Why does my dog’s breath smell?
How do I make it better?
You’ve noticed a stinky smell coming from your dog’s mouth, which is not fun when you just need a good kiss and cuddle when you come home. The question I’m sure you’re thinking is, “do I have to brush my dog’s teeth? Or is there more to it?” In short, yes, and yes.
There can be multiple reasons why a dog’s breath might smell. Some are more serious than others. So, what causes bad breath for dogs?
Without proper oral care, it is common for bacteria and food to build up on teeth over time. Some common dental diseases are plaque and tartar accumulation (also known as calculus). It is a gummy substance that forms on the teeth a few hours after a meal.
A build-up of plaque or tartar also causes Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (a severe gum infection)8. Further, read about these dental diseases and the signs to look out for here.
Some other reasons for smelly breath can also be tooth fractures or tooth root sores.
Although the most common cause of smelly breath is dental disease, there is a slight chance that there could be a serious underlying illness. This could be related to kidney disease, liver disease or if you can smell a sickly-sweet smell, instead, it could be diabetes9. To determine the cause of any smelly breath, it is not only important to schedule regular dental checks with your vet but a full physical examination. You can never be too safe!
Now, be careful! If bad breath is left unattended for too long or not investigated properly, it can cause other detrimental issues later down the track. As the build-up of bacteria in the mouth flushes into the bloodstream through inflamed or bleeding gum tissue. However, this all can be prevented if good oral hygiene is maintained!4.
How do I make my dog’s breath smell better?
Brush your fur babies’ teeth
You can brush plaque away with a toothbrush, but you can’t with tartar as it will need to be removed by a professional, typically under general anaesthesia1.
When brushing your fur babies’ teeth, make sure you use a pet toothbrush or a very soft bristle human toothbrush. Also, make sure to use toothpaste specifically designed for your pet, as human toothpaste has ingredients that are toxic to dogs2. If you are looking for a natural toothpaste recipe, you can create your very own homemade one from Chefs & Dogs!
As a bare minimum, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth 3 times a week to help remove plaque, but if you have more time, it is ideal to brush their teeth twice daily, like us humans!2.
Try to brush for approximately 30 seconds per side. At first, focus on brushing the molars and the canine teeth in gentle circular movements; these are the teeth where plaque and tartar accumulate most quickly.
A good indication that you are cleaning your pups’ teeth well is, a healthy dog’s mouth will have all white teeth with a pink, shiny gum line!11
Treat them to a raw bone
Bones are often referred to as ‘nature’s toothbrush,’ as, in the wild, canines clean their teeth by chewing and grinding their teeth on the bones of their prey. Not only is it great for their teeth and breath but it also can be mentally stimulating for our domesticated carnivores!10.
Always give bones under supervision. Read more about choosing the right bone for your dog here.
Feed them the diet they’ve always deserved!
Diet and nutrition will always be the most important factor in keeping your pet’s breath stench-free and healthy from any dental disease. To prevent tartar build-up, natural live enzymes will do the trick! The best way to get natural live enzymes in your pet is by feeding them a raw diet. Especially as raw food also provides the right environment for a healthy oral microbiome for the natural enzymes to thrive in.
Whereas diets with high starches and carbohydrates, such as kibble or highly processed diets, can easily get stuck in teeth. Why? Because when saliva mixes with starches, it converts to sugar. The sugar then harbours bacteria which decays and then finally leaves a build-up of tartar5.
Veterinarian Sara Chapman says, “Raw diets help prevent tartar build-up, as the meat contains natural enzymes, and raw diets do not stick to the teeth, unlike diets that are high in starch”4.
If you are currently feeding kibble but would like to transition to a raw diet, here is a guide on how you can do that! You can also view our range of healthy raw diets here.
Healthy gut, healthy everything! (Probiotics)
In addition to the above, probiotics are the way to go if you want to take extra steps to support your pet’s health. Probiotics are like magic because they overpower the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which also means, it is less likely for oral diseases to appear. This includes that stanky breath we all want to get rid of!6. Check out our Big Dog Probiotic blend here.
Yummy Bone Broth
Bone broth is a unique solution, but it is full of beneficial minerals that help keep the teeth and gums strong, and is extremely beneficial for gut health (healthy gut, healthy everything).. Check out this Bone Broth Recipe by Chefs & Dogs.
1. Why does my dog’s breath smell? RSPCA Knowledge Base https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/why-does-my-dogs-breath-smell/#:~:text=The%20best%20way%20to%20remove,ones%20right%20at%20the%20back.
2. Brushing your dog’s teeth. VCA animal hospitals. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/brushing-teeth-in-dogs
3. What types of bones (if any) should I feed my dog? https://thepymblevet.com.au/what-types-of-bones-if-any-should-i-feed-my-dog/#:~:text=The%20mechanical%20action%20of%20chewing,cleaner%20and%20healthier%20for%20longer
4. The Disturbing Cause Of Dental Disease In Dogs. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/the-disturbing-cuase-of-dental-disease-in-dogs/
5. Why dry food actually makes your pets teeth and gum health worse. https://aussiepooch.com.au/blogs/news/why-dry-food-actually-makes-your-pets-teeth-and-gum-health-worse#:~:text=Carbohydrates%20and%20starches%20convert%20to,of%20tartar%20on%20the%20teeth.
6. Probiotics for Dog’s Bad Breath. https://doggysdigest.com/probiotics-for-dogs/bad-breath/#:~:text=Treating%20Canine%20Halitosis%20with%20Probiotics&text=In%20addition%2C%20because%20probiotics%20suppresses,tooth%20decay%20and%20gum%20disease
7. VOHC® Accepted Products for Dogs. http://www.vohc.org/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Dogs.pdf
8. Plaque and Tartar Prevention in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tartar-prevention-in-dogs#:~:text=Tartar%2C%20also%20called%20calculus%2C%20is,harms%20the%20teeth%20and%20gums
9. Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Remedies. https://www.wcrah.com/site/blog-flat-rock-vet/2021/09/15/bad-breath-in-dogs-causes-and-remedies#:~:text=Kidney%20Disease,-If%20your%20dog's&text=When%20a%20dog's%20kidneys%20aren,pale%20gums%20or%20mouth%20ulcers
10. Ways to Work Your Dog’s Brain. https://canine15.com/2017/07/31/ways-work-dogs-brain/#:~:text=Unlike%20physical%20stimulation%20that%20a,help%20them%20explore%20the%20world
11. What Color Should My Dog’s Gums Be? https://www.thefarmersdog.com/digest/what-color-should-my-dogs-gums-be/