Banish Dog Breath: 4 Tips to Improve Canine Mouth Health

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There are few things in this world more adorable than slobbery kisses from your pooch. But that breath is a whole different beast. 

When it comes to curing bad doggy breath, there are a number of common misconceptions. For one, it turns out that dogs mouths’ aren’t in fact cleaner than humans. Darn. While dogs’ mouths are affected by a different type of harmful bacteria than us humans (human mouths contain P. gingivitis while dogs have P. gulae), they both eat away at the gums and will eventually lead to cavities. 

Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is a great place to start, but there are actually a wide range of strategies to improve the health of your dog's mouth (and their breath, too). Without further ado, here’s our list of suggestions for improving the smell of those doggy kisses:

1. Get your dog a toothbrush — and use it!

You can find puppy toothbrushes with longer handles for larger breeds and ones that fit over your index finger for smaller dogs. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, start by pressing a damp washcloth against their gums to get them used to the sensation. Start slow when you introduce the brush and don’t be discouraged if you can only get to a few teeth at a time at first. Your dog will gradually become accustomed to the sensation. Use a 45 degree angle near the gum line, completing small back-and-forth circular motions.

2. Cut the kibble

Consider a switch to raw dog food as the enzymes can help fortify dogs’ teeth and gums. While it may be more of a pain compared to easy to pour and store kibble, raw food can also provide your dog with a number of health benefits like firmer stools, improved digestion, healthier skin and coat, and weight management. This is because it more closely mimics the traditional ancestral diet. Check out Dog Advisor’s list of suggested raw dog foods here.

3. Introduce beneficial, non-toxic “human foods”

There are a number of traditionally human foods which can benefit the mouth health of your pup. One Green Planet has some great tips. Cinnamon, for example, is non-toxic to dogs and cats and can help eliminate bacteria in the mouth (is there anything cinnamon CAN’T do? #superfood). Adding a few spoonfuls of coconut oil to your pet's food can also help reduce bad breath while also improving coat/skin health and digestion due to its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Consider feeding your dog fresh fruits, veggies and herbs—such as celery, carrots, apples, and parsley — to clean teeth and stimulate the gums. Take a peek at Paws For Reaction's list of fruits and veggies that are dog-safe and chock full of healthy benefits.

4. Don’t ignore lingering bad odors

If your dog’s breath does not improve with brushing, it could be an indicator of a more serious issue. Dog’s saliva is very alkaline when compared to human saliva, which is why Fido is more likely to develop problems such as tooth decay and tooth loss than us humans. Bad breath can also be an indicator of other problems such as gastrointestinal issues (acid reflux or enlargement of the esophagus). If you’re concerned about lingering odor, make sure to discuss it with your vet.

Follow these tips and you’ll be back on track to fresher, healthier kisses in no time — what a win/win! If you have any tips or treats you’ve found successfully improved your dog’s breath, feel free to leave them in the comments and add to the discussion!