January 31, 2023

At some point in life, every person on the planet has experienced bad breath. A majority of the time, it is simply a minor inconvenience and something that may temporarily keep others at a distance. It is much the same with your pet, and for many dogs, doggie breath is just a natural part of life. Before you reach for the Altoids, though, it’s important to understand the causes of your pet’s halitosis.

What Is Bad Breath?

Also known as halitosis, malodorous breath is the result of bacteria, food particles, plaque, tartar, and other dental issues. In humans, foul breath is generally a temporary state, nothing that can’t be eliminated with toothpaste, mouthwash, or a mint. In dogs, the cause is the same, but it could be a sign of more serious health issues that deserve immediate attention.

Doggie Dental Hygiene

Dogs need much the same care as human beings do when it comes to teeth and gums. Doggie toothpaste is widely available at pet supply stores, and brushing your pet’s teeth every day — or at least every other day — can help him avoid more serious and painful dental complications. If your dog has persistent plaque or gingivitis, he might require a professional cleaning as part of his grooming ritual, usually a fairly quick and painless procedure for most dogs. Keep your dog’s breath fresh by feeding him treats and bones specifically designed for healthy teeth and gums.

Chewing is one of the best solutions for doggie dental issues. Chewing on bones, rawhides, and chew toys is not only a relaxing activity for most dogs, it helps build stronger teeth and jaws. In addition, the process of chewing gets rid of plaque and tartar buildup, issues that often lead to bad breath.


Diet plays a huge role in controlling your pet’s bad breath. Always feed your dog higher-quality dog food, as they use less fillers and are more nutritionally well-balanced than most extremely inexpensive alternatives. Be sure your pet is not having any digestive issues as a result of his diet, as these can often lead to bad breath, among many other noticeable side effects. Many types of human food are actually not easily digested by dogs, so resist the temptation to feed your four-legged friend your leftovers to help keep his bad breath under control.

Many doggie treats are specifically designed to help control bad breath and promote overall dental health. These taste just as good to dogs as any other treat, so be sure to throw them to your pet on occasion.

When Bad Breath Is More Serious

If your dog’s bad breath doesn’t seem to go away, it’s time to take a trip to the veterinarian. If you notice your furry friend’s breath smells overly sweet or a bit like fruit, your pet could be suffering from diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can have serious health consequences in animals, just like in humans, so it’s important to get your pet diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Diseases of the kidneys, liver, and intestinal blockages and parasites can also cause persistently unpleasant breath, and may be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Your Vet Can Help

For pet parents that are concerned about persistent bad breath, a trip to the veterinarian is the best solution. Vets are trained to spot the differences in the causes and types of bad breath that affect dogs, and know what your dog’s breath is supposed to smell like. Most pet parents find it hard to tell the difference between doggie breath, which is naturally off-putting to human beings, and problematic bad breath.

Of course, the vet will do more than simply smell Rover’s breath to diagnose what’s going on to cause it. The vet will most likely ask you questions about your dog’s general health, eating habits, diet, and exercise level. He may even wish to perform a blood test to rule out any physical causes of halitosis.

Don’t Stress Out

Most of the time, halitosis is simply an overgrowth of bacteria that lives in the mouth. If a professional teeth cleaning and a few doggie treats get rid of your puppy’s bad breath, there’s likely little reason to be concerned. After all, he might not like your breath too much in the morning, either.