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Dog Breath Stinks: Tips for Treatment and Prevention

There are simple ways to prevent and treat bad breath in dogs once you have determined the underlying cause, such as using toothpaste or dental treats.

Pet parent brushing the side of a dog's teeth with a finger brush

Caring for your dog’s teeth is a crucial part of routine care! Dogs can’t brush their own teeth, unfortunately, so that part is left to us. Over 80% of dogs above the age of three have active dental disease. Small breed dogs are especially prone to dental disease. What can we do as pet parents to help prevent dental disease? The best way is with routine brushing and routine dental check-ups by your veterinarian.

Dental disease might not sound all that bad, but just think about when you have a sore tooth. It can be quite painful for our furry companions, too! Dental disease, when left untreated, can also affect vital organs, such as the heart and the kidneys. Prevention is the best medicine, so let's talk about some of the great dental products that are on the market today that make dental care as easy as possible.

Choosing the Right Dog Bad Breath Remedy

If you notice your dog’s breath suddenly smells terrible, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t something more serious, like a tooth root abscess or an oronasal fistula going on. Once they get an ok from your vet, it’s time to start at-home care. All of these methods below work best at preventing plaque and tartar buildup and may not be able to remove any debris already caked onto the teeth. Your vet may recommend a dental cleaning under anesthesia to get them fresh and clean.

Dog Safe Toothpaste

Never use human toothpaste on pets! Some human toothpaste contains a sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Dog-safe toothpaste is safe for your pets while still improving their oral health. In addition, toothpaste for dogs can come in different flavors that dogs may like, making the cleaning process easier for both pet parents and pets. 

Dog-safe toothpaste improves overall canine oral health that can also help avoid a bad smell. They are designed to fight bad breath and tartar buildup that can lead to gingivitis or other bacterial issues. While it is not necessary to use dog toothpaste twice a day like humans, cleaning your dog’s teeth up to three times a week can give them healthier, cleaner breath that doesn’t smell every time they pant.

How to use a pet toothbrush

The dual-ended toothbrush has one larger side for large dogs, and a smaller side for small dogs and cats. Apply a pea- to marble-sized amount to the desired side of the brush. Gently brush all sides of the teeth, if possible. Be careful not to irritate the gums with rough brushing. For the best results, brush daily.

How to use the finger brush: Apply a pea- to marble-sized amount to the bristled area of the finger brush, depending on the size of your pet, and put the brush over your finger. Use the finger brush just as you would use the toothbrush. With this method, use caution so that your pet doesn’t bite your finger in an attempt to eat the tasty toothpaste! 

If you cannot find a pet toothbrush, use a soft bristled toothbrush for large dogs, and a child’s toothbrush for small dogs and cats. 

Dental Treats and Chews

If brushing doesn’t seem like a good option for you and your pet, try dental treats, chews, or food. The best dental treats have a Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval on the package. Here are a few VOHC-approved dental chews:

Dental treats are best given daily. Though they don’t produce the same results as daily brushing, they are the next best thing. While we care for our pets’ dental health at home, this should never replace the need for dental exams by veterinarians. Pets should still have their teeth checked at least once a year to ensure there are no issues beneath the gum line.