Bad odor from your dog's mouth is not just unpleasant -- it can also be a warning that your dog has a health issue that needs to be addressed. Some of the causes of bad breath in dogs include tooth decay, plaque, tartar, gum disease, gastrointestinal infections, kidney disease, sinus infections and mouth cancer. Sometimes bad breath in dogs is simply a result of having old food stuck between their teeth. Whatever the cause, you can help improve your dog's breath.
Take your dog to see a veterinarian. Have the veterinarian determine if your dog simply needs better dental hygiene, or if there is a more serious cause of the odor, such as mouth cancer. Ask the veterinarian to clean your dog's teeth, and get advice for follow-up home care.
Brush your dog's teeth daily at home. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or finger brush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. Purchase dog toothpaste in a flavor that your dog likes, such as beef or chicken. Let your dog sniff the paste first. Do not hold the dog down and force its mouth open. If you create a traumatic experience, it will resist you more next time and teeth brushing will become a difficult task. Instead, approach it slowly and with patience. Even if you are unable to complete a brushing on your first attempt, if you gently persist every day, once your dog is used to the idea it will be easy for you both.
Feed your dog crunchy food, not wet food. Do not soften the crunchy food with water, or mix wet food with crunchy. Dog food that is wet or soft is more likely to stick to teeth and cause bad breath.
Give your dog teeth-cleaning treats. Hard cookies and raw carrots are a good choice. Crunchy edible treats help scrape residual food off of teeth, which prevents bacteria and tartar buildup. Dog chew toys -- which you can purchase at a pet supply store -- can also help clean your dog's teeth.