How To Freshen Bad Dog Breath
July 18, 2019 | 3 min read
Updated October 19, 2023
By Becca Trigg
Summary: In this blog, learn about how to fix bad dog breath! Learn what causes dog bad breath, and ways how to help make the stink better.
Dogs are not really animals known for their good breath… Let’s face it! They can knock us out with their pongy panting, but it isn’t their fault! All those licks filled with love can get a little smelly, and leave quite a nasty scent on your face or hands.
As their puppy parent, you need to make sure that your dog is healthy and happy, supporting them in the best way possible – and that includes addressing their bad dog breath!
So, unless you’re brushing your pup’s teeth every morning and night, you may want to find out how you can support your dog’s oral health and freshen bad dog breath with some proactive ways how to target the smelly issue.
Take a look at some of the ways you can help your pup’s bad breath and help make sure they’re healthy, happy, and scent-free…
What are the causes of dog bad breath?
It is very easy to just dismiss dog bad breath as a normal dog trait, but there is usually a reason your pup’s mouth is producing such an odor...
Bad oral hygiene
Before you start to panic that something is wrong with your furry friend, start with the most common reason for bad breath – poor oral hygiene. This could be caused by a poor oral hygiene routine.
Unfortunately for our four-legged pals, they can experience a build-up of tartar and plaque, just like us humans, resulting in the overdevelopment of bacteria which causes smelly breath.
If you do not regularly brush your dog’s teeth or provide a chew toy/food to wear away the tartar deposits, this could be the cause of your bad breath problem and if neglected, it may result in your pup dealing with more serious complications, for which you would have to consult your vet.
Once again, just like us humans, your pup could be suffering from an illness such as diabetes. If there is a sweet/fruity undertone when they exhale, you need to make an appointment with your vet ASAP.
Similar to us humans, a dog suffering from diabetes will produce a sweet smell from their mouth – along with frequent drinking and urination, you may have a poorly pup on your hands. Seek professional help as soon as possible... The sooner the diabetes is placed under control, the less your pup will suffer with the potential complications of this disease.
Liver & Kidney Disease
Although less likely, the cause of the bad breath could be a serious disease in one of their vital organs. A key indicator of a life-threatening problem is the smell itself. For example, when you find your pup tucking into a piece of fecal matter, you can very much smell it on their breath… Gross! However, this isn’t the same for urine.
If you discover a smell of pee on their breath, take your pup to the vets as soon as possible! This does not mean they have been drinking urine, instead, it could be an indicator that they’re suffering from kidney disease. Your vet will run tests to see if your pup’s kidneys are functioning properly, but you may find that kidney disease is just one of the many organ systems affected. This is why it’s always important to get your pup checked out if something seems abnormal.
When the breath is unbearable and is accompanied by other symptoms; vomiting, yellow gums, or little appetite, your pooch could be showing early signs of liver disease. Similar to kidney disease, difficulties with the liver could be related to a bigger problem, so it is incredibly important that you seek advice from your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sometimes the cause of the bad breath is simply down to what your pups have decided to put into their stomachs. Dogs may choose to eat a lot of nasty things they shouldn’t, either burying themselves in the garbage or finding something disgusting whilst on your walk!
We have all found our furry friends chewing on a questionable object and let’s not forget the strange behavior of extremely enjoying consuming other animals’ poop! This unsupervised, unhygienic scavenging could be the reason your pooch is producing a smelly pong. If you know you have a poop-eating dog in your family, they could develop a condition called coprophagia, resulting in the bad breath that you may have noticed.
There are many ways to address this behavior such as by making sure their diet is not deficient in any nutrients and providing enough enrichment throughout the day so their boredom and anxiety levels are very low.
How To Freshen Bad Dog Breath
Helping your pup’s malodorous breath is simple… Understand the cause and remove it from their lifestyle. There are many treatments available to help combat the reason for the bad dog breath, but only if you take a visit to your vet or begin changing a few things in your home. Simply removing items such as poop and foul-smelling substances or food from your pup’s environment could solve the problem.
Try to make sure you’re securing the trash and keeping on top of poop pick-ups in the garden, as this will reduce the chance of bad breath. Otherwise, make sure you take them to the vet so they can be assessed for dental disease, or other non-oral diseases such as diabetes, uremia, GI problems, IBD, and tumors.
The best way to address bad breath is to keep up with a regular dental hygiene routine. Keeping on top of brushing those pearly whites will help target plaque and tartar build-up. It may take some time and patience, but eventually, your pup will learn to enjoy having their teeth brushed… Especially if you pair it with a positive reward.
PETLAB CO.'S IN-HOUSE PET CONSULTANT NICOLE'S INSIDE KNOWLEDGE
"Since dental disease affects over 75% of adult dogs, it is not unsurprising that many dogs have bad breath (halitosis). To combat this, vets tend to recommend daily tooth brushing accompanied by professional dental treatment under anesthetic, where they can take X-Rays and perform necessary dental scaling and extractions once or twice a year. Please remember that old age is NOT a risk factor that increases anesthetic complications – this is a common misconception. Older dogs are, however, more likely to have underlying medical conditions, which does increase the risk, so this is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If daily brushing is not possible, dogs can be supplemented with dental diets and chew toys, but these should be used as a backup option as they are less effective at removing plaque and tartar long-term. If your pet’s oral hygiene is not improving despite adequate treatment/prevention compliance, it’s important to explore other potential diseases such as renal insufficiency (metallic smells), diabetes (sweet or sour smells), or anything causing infections leading to the production of pus in the digestive or airway passages."
Dog Bad Breath
Your dog’s oral hygiene is extremely important – not only to avoid bad breath but also to make sure that they’re healthy and well overall. It is common for dogs to have bad dog breath but any new and unbearable smells probably warrant further investigation by your vet.
Once you have discovered the cause of the odor, you can support your pup in the correct way, helping to reduce exposure to the causative factor, improve your pup’s happiness and health and finally freshen that breath!
Author McCalley, Elizabeth DVm"Periodontal (Gum) Disease in Dogs" Pet MD, Feb 08. 2021 https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/mouth/c_multi_periodontal_disease
Author Horwitz, Debra DVM DACVB and Landsberg, Gary DVM DACVB DECAWBM "Dog Behavior Problems - Coprophagia" VCA Hospitals https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dog-behavior-problems-coprophagia
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