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Dog Bad Breath – Causes and Dental Product Remedies

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As dog owners, we all know the importance of taking care of our canine companions. We do everything from making sure they're well-fed and receiving enough exercise to getting lots of love. However, one aspect of their health that can get overlooked is their dental hygiene.

Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from bad breath. When a dog's breath smells, most people think it's just a normal part of being a dog - but bad breath in dogs can be a sign of emerging oral health issues and should not be ignored.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of bad breath in dogs and how to get your dog's breath smelling fresh in no time!

Why It's Important to Monitor Your Dog’s Breath

Bad breath in dogs can often be a sign of dental problems, such as plaque buildup or gum disease. If left untreated, these issues can lead to very serious health issues, such as tooth decay and even tooth loss. Poor oral hygiene not only affects your dog's overall health but could also result in expensive vet bills.

This makes it incredibly important to address the issue of bad breath in dogs as soon as you notice it. Not only will this improve your dog's health and overall well-being, but it can also save you from potential future complications.

What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

Dental Diseases

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is dental disease. These issues arise when bacteria and food particles accumulate on the teeth and gums, leading to inflammation and infection.

Below we'll delve into some of the most common dental diseases that cause bad breath:

Tooth Decay

Just like us humans, dogs can also suffer from tooth decay. This happens because of a buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth, which eventually leads to cavities and other oral infections. Not only can this cause bad breath, but it can also be very painful for your dog.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is one of the most common causes of a dog's stinky breath. This occurs when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, leading to inflammation and infection of the gums. If left untreated, it can progress to more serious stages of dental disease and even loose or damaged teeth.


Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. This can be caused by poor dental or oral hygiene care or an underlying health condition.

What is gum disease, and how is it different from tooth decay?

Gum disease affects the gums, while tooth decay affects the teeth. They are both caused by plaque and bacteria buildup but can have different symptoms and consequences.

What's the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, while periodontitis is a more advanced and severe form. In periodontitis, the infection in the gums can spread to the surrounding tissues and bones, leading to tooth loss.

Oral Tumors

Although less common, oral tumors can also cause bad breath in dogs. These growths can be either benign or malignant and may require surgical removal.

Oral tumors can develop from any cell type in the mouth, such as the gums, tongue, or lips. If you notice any unusual growths or bumps in your dog's mouth, consult with your veterinarian for treatment advice.


Dietary Factors

Diet can also play a significant role in your dog's bad breath. Maintaining a balanced diet for your dog is essential not just for their overall health but also for their oral health.

A diet that is high in protein and low in sugars and carbohydrates can help treat bad breath, prevent plaque buildup, and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Below are some foods in more detail that may contribute to stinky dog breath:

Sugary Treats and Snacks

Sugary treats and snacks are not only unhealthy for your dog's overall health, but they can also contribute to bad dog breath. The sugars in these treats provide fuel for bacteria to grow and thrive.

Table Scraps

Feeding your dog table scraps or human food may be tempting, but vets generally don’t recommend it. These foods often contain spices, oils, and other ingredients that can be harmful to your dog's digestive system as well as cause bad breath.

Carbohydrate-rich Foods

Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread and pasta can also contribute to bad breath in dogs. As these foods break down, they create an environment where bacteria can thrive and cause plaque buildup.

Dairy Products

Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, can also contribute to bad breath in dogs. This is because many dogs are lactose intolerant and cannot properly digest these foods, leading to an overgrowth of bacteria.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic contain compounds that can cause bad breath in dogs. These ingredients are especially toxic to dogs and should never be fed to them.

Medical Conditions

Respiratory Infections

When you notice your dog's breath smell, a respiratory infection, such as sinusitis or rhinitis, may be to blame. These conditions lead to mucus buildup in the nose and throat, creating an environment for bacteria to grow and thrive.

Kidney or Liver Disease

In some cases, bad breath may be a sign of underlying health issues such as kidney or liver disease. This is because your dog's kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins and waste products from the body.When they are not functioning properly, it can lead to a buildup of toxins in the blood that cause kidney disease and bad breath.


Diabetes is another health issue that may cause bad breath in dogs. This disease affects the body's ability to regulate glucose levels, which can result in a sweet or fruity odor on your dog's breath.

Dental Product Remedies

Maintaining good dental hygiene is crucial for preventing and treating bad breath in dogs. Luckily, there are various oral health products available for dogs, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental chews, and water additives, that contain ingredients that remove plaque and freshen breath.


Toothpaste and Toothbrushes

Just like us humans, dogs also need their teeth brushed to maintain good oral hygiene. Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth at least 2-3 times a week, but daily tooth brushing is even better.

Using a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush is the most effective way to clean your dog's teeth. These products are designed to be safe for dogs to ingest and contain ingredients that help reduce plaque buildup.

To brush your dog's teeth, you'll need a toothbrush specifically designed for dogs as well as a toothpaste that is safe for dogs to ingest. Gently lift your dog's lips and brush the teeth in a circular motion, making sure to reach all areas of the mouth.

Dental Chews

Dental chews are another popular option for maintaining dental health in dogs. These treats are designed to help remove plaque and tartar from your dog's teeth while also freshening their breath . . . not to mention serving as a great snack for your pup! Win-win!

Water Additives

Water additives are an easy and convenient way to help freshen your dog's breath. These products are added to your dog's water bowl and contain ingredients that help fight plaque buildup.

Using water additives is beneficial because they are easy to use and can help maintain your dog's oral health without the need for brushing or dental chews. They also provide fresh breath and prevent plaque buildup (which can lead to more serious dental issues if left untreated!).

To use water additives, simply add the recommended amount to your dog's water bowl each day. It's important to follow the instructions on the product and not exceed the recommended dosage.

Other Products to Support Your Dog's Oral Health

Aside from toothbrushes and toothpaste, a great way to support your dog's overall health is through supplements. While toothbrushes and toothpaste may be great at preventing bad breath from an oral standpoint, supplements help lower the chances of any internal diseases (such as kidney or liver disease) by supporting your dog's overall health and immune system.

Our top list of supplements to support your dog’s health are:

Multivitamins: While this one may sound obvious, multivitamins are truly the foundation for any dog's health. At Pet Honesty, we have multivitamins for adult dogs, senior dogs, and, of course, puppies.

Probiotics: Probiotics work by promoting the growth of good bacteria while also supporting the healthy digestion of food and nutrient absorption. In other words, probiotics help your dog get the fuller benefit of any nutrients and vitamins they're taking!

Consistency Is Key

No matter what type of dental product you choose for your dog, consistency is key. Regular use of these products is necessary to see and maintain results. Skipping or forgetting to use these products can lead to plaque buildup and other dental issues down the road.

It's also essential to consult with your veterinarian before starting any new dental product regimen for your dog. They can guide the best products to use and ensure they are safe for your dog's specific needs.


Can't I just give my dog bones and treats to keep their teeth clean?

While bones and treats may help remove some plaque from your dog's teeth, they are not a substitute for proper dental hygiene. These products can also lead to tooth fractures or other dental issues if used excessively.

How often should I use water additives for my dog's breath?

We recommend using water additives daily, but you should also be sure to follow the instructions on the product for the recommended dosage.

Should I brush my dog's teeth every day?

Daily brushing is ideal, but if that's not possible, aim for at least 2-3 times a week. The more consistent you are with brushing, the better the results will be.

All in all, by making dental care a regular part of your dog's routine, you can help ensure their overall health and well-being. So, invest in good dental products for your furry friend and make your pet's oral health hygiene a priority!