Puppy Breath: What Causes It and How to Prolong It

This post may contain affiliate links. It doesn't cost you anything extra and it keeps our lights on, our families fed, and our dogs spoiled. For all the juicy fine print, see our affiliate disclosure

I’ve interacted with many dogs over the course of my life, so I’ll be the first one to say that dog breath isn’t always a great thing.

The only exception is puppy breath, which has a sweet, pure scent that I wish Maggie has kept a little longer.

When Maggie used to fall asleep on me at night, her nose by my ear, I’d feel those tiny breaths and relax as the puppy breath washed over me.

It makes most dog owners wonder what makes their breath so great and why it ever has to change.

It’s caused me to do some research into the subject, which ended up surprising me.

Check out what I’ve learned and how you can prolong your puppy’s breath.

Puppies Drink Milk

It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but it’s true.Where does puppy breath come from mothers milk suckling

From the moment they’re born to the minute you bring your pup home, their mouth has yet to experience the real world.

For a while, all they know was their mother’s milk, which kickstarts their puppy breath.

Canine milk is comprised of nearly eight percent protein[1], which makes up for 31 percent of the energy puppies receive from the milk.

The protein and other nutrients found in the milk are clean, so there’s no bacteria to build up in the puppies’ mouths and give them bad breath.

The milk also has a similar odor to a puppy’s breath, because it’s their main source of food for the first few weeks of life.

They Lose Baby Teeth

Even when your puppy regularly eats kibble, they still have traces of their puppy breath.

Puppy teeth contribute sweet breath changes dental structure smell
Those adorably tiny teeth won’t last forever!

Because they’ve only had limited foods in their mouth, there’s not much to stick to their teeth and begin to smell bad. Unless your puppy has habit of eating their poop[2], which some puppies start doing until they learn to stop.

When puppies begin to lose their baby teeth, that’s when their puppy breath fades away.

Their tiny teeth are replaced by much larger ones, encouraging them to teethe on anything they can find.

That introduces plenty of new substances to their mouth, not all of which will leave behind pleasant odors.

They may also begin to bleed regularly from their gums, which has a metallic odor.

Their GI Tracts Develop

Adult dog breath not same as puppy smell how to bring back good scent
Can’t you just feel that adult dog breath?

While your puppy grows, their GI tract develops.

Everything they eat must pass through their esophagus[3], which isn’t fully formed when you bring them home.

It’s thought that some part of your puppy’s sweet breath is because gasses escape from the esophagus, which occurs less frequently as they grow.

What You Can Do

The science behind puppy breath shows that unfortunately, it can’t be preserved forever.

Your dog has to grow into their adult teeth and develop a strong digestive tract.

On the other hand, you can always prolong your puppy’s good breath by following these tips.

Brush Their Teeth Regularly

You brush your teeth every morning and night, but when was the last time you brushed your dog’s teeth?

Nylabone advanced oral care puppy dental kit reduce bad breath
You can get puppy dental care kits. Click the link for more info

I didn’t learn about doggie dental care until I brought Maggie home and I was shocked to learn it’s something most vets recommend.

You’ll want to get a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. You can find these online or in pet stores, although you’ll probably have a wider selection online.

First, you’ll want your dog to get used to the toothbrush.

Let them sniff it and lick it to get familiar.

Always end toothbrushing sessions with a treat or cuddle time, so they never equate dental care to punishment.

They may feel anxious when the toothbrush is moving around in their mouth for the first time, but they’ll get used to it as you practice.

For proper care, your dog should have their teeth brushed at least three times per week if you can’t do it every day[4].

Try to do it often, but never push your dog to brush their teeth if they’re panicked or afraid.

Give Them Dental Treats

Dental treats are an easy way to take care of your dog’s dental needs in addition to brushing their teeth.

There’s a huge market for dental treats out there because dogs prefer different flavors and need varying strength in the cleaning ingredients.

I love giving Maggie Greenies, which is one of the most recognized dog dental treat brands. They come in all different sizes and flavors, but you can also look at alternatives if your dog ends up not enjoying Greenies.

A huge bonus is that Greenies makes treats for puppies, which some brands may not do.

Always check the labeling on a bag of dental treats to make sure they’re right for your pup, depending on how old they are and how many pounds they weigh.

Take Them for Cleanings

Vet checkup cleanings help keep puppy breath pleasant
Regular vet checkups can help keep your puppy’s other bits less stinky, too!

Doggie dental cleanings were another surprise to me, even though I’ve grown up with dogs my entire life.

It’s recommended for dogs to get yearly checkups once they’re at least a year old[5], but talk with your vet before booking an appointment.

Some dog parents take their pups for a cleaning when it isn’t necessarily, which waste your time, money and your dog’s energy.

Depending on the dental services, they may put your dog under for the treatment, which is always a risk as well.

Your dog’s vet should check their teeth and gums at every routine check-up, so you’ll know right away when something’s wrong

If you’re at home and want to check your dog’s mouth, look for swollen or bleeding gums, a hesitancy to eat, or a sudden disinterest in chewing on their bones[6].

Conclusion

I miss Maggie’s puppy breath, but that’s taken in exchange for a smarter, well-trained pup who only gets better with time.

It’s a fair trade, even if it’s sad to say goodbye to that precious puppy breath.

The best thing you can do to prolong it is to take care of your dog’s dental health. Keep an eye on their eating and chewing habits, give them dental treats and take them for routine cleanings when your vet gives the okay.

That way your dog will have great breath most of the time and you’ll know they’re growth and development are right on track.

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6726450
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-dogs-eat-poop/
  3. https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/cat-and-dog-anatomy/digestive-system-of-the-dog
  4. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-brushing-dog-teeth
  5. https://ccanimalclinic.com/dog-dental-cleaning/
  6. http://akc.org/expert-advice/health/beyond-the-toothbrush-preventing-dental-disease/

Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!