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My Dog’s Breath Stinks! 5 Steps To Kick the Stench to the Curb

If your dog’s breath stinks it’s time to take action.

We love our dogs and we’re willing to put up with a lot just to have them around, but bad breath in dogs can signal serious dental problems or worse.

Halitosis in dogs (bad breath) can be caused by gum disease, an inflammatory condition caused by the buildup of food particles and bacteria beneath the gum line.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that will continue to worsen without treatment. It’s caused by the combination of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bacteria beneath the gums that destroy tissue around the teeth (periodontitis).

The only way to stop the bacteria from spreading beneath the gums is to have a professional dental cleaning to remove the tartar buildup.

Having your dogs teeth professionally cleaned should take of stinky dog breath, but there are many things you can (and should!) continue to do between teeth cleanings to keep your dog’s breath fresh.


Professional Dental Cleaning

Some dog owners believe that they can remove tartar themselves. There are claims that solutions of hydrogen peroxide will soften the tartar making it easier to scrape off.

Don’t do that!

Only put professional grade or veterinarian recommended products near your dog’s mouth. Likewise, do not try to scrape the tartar from your dog’s teeth with a blade or any other tool.

It’s possible that some of the tartar might be removed from the surface of the teeth, but the real problem – the accumulation beneath the gums – can only be removed by a professional.

If your dog’s breath stinks, he/she is probably in desperate need of professional dental cleaning.

It’s going to cost a little up front, but that cleaning will go a long way in keeping your dog healthy, happy, and stink-free.

A professional cleaning will involve anesthesia and, with any form of surgery, there are some risks. The veterinarian will be able to determine your dog’s eligibility for the dental procedure by your dog’s past health history, age, and current condition.

Dog owners tend to put-off professional dental cleanings for their dogs because of inconvenience and price.

However, if your dog’s breath stinks now, it’s only get to worse as the problem worsens. If infection sets in it’s going to cost even more in terms of tooth extractions, antibiotics, and follow-up care.

My dog's breath stinks and he needs a good dental cleaning
This lab might need a good dental cleaning, especially if his breath stinks.


Preventing Plaque and Tartar Buildup

It’s never too late to start a dental care routine with your dog. Older dogs may not take to it as easily as a puppy. However, there are many products on the market to make the task a little easier.

Get the Right Tools for the Job

Proper Toothbrush for Dogs

While you can use a soft toothbrush made for humans, it’s much better to get a dog toothbrush. Dog toothbrushes are made to get around those sharp incisors.

Properly Formulated Toothpaste for Dogs

It’s important to use toothpaste that has been formulated for pets. The reason is because of the ingredients. Toothpaste made for people often contains Xylitol, an artificial sweetener known to be toxic in animals.


Switch Up The Old Dog Food

Food quality has a direct correlation on dog dental health. Kibble gets a bad rap these days; however, there are very good quality kibble foods on the market these days. Kibble, if formulated properly, provides just the right amount of crunch and chew to help prevent the buildup of plaque on the teeth.

Business Insider reports that Orijen is the best dog food you can buy with the freshest ingredients.

Other top recommended brands of dog food include the following:


Taste of the Wild

Whole Earth Farms

Merrick Lil Plates


Dog Chews That Make the Cut

When choosing dogs chews and dog treats, the important thing is to look for products that are well-made, are not so hard that they’ll chip your dog’s teeth, and that are backed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Prescription Diet Canine Original Bites

Prescription Diet Canine Small Bites

Science Diet Oral Care for Dogs

Healthy Advantage Oral Care for Dogs

Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Diet for Dogs

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Canine Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Small Bites Canine Formula Dry Dog Food.

More Serious Things to Consider

Bringing your dog to the vet isn’t just about paying money for a good teeth cleaning. When your veterinarian sees your dog, he/she also looks for other signs of problems. It’s one thing to say your dog’s breath stinks, but what exactly does it smell like?

Your Dog’s Breath Smells like Ammonia.

That smell of ammonia is actually the byproduct (or waste) of urine that has accumulated in the bloodstream. If your dog’s breath has that strong, ammonia-like smell, it could be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes, or oral tumors that may be present. Other possibilities include liver disease or metabolic conditions.

Conditions such as skinfold pyoderma, may create more general odor on and around the dog’s body.

Lumps, Bumps, and Mysteries of the Mouth

Getting your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned also involves an examination of the oral cavity. The veterinarian will look for any signs of lumps or bumps on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, gums, and lips.

Read this Informative Guide on Mouth Cancer in Dogs for more information.

It’s a Big Bite to Chew!

If you notice your dog having difficulty chewing, favoring one side of the mouth, pawing at the mouth, or making unusual noises there could be a problem with the teeth or gums that needs to be seen by a professional.

There’s a lot to know about the health of your dog’s mouth and oral health.

Brushing dog teeth regularly is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Building good habits is all it takes to keep your dog’s oral health optimum.

I hope you were able to get the information you were looking for. If you found this post helpful, please make sure to share! It only takes a second and helps me to keep generating content to help dog owners like you.


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Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

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