Does your dog's breath knock you out as you enter the room?
Don't worry. You're not the first pet parent with a dog whose kisses literally rob them of breath. The important thing is to recognize there is a problem and takes steps to correct it.
To do this, work out what's causing the bad breath or halitosis. Yes, dirty teeth are the most common explanation, but it can also be due to doggy dining habits or metabolic disease which causes waste products to build up and spill over as bad breath.
To work out the cause, lift your dog's lip and examine their mouth. Telltale signs of teeth trouble include brown tartar deposits on the teeth, sore inflamed gums, and mouth ulcers.
Also, think about when the problem is worst. Does the halitosis happen after feeding - in which case it could be food related.
Finally, has the dog started drinking more lately or has their appetite changed? If this is the case, then get a vet check-up as the dog may have metabolic disease such a kidney disease or diabetes.
Here's what you can do to beat that bad breath naturally.
#1: Dousing Dodgy Breath
Consider using a natural recipe to create a bespoke doggy mouthwash.
Lemon: Acidic citrus fruits, like lemon, have a natural antibacterial action. This helps reduce the numbers of bacteria in the mouth, which in turn reduces plaque formation and bad breath. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your dog's water bowl, to give their breath a boost.
Parsley: The chlorophyll in parsley has an odor neutralizing effect. If your pooch won't chew on parsley, try adding some freshly chopped parsley to their food. Alternatively, steep a bunch of parsley in half a liter of water, and then use this as a spritz spray mouthwash.
Carrots: The beta carotene in carrots has great antioxidant properties that reduces the damage done by free radicals and inflammation. Also, chewing on carrot sticks between meals encourages salivation, which helps wash away food debris and make the mouth a cleaner place.
#2: Reduce Gastric-related Ghastly Breath
What the dog eats can have a huge impact on halitosis. For example, wet food tends to generate worse breath than dry, so you may wish to change from cans to kibble. The latter also has a moderate cleaning effect on the teeth, whilst canned food tends to stick.
Meat-rich diets: Look for a food with a named meat as the main ingredient. Also steer clear of foods high in soy - which ferments in the gut with windy after effects! Also, beware of fish and fish meal - these are guaranteed to turn even the freshest breath into something offensive.
Coconut oil: Anecdotally, pet parents find that adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to their dog's food aids digestion and reduces bad breath. However, be aware that coconut oil is heavy in calories, so if your pet struggles with their weight, this might not be for them.
Brown rice: The fiber and antioxidants in brown rice make for a healthier digestive tract and fewer bad smells at either end!)
#3: Preventing Poor Breath
Better dental health reduces the risk of halitosis. Here's how to keep those teeth in tip top condition.
Tooth brushing: There's no substitute for daily tooth brushing as a way to keep teeth clean. Use a pet toothbrush or soft child's toothbrush. You can just dampen the brush with water, since elbow grease alone has a cleaning effect. Alternatively, use a pet toothpaste (never use human toothpaste) and add a little coriander for extra fresh breath
Chews: Give your dog natural chews to give those chompers a daily workout and rub away food debris.
And last but not least, if your dog has dental disease then always consult with your vet. Heavy tartar deposits are rich sources of bacteria. If the gums become traumatized (by chewing or brushing) this can provide an entry point for bacteria into the bloodstream. It's always best to get the mouth professionally descaled first, so you can start their new regime without the risk of complications.