Reduce Bad Breath in Dogs Before You Need the Vet!

We’ve all suffer it at some stage, it’s just we don’t go round licking each others faces every chance we get. Bad breath in dogs arises for the same reasons it does in humans. However persistent bad breath (halitosis) needs attention.

Why So Much Bad Breath in Dogs?

The most important factor for nice breath is a clean mouth. 9/10 dogs have gum disease by three years of age. 9/10 dogs are dry fed. If you think this is a coincidence you probably need your teeth examined!

Think about it, If you had ten people in your family and 9 of them had rotten teeth and gum disease by their early twenties your dentist is probably going to ask what you have been eating. Cavemen (and wolves and dingos) have beautiful teeth. In humans it’s because we eat sugar and acid. In dogs it is the same but added to this is that they don’t brush their teeth twice a day and dry pebbles offer no abrasion to remove gunk.

To make matters worse as carnivores dogs do not have amylase in their saliva. This is an enzyme which breaks down carbs (plant food). We omnivores have loads of it so any excess carbs / sugar in the mouth are broken down by our saliva which we then swallow. Sadly dogs today are fed 50% carbs (a cash saving practice by the dry food industry) and without amylase carbs / sugar hangs around the dog’s mouth, fueling bacterial growth.
As bacteria bloom (plaque) they put down a hard yellow layer (tartar) which protects them from future removal. From this safe house they turn their attentions to the gum layer, constantly trying to get at the blood rich gums. This in ginga (gum) vitis (disease). In this instance the immune system is called upon daily to defend the body from attack, hence animals with gingavitis have lower immune systems and suffer more disease, most notably of the heart and kidneys (which have to clean up the constant waves of little dead immune soldiers).

Bad breath is simply bacteria farts (sulphur). It is the by-product of the nasty bacteria living and feeding in the mouth.

Other Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

If you have a raw fed dog that gets plenty of bones and his breath is honking than you have two choices – stick in the few bits below to see if it clears up the issue and / or consider seeing your vet. While a manky mouth accounts for the vast majority of bad breath in dogs, there are other causes.

  • A sweet, fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • A foul odour accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas or gums could be a liver problem.
  • Respiratory and gastro-intestinal problems can also be at play.
  • Coprophagia (poo-eating).
  • Finally you might also consider that a dirty beard in a raw fed dog can smell far worse than the same dog fed a dry diet. Dry food goes straight down the food pipe whereas one or two missed drops of blood accumulating under the chin can give out a really bad smell (the smell again being the bacteria that happily feed on it).


3 duck necks on a chopping board

Regular Meaty Bones Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

9/10 vets believe a dry, cereal based food is best for a carnivore. It should come as no surprise so that 9/10 vets think the answer to dirty teeth is regular brushing by the owner (the result of the recent Maude Chandler webinar survey early 2016 in front of 300 vets). You could brush the dogs teeth every day but we’re here to tell you this is utter madness. If this doesn’t work you’re told to go for a dental scrape (€200). Lets try avoid these at all costs.

If your dog has foul teeth then it’s highly likely he is fed a dry, kibbled diet and receives zero raw meaty bones. Meaty bones are the dog’s tooth brush. For more on how to feed bones safely to your dog check out our article.


Top Herbs For Bad Breath in Dogs

There are some great herbs out there that will fight bad breath. Remember though, adding a herbal remedy to MASK the smell is no better than a repeat prescriptions for steroids for a recurring skin or gut issue. It could be like putting a nice smelling plaster on gangrene. Find the cause!

In the mean time, top herbs to fight bad breath in dogs are below. Many are best applied as a mouth wash. However dogs will not like the taste of it. Hence if you can make or find a dog treat with the herbs in it you should give them a go:parsley for bad dog breathclose up of some parsley

  • Parsley (can be easily snuck fresh into the food, great for breath and many other things, of all the herbs this is easiest apply and very effective)
  • Peppermint (dogs will not like the taste of this, good luck with that!)
  • Sage, Teatree or Clove (kills bacteria in the mouth, best used as a mouth wash, again a tough one to feed to dogs)
  • Eucalyptus is brilliant and in studies was found to eliminate mouth malodor by significantly reducing volatile sulfur compounds (bacteria farts).

Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.