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I share my life with a pack of super-affectionate dogs who love bestowing kisses — and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings by refusing a sloppy smooch, I’m motivated to keep their mouths healthy and halitosis-free. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few home remedies for bad dog breath that really work.
1. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
Bad dog breath isn’t normal. In fact, bad dog breath is actually a sign of an unhealthy mouth. Left untreated, sick teeth and gums quickly lead to life-threatening health problems. So please, brush your dog’s teeth regularly— at least once a week.
If you have a dog with a small, pushed-in face or a brachycephalic dog, such as a Shih Tzu, you really need to be brushing those teeth every single day, because the conformation of their little mouths leaves them extra-vulnerable to decay. Ply your pets with treats to help them associate tooth torture with tasty treats, and use toothpaste made just for dogs. Pick a paste with a flavor you actually like — vanilla-flavored Triple-Pet toothpaste with tea tree oil is a great choice ($6.23, Chewy).
2. Dental chews help keep bad dog breath at bay — just know which ones to choose.
Dispensing a delicious dental chew lets your dog help you do some of the work to stave off bad dog breath. Not all dog dental chews are created equal, however: Look for one that contains breath-freshening chlorophyll, cinnamon and clove. (Don’t freak out when you notice your dog’s poop is a bit on the greenish side — that’s just the chlorophyll doing its green thing.)
3. Speaking of chlorophyll, wheatgrass is another good home remedy
I clip off some of the fresh wheatgrass I give my cats and add it to the dogs’ food. That raw source of chlorophyll is an excellent remedy for bad dog breath.
4. Dogs can also drink bad dog breath away.
Chewing isn’t the only way pets can polish up their own teeth. Dogs can also drink their way to fresh-smelling breath with Healthy Mouth Dental Water, an all-natural cocktail made of enzymes, chlorophyll and other ingredients designed to blast away bad dog breath. Simply replace your pup’s regular drinking water with Healthy Mouth-spiked wet stuff, and you’ll notice a difference within days, as the active ingredients work to kill bad bacteria in the mouth.
Yikes! Dealing with bad breath yourself? Check out these bad breath remedies >>
5. Probiotics are another line of defense against bad dog breath.
Speaking of bad bacteria, you’ll want to be sure that your dog’s mouth is populated with beneficial bacteria that way outnumber the harmful, halitosis-causing kind. That’s where probiotics come in. Use a probiotic made especially for dogs, and you’ll notice a big difference — not just in keeping that bad dog breath at bay, but in your dog’s overall well-being.
(Helpful hint: Probiotics are also great for keeping human breath smelling sweet — take them every single day and you’ll swiftly see results. Oragenics, maker of EvoraPet, is a great brand for both pets and people.)
6. Coconut oil can help with bad dog breath.
Ah, coconut oil. It doesn’t just boost digestive, immune system and metabolic functions — it also helps to combat bad dog breath. Put a lovin’ teaspoonful over your dog’s food every single day, and you’ll soon sniff sweeter breath— plus dogs love the taste; for them, coconut oil is a sweet treat. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with coconut oil, making the chore an offer even ornery canines can’t refuse!
7. Neem is another good home remedy for bad dog breath.
Like coconut oil, neem (an extract of the neem tree) is one of those brilliant botanicals that have many positive effects on dog (and human) health. Besides being great for the skin and coat, neem is also excellent for promoting oral health in hounds and humans. My dogs take Supercritical Neem Leaf Extract by Organix-South; I add one little black capsule to their food twice weekly and take one every day myself.
8. Cinnamon is another common household item that will freshen up dog breath.
I add a sprinkle of breath-sweetening cinnamon to my dogs’ meals at every feeding.
Thumbnail: Photography © vadimguzhva | Thinkstock.
This piece was originally published in 2015.