There are some affiliate links below, but they are all products I highly recommend. For more info, view my disclosure here.

We all know what our dog’s breath smells like. And we know the feeling of having our dog on top of us trying to lick our faces and feeling bad for rejecting their kisses. Many may think it is normal for a dog to smell like this, but the truth is that it is not! 

Bad dog breath may be a symptom of bad habits and a sedentary lifestyle, or it could mean your dog has health issues that should be treated with the help of your veterinarian.

There may be some medical reasons for their breath, but some are as easy to remedy as changing some of our lifestyle routines to improve their health and freshen their breath. You may want to know why it smells bad and what can you do to solve the problem, right?

In this article you will find the main reasons for canine halitosis and 12 easy remedies to combat it.

Roxy Smile Happy Healthy Dog

Common Reasons For Bad Dog Breath

Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is defined as the set of unpleasant odors that are emitted through the mouth.

Poor oral hygiene

The most common reason why a dog’s breath can smell bad is poor oral hygiene. Bacteria and food debris between their teeth are the main cause of tooth decay and plaque. These bacteria produce sulfur compounds that are often the main culprits for bad breath in dogs. 

Not brushing their teeth regularly in the first place can cause dental plaque to turn into tartar, which is brown and harder than plaque and, therefore, more difficult to remove from their teeth.  

Furthermore, not solving this problem can lead to infections such as gingivitis (infection of the gums) or worse, periodontitis, which can lead tooth loss.

Infections and Pathologies

Pharyngeal or respiratory infections, pathologies in the digestive system, gastrointestinal problems and kidney infections can be the cause of bad breath in your dog. In addition, they usually appear together with other symptoms like rhinitis, loss of appetite or vomiting. 

 If your dog’s breath doesn’t improve by taking good care of their oral hygiene in the first place, you should take him to a vet for an examination.

Unhealthy Diet

An unhealthy diet may be the cause. Food debris between your dog’s teeth is one of the main reasons why they may have tooth decay and tartar in the first place.

This is why knowing the best food for their diet is important to keep them safe and healthy. Dog Food Advisor is a great resource for finding good quality dog food!

Diabetes

Diabetes in dogs is another major reason why their breath may smell bad. It may seem like a sweeter smell if this is the cause.

You should pay attention to some of the other symptoms of diabetes such as more frequent drinking and urination.

If you think this could be the reason, you should visit the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Sedentary Lifestyle Habits

And last, but not least, sedentary lifestyle habits can be detrimental to their health, as well as increase their chances of suffering from any of the diseases mentioned above. 

dog with fresh breath and teeth

14 Simple Ways to Freshen Your Dog’s Breath

So, if you’re concerned about your dog’s oral health and you want to improve his health and freshen his breath, you may want to know the easiest ways to do that in a few simple steps. You will only have to change a few routines.

Brush your Dog’s Teeth

You probably brush your teeth regularly after eating. You have your own toothbrush and toothpaste, and your dog also needs his own! 

 Also, it is important to know that they cannot use our regular toothpaste, it would hurt their stomach if they swallow it, and many contain harmful ingredients like fluoride and xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs.

Luckily, there are plenty of high-quality dog toothpastes that have tastes your dog will love!

The best way for them to get used to it is to brush regularly, every day, since they are puppies. If your dog is an adult, you should start right now: make it gentle, playful, and give them a treat after the cleaning, so they perceive it as a game.

Make Sure Your Dog Has a Healthy Diet

Dogs need a varied and balanced diet. Feeding them too much meat can be the cause of their halitosis, because it can leave more bacteria in the food debris between the teeth.

Instead, feed him a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, chicken, eggs, and fresh produce. 

The Instant Pot makes it so easy to make homemade dog food, and it makes for a perfect healthy filling for KONG. See our Instant Pot dog food recipe here!

Give Your Dog Crunchy Food to Chew

Many pet owners feed their dogs pates and soft foods. Those can be healthy and balanced, but soft foods are more likely to get stuck between their teeth.

Try giving him some crunchy foods like celery, apple and carrots. These foods act as a vitamin supplement in your dog’s diet and, in addition, they will serve as natural toothbrushes.

Hard, crunchy foods will sweep up food debris and clean their teeth. In addition, the saliva produced when biting that food is antibacterial and will help clean the gums.

Add Cinnamon To Meals

Cinnamon is a healthy spice for your dog. It has antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, acts as a muscle relaxant and will, for sure, improve their breath.

It will be enough with just a teaspoon of cinnamon in their food about two or three days a week.

Coconut Oil For Fresh Breath

Coconut oil is one of the best products to eliminate your dog’s breath. Find the most organic and natural one you can, and add a teaspoon in its diet some days a week.

It will fight bad breath and also strengthen their immune system, make their hair more shiny and will help restore the white of their teeth and prevent cavities on them.

Treat Them To Parsley

Parsley is great for fresh breath! You can add a few leaves of parsley to the dog’s food. Chewing them will improve their breath.

You could also dry it out If your dog doesn’t like chewing parsley, you can try adding it to ice cubes with chicken broth as a tasty, cool treat! 

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar has an odor neutralizing effect. It helps with oral and gastrointestinal problems, and has detoxifying, digestive, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.

You can add some drops on their food or the water they drink. However, there are some dogs that don’t like the taste, so be careful to monitor and make sure they’re getting enough to eat and drink!

Provide Your Dog Fresh, Bottled or Filtered Water

Bad breath is often caused by bacteria and it can proliferate more on bowls filled with tap water. If your water quality isn’t great, consider giving them filtered water or bottled water.

This way, you will avoid the early appearance of tartar and will help you maintain better hygiene in your dog’s mouth. 

Use Stainless Steel Bowls

Plastic bowls can be a big source of bacteria, which builds up in your dog’s mouth. Stainless steel is a much better option to reduce that bacteria.

Also, make sure to clean your dog’s bowls daily to reduce the gross biofilm that builds up!

Use Products with Chlorhexidine

There are chlorhexidine rinses for dogs that can be wiped on their teeth or added to their water bowl. They help reduce the oral bacteria that cause bad breath in dogs.

Some brands do not smell nor taste, it may be a good alternative if your dog does not like apple cider vinegar or parsley.

Add Dental Powder To Meals

Dental powder made from seaweed is great for reducing plaque build-up on your dog’s teeth. The seaweed mixes with saliva to soften existing tartar and reduce future build-up. Pick up some here!

If your dog has thyroid issues, skip this one because seaweed contains iodine, which isn’t recommended for dogs with hypothyroidism.

Rico with bully stick for fresh breath

Treats and Chew Toys

Chew toys and treats will remove some of the tartar from your dog’s mouth when he chews on it. The best toys are those made with natural materials: while the toy massages your dog’s gums, it will clean his teeth. 

Chew toys will help your dog in several ways: will be useful for playing, be less stressed, training and keep your dog away from halitosis. Also, your dog will not chew on your things or other furniture in your house.

You can give him twisted rope toys, pressed leather bones or cured tendons and balls. 

Snacks and treats will also help your dog chew, gnaw on them and get rid of their food debris.

Their textures and shapes can be helpful to strengthen their jaw. There are some specific dental snacks like Greenies that will work well against oral problems.

They are flexible, soluble and effective, which will help with their halitosis at the same time they have a good time eating, chewing and flavoring their new treat.

Having a Healthy Lifestyle is Important

Your dog’s lifestyle habits will influence their health. It is very necessary to go for a walk or other physical activity a few times a day. It’s important to keep them active for an overall healthy body and mind.

Visit the Vet When Necessary

You should have a regular habit of visiting the vet. It is recommended to take them to the vet at least once a year.

But if your dog has problems that do not improve, do not hesitate to go to the professional who will help you with any questions and concerns you may have.

Doctors can examine your dog, check its exact oral conditions, and prescribe any necessary cleanings it may need. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help, vets will know best!

Do not forget to give him a lot of love and affection and take him to the doctor when necessary. Hydrate and eat balanced meals and snacks to enjoy a good and healthy long life!