Unless I’m intervening, my dog has the kind of breath that could knock you off your feet. There’s nothing grosser than getting a big, sloppy kiss on the face from a dog who smells like something died in her throat. I took my pup to the vet when I noticed how bad it was getting. This should be the first step any pet owner takes for bad breath in dogs, since very bad breath can be a sign of digestive or dental problems. After you’ve ruled out a more serious problem, try these all-natural, green tips for improving your dog’s breath.
1. Find good, healthy dental chews. Dogs need to chew hard surfaces, and frequently, to keep their teeth clean. Many companies offer good tooth-cleansing chews made from natural rawhide or bone. My favorite company, Whimzees, makes fantastic, all-natural, vegetarian chews that my dog adores. They have cool, textured shapes including toothbrushes and bumpy alligators, which help to scrape plaque off my dog’s teeth. Dental chews are also a bit safer and healthier than bone or rawhide.
2. Look into charcoal treats. Charcoal helps to absorb the gases in your dog’s tummy, keeping stinky belches and bad breath to a minimum. For dogs who have clean teeth but bad breath, these can be a godsend. Charcoal might not sound all that safe, but it is completely safe and healthy for dogs, according to my vet, and many natural dog treats contain it as a primary ingredient. You can try dipping them in peanut butter to make them even more appealing– and they really do work for bad breath in dogs!
3. Bring out the toothbrush. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you may be in for a battle. Make sure you train your dog to enjoy it by offering a treat before and after a tooth-brushing session. You can get a dog toothbrush at a pet store, but here’s a little secret: baby toothbrushes, which fit over your fingertip just like a dog toothbrush, are often cheaper. Try to use a natural dog toothpaste with enzymes to help break up plaque and kill bacteria to improve your dog’s bad breath. The natural toothpastes also usually taste better to dogs!
4. Add some safe ingredients to your dog’s water (carefully!). Green tea and aloe are both highly effective in cleaning dogs’ teeth, but they can be dangerous if you give them improperly. Your best bet is to get a natural water additive like TropiClean Fresh Breath, which is carefully dosed and measured for your pet. Another option is to add two tablespoons of food-grade aloe vera gel (check to make sure it’s the kind that is safe for humans to drink) to your dog’s one-quart water bowl, along with three tablespoons of green tea and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda. Your dog won’t be able to taste the difference unless he’s very sensitive, but the additives will help keep is teeth healthy and his breath fresh!
As always, though, don’t hesitate to make a trip to the vet if your dog’s breath is absolutely rancid, or if you notice any sores, bleeding, black marks, or visible decay in your dog’s mouth. Tooth disease can spread quickly and cause serious problems for your pooch, so don’t let it get out of hand before calling the vet. However, for ordinary bad breath in dogs, a few simple, natural home remedies will usually be enough to help.