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How to get rid of bad dog breath naturally

How to get rid of bad dog breath naturally

Have you ever gone in for a snuggle with your pup only to be greeted with a whiff of bad doggy breath? We’ve all been there. Humans love their dogs like family but not their bad breath. Veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth twice daily to make sure that their oral health is in tip top shape, which in turn solves the underlying issues of bad breath. While it’s always a good idea to stay on top of your dog’s teeth brushing, realistically most of us dog owners do not brush our dog’s teeth everyday. Sometimes we get busy or just forget and the result is that our dog’s smelly breath sneaks up on us sometimes. 

Dog Best Friend Dog Best Friend dog breath stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

There are a number of reasons why your pooch may be having smelly breath, from plaque build up, oral bacteria to an unbalanced gastrointestinal system. As pet owners, we all want our dogs' health to be the best it can be by utilizing products that are as natural as possible. A fresh, natural diet can go a long way in ensuring good digestive health which in turn helps to maintain oral health as well. However your dog’s are not humans and they are blissfully unaware of how offending their breath may become. So what are some natural remedies that can strike down bad dog breath in a jiffy and help you to avoid a trip to the doggy dentist?

What causes bad dog breath?

Before finding a solution to bad doggy breath, we must first understand what’s causing it. There are a number of things that could be the culprit behind your pup’s bad breath which cumulatively are the root cause for oral odor.

Dental disease

Is anyone ever excited to visit the dentist? For dogs it’s even worse. Even something as simple as a teeth cleaning at the vet involves anesthesia and can be quite painful. If teeth are in bad enough condition, they may even need to be taken out. With such a costly procedure and no option for doggy dentures, it is important to seek out some at home, natural remedies to dental disease.

Aside from bad doggy breath, gingivitis and periodontal disease caused by tartar and plaque build up can cause redness and inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. This can be very painful for dogs and may even lead to a dog refusing to eat. Dental disease also affects the majority of dogs and it is estimated that around 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease at some point in their lifetime.

Canine Dental Series - Before Cleaning A thirteen year old dog with stage 3 periodontal disease. dog dental disease stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It is best to first understand what causes tooth decay and gum disease in dogs. A decline in dental health all starts with the buildup of plaque. Plaque is a colorless film that builds up on the surface of teeth. This film is made up of bacteria which attach to saliva on the teeth and digest the sugars from the dog’s food. As the bacteria breakdown and ferment the sugars, they produce acids. These acids lower the pH of the mouth, promoting tartar build up and the degeneration of teeth.

Tarar is the result of a build up and hardening of plaque. An excess of tartar can lead to dental disease, including gingivitis and periodontal disease. Aside from bad doggy breath, gingivitis and periodontal disease can cause redness and inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. This can be very painful for dogs and may lead to a dog refusing to eat. Dental disease affects the majority of dogs and It is estimated that around 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease.

All dogs are susceptible to developing dental disease, however certain breeds, particularly small breeds, are more prone to dental problems. A small dog’s teeth are smaller and more crowded than larger dogs, making them more difficult to brush and allowing for a greater chance of food getting stuck between teeth.

Poor digestive health

One reason for bad breath that surprises a lot of dog owners is how closely their dog’s digestive health is connected to their oral health. Food is the fuel for life and if your dog is eating poor quality food this may be reflected in the way their breath smells. A diet that is full of fillers, poor quality ingredients and additives like colors and preservatives can negatively affect your dog’s digestion in a number of ways. One reason is that it can cause an imbalance of the bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract, known as the microbiome. 

Two dogs eating together from their food bowls Two cute dogs eating dinner from their food bowls on the floor of their home dog eating stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

The microbiome plays a major role in digestion for dogs and other mammals and is the primary region for fibre digestion. Gut bacteria in the microbiome break down fibre through a process called fermentation, where otherwise indigestible fiber is metabolized by the bacteria to produce compounds short chain fatty acids (SCFA) which helps improve your dog’s immune system. As a result, a poor diet can be correlated to gum disease and tooth decay, resulting in bad breath.

In addition to upsetting the microbiome balance, a poor diet can also cause acid reflux. Acid reflux adversely affects teeth by exposing them to strong stomach acid that can wear away at your dog’s enamel.

Medical complications

If your dog is having really bad breath and none of the usual dental remedies are helping, there may be something more serious causing your dog’s unpleasant breath. Health conditions like kidney disease, liver disease and/or a systemic infection may be the underlying cause of your dog’s abnormally bad breath. If ​​​you notice other symptoms, like loss of appetite, excessive drooling or drinking, or vomiting, in addition to bad breath, consult your veterinarian.

5 natural ways to get rid of bad dog breath

There are hundreds of “remedies” for dog dental health and resolutions for bad dog breath that you can purchase for your dog at the pet store. Unfortunately many of these may not be the healthiest for your dog. Dental treats are often very high in calories and contain questionable ingredients. Meanwhile, other dental toys may leach toxins like BPA and heavy metals if they are manufactured by an unreliable company.

As a result, many pet owners value looking for natural solutions for dental care, with products that they can find at home. Here are some of our favourite solutions for solving bad breath in dogs, using natural ingredients.

Parsley or spearmint

Who would have guessed that a few herbs would do so much to freshen your dog’s breath? The king of all garnishes, parsley, has a high chlorophyll content and fresh scent from natural aromatic oils that gives it a deodorizing effect. Scientific studies also indicate that parsley can help combat volatile odor-causing sulfur compounds in the mouth. 

Spearmint is not an uncommon remedy in the dental world. We see mint used in human toothpaste and dental products all the time. The actual spearmint plant itself contains a compound called menthol which may help to mask bad odors in your dog’s mouth and helps to fight bacteria buildup on teeth. 

Fresh mint leaf isolated on white Macro photo of a fresh mint leaf, isolated on white (studio shot). mint stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It is important to keep in mind that these herbs help to cover up the bad smell of your dog’s breath but doesn’t necessarily solve the underlying problem causing their bad breath. If you’re thinking of giving your dog parsley or mint to help with their bad breath, simply sprinkle a half teaspoon (either dried or fresh) over your dog’s food.

Yogurt

As mentioned above, digestive health plays a major role in oral health. Help balance your dog’s digestive system by providing them with a dose of probiotics. Probiotics are a nutritional tool to help aid your dog’s digestive function. Think of it the same way as giving your dog a vitamin or mineral supplement to help with their nutritive health. Giving your dog a daily probiotic can greatly benefit their overall health. 

You can purchase probiotic supplements for your dog either at your local pet store, online or from your veterinarian. Another option for getting probiotics into your dog is by giving them a little bit of plain yogurt. Make sure to only feed your dog yogurt that does not contain any flavours, additives or sweeteners. Simply mix the yogurt in with your dog’s food or you can even freeze it into ice cubes for a yummy treat!

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar seems to be a natural product with 1000 uses. Add a half teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food or water bowl to help freshen their breath. Apple cider vinegar is a great combattant for bad breath because it contains a natural acid called acetic acid. The bacteria that cause bad breath don't thrive in acidic environments and as a result, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps to keep the number of bad oral bacteria low.

Carrot sticks

Chewing is great to promote good oral health. Unfortunately, many dental treats and chews that are available on the pet market are not very healthy for your dog. Most dental treats are high in sugars and calories, in addition to having colors, additives and flavors on the ingredient list. In contrast, chews like bones and rawhides pose a dangerous risk to your dog’s health as they commonly cause tooth fractures and intestinal obstructions.

Carrot sticks are a great alternative to commercial chews and treats, not to mention they are also very healthy! As your dog chews on their carrot stick, the fiber from the carrot wraps around the tooth as they chew, scrubbing the sides and base of teeth. This helps to remove plaque and tartar in a natural way.

Eat vegetables Dog and carrot dog carrot  stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Coconut oil

Similar to apple cider vinegar, coconut oil has natural antibacterial properties. Coconut oil kills harmful oral bacteria by lowering the oral pH due to its large amount of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid. You can either add a little bit to your dog’s food or use it as a natural toothpaste!

boxer smiling with tongue out
boxer smiling with tongue out

View Sources

The farmer’s dog. (2017). “Natural remedies for dogs with bad breath”. https://www.thefarmersdog.com/digest/natural-remedies-for-dogs-with-bad-breath/ 

Healthy smiles. (2022). “6 Home Remedies to Stop Stinky Dog Breath”. https://healthysmiles.pet/blog/stop-stinky-dog-breath 

Haukioja, Anna. "Probiotics and oral health." European journal of dentistry 4, no. 03 (2010): 348-355.

Lira-Junior, R., and E. A. Boström. "Oral-gut connection: one step closer to an integrated view of the gastrointestinal tract?." Mucosal immunology 11, no. 2 (2018): 316-318.

Rupa, Prithy, and Yoshinori Mine. "Recent advances in the role of probiotics in human inflammation and gut health." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 60, no. 34 (2012): 8249-8256.

Woolley, Julian, Tatjana Gibbons, Kajal Patel, and Roberto Sacco. "The effect of oil pulling with coconut oil to improve dental hygiene and oral health: A systematic review." Heliyon 6, no. 8 (2020): e04789.

Asaad, Nour, and Mohannad Laflouf. "Effectiveness of Apple Cider Vinegar and Mechanical Removal on Dental Plaque and Gingival Inflammation of Children With Cerebral Palsy." Cureus 14, no. 7 (2022).

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