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How to Cure Crazy Bad Dog Breath

By Colleen Williams
published: August 6, 2015 - updated: March 22, 2022 • 3 min. read
How to Cure Crazy Bad Dog Breath

Key Takeaways

  • Poor dental hygiene is the main cause of dogs’ bad breath.
  • Teething in puppies and gastrointestinal issues can cause bad breath.
  • There are safe and easy at-home remedies for bad dog breath.
  • Brushing your dog’s teeth is a great way to prevent bad breath.
  • Dry (vs. wet) dog food and dental chew products can help a dog’s breath too.

You love your dog, but you don’t love his terribly stinky breath. Dogs’ noxious breath is so notorious that it’s an insult – you might say “Get lost, dog breath!” to a bad date – but lucky for pet parents, it’s relatively easy to cure. But first, you have to get to the root of the cause.

What’s causing your dog’s bad breath?

cure bad dog breath

The number one cause of bad breath in dogs, also called halitosis, is poor dental hygiene. A whopping 99 percent of pet parents say they don’t brush their dog’s teeth regularly – and yes, you’re supposed to! There are a variety of reasons pet parents neglect to brush a dog’s teeth – we’re not judging! – including time, aggression, lack of knowledge, or their dog just plain refuses. We admit that brushing a dog’s teeth takes some know-how, skill and patience, but it can pay off big time.

About 80 percent of pets over three years old have periodontal disease, a fancy word for gingivitis, which is another fancy word for inflammatory gum disease. When you don’t brush your dog’s teeth – or your own – plaque collect, attracting bacteria who are responsible for the bad smells. Advanced teeth cleaning can run from $300 to $900, depending on your dog’s size, age and the severity of periodontal disease. Other oral diseases, tumors and abscessed teeth can also lead to bad breath in dogs. If the stench is bad enough to literally make you gag, run – don’t walk – your pup to the vet!

Protect your pet

When is bad breath in dogs normal?

puppy bad breath

Believe it or not, there are some times when it’s perfectly normal for a dog to have bad breath. Teething puppies tend to collect bad-smelling bacteria along their gum lines as new teeth crowd in. Again, this problem is easily cured and fairly temporary. Another culprit behind dogs’ bad breath can be burps, which are usually caused by a gastrointestinal issue. Medical conditions that cause bloating are usually accompanied by noxious burps; examples include gastric dilatation volvulus, peritonitis, and intestinal obstructions. As always, if you notice any sudden, unusual changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance, see your vet immediately.

What if there’s no reason my dog’s breath stinks?

You lucky dog – no vet bills for you, although hopefully you have pet insurance. There are a few at-home bad breath remedies for dogs:

  • Get the good stuff. Even if your vet determines no underlying cause behind your dog’s bad breath, she may still be able to give you prescription-strength food, treats, oral sprays, or water additives to freshen the problem. If not, you can easily purchase prescription dog food and other products online.
  • Give him something to chew on. Greenies for Dogs are the best-known dog dental treats, but other flavors and styles may be more to your pet’s liking. Even providing old-fashioned chew toys or rawhide treats is a great way to maintain your dog’s dental health. Never give your dog cooked bones, which can splinter and severely damage the stomach and intestines.
  • Try switching to dry food. Wet dog food can get stuck between teeth and is more smelly to begin with. In addition to being cheaper, dry dog food works in the same manner as chew toys to dislodge “snacks for later.”
  • Make all-natural dog breath mints. Give your pup some parsley to chew on, which works to freshen breath. Carrots are another dog-approved veggie that can work to remove plaque and tartar on teeth, which cause dogs’ bad breath.

How can I prevent bad dog breath?

brush dogs teeth

We’re just going to say it one more time – brush your dog’s teeth! Ideally daily, but we propose pet parents start by brushing their dog’s teeth weekly and building it into the routine. Start incorporating the above treatments into your dog’s daily life and bad breath will never be an issue. Feed your dog a dry diet balanced in meats, grains and veggies while providing plenty of chew toys or other dental care products. At yearly vet appointments, make sure the vet checks your dog’s teeth and consider getting an estimate for a teeth cleaning procedure – often they require saving up for, and purely cosmetic cleanings are not covered by pet insurance.

(Featured image via

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colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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