Patience is normally a virtue, but when you’re dealing with dog bad breath, you want a solution, ASAP. (After all, there's cuddling to be done!) Rather than chase your tail trying to find answers, we've laid out everything you need to know about the causes of stinky dog breath, how to determine if there's a bigger problem at hand, and the most effective dog breath fresheners to freshen your dog's breath, fast.
My Dog’s Breath Stinks! Is This Normal?
As awesome as your dog is, we’re going to assume that chewing minty gum isn’t on their list of tricks. And besides, just like with humans, mint is merely a masking agent. A healthy dog smile shouldn’t actually smell at all! So if that dog breath stinks, you’ll want to do a little investigative work ...
Dog breath freshener 101: what to look (and smell) for:
- Smell: You want a completely neutral smell to your dog’s breath. No "hot trash can," "stinky fish," "rotten eggs" or other creative term pet parents like to ascribe to their dogs’ breath.
- Look: The teeth should be clear of gummy plaque and yellow-brown tartar. The gums should be a light pink with no redness or bleeding.
Does Dog Bad Breath Indicate a More Serious Problem?
So many of us deal with stinky dog breath that we chalk it up as normal. But it actually means there's a more serious issue occurring with your pet. The most common cause of dog bad breath is gum disease.
Avoid the "It won’t happen to MY pet!" mentality. The truth is that 8 in 10 dogs will have gum disease by age 3. Gum disease can affect all breeds and sizes, although small dogs with their crowded teeth tend to get it more severely.
Signs of gum disease in dogs:
What Else Causes Stinky Dog Breath?
If you’re already a pro at taking care of your dog’s smile, serious cases of stinky dog breath may mean there’s something wrong with their gastrointestinal tract, liver or other organs. Breath that is fruity or sweet is an indication that your dog has diabetes. If your dog’s breath has an ammonia or urine smell, that’s a sign of kidney disease. When in doubt, let the vet sniff it out so you can get the best course of action for your dog.
Can Dog Bad Breath Affect Your "Man’s Best Friend" Bond?
Dogs love their humans even more than we may realize. In fact, studies have shown that when dogs engage in eye contact with their humans, oxytocin (aka the "love hormone") is released in their brains. (And here we thought they were just trying to send telepathic messages to give them a treat!) Yet, sadly, with dog bad breath, it can keep us from lovin’ on our sweet pooches.
According to a study by BARK, when dog breath stinks ...
- 57% of dog parents have less interaction with their pooches
- 40% avoid kissing their dogs
- 28% avoid talking nose-to-nose with their pets
- 19% avoid sharing a bed with their dogs
Dog Breath Stinks: Will It Go Away on Its Own?
Don’t hold your breath! If the cause of the stinky dog breath is gum disease, it won’t go away on its own. In fact, their breath will just keep getting worse as more odorous bacteria overtake the mouth. To understand why this happens, it’s important to understand the cycle of dental disease.
Cycle of Dog Gum Disease
- Dog eats food
- Plaque forms on teeth
- If not removed, plaque will harden into yellow-brown tartar
- Harmful bacteria multiplies, infecting gums & producing bad breath
- Without intervention, gums will begin to pull away from the teeth
- Bacteria from the dog's mouth can spread, impacting their vital organs & lifespan
The good news is, in its early stages, gum disease is 100% reversible. Later stages require intervention from the vet with professional cleanings, and in many cases, tooth extractions. Yet another reason to take care of your dog’s teeth ... less dental bills! As you can see, removing plaque from your dog’s teeth is how to break the cycle of gum disease and stinky breath.
Don’t Rely on Treats Alone to Act as a Dog Breath Freshener
Treats should not be used as the only dental care your dog gets. While high-quality treats can definitely help scrape away SOME plaque, they are not a substitute for a regular dental routine using a vet-approved dog breath freshener. Now that doesn’t mean you need to go cold turkey (or chicken) on giving your dog dental treats. Just use treats as a supplement to their oral care.
What to remember about treats to freshen dog breath:
- Look before you treat: If your dog has serious gum disease, proceed with caution before you give them dental treats and chews. Some may be too hard on their teeth, especially if their teeth are already loose.
- Treat according to package directions: Follow the serving size guidelines so Fido doesn’t become a pooch with a paunch. Obesity can negatively affect their overall health AND breath.
- Choose wisely: Not all treats are high quality or effective enough to freshen dog breath. If they do nothing for a dog’s dental health, all those carbs will just kick up their plaque production and make their breath worse! Not sure where to start? Check out the 6 best dog treats for bad breath.
Best Dog Breath Fresheners to Freshen Dog Breath, Fast
When it comes to preventing dog bad breath and the progression of gum disease, regular oral care is key. If you’re in a pinch and need a quick way to freshen dog breath, dental sprays and wipes will do the trick. But to really address the root of the problem (plaque), you’ll want to make sure to incorporate one of two dental strategies into your pet’s everyday life. Oxyfresh, a vet-favorite brand for almost 210 dog years, has you covered.
2 Proven Dog Breath Fresheners Your Pet Will Love
#1. Use a Pet Toothpaste to freshen dog breath
Brushing is the gold standard to give your dog winning breath, and nothing works better than the alpha dog of pet toothpastes: Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste. It’s the only dog toothpaste to have proprietary Oxygene® – a non-toxic purifier that breaks down the bacteria that lead to plaque, tartar and dog bad breath. Plus, it works on contact. (Talk about fast!) Designed with picky dogs in mind, it’s 100% flavor free to make for a less stressful brush ... for you AND your dog!
#2. Use a Dog Water Additive as a dog breath freshener
What if your dog’s breath stinks, but trying to brush their teeth stinks even more? We hear ya! Brushing isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. If you want an easier, more hands-off approach, try Oxyfresh Pet Dental Water Additive. Like our Pet Toothpaste, it’s powered by proprietary Oxygene® to break down the bacteria that lead to dog bad breath and plaque buildup. It’s a stellar standalone product or to use on the "off days" when you don’t have time to brush. And because it's tasteless and odorless, your dog will be none-the-wiser that it's in the water bowl! They'll literally get fresher breath with every drink of water.
A final word: Make it a habit to visit the veterinarian regularly so that you can keep track of any changes to your dog’s oral health. And with a little help from Oxyfresh, you can banish the phrase "My dog’s breath stinks!" from your vocabulary forever!