How to Cure a Dog's Bad Breath

By Laura Agadoni

Dogs can have bad breath for various reasons, usually from a buildup of bacteria in the mouth, lungs or gut, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Bad breath in dogs usually indicates a need for dental care or that the dog needs treatment for internal problems. Small, flat-nosed dogs are most prone to bad breath, but any dog can have it. Once you take some measures, you can improve your dog’s breath.

Visit a Veterinarian

A dog is getting his teeth cleaned at the dentist.

simonkr/iStock/Getty Images

Besides being unpleasant, bad breath can signal serious disease. If your dog has bad breath, bring him to a veterinarian who can determine the reason. Your dog might have plaque buildup or tartar, both of which cause bad breath. Both problems require a professional cleaning to improve the breath and to avoid serious problems, such as:

  • Tooth loss
  • Abscesses
  • Bacterial infection

If your dog has internal problems, your veterinarian can advise you on treatment.

Brush Your Dog's Teeth

A dog is about to get his teeth brushed.

Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

The easiest way to keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh once you’ve remedied the cause is to brush his teeth daily. You can use a special dog toothbrush, or you can clean your dog’s teeth with your finger wrapped in gauze.

Always use special dog toothpaste, which differs from human toothpaste. Dogs don’t spit out toothpaste, so dog toothpaste is safe when swallowed. Human toothpaste could upset a dog’s stomach. Plus, dog toothpaste comes in flavors that appeal to dogs, such as chicken, peanut butter and liver. Or you could make a paste with baking soda mixed with water.

Provide Chews

Two dogs are playing with a chew toy.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Chewing helps prevent plaque buildup. Encourage your dog to chew by providing a chew designed to reduce plaque. You can determine which chews are the most beneficial by checking whether they’re approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. To be approved, chews must reduce plaque by at least 10 percent, according to WebMD. Some types of chews to get include rawhide chews, dental chews, dog biscuits and dog chew toys.

Watch What Your Dog Eats

A dog is playing tug of war.

Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images

Bad breath could result from a dog eating feces or trash. Monitor your dog to determine whether she eats unsuitable material. If she eats trash, make sure your garbage is contained so your dog can’t get to it.

Dogs sometimes eat feces if they detect undigested food in it. Dogs also might eat feces if they saw their mother eating their feces, a cleaning act mother dogs sometimes do.

If your dog eats feces, be vigilant about cleaning your yard frequently. To stop the behavior, veterinarian Dr. Sherry Weaver says on Cesar’sWay to cover the stool with hot sauce.