10 Ways to Eliminate Dog Bad Breath

Filed in Dog Health by on September 18, 2021

Ways to Eliminate Dog Bad Breath

Have you ever caught an unpleasant whiff of your dog’s breath? Bad breath is a frequent complaint of pet owners.

The primary cause of bad breath is the buildup up of harmful bacteria associated with dental disease. Food residue, saliva, and bacteria build up on your pet’s teeth and cause plaque. As this plaque hardens, it forms tartar, which can lead to dental disease.

As dental disease progresses, the number of harmful bacteria in your pet’s mouth will increase, and their breath will worsen. Not only is the bad breath unpleasant, but poor oral hygiene can also be detrimental to your pet’s overall health.

In this vet-reviewed and approved article, I discuss 10 ways to eliminate dog bad breath and improve their oral health.

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1. Brush Their Teeth

Just like humans, the first step to fresh breath is routine brushing. Practicing brushing your pet’s teeth when they are young can make it less of a hassle as they grow up.

You should try to brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week—the more frequent, the better.

To brush your pet’s teeth, you can use a normal human toothbrush. Specialty brushes that fit over your finger are also available.

Using toothpaste designed for dogs is essential. Ingredients such as xylitol are often found in human toothpaste and are toxic to your pet.

If you are looking for an excellent toothbrushing set, check out PetSmile. Petsmile sells bundles that come with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Their toothpaste is the only plaque and tartar control toothpaste accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. The toothpaste comes in cheese, London broil, and rotisserie chicken flavors.

2. Routine Dental Cleanings by Your Veterinarian

dog dental cleaning

While brushing your pet’s teeth is the first step of proper oral hygiene, professional dental cleanings are a necessity.

These dental cleaning performed by your veterinarian are performed under anesthesia and provide a more thorough cleaning.

Note: the AVMA and AVDC do not recommend “awake” dental cleanings for several different reasons. Chiefly, awake dentals do not get all the tartar below the gums and can cause injury.

Special instruments are used to remove plaque and tartar that toothbrushes are unable to clean thoroughly. By removing this plaque and tartar buildup, you reduce the risk of dental disease.

Most dogs need a professional dental cleaning once a year. Not only are these appointments essential for cleaning, but they also allow your veterinarian to do a thorough oral exam.

If your dog has damaged or decaying teeth, these may contribute to their bad breath and need to be removed.

Dental cleaning and extractions can become quite costly, but some pet insurances will cover the procedure. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what is appropriate for your dog.

3. Dental Chews

While oral hygiene is essential, it’s not usually on the top of your dog’s list of favorite activities. However, there are other ways to prevent bad breath that they may find much more enjoyable.

One of the most recognized dental chews brands is Greenies. They are an excellent option for eliminating and preventing bad breath. Greenies come in a variety of sizes and flavors.

Another great option is OraVet Dental chews. This product contains an ingredient known as Delmopinol.

It blocks bad breath by creating a preventative barrier that blocks odor-causing bacteria and decreases future plaque and tartar buildup. Like Greenies, these chews come in a variety of sizes based on your pet’s weight.

4. Water Additives

Another easy way to fight bad dog breath is to use a water additive in your pet’s water bowl. There are many water additives available for dogs, and how they work to eliminate bad breath can vary.

Some products target and prevent the buildup of plaque. Others target the bacteria that can accumulate in your dog’s mouth and their food bowl.

Make sure you pick a product that is made for pets. Just like toothpaste, human products can be toxic to dogs. TropiClean makes a Fresh Breath Plaque Remover Pet Water Additive that is veterinary approved. Water additives help reduce bacteria and contain ingredients that make it harder for bacteria and biofilms to adhere to teeth. The “plaque remover” aspect of the name may not be accurate because only the mechanical action of brushing, or scaling from a dental cleaning, is how plaque gets removed.

Read the instructions carefully to determine how much water additive you will need to mix with your dog’s water.

Most water additives have no color or taste. However, some dogs are very sensitive to changes and may become less interested in their water bowl. Hydration is essential, so if the product is causing your dog to drink less water, you may need to stop using it.

Note: Drinking water should be changed once a day for best results. It loses its potency after sitting in a water dish for 24 hours.

5. Dental Gel

No matter how much you practice, some dogs still put up a fight when it comes to having their teeth brush. For these dogs, dental gels are a great no-brush option.

When used daily, these products help prevent plaque from becoming tartar. Most dental gels also contain an antiseptic that helps fight bacteria. Keep in mind that only dental cleanings can really combat tartar directly.

Not only will the reduction in plaque and tartar improve your pet’s breath, but the antiseptic will provide immediate odor reduction.

When using a dental gel, the product is applied along the gum line on either side of your pet’s mouth. Your dog’s instinct will be to try to lick the product off.

This licking will help spread the gel throughout the mouth so it can get to work. For best results, avoid feeding your dog immediately after applying the gel.

TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care Clean Teeth Gel for Dogs is highly recommended. This product can be used on its own or applied after brushing.

6. Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms, commonly referred to as good bacteria. While they are most frequently used to maintain gut health, probiotics can help eliminate your dog’s bad breath.

Probiotics work by reducing harmful bacteria and restoring balance to your dog’s natural microbiome.

For more information on probiotics and their other uses, you can visit this article on probiotics for dogs with allergies.

7. Chew Toys

dog chewing his toy

Pets who frequently play with chew toys tend to have cleaner teeth. This is because the friction of the toy against their teeth can help remove and prevent plaque buildup.

In doing so, it can also be an effective means of improving your pet’s breath.

Hard rubberized toys are the best for eliminating bad breath. If your dog doesn’t like routine teeth brushing, these chew toys are a great way to get into those hard-to-reach places.

Some chew toys are designed with small slots to put dog toothpaste. Your pet thinks they are getting a fun treat with their toy. But in fact, they are fighting off plaque and bad breath germs.

8. Focus on Your Pet’s Overall Health

If your pet’s breath isn’t improving with some of the mentioned techniques, consider having their overall health evaluated.

Certain diseases can contribute to your pet’s bad breath. These diseases include diabetes, kidney disease, and liver failure.

Dogs with diabetes struggle with increased blood sugar levels. As blood sugar levels rise, so do the sugar levels in your dog’s saliva.

This high sugar environment in your pet’s mouth is an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

Bad breath from dogs dealing with kidney and liver disease is different from other causes of bad breath. In these dogs, the foul odor is a result of built-up toxins within the body.

Proper management of your pet’s medical conditions is essential for their overall well-being and can help eliminate bad breath. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet evaluated.

9. Eliminate Smelly Foods

beagle eating under the table

One of the easiest ways to eliminate bad breath is to ensure your dog avoids questionable food choices. A dog who gets into the garbage or frequently eats cat poop out of the litter box can develop particularly stinky breath.

Eliminate your dog’s access to these unsavory snacks. Not only can this help improve their breath, but it is also in the best interest of their overall health.

10. Pick a Diet Formulated for Oral Care

Another way you can use diet choices to improve your pet’s breath is to feed a dog food specifically designed to treat bad breath.

The texture of dog food plays a critical role in plaque and tartar buildup. Wet food has a greater tendency to cause buildup than kibble.

Oral care diets like Hills Science Diet Oral Care have a specific texture that cleans your pet’s teeth as they chew.

Other oral care diets are available, and many can be found at your local pet store. Some diets require a veterinary prescription. As with any significant diet changes, consult with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet.


Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas on how to eliminate dog bad breath and improve your pet’s oral health.

Bad dog breath is a stinky situation that many dog owners struggle with. While the odor is usually the number one complaint, eliminating your dog’s bad breath is also a critical step in improving your pet’s oral health.

For more information on oral care products for your dog, you can visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website. Their website contains a substantial list of dental products, chews, and diets that are veterinary-approved. The VOHC designation also means the product has gone through at least two clinical trials and has been shown to reduce plaque/tartar accumulation.

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