Dog holding a toothbrush in its mouth

Key takeaway

Bad breath in dogs may be caused by poor dental hygiene as well as various diseases and dental problems. Fixing bad breath usually means treating the underlying condition and improving dental hygiene. If your dog’s bad breath doesn’t go away, you should visit a vet.

Bad breath can be a major problem for dogs, especially dogs who like to get into the garbage or eat the feces of other animals. As a pet parent, dealing with bad dog breath can be tough, but knowing how to fix bad dog breath is important. Regular brushing, dental treats, and other routine care can help you keep your dog’s breath from stinking.

Keep in mind that bad breath can be a sign of other medical conditions, such as diabetes and liver disease. If your dog has bad breath that won’t go away with regular brushing and other dental care, you should take them to the vet. If you’ve got a dog with particularly smelly breath, here are some tips and tricks you can try to fix bad dog breath.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Frequently

1. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Frequently

As a pet owner, brushing your dog’s teeth frequently is the most important thing you can do to prevent and treat bad dog breath. As strange as it might seem to brush your dog’s teeth, you should be doing it at least once per week, and your vet may even recommend brushing your dog’s teeth several times per week.

When you’re brushing your dog’s teeth, you’ll have a handful of different options as far as toothbrushes go. However, it’s important to make sure you’re using toothpaste that’s specifically designed for dogs because human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs. Ask your vet for toothbrush and toothpaste recommendations to find one that’s well suited for your pet.

It might take a while to get your dog used to having their teeth brushed, but keeping up with regular brushing helps prevent dental disease and promote fresh breath.

Give Them Chew Toys

2. Give Them Chew Toys

Believe it or not, chew toys can actually be a helpful tool when it comes to fixing a dog’s bad breath. When dogs gnaw away at chew toys, it helps work some of the plaque and tartar off of their teeth. As an added benefit, you don’t have to worry about your dog chewing up furniture or electronics if they have plenty of good chew toys.

Chews that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) are a good place to start when it comes to getting rid of bad dog breath. KONG pet toys are also good and come in several varieties and styles for different dogs. You might also consider giving your dog edible Nylabones or rubber Goughnuts to chew on.1

Try Dental Treats

3. Try Dental Treats

If you’re looking for tips on how to fix bad dog breath at home, dental treats can be a huge help. Making sure you pick a dental chew that’s approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council helps you promote dental health and prevent bad breath.

Some of the popular dental chews that are VOHC-approved include1:

  • Purina Pro Plan Dental Chewz
  • Greenies
  • C.E.T. VEGGIDENT Chews
  • Milk-Bone Brushing Chews
  • OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews
  • Purina DentaLife Chews
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Chews
  • Pedigree Dentastix

Other popular dental chews include Virbac Tartar Control Dog Chews. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Bones are a good option if you’re looking for grain-free dental chews. When you ask your vet about how to fix bad dog breath, you should also ask about appropriate dental treats and chew toys.

Use a Water Additive

4. Use a Water Additive

Dental water additives can be a good way to promote dental health in dogs, which can help prevent bad breath and long-term dental problems. These additives can easily be added to your dog’s water. However, some dogs don’t like the taste of dental water additives, so these may not be the best option for your dog.

Visit the Vet

5. Visit the Vet

Regular trips to the vet can help you prevent bad dog breath and keep your dog’s mouth healthy. You should take your dog to the vet at least once a year to have their teeth cleaned. In addition to regular dental cleanings, you should also visit the vet for routine checkups to make sure your dog doesn’t have a medical condition that’s leading to bad breath.

Why Do Dogs Get Bad Breath?

In many cases, dogs get bad breath as a result of poor dental hygiene. If you’re not brushing your dog’s teeth often enough or taking them to the vet for dental cleanings, plaque and tartar will eventually lead to bad breath.

While bad breath is often caused by poor dental hygiene, it can also be a result of several other medical conditions and other problems in dogs.2

Graphic listing reasons why dogs get bad breath

Dental & Mouth Disorders

If your dog has a dental disease or mouth disorder, that may be the cause of their bad breath. For example, tissue necrosis that occurs as a result of oral tumors can cause bad breath in dogs. Periodontal pockets can also get food trapped in them, which can lead to bad breath as the food decays in your dog’s mouth. If your dog has a dental or mouth disorder, you should see your vet to get started on a treatment plan.3

Diet

Dogs are a lot different than humans, especially in terms of their diet. Dietary indiscretion isn’t uncommon in dogs, and some dogs will even eat things like feces, trash, and decomposing animals. If your dog has a problem with eating things that cause bad breath, you need to keep them away from things like feces and dead animals and keep your trash closed.

Diabetes

If your dog’s breath is sort of sweet or fruity, they might have bad breath as a result of diabetes. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications in pets, so you should talk to your vet about treatment options if your dog has diabetes.

Liver Disease

Bad dog breath combined with vomiting, a lack of appetite, and yellowish gums is often a result of liver disease. This liver disease may even be caused by a more serious medical condition, so getting your dog to the vet is crucial.4

Kidney Disease

Bad dog breath that smells like urine may be a result of kidney disease in dogs. If your dog has bad breath that smells like urine, you should take them to the vet right away as kidney disease can be very serious if left untreated.5

Dog Bad Breath: Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog have bad breath?

There are several reasons your dog might have bad breath, including poor dental hygiene, dental and mouth disorders, or one of several diseases that can cause bad breath in dogs. If your dog has bad breath as well as symptoms of another medical condition, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis. Diagnosing conditions like kidney and liver disease early on is crucial.

How can I fix my dog’s bad breath?

Fortunately, learning how to fix bad dog breath is simple. In many cases, it’s as simple as brushing your dog’s teeth and giving them dental chews regularly. If your dog has bad breath that persists even with regular brushing, dental chews, and dental cleanings at the vet, you may need to treat the underlying condition to get rid of bad breath.

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

As a pet parent, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth at least 2-3 times per week. If you have the time, however, it’s best to brush your dog’s teeth daily. Like humans, good dental hygiene in dogs helps prevent dental disease and bad breath.

How often should I bring my dog in for a teeth cleaning?

You should bring your dog to the vet for a teeth cleaning at least once a year. Taking your dog to the vet for a thorough dental cleaning is important because you can’t get the same quality clean at home.

Owner kissing dog and holding toothbrush in hand

Final Notes

Bad breath in dogs can be caused by lots of things, including poor dental hygiene, diabetes, and dietary indiscretion. Fortunately, brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and giving them dental chews can help fix and prevent bad dog breath.

If you want to know more about how to fix bad dog breath, Dutch can get you the help you need. With Dutch, you can schedule an online video chat with a vet to learn more about dental hygiene in dogs. You can even get tips for brushing your dog’s teeth from the comfort of your home. If your dog has bad breath, try Dutch and chat with a vet today.

References

  1. Veterinary Oral Health Council, http://vohc.org/

  2. Burke, Anna. “How to Get Rid of Stinky Dog Breath.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/get-rid-of-stinky-dog-breath/

  3. Reiter, Alexander M. “Disorders of the Mouth in Dogs - Dog Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-mouth-in-dogs?query=bad+breath

  4. Center, Sharon A. “Overview of Hepatic Disease in Small Animals - Digestive System.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/hepatic-disease-in-small-animals/overview-of-hepatic-disease-in-small-animals?query=liver+disease

  5. “Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital.” Flat Rock Emergency Vet | Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital, https://www.wcrah.com/site/blog-flat-rock-vet/2021/05/17/renal-failure-dogs