Does your dog just love to “give kisses,” only to have you recoil in disgust? Doggie breath is one of the most horrific things out there! Did you know that there are steps that you can take to treat and prevent doggie breath?
Take a look at our step-by-step checklist on how to get rid of bad dog breath. Your canine companion will be on his way to fresher breath in no time!
1. Dental Examination
Dear veterinarian, my dog has bad breath! Why do dogs have bad breath? Often, bad breath is the first sign that your pup has dental disease. Most dogs go their entire lives without brushing or professional dental care, leaving them prone to a variety of oral and dental problems.
Why do bad teeth cause odor?
- Plaque and Bacteria
Bacteria are everywhere and it loves to stick on the teeth. That “film” that you feel in the morning after not brushing your teeth all night – that’s a thin layer of bacteria and dogs get this too. It creates plaque which then predisposes calculus formation and bad breath in dogs.
- Calculus Buildup
Dogs (and humans) have salivary glands and this saliva helps to lubricate our food an oral cavity. But the salivary glands are positioned over teeth, basically bathing them with ‘hard water’ day in and out.
The minerals in saliva harden the plaque on the teeth and create a “stone-like” substance called calculus. Bacteria, hair and ingested materials stick to the calculus, creating a smelly mire.
- Rotten Teeth
Over time, the gums become infected if the teeth are not properly cleaned on a regular basis. This inflammation is called gingivitis. It also puts dogs at risk for periodontal disease, which happens after plaque and calculus spreads under the gum line – taking nasty bacteria with it.
Infected gums and even abscessed teeth soon follow.
- Broken teeth
Many dogs break their teeth when chewing on too-hard toys, rocks, bones and even crate wiring. 80% of broken teeth are infected, leading to toothaches, eating problems, behavioral changes and bad breath.
It is important to have your veterinarian examine your dog’s mouth every 6-12 months. If problems are found, appropriate care will be recommended. This can range from a professional dental cleaning to treatment by a veterinary dentist.
2. Dental Treatment
Once the teeth are cleaned and dental problems treated – you can start with a “clean slate” and begin effective preventative home care.
Want more information about dental treatments?
Check out this information from the American Veterinary Dental College:
3. At-Home Dental Care
Proper at-home care should ideally start in puppy-hood. Small puppies can be trained to tolerate daily tooth brushing and many find it quite relaxing. Daily brushing is best for optimal dental care – but we realize that some pets simply will not tolerate it, no matter how much time and training you put into it.
If you are starting a home-care routine with your adult or senior dog, read on for some tips on how to make it enjoyable and stress-free.
“Doggie toothpaste” should contain natural enzymes that help to combat plaque and tartar. Many tasty different flavors of toothpaste are available – from vanilla mint to beef and chicken. Be sure to invest in a trusted brand, such as Virbac.
You may be tempted to try home remedies for bad dog breath but stick with an over-the-counter, all-natural, enzyme-based toothpaste found online, at pet stores and through your veterinarian.
- Reward-Based Training (Positive Reinforcement)
When you start training your puppy or dog to have his teeth brushed, be sure to incorporate treats into the routine. Reward him for sitting still and letting you pull up his lips to expose the teeth. Brush one side of the mouth and then take a break, giving a treat.
Repeat until you have brushed the entire mouth.
Reward-based training can make things go much more smoothly and will make the experience a positive one!
- Toothbrush, Finger brush, or an Old Wash Cloth
Start out with a small amount of doggie toothpaste on a toothbrush, finger brush or even an old piece of fabric. Many owners use gauze squares and then thrown them away after brushing.
Have your dog sit or lie down while you brush – gently massaging the outside of the teeth and gums. Don’t worry about the insides of the teeth – this surface can be difficult to reach and buildup doesn’t happen as much there.
- Dental Chews
These are an excellent addition to a home care protocol. If it is impossible or simply dangerous to brush your dog’s teeth – daily use of enzyme-coated rawhide chews such as Virbac C.E.T. chews can be better than no dental care at all.
Many come in a variety of sizes for all breeds of dogs. Be sure to always supervise your dog while he is enjoying a chew or toy – choking can occur.
- Dental Rinses and Water Additives
Another option for home dental care, especially if brushing is not possible are dental rinses and water additives. However, these products are best used in conjunction with brushing. A couple of veterinary-trusted products include: Virbac C.E.T. AquaDent and Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Rinse.
4. Food Selection
Sometimes, even with proper dental care and the absence of dental disease – dogs will still have stinky breath – especially puppies. This can come down to the type of food your dog eats.
Common Culprits Include:
- Wet (canned) foods and food that contain gravy. These can stick to the teeth and have higher fat content, possibly leading to bad breath.
- Stinky Ingredients. The ingredient list can also be a clue – if your dog has horrid breath and eats a fish-based diet- that may be the culprit. Time to switch to lamb!
Digestive problems can also cause bad breath, so be sure to discuss any vomiting, diarrhea or poor appetite with your veterinarian at the time of the dental check-up.
5. What Now?
Sometimes, despite absence of dental disease, daily dental care and feeding a proper diet, dogs still have “doggie breath”. It seems that some people (especially pregnant women) can have a heightened sense of smell or greater sensitivity to smells. This can make almost any dog (or human) breath seem offensive.
This is usually the exception instead of the rule, but it is important to keep in mind. If this happens to you or someone you know, keep up the good work caring for your dog’s oral hygiene and keep the face-to-face time to a minimum!