How to cure dogs bad breath – no kissing zone

No kissing zone – How to cure dogs bad breath - PracticalPaw.comMost of us accept that as our dogs get older, they may gain certain, less attractive qualities, like bad breath. However, bad breath doesn’t have to be a given.

Bad dog breath or halitosis, to give it its proper name, is a build-up of odor-producing bacteria that may live in the mouth, lungs, or gut of your dog. So how to cure dogs’ bad breath? Commonly, bad breath in dogs is caused by dental or gum issues.

However, it can be an indicator of something more serious. Stomach issues or abnormalities in your dog’s lungs, liver or kidneys, also produce unpleasant breath, so the condition should always be investigated.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

Dental Issues

The most common cause of bad breath in our furry friends is some kind of periodontal disease. The combination of food, saliva, and bacteria can form plague along the teeth resulting in bad breath.

Unfortunately, if untreated, this can lead to gingivitis – the early stage of gum disease.  Because of a plaque build-up at the gum line, the gums get inflamed due to the toxins the plaque contains, resulting in gingivitis.

Luckily, if caught early enough, the damage can be reversed, and the problem addressed. However, if this is left, then it may develop into periodontal disease. At this stage, the bone and fibers that support your dog’s teeth and hold them in place are damaged beyond repair. Although the condition can be managed, it can’t be reversed once it reaches this stage. What’s more, if the plaque is left to develop further, it can result in some or all of your dogs’ teeth being removed.

Diabetes mellitus

Like humans, our dogs can suffer from diabetes, a disease in which the dog cannot produce enough (type 1 diabetes) or effectively use (type 2 diabetes) insulin.  If you notice your dog’s breath smelling unusually sweet or fruity, then it is worth getting medical advice. Other symptoms you may notice are;

  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Bad breath-Sweet/fruity

Respiratory Disease

Reasonably common in dogs, there are several possible causes of respiratory disease. Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most common. If you notice that your dog has bad breath accompanied by breathing difficulties, a cough, discharge from the nose or eyes, or is just ‘under the weather, go and get him checked out by a vet.

  • Kennel cough
  • Sinus infections
  • Lungworm
  • Foreign bodies
  • Bronchitis

Gastrointestinal disease

The colon or large bowel provides an environment that supports normal intestinal bacteria. However, this can get inflamed and harbor parasites affecting the natural passing of feces resulting in stools that are difficult to pass or are more liquid than usual. If there is something wrong with your dog’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines, it can result in unpleasant breath.

Metabolic disease

If the normal metabolism of your dog is disrupted through disease or a disorder, then smelly breath may be one of the symptoms.

Metabolic diseases affect the normal process of converting food into energy on a cellular level.  Perhaps the most well-known is kidney disease that may create a sour smell to your dog’s breath.  How to cure a dog's bad breath

How to cure dogs bad breath

Take an active role in your dog’s dental hygiene.  If you want your dog to smell minty fresh, there are few things you can do at home:

Brush your dog’s teeth

Oral hygiene is crucial for your dog. Like us, they can get any number of problems with their teeth, including cavities and gum disease. Use a dog-specific toothpaste,  human toothpaste is toxic to your dog, and a soft-bristled brush or finger brush.

Use gentle, circular movements over your dog’s teeth taking care to be extra gentle on the gums. If you find that your dog is not keen to have his teeth brushed, gradually build up to brushing. Let him taste the toothpaste first, then gently touching the brush to his teeth until he gets comfortable with the process.

Ideally, brush 2 -3 times a week, but if you have any doubts about how your dog will receive your intention to brush his teeth, then dental care is also available via your vet!

Chew treats

There are many chew treats on the market designed not only to clean your dog’s teeth but also to freshen his breath.  Hard chews rub at the surface of plaque on your dog’s teeth, acting in a similar way to a toothbrush.

Always pick size-appropriate chews and consider whether your dog is a champion chomper or more delicate in their munching.  Some dogs will refuse to chew anything that is too hard, while others will get little or no benefit if they can chew it in a few seconds. Pick your chew wisely. They are not all created equal. The trick to pick something natural for your dog and always supervise a chewing session.

Clean bowls

Your dog’s bowls are a perfect haven for bacteria. Each time they eat or drink, they are depositing saliva, bits of food,  grass, along any other number of things into their food and water. Keeping bowls hygienic is a straightforward way to help maintain your dog’s health and prevent bad breath.


You can help bad breath by adding fresh curly parsley to your dog’s food. It’s a natural breath freshener, and dogs tend to enjoy it too. Always be careful about adding human food to your dog’s bowl, as some common foods are poisonous. Parsley is not appropriate for dogs with kidney issues or pregnant bitches. For others, a sprinkle two or three times a week can help with halitosis.

Dog treats

If you aren’t comfortable adding herbs yourself, then you can always buy dog treats specifically aimed at freshening your best friend’s breath. There are many on the market, and you will find that quite a number include parsley, mint, and other herbs.

Bottled additives for your dog’s water bowl

You can get dog-appropriate additives to put in your dog’s water that is designed to help prevent bad breath and the buildup of tartar naturally.

Dog Breath sprays

These sprays usually contain peppermint, and some are anti-bacterial. They do make a noise when they are sprayed into your dog’s mouth, so if your dog is noise sensitive, it may not be the best option.

Persistent bad breath

Despite dental issues being the number one cause of our dog’s bad breath, please don’t ignore it. Although there are various ways to mask the smell, you are not going to cure your dog’s bad breath by masking an underlying issue.

Make sure that you take your dog for a check-up with the veterinarian first. This will rule out any potentially serious issues with your dog’s overall health.

If it is a question of oral health, then grab the toothpaste and brush and get practicing on your pet, as regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is the most effective way of tackling stinky breath.

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