How do I treat my dog's bad breath?

17 MAY 2019

This article is written by Dr Teagan Lever BVSc, one of Pet Circle's in house veterinarians.

Don't let foul breath stop you from getting up close and personal with your pooch. If your doggo's kisses are starting to smell less than appealing, it's important to look further to find and address the underlying cause.

Skip to - 4 simple steps to banish bad dog breath

What causes bad breath in dogs?

Dental disease

Without a doubt dental disease is the most common cause of bad breath in our canine companions. Inflammation of the gums and bacteria growing in the mouth can leave your pooch with foul smelling or fishy breath. With at least 80% of dogs over the age of 3 having some degree of dental disease present, your first step to banishing bad dog breath is a dental check with your vet.

Medical problems

Some medical conditions like diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease, along with tumours, foreign bodies, inflammation and infection of the nose or throat can all cause changes to you pet's breath. Just another reason to head to the vet for a check up if your pet's breath is starting to smell nasty!

A smelly diet

Diets high in smelly ingredients, like fish oil, can sometimes leave your pet with unpleasant breath. Fish oil is an excellent source of the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which can help manage a range of health conditions such as skin irritations, arthritis, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, so it may be worth putting up with the smell to let your dog reap the benefits.

4 simple steps to banish bad dog breath

1. Brush your dog's teeth daily

While at first the idea can sound pretty daunting, working toothbrushing into your dog's daily routine is the best way to keep their breath fresh and prevent dental disease. Brushing every day helps to remove the build up of plaque and food particles which cause stinky breath.

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2. Switch to a dental health food

Aside from brushing, dental health foods are one of the most effective ways to help maintain good dental health and keep your dog's breath smelling fresh. Generally these foods have two modes of action: some have kibble which helps to mechanically clean your pooch's teeth as they chew, while others contain a specialised active ingredient called sodium tripolyphosphate, which binds salivary calcium to help prevent the formation of dental tartar.

*Hill's Prescription Diet and Royal Canin Veterinary Diet products are highly specialised therapeutic diets, so it's important to check with your vet that they are suitable for your dog's individual circumstances before feeding.

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3. Incorporate dental treats into your routine

Regular use of dental treats and chews can be a simple way to help reduce dental plaque and tartar build up which in turn supports better smelling breath. When choosing a dental treat, look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance and pick products with lower levels of fat and calories to prevent obesity.

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4. Water additives might help (but they won't solve the problem)

It may be tempting to think that adding a water additive to your pet's bowl will solve all their stinky breath problems, however they do need to be used in combination with one or more other dental health prevention management strategies to be effective.

Each water additive works a little differently, some contain mint extracts for fresher breath, while others can also help to slow down the growth of bacteria on the teeth. If you do use water additives, be sure to follow the packaging directions closely as most require you to change the water daily.

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By checking in with your vet and taking some steps to support your dog's dental health, you can get their breath back to smelling fresh and clean - ready for lots of slobbery doggy kisses!

Want to know more? Check out some more of our articles below:

Dental Care for Dogs

Dental Care for Cats

Kidney Disease in Pets

The Best Treats for Your Dog

Why Do Dogs Roll in Smelly Things?