How to Help Freshen Bad Dog Breath

How to Help Freshen Bad Dog Breath
“I love bad dog breath kisses in the morning!” said No One ever!

How many times have you been woken up by heavy hot stinky dog breath in the morning? I know it’s happened to me plenty of times…

And all I can say is YUCK!

Sophie woke me with horrid breath and since it came on quickly, I knew something was off.

I brought her to see my regular vet, who referred me to a specialist.

Turns out that Sophie had a cracked tooth which had gotten infected. A root canal and titanium crown later and no more bad breath.

Did you know that it’s not natural for your dog’s breath to stink?

I didn’t either. But the truth is that if your dog’s breath has a foul odor it’s because something’s not quite right with your dog’s health.

What Causes Bad Dog Breath?

Bad Oral Hygiene and/or Periodontal Diseaseis doggy dental hygiene important should I brush my pet's teeth

If we never brushed our teeth, how bad would our breath stink?

And if we never went to the dentist for a toothache, imagine the smell from an infected tooth.


So, it’s no surprise our dog’s breath is less than desirable when we don’t provide the care they need.

Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Issues

Sometimes our dog’s GI system is off, which can cause bad breath.

It can be something as minor as insufficient digestive enzymes or something more complicated like irritable bowel disease.

Diabetes, Kidney Disease or Liver Disease

These are all bad things that you want to address sooner rather than later.

The nice thing is that the bad breath could help you save your dog’s life since it acts as an early detection system.


This includes the things we give our dogs and the things they find on their own like poop, dead fish (they’re not just for rolling in) or trash.

How to Prevent Bad Doggy Breath

Okay, we’ve seen the vet. Now what can we do to prevent future episodes?how do you brush your dog's teeth finger toothbrush for doggy dental care

If It’s a Dental Issue

  1. Brush your dog’s teeth either with a finger brush, pad, or toothbrush. The toothbrushes made for dogs are great for larger breeds since they’re long enough to reach the back of the mouth, but for smaller breeds, you can use a kid’s toothbrush.
  2. Have annual cleanings at your vet office.
  3. Use VOHC approved Dental Products. VOHC stands for Veterinary Oral Health Committee. They test different products and give their seal of approval on ones that have proven effective. Look for dental products that say “VOHC Accepted.”

If It’s a Benign GI Issue

  1. Probiotics work great for dogs. Purina makes a very effective one: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora. Or, if your dog has a milder GI issue, over the counter probiotics work too. We use Trunature Advanced Digestive Probiotic.
  2. If your dog will eat yogurt or cottage cheese, both are great sources for probiotics and protein. It’s best to use plain yogurt and be sure to check the labels as some have xylitol, which your dog shouldn’t eat.
  3. If your dog has irritable bowel disease, the vet-prescribed medications your dog takes will help clear up the bad breath.

If It’s a More Serious Health Issue

Examples include diabetes, liver or kidney disease etc.

See a vet to help treat your dog’s illness. Once that’s managed, the breath issue should resolve on its own.

If It’s a Diet IssueHill's Prescription Diet dental care t/d clinical nutrition chicken flavor

If it’s because of your dog’s food, which happens when I feed my fur babies fish-based food, then the obvious answer is to change their food.

Although, if that’s not an option, there are other ways you can help freshen up your dog’s breath, which you can find below!

Dental Diets

Some foods are specially formulated to help keep teeth clean and healthy.

These two are both VOHC approved and are proven to help fight against both plaque and tartar:

Eating Yucky Stuff

If your dog suffers from Coprophagia, aka eating poop (Ugh! We deal with that in our household), there are different products to check out like NaturVet Coprophagia Deterrent.

Or, if you prefer a more homestyle remedy, you can always try pineapple or meat tenderizer.

Just be sure, if you’re in a multi-dog household, everyone is getting the remedy.

Check out this article for more information on why your dog is eating poop, and how to stop it!

If they’re eating trash then store your garbage in a way they can’t access it. We use a child lock to keep our fur babies out of the garbage.

Awesome Products to Keep Your Dog’s Breath Smelling Great

Tooth Paste, Gel, Wipes, and SpraysVirbac c.e.t. enzymatic toothpaste for dogs pets vohc accepted approved

Make sure you only use toothpaste intended for dogs. Using the same toothpaste we use can be harmful to your dog.

Water Additives

These are great because it’s easier than training your dog to let you brush its teeth, but it’s not as good as brushing daily.

Be sure to follow the directions, since some of the additives have ingredients harmful to dogs in larger amounts.

Dental Chewsdo Greenies dental treats freshen dog breath fight plaque tartar

These are great because they act as both a treat and dental care all rolled into one. But if you have a dog with weight issues, it’s important to be aware of the added calories these bring.

…are all VOHC approved.

There are a ton more products you can purchase that are also VOHC approved, this is just a small sample of what’s out there.

Great Home Remedies to Try and a Few to Avoid

I LOVE trying home remedies since they can be easy and cost effective to use.

For example, you can use home remedies to handle a light flea infestation.

However, I feel obliged to say that most home remedies are not scientifically proven.

This doesn’t mean they don’t work, it simply means there’s no scientific data supporting its effectiveness yet.

Coconut Oil – Tryviva naturals organic extra virgin coconut oil safe for dog cleaning teeth

If your dog doesn’t like the commercial dog toothpaste then try using coconut oil.

Sometimes dogs prefer the taste and texture of this over the store-bought variety.

Also, it will help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

Parsley – Try

Definitely try, it’s not only good for bad breath but it is also packed with needed vitamins and nutrients.

Plus, it’s easy to add to your dog’s diet, just chop it up and sprinkle it on their food.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Avoid

I would hold off on trying.

There’s a lot of mixed information on this, but most certified vets advise against its use.

ACV can cause GI upset and can do more harm than good if overused.

Mint – Try with Caution

Maybe try, but maybe chat with your vet first.

The ASPCA website says no, but PetMd says it’s okay.

If it is safe, then I would use it with the parsley.

Apples & Carrots – Trycan dogs eat apples carrots help freshen bad puppy breath

Definitely try!

They work great in lieu of store-bought chews or treats.

Apples and carrots can help with dental care and they’re full of vitamins our dogs need.

A small word of caution: They’re high in sugars, so if your dog has a weight issue, use these sparingly.

Dog Breath Tips

Here are a few words of wisdom from Dr. Donnell Hansen, DVM, DAVDC from Blue Pearl Pet Hospital:

  • When choosing the right chewie for your dog use this rule of thumb: If your thumbnail can’t dent it then it’s too hard.
  • Dogs aren’t supposed to have stinky breath. Don’t ignore it as it could be a sign of something more serious.
  • Read labels closely as some products have harmful chemicals or ingredients such as grape oil or garlic.
  • Try and choose dental products with the VOHC seal.

Personally, I think a combination of the above treatments are the best way to go keep our dogs happy and healthy with fresh breath.

About the author

Jessica Mabie

Jessica and her husband share their lives with four amazing high energy Brittanys and one very awesome cat. You’ll rarely see her without her 4 pack, they go everywhere with her, including most vacations. So, if you see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).