This article originally appeared on Ollie, a dog food startup providing your pup a tailored meal with human-grade ingredients.
When it takes a thesaurus to describe the horror of your dog’s breath, perhaps what you need are fewer adjectives and more solutions. That odor (aside from being a major licking slash kissing deterrent) can be an indicator of potential health problems such as dental and kidney disease—or a sign of a less-than-nutritious diet, so it’s important to pay attention to the stench. (As if you could ignore it!) In addition to regularly brushing your pup’s teeth and gums, we’ve got a handful of home remedies that can help:
Carrots and Apples
Tartar on teeth leads to bacteria that stinks, but reaching that tarter—particularly on the back teeth and along the gum line—can be a tough job for a doggy toothbrush. A daily snack of crunchy carrots or apples can help clean those hard-to-reach teeth (while simultaneously serving as a healthy treat.)
Kong Treat with Toothpaste
If your dog won’t cooperate for a traditional teeth brushing session while you sing the alphabet, a next-best alternative is smearing a thin layer of natural toothpaste in and on a Kong or similar toy. As your dog licks and chews, the action can mimic brushing. You can even crush this Martha Stewart-style and make your own natural toothpaste.
Mint and Parsley
Those bright fresh herbs you’re chopping up for dinner? Sprinkle some in the dog bowl too. Not only are both of these herbs natural breath deodorants, the chlorophyll that makes them bright green fights stinky bacteria in the mouth and in the digestive system, too.
Clean teeth and gums can’t make up for an unhealthy gut, a common culprit when it comes to bad breath. Probiotics support the good bacteria in the body and many dog-friendly human foods are a good source: Yogurt, kefir, bananas and honey all boast natural probiotic properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar
You and your cycling class posse aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a tap water upgrade. A half teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in your dog’s water bowl is a natural disinfectant and a great way to lap up better breath. (Most dogs actually like the taste!)
Speaking of your dog’s water bowl, it’s a breeding ground for smelly bacteria buildup invisible to the eye. Thoroughly wash and dry your dog’s water dish every day before refilling it with clean H2O several times.
This multi-purpose oil is quickly becoming a favorite cure-all, and now you can add “fights bad dog breath” to its list of superpowers. A spoonful of this healthy fat for your dog is a sweet treat that aids digestion and immune system function. It makes a great toothpaste alternative, too.