After a tiring day, you go home and your dog welcomes you with licks and sloppy kisses on your face. However, a bout of bad breath in your dog can make this activity unpleasant.
Bad breath in dogs (also known as halitosis) can knock down the usual cuddling, kissing, and playtime that you engage in with your furry friend.
Although it is difficult to establish oral hygiene in dogs like that of humans, it is necessary to monitor their oral health. This is because a foul-smelling mouth in dogs can also be linked to diabetes or severe issues of the liver, kidneys, or gastrointestinal region.
Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs
Halitosis or bad breath is mostly the result of the accumulation of bacteria due to varied reasons, including the following:
- Development of plaque or tartar on the teeth
- Infection in the upper or lower airways (sinusitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis, etc.)
- Intake of canned dog food
- Poor oral hygiene
- Lack of hydration
- Consumption of “smelly” foods
- Eating garbage or feces
- A diet lacking nutrition
A persistent bad breath in your dog can be linked to:
- Some health issues related to the gastrointestinal system
- Cancer (such as oral soft-tissue sarcomas)
- Kidney ailments
Certain breeds of dogs that have a small mouth such as terriers and Chihuahuas and “brachycephalic”, dogs with a pushed-in mouth structure such as pugs and bulldogs are prone to tooth decay and bad breath.
Regardless of the age and breed, any dog can suffer from bad breath during the course of its life.
Signs and Symptoms of Bad Breath in Dogs
The telltale sign of bad breath in dogs is the offensive odor coming from their mouth. However, there are a few other signs and symptoms that you should be aware of in order to identify a more serious condition. Such signs include:
- Red and bleeding gums
- Sensitive and inflamed gums
- Loose teeth
- Visible plaque buildup
- Experiencing pain on chewing hard foods
Diagnosing Bad Breath in Dogs
Because bad breath can be linked to a host of chronic conditions, a visit to the vet is important to diagnose this condition.
You will have to give a detailed account of the first occurrence and the duration of the stench and your dog’s diet, eating habits, and behavioral changes.
After conducting a physical examination of the oral cavity, the doctor will likely prescribe a few tests to rule out the possibility of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and kidney or liver disease.
The doctor may also require an X-ray examination to evaluate the condition of your dog’s throat and airways.
Treatment of Bad Breath in Dogs?
Once the cause of the bad breath in your dog is determined, the doctor will plan a line of treatment to get rid of the odor.
A case of periodontal disease, dental plaque, or tartar calls for a vet’s visit to get your dog’s oral cavity cleaned. The vet may remove damaged teeth or do other procedures as required.
If your dog is found to be afflicted with serious conditions of the kidney, liver, or intestine, the doctor might address it as needed.
If the reason behind your pet’s bad breath is his diet and eating habits, supervision can help resolve the odor.
Simple Ways to Get Rid of Bad Breath in Dogs
Following the usual course of treatment and keeping a check on your dog’s diet and behavior can help you treat his bad breath.
Once you are aware of the cause of your dog’s bad breath, you can tend to it by using some natural remedies.
After ruling out any possibilities of serious ailments, you can try these remedies to resolve the bad breath in your dog.
1. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Every Day
One of the best ways to fight bad breath in your dog is to maintain a hygienic oral care routine.
Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth helps ward off bacterial buildup, which is one of the key reasons behind bad breath, by scraping off the food particles. Brushing also prevents plaque and tartar buildup.
Because human toothpaste contains substances that are harmful to dogs when swallowed, use a specially formulated toothpaste for them. Also, use specifically designed toothbrushes for pets with soft bristles and angled handles.
- Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- Hold it at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface with the bristles pointing toward the gums.
- Brush the teeth using circular motions, concentrating on the gum line, the outside surfaces of the teeth, and the back of the teeth.
Learn the brushing technique from a vet. As most dogs do not like to have their mouth touched, you need to be patient. Introduce dental hygiene in your dog’s routine as soon as possible so that he can get accustomed to it.
2. Feed them Carrots
Crunchy carrots can serve as a healthy chew toy and can help fight stinky breath by preventing plaque buildup.
Also, eating carrots stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles stuck in between your dog’s teeth.
Plus, carrots are a rich source of vitamin A and other vitamins, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene, which help maintain the health of your pet. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage.
- Dice one or two carrots into medium-sized pieces and give it to your dog as a snack in between or after meals. If your pet does not like raw carrots, you can lightly cook or steam them.
3. Give them Probiotics
Probiotics contain live active cultures that can help break down the odor-causing hydrogen sulfide.
The digestive enzymes present in probiotics help your pet enjoy a more balanced and healthier digestive system.
To give probiotics to your pet:
- Feed 1 to 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt once daily to a small dog.
- Feed 1 to 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt once daily to a medium-sized dog.
- Feed 2 to 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt once daily to a large dog.
Alternatively, you can opt for a dog probiotic supplement upon the recommendation of your dog’s vet.
4. Keep a Check on their Water Intake
Offering your dog plenty of fresh water always is a must!
Just like humans, dogs need an adequate amount of water to function properly. Also, keeping your dog hydrated can help eliminate the bacteria that may be causing bad breath.
Regular water intake prevents dehydration, a common cause of bad breath in pets, and promotes the overall health of your dog:
- Always keep a steady supply of fresh water available, so your dog can drink small quantities frequently.
- Keep your dog’s water bowl clean.
- To encourage your pet to drink more water, add some chicken stock to it. Some pets like to eat ice cubes, which are another great way to increase their water intake.
5. Give them Dental Toys and Treats to Chew
To keep your pet’s teeth clean and to ward off bad breath, offer him chew toys and treats. Chewing toys is a natural way to get rid of the plaque and stimulate the production of saliva. The saliva fights bad breath by cleaning his oral cavity.
- Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. Consider dental chews that contain medication to clean your pet’s teeth.
- Plus, chew treats and toys help satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, strengthen his teeth, and reduce his overall stress level.
- Opt for dog dental chews that contain breath-freshening chlorophyll, cinnamon, and clove.
When buying chew treats, look for those that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on the label.
6. Offer Synthetic Bones
Cutting back on meat products in your pet’s diet can help keep bad breath at bay. Meat and bones, although relished by dogs, are not at all good for their breath.
To make up for this, you can offer synthetic bones to your pet. Besides aiding in strengthening your dog’s teeth, the process of chewing will help your dog get rid of plaque buildup.
- Always opt for natural choices that are soft and gentle on your pet’s teeth such as rawhide or knucklebone. Avoid giving any hard synthetic bones as they can fracture the teeth and damage the gums of your pet.
For safety, look for the VOHC seal of approval on the label.
7. Add Coconut Oil to their Feed
Coconut oil is another natural remedy that can help a dog with bad breath.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce the stench in your dog’s mouth. Also, this healthy oil perks up your dog’s digestive, immune, and metabolic systems.
- Add up to 1 tablespoon (1 teaspoon per 10 pounds) of coconut oil to your dog’s regular food once a day.
8. Sprinkle Parsley in their Food
Parsley makes for an amazing home remedy for bad breath in your dog. The chlorophyll content in parsley kills the bacteria in the oral cavity and, thus, neutralizes the foul smell. The presence of vitamin C and A and other valuable antioxidants helps prevent diseases.
- Sprinkle some fresh parsley into the food before offering it to your dog.
- Also, you can give your pet some parsley leaves to chew during the day.
- Another option is to add a bunch of parsley leaves in 2 to 3 cups of water and boil it for 15 minutes. Allow the water to cool and give it to your dog to drink.
9. Squeeze Lemon Juice in Your Dog’s Water Bowl
The citric acid in lemon inhibits the growth of bacteria inside your dog’s mouth. It diffuses the plaque and tartar buildup, thus preventing bad breath. Also, the strong and nice smell of lemon can help freshen your dog’s breath.
The bleaching properties of lemon can help whiten your dog’s teeth as well.
- Squeeze the juice of one lemon wedge into your dog’s water bowl whenever you change the water.
- Allow your dog to drink the lemon water throughout the day until needed.
10. Add Apple Cider Vinegar in their Water Bowl
The acid present in apple cider vinegar can help balance the pH level in your dog’s mouth and break down plaque or tartar on the teeth, leaving your dog’s mouth fresh and clean. All you need to do is add raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water.
The dosage is decided according to your dog’s weight:
- 1 teaspoon for dogs up to 14 pounds
- 2 teaspoons for dogs between 15 and 34 pounds
- 1 tablespoon for dogs between 35 and 85 pounds
Preventing Bad Breath in Dogs
- Ensure that your dog’s water bowl is cleaned regularly. A water bowl left dirty for long periods of time can become a host to a wide variety of bacteria. Refrain from using plastic bowls as bacteria can cling to the plastic and induce a bacterial infection.
- Consider replacing your dog’s diet with dry varieties by reducing the amount of wet food your dog eats.
- Examine your pet’s teeth regularly and scrape off the bits of food stuck in his teeth, which over time induce bacterial infection and become a source of bad breath.
- Wheatgrass is another good home remedy for a dog’s bad breath. The chlorophyll in it works as an excellent breath freshener.
- Offer your dog a few neem leaves or a neem twig to chew.
- You can sprinkle a little breath-sweetening cinnamon on your pet’s food at every feeding.
- Take your dog for regular checkups to the vet.
The Bottom Line
Your pet is your bundle of joy. However, bad breath can dampen your interaction with him.
Bad breath caused by diet, poor eating habits, or poor oral hygiene can be addressed with standard treatment and home remedies.
A persistent case of bad breath needs a medical review as it may be indicative of an underlying disease. It can be a sign of a bacterial infection that needs medical attention. Make sure you check with your dog’s vet to address a persistent case of bad breath.
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