How to Fix Your Dog's Bad Breath

Even at its best, dog breath is far from minty fresh. Dealing with not-so-fresh breath is part of being a pet parent! But especially bad dog breath can be a warning sign of a bigger problem, like gum disease or potentially fatal abscesses.


Before you learn how to fix bad dog breath, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place. Bad breath begins with plaque and tartar buildup. Heavy buildup can cause gum problems in your dog’s mouth, and the bacteria from these problems can circulate in the system. If left untreated, this can lead to pneumonia or heart, liver, or kidney problems, which could be deadly.


One of the ways you can help prevent bad breath in your dog (and the oral problems that come with it) is to brush their teeth. Establishing a dog dental care routine can help to slow or prevent plaque and tartar buildup. This buildup is not only what causes bad breath in dogs but is also a factor in gum disease developing. Therefore, brushing your dog’s teeth to keep plaque and tartar under control is key!


First, find a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Never use human toothpaste on your dog, as it usually contains fluoride that can be harmful if swallowed. Dog toothpaste typically comes in a dog-friendly flavor like chicken or liver, which your dog will like way more than the minty flavor of human toothpaste. If you’re brushing your dog’s teeth for the first time, flavored toothpaste may make it easier, as they'll enjoy the taste and may be more willing to cooperate.

You can find dog toothpaste and toothbrushes at your local pet supply store. Some dog toothbrushes are very similar to human toothbrushes, and some are just a small plastic device covered with bristles that fits over your finger. Choose whichever brush makes you and your dog most comfortable.

No matter your dog's age, try to make tooth brushing stress-free, if not enjoyable. Start by just rubbing a couple of teeth at a time. Brush the teeth in a circular motion, paying special attention to the area near the gums. Stop cleaning if your dog starts to pull away. Reward them when they hold still and remember to be patient. In the beginning, it may take you a week to clean your dog’s entire mouth. Over time, as your dog gets more used to their dental routine, the process will get easier.

Brushing your dog’s teeth even once a week will help slow plaque and tartar buildup, but try to do it more if you can. The more you brush, the better their breath will smell.


Yes! If you’re wondering how to fix bad dog breath without much effort on your part, giving your dog plenty of chewing activities is a great option to supplement your dental routine. In addition to brushing your dog’s teeth, giving them natural chews such as beef hide can also help remove plaque and tartar. As with any chew treat or bone you give to your dog, make sure it is the appropriate size and strength.

Some chew toys are made specifically for dog dental health. Look for chews and treats with textures that will help scrape away the plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth as they chew. Hard, crunchy dog biscuits and dry food can also help, although you can’t rely on those alone.


If tartar has already built up on your dog’s teeth, home brushing and beef hide chews may not be enough to fix the problem. You may need to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have a professional cleaning. A professional cleaning will leave your dog with fresh breath and clean teeth. After that, it’s your job to maintain a dog dental routine with regular brushing, natural chews, chew toys, and crunchy treats.

Hello, Fresher Breath

The first step in figuring out how to fix your dog’s bad breath is simply knowing what makes it stink! Check. Now, as with most pet parenting duties, a routine is key. Between brushing your dog’s teeth and offering them plenty of natural chews, better-smelling days are ahead.

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