Natural Cures for Bad Breath in Dogs

by Susan Leisure, Demand Media
    Your dog's breath may be a sign of a health issue.

    Your dog's breath may be a sign of a health issue.

    You come home from work and your beloved pooch greets you with a big, sloppy kiss. While you appreciate the excitement, the bad breath is enough to knock you down! Your dog's bad breath might be a sign of a serious health problem, or it could be easily treated at home with common pantry ingredients.

    Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

    The first step in solving your dog's bad breath is determining the cause. Bad breath is caused by a buildup of bacteria. The problem could be in your dog's mouth, lungs or intestinal tract. If your dog has a lot of tartar and plaque on his teeth, it's likely that the cause is in his mouth. If his teeth are fairly clean and his gums show no sign of infection, the bad breath could be a symptom of a larger health problem, like kidney disease or diabetes. If you aren't sure why your dog has bad breath, start with a visit to your veterinarian to determine the cause before trying any home remedies.

    Teeth and Gum Issues

    The most common causes of bad breath in dogs plague your dog's mouth. If your dog's teeth are coated with plaque and tartar, he may have chronic mouth infections or gingivitis. As the teeth become more and more compromised, your dog may develop cavities or his teeth may begin to disintegrate and become infected. Your veterinarian can professionally clean your dog's teeth, but there are also several home remedies for teeth cleaning. The best way to get your dog's teeth clean is to give him raw, meaty bones to chew. The fibers in the meat and the hard bones scrape the tartar and plaque from the teeth, and promote good oral health. You can also try antlers or natural chews, like bully sticks or jerky, which can also help to clean teeth. Avoid rawhide and cooked bones, as they are not digestible and may cause problems that are more serious than just bad breath.

    Digestive Issues

    After teeth and gum disease, the most common causes of bad breath are digestive issues. If your dog's food has corn, wheat, soy or by-products, his body has to work harder to digest these foods. The longer food stays in the intestinal tract, the more bacteria will build up, causing bad breath. First, try switching your dog to a higher-quality diet. You might consider a raw or home-cooked diet. If you feed kibble, try to find a grain-free food with no fillers or by-products. Try also adding digestive herbs to your dog's food, including parsley, fennel, dill or ginger. Adding plain yogurt will increase the levels of probiotics in your dog's intestinal tract, improving digestion. All of these natural remedies will lower the gas produced during digestion and make it easier for your dog to digest his food.

    Bad Breath with No Known Cause

    Sometimes, you can't find a cause for your dog's bad breath. After you have ruled out issues with your dog's teeth, gums, digestive tract and serious health issues, you can try adding natural breath fresheners to his diet. Adding a few drops of peppermint or spearmint oil to the water dish will help freshen your dog's breath. You can also add fresh mint, shredded carrots or a dash of lime juice to your dog's food to improve his breath.

    About the Author

    Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.

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