based on your dog’s weight and response to the vinegar.
  • Moderation is Key: Always use ACV in moderation to avoid any potential digestive issues. Monitor your dog for any adverse reactions and consult with your vet if you have concerns.

Benefits and Considerations

  • Antimicrobial Properties: ACV’s antimicrobial properties may help kill the bacteria in your dog’s mouth that cause bad breath. This is why some pet owners find it effective for freshening their dog’s breath.
  • Overall Oral Health: Besides freshening breath, ACV can contribute to a healthy mouth by helping to prevent plaque buildup and supporting overall oral hygiene.
  • Caution: Despite its potential benefits, ACV should be used with caution. Excessive use can lead to stomach upset or damage to tooth enamel due to its acidic nature.

Always discuss with your veterinarian before starting any new remedy to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your dog.

A happy dog with its head out of a car window, enjoying the breeze with its eyes closed and mouth open, tongue hanging out. The dog appears to be smiling with healthy teeth visible

Importance of Regular Vet Check-ups

Even with the best home care, and at-home dog bad breath remedies, regular vet check-ups are crucial for your dog’s oral health.

According to Dr. JoAnna Pendregrass, approximately 80 percent of dogs have some form of dental issues by the time they’re three years old. Early detection is key to preventing discomfort for your dog and expensive veterinary bills for you.

Your vet will look in your dog’s mouth during each vet visit as part of a general physical exam, so you don’t necessarily need to schedule a separate dental check-up.

Regular vet visits ensure that any underlying issues causing bad breath are addressed promptly.

Mint and Parsley for Dog Breath: Know the Dangers

It can be tempting to give your dog mint to try and freshen their breath, but we would strongly advise against it. Some types of parsley – including spring parsley and flat/Italian parsley – are toxic to dogs and should never be given to canines as a home remedy for bad breath.

JoAnna Pendergrass headshot

Mint is unsafe for dogs, causing signs like vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Certain types of parsley are also toxic to dogs. Do not give either of these fresh herbs to dogs to help freshen their breath.

Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass

Final Thoughts on Dog Bad Breath Home Remedies

Targeting bad dog breath is more than just tackling an unpleasant smell – it’s about ensuring your pet’s overall health. By incorporating these vet-recommended home remedies, you can help keep your dog’s breath fresh and their mouth healthy. 

Remember to brush regularly, provide a healthy diet, use dental chews, and consult your vet for the best results. With these tips, your dog will be on the way to fresher breath and better health in no time!




Becca TriggB

Becca Trigg

An all round animal lover, who absolutely adores writing and researching anything puppy! Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample pet knowledge; specifically joint health and dental hygiene. When I'm not typing away in the office, I can be found sitting in a country pub or growing chillies

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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