You know you should brush your dog’s teeth frequently, and you do your best to do it, but the reality is that your dog’s dental care just doesn’t happen on the regular. The result? A buildup of nasty tartar and less-than-fresh dog breath. While nothing beats ongoing dental upkeep in conjunction with veterinary oral health exams, the following tips can help to keep your dog’s mouth smelling cleaner in between brushings:
Although a dog’s mouth is usually the epicenter of foul odors, a dog’s digestive system can also impact breath. Probiotics assist in the growth of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s intestinal track, which in turn aids in digestion and prevents lingering odors. According to Dr. Christina Moore of Thrive Affordable Vet Care, the main cause of bad breath, especially chronic bad breath in dogs, is bacteria that inhabits the mouth as well as further down in the GI tract. Moore says that probiotics are a natural way to help the body defend itself against bad bacteria, including the bacteria that causes bad breath.
Bones are an excellent way to keep dogs constructively busy, but did you also know that the right kinds of bones can help to keep your dog’s mouth healthy? Bones that are hard enough to stand up to a dog’s powerful jaws without breaking or splintering and can assist in scraping off the superficial buildup that occurs in between regular tooth brushing.
Additionally, you don’t have to invest in bones marketed as dental dog treats to get the better breath benefits. Look for natural marrow bones packaged for dogs at your local pet store or raw marrow bones from a trusted source. Keep an eye on your dog as he works on the bone, as aggressive chewers run the risk of accidentally splintering teeth, and make sure to size the bone so that your dog can’t swallow it.
What you feed your dog every day can impact what you deal with on both ends. Feeding your dog the wrong kind of dog food can lead to any number of digestive challenges, including loose stool, excessive gas, and yes, even bad breath. Foods with low-quality ingredients can negatively impact your dog’s overall health, so keep away from dog foods with meat byproducts instead of named protein sources and foods that have artificial colors and sweeteners. Investing in a top-quality food that agrees with your dog will keep his stool solid, his skin and coat odor-free and his breath and mouth healthy.
Ever hear of the old first date trick of using the parsley garnish on your plate to clean your breath before the end-of-the-night kiss? It works for dogs as well! The chlorophyll in parsley makes it a healthy and natural breath freshener that can be easily incorporated right into your dog’s daily meals. Simply chop up a small amount of curly leaf parsley and mix it in with your dog’s food (roughly one teaspoon to ten pounds of body weight). This natural deodorizer is an inexpensive way to make your dog’s kisses just a little bit sweeter, and can also be mixed into breath-healthy biscuits for your pup.
Coconut oil can soothe your dog’s allergies, speed wound healing, improve your dog’s skin and coat, assist digestion, and help control bad breath as well. Adding coconut oil to your dog’s food every day, either a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight or a tablespoon per thirty pounds, is a great way for your dog to get a variety of health benefits, including a fresher mouth. And dogs love the taste of coconut oil, so your furry best friend will enjoy this “tropical toothpaste.”
Your dog can get a breath boost by snacking on healthy goodies from the fridge. Crunchy natural snacks like carrots or celery are abrasive enough to work away superficial buildup, and most dogs love the taste. You can also make jerky-style treats by cutting sweet potatoes into wide strips, sprinkling them with parsley and cooking them on a low temperature in the oven until the strips begin to dry out. This chewy treat will keep your dog happy and his teeth and gums healthy.
It’s important to note that chronic bad breath might be a symptom of a health problem, whether in your dog’s mouth or internal organs. Talk to your veterinarian before pursuing natural breath freshening options to ensure your dog isn’t dealing with undiagnosed illness.
Victoria Schade is a dog trainer, author & speaker who has contributed to The Washington Post, Martha Stewart, and other publications.