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7 Natural Remedies to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath

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Image credit: Maxwell Mason

They say that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’, but no dog parent who’s ever been on the receiving end of an odiferous kiss from their bad-breathed pooch would ever believe that! 

As it turns out, that myth isn’t true, anyway; neither species has a particularly clean mouth. On the contrary, both dogs’ and people’s mouths are jam-packed with microbes, some of which we actually share, like the bacteria family called Porphyromonas. Those are the pesky germs responsible for causing gingivitis in both species. And just as this dental issue can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss and halitosis in humans, it can do the same to dogs.

Luckily, there is a fairly wide range of holistic, natural home remedies that can help freshen Fido’s breath — and make those doggy kisses a lot more pleasant! 

Let’s take a closer look. (Keep in mind, before incorporating any new foods into your dog’s diet, consult with a veterinarian or professional)

First Things First: Get to the Root of Your Dog’s Bad Breath

All canines come down with a case of stank mouth occasionally — given some of the gross substances that your dog eats, or tries to eat, it’s a wonder the problem isn’t worse. If you feel like fainting every time your dog opens his mouth, however, it could be symptomatic of a more serious issue. And even if it is poor oral hygiene or periodontal disease to blame, you may need to take action. 

“Identifying the root cause of the bad breath is an important factor to consider in your dog’s overall health,” says Johnna Devereaux, clinical pet nutritionist, director of nutrition and wellness at Bow Wow Labs and owner of Fetch RI. “An oral exam should be conducted by a veterinarian to ensure there is no gum disease or decaying teeth that may need extraction.”

Other potential problems include kidney disease, poor gut microflora and a diet that’s less than optimal, so before you give the following natural treatments a try, schedule a check-up with your vet to get the all-clear.

But there are some things you can do on a daily basis to not only be proactive with preventative care but also just ensure your pup doesn’t have a case of dog breath. 

Here are seven natural ways to stop your dog’s bad breath.

1. Are Fruits and Veggies Nature’s Toothbrushes?

Plenty of dog moms and dads feed their furries apples and carrots, based on the notion that these super-crunchy snacks scrub away plaque on the teeth. It’s true that munching on hard fruits and vegetables can stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, thereby washing away some of the accumulated bacteria. But Devereaux urges that you err on the side of caution when feeding fruit and vegetables. 

“The problem is two-fold,” she explains. First, pet parents are liable to overfeed carrots and apples and rely on them to take care of oral hygiene issues. Secondly, “apples and carrots are both high in starch and fructose, which can feed an underlying issue with yeast that may be present in animals with poor digestive health.”

If you really want to clean out your crisper drawer while cleaning your dog’s teeth, Devereaux suggests celery. “Celery not only promotes saliva but also can have a slight flossing effect on the teeth — and it is low in starch and high in moisture, making it a win-win for the dog.”

2. Give Your Pooch Some Probiotics

You probably incorporate probiotics into your own diet, noshing on pickles or kimchi or adding yogurt to your daily smoothie. So why not do the same for your canine companion? 

In dogs as well as in people, probiotics are beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that serve to aid in digestion and keep the immune system humming healthily along. Some of the most common probiotic bacteria strains are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, and Enterococcus.

You can find probiotic supplements specifically formulated for canine health, including our Bye, Bye Dog Breath Dental Sticks, or switch to a dog food that incorporates them.

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Alternatively, treat your pupper to some kefir or yogurt with live cultures to put the “fido” in Bifidobacteria and serve up an effective home remedy for curing your dog’s bad breath.

Related: How the Gut Impacts Your Dog’s Breath — and What to Do About It

3. Peppermint and Parsley, the Bacteria-Busting Herbs

After a meal or before a big date, people often turn to peppermint for its breath-freshening properties. It can provide the same benefits for your pooch.

“In its natural state, it can help ease digestive upset and calm the digestive tract, as well as being rich in antioxidants that may be helpful in fighting bad breath,” explains Devereaux. 

She also recommends that you choose organic, locally grown mint whenever possible. There are also drops, including Natural Breath Drops for Pets with Chlorophyll & Peppermint Essential Oil, that you give directly to your dog, put on treats or in a water bowl. As it’s an easy herb to grow indoors or out, why not plant some yourself? That way you’ll ensure a steady supply for Rover’s breath — and your mojitos!

Parsley is effective for the same reasons as mint; its fresh flavor deodorizes smelly breath, while its beautiful bright-green hue indicates the presence of chlorophyll, a powerful bacteria-fighting compound that will rid your house of dog bad breath. (Our Bye, Bye Dog Breath Dental Sticks also have parsley and chlorophyll.)

Add dried peppermint or parsley directly to your dog’s dinner, or steep either herb to make a tea and incorporate that into the meal. Whatever you do, steer clear of peppermint essential oil, which is one of many essential oils that are toxic to dogs.

4. Aloe Vera is Very Good

Do you have an aloe vera plant on your windowsill? If not, it’s time to get one. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties for you and your pets, and it’s easy to use. Simply snip off a tip of the plants’ thick leaves and apply the gel-like substance inside to soothe and heal burns, insect bites, minor cuts, eczema, and even acne. 

When it comes to dogs, aloe vera gel works well on their skin issues too, including itching and hot spots. Aloe also may also be a good choice for treating the GI-tract troubles that can lead to stinky breath. 

“Aloe vera is chock full of enzymes that help cleanse and maintain the digestive system,” says Devereaux. “It also has lots of antiseptic properties, which make it a great oral cleanser.”

Ask your vet to recommend an all-natural product containing aloe vera if you want to use it for digestive issues. For your canine’s canines, apply the gel directly, preferably right before bed, to help loosen plaque.  

5. Spirulina: A Solution From the Sea

In the past decade or so, plenty of vegetables, berries, and other plant matter have been lauded as “superfoods.” Some live up to their hype, while others devolve into clickbait-article fodder (“This Woman Lost 75 lbs. By Eating One Weird Food!”). And then there’s spirulina — a superfood that’s stood the test of time.   

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Also known as blue-green algae, spirulina really packs a nutritional punch. It boasts 60 percent protein and has high concentrations of B complex vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Spirulina is also rich in chlorophyll, which has been scientifically shown to be an effective defense against certain microbes.

There are supplements out there, including Wholistic Pet Organics, that are chock-full of spirulina. Start with very small amounts of this concentrated cyanobacteria mixed into their food or water to help your pup get the right nutrients to cure them of their bad breath. 

6. A Steady Supply of Fresh Water

Speaking of water, did you know that your dog’s water dish is ground zero for bacteria of the harmful variety? It might seem silly to wash and dry the dish before refilling it with fresh water, but that’s exactly what you should do, on the daily, to prevent bacteria from building up. 

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If you drink filtered water, you should probably provide it for your animal friends as well. Tap water can be filled with contaminants, while bottled water is an expensive environmental nightmare. Invest in a faucet-mounted filter or a filter pitcher, and don’t forget to change the filters regularly.

7. Coconut Oil Comes to the Rescue

Is there anything that coconut oil can’t do? This versatile substance had a moment in the spotlight a few years back, but even if it’s no longer super trendy, it still provides the same benefits today. For dogs, those benefits include sweeter breath, better digestion, increased levels of energy, healthier skin, a softer and shinier coat and even the potential to slow cognitive dysfunction. 

Buy high-quality, organic, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil if you plan on using this as a home remedy for your dog’s bad breath. For dosing, start out slow, with ¼ tsp. for smaller dogs, 1 tsp. for medium breeds, and 1 tbsp. for the big dogs (but again consult with a veterinarian before you add). Most dogs will eagerly lick it right off the spoon. Feed this amount once or twice each day, but watch your pooch’s weight — this is oil, after all, with a high fat content. You can also incorporate the coconut oil into homemade dog treats, or use as a natural toothpaste. 

Say Farewell to Foul Dog Breath

Once you’ve ruled out potential medical issues, and maybe stepped up your toothbrushing game, it’s merely a matter of experimentation until you discover a natural remedy that will do the trick. Try these supplements one at a time, so you can really isolate what works to turn your dog’s breath fresh again. 

Related: How to Stop Bad Dog Breath

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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