There’s no denying we love our dogs. They’re always happy to see us when we get home and can really be a best friend when you need one. But nobody is perfect and we don’t always find ourselves loving everything about our dogs – especially their breath.
But don’t let doggy breath come between you and your pal – check out some natural and healthy ways to freshen your dog’s breath.
Why Do Dogs Have Bad Breath?
Since you’re looking for ways to get rid of your dog’s bad breath, you’ll probably want to know why your dog has bad breath in the first place. The reasons range for common sense, to indicators of bigger health concerns.
- Bad breath is natural.
Bad breath is often just part of life. Even we humans, with our minty toothpaste and our mouthwashes bursting with freshness, have bad breath from time to time. We often notice it in ourselves and others when we wake up in the morning.
As most people know, the human mouth is full of living bacteria. And like any living thing, these bacteria eat and poop. And their kitchen and bathroom are in our mouths, so odors are bound to arise. Your dog’s mouth is pretty similar – bacteria live there, feed on remaining food particles and drop their waste. Gross, but completely normal. And since your dog isn’t brushing and flossing twice a day, you’re bound to notice a slight smell.
- Eating smelly stuff makes for stinky breath.
Admit it, as cute as your dog is, sometimes he can be kind of gross. Rolling in mud, sniffing the crotch of every new person he meets, and yes, eating gross things. Sure, we can get bad breath from things like garlic and onions and even too much coffee, but things we would never dare eat can be downright irresistible to your dog, whether it’s trash, roadkill, or a shoe.
Of course, most of us wouldn’t consider typical dog food appetizing, so you might be offended by your dog’s breath simply because of that.
But if you notice your dog’s breath taking on an entirely different odor than their everyday dog breath, do a little investigating. Try to see if you can figure out what your dog ate. It may have been not only something smelly, but something potentially bad for his health, especially if he begins to show symptoms of illness.
- They need some dental work.
If you think your dog has something more than just “dog breath,” most often bad breath is an indicator that her teeth need some attention. That’s how I knew my mini schnauzer needed her teeth cleaned.
A dirty mouth is going to smell dirty. While some dogs have few to no dental issues, other breeds are notorious for poor dental health, most often small dogs. Food debris and bacteria turn into plaque, which can harden into difficult-to-remove tartar if not cleaned off. And when tartar starts to build up, it affects gum health and teeth may even begin to rot as bacteria builds.
So if the breath is bad, check the teeth and gums. It might be time for a better brushing routine or some more serious cleaning. You can read up on cleaning your dog’s teeth here.
- They have some stomach issues.
Just like people, dogs can have allergies or difficulties with certain foods, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems. If food is the culprit, you’ll likely notice other issues as well. Make sure you’re feeding a high-quality food that’s easy for your dog to digest.
- They have an underlying health condition.
If your dog’s breath starts to take on a particularly offensive or strange odor and the teeth look pretty clean and the gums are healthy, the problem might be deeper. According to WebMD (yup, they talk about pets, too) there are a few particularly strange odors to watch out for:
“Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.”
“Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.”
“An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas or gums could signal a liver problem.”
Rule of thumb: If it doesn’t seem normal, talk to a vet.
But for typical “dog breath,” there are a few simple things you can try to freshen things up.
Natural Ways to Freshen Dog Breath
- Brush their teeth.
Regardless what you use for dog toothpaste, regular brushing can help keep the mouth clean and therefore fresher smelling.
- Add cinnamon to their food.
Not only does cinnamon smell good, but it can also help to break up food particles that get stuck in between your dog’s teeth, helping to control the formation of bacteria. Just add a sprinkle to their food; my picky eater pup didn’t mind it at all.
- Try coconut oil.
That’s right – yet ANOTHER use for coconut oil. Add a spoonful to your dog’s food to help sweeten up his breath. Plus, coconut oil can benefit your pet in other ways, too. (Learn more here).
- Fancy up their food with fresh herbs.
Make your dog’s dinner gourmet and breath-freshening with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley or mint. Both are safe for dogs and great for freshening breath.
- Give them something to chew.
Along with brushing your dog’s teeth, giving them good things to chew on is another way to support good dental health, and, in turn, fresh breath. Raw bones are usually appreciated (just make sure they’re not cooked and that they’re not in too small of pieces), and help to scrape away plaque. You could also try these dental chews from Petzlife.
- Give them probiotics.
The gastrointestinal system is full of bacteria, and this includes the mouth. Supplementing your dog’s healthy diet with a dog-specific probiotic could not only help maintain a balance of healthy oral bacteria, but also support good bacteria throughout the body for overall good health. Try Dr. Mercola’s or the probiotic tablets from Vital Planet.
- Spoil them with treats.
If you’re really ambitious, peruse the web for recipes for homemade dog treats, like these Pumpkin Apple Doggie Mint Treats from Damn Delicious.
There you have it – seven ways to keep bad breath from keeping you and your pet apart. Have any of your own tricks? Post them in the comments!
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And if you want to know more about doggy dental health, check out my post on cleaning your dog’s teeth naturally.