Bad breath in dogs: Feeding your dog for better breath

dog toothbrush dog brushing teeth

Did you know that by the age of 3 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease?

dog toothbrush dog brushing teeth

Does your fur baby have horrible breath? Perhaps you are playing with them and get a whiff of their breath and it reminds you that you haven’t been brushing their teeth as needed.

Bad breath in dogs can indicate many things, the most important being underlying health conditions, which we will discuss in this article.

Did you know that food can also play a big part in your dog having the breath of a fire-breathing dragon that has just eaten entire onions and cloves are garlic? While that may be an exaggeration, sometimes that description isn’t too far off!

Let’s quickly dive into the connection between dog food and bad breath and some ways you can help your pup with their bad breath so that their kisses will always be welcomed with open arms (and cheeks).

Why do dogs get such bad breath?

To fully comprehend the connection between dog food and bad breath, it’s essential to delve into the science behind it.

When dogs consume certain ingredients, such as meat or fish, the breakdown of these proteins can result in the release of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). These compounds are responsible for the foul odor associated with bad breath.

3. Common Causes of Halitosis in Dogs

Bad breath, scientifically known as halitosis, can be caused by various factors in dogs.

1. Underlying health conditions

Underlying health conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, and diabetes can also contribute to bad breath in dogs. It’s important to identify the root cause of your dog’s halitosis to effectively address the issue. Some systemic diseases like liver or kidney disease and diabetes mellitus can also cause bad breath in dogs.

2. Diet

One often overlooked factor in bad breath is the dog’s diet. The food your furry friend consumes can have a significant impact on their breath odor. Just like humans, dogs can experience “food breath” after consuming certain ingredients.

3. Poor dental hygiene

While many factors can contribute to bad breath in dogs poor dental hygiene is by far one of the most common causes. When food particles and bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they produce foul-smelling gases, resulting in unpleasant breath.

What dogs develop halitosis and periodontal disease the most

bracychephalic breed dog bull dog

While there have been no reporst of specific dog breeds that are more prone to halitosis it has been noted that smaller toy breeds or flat-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds are more prone to developing gum disease and therefore more often bad breath.

Brachycephalic breeds are more prone to periodontal disease most likely due to their anatomical predisposition.

How Food can help cause bad breath in dogs

The saying “you are what you eat” rings true for our canine companions as well. The components of your dog’s diet can directly affect their breath odor.

Certain ingredients in dog food can lead to an imbalance of oral bacteria, resulting in foul-smelling breath. For example, foods high in protein can cause an increase in sulfur-producing bacteria, which can lead to foul-smelling breath.

Additionally, high-carbohydrate diets can contribute to plaque formation and dental issues, further exacerbating bad breath.

It’s important to note that while diet can play a significant role in dog breath odor, it’s not the sole factor as stated above. However, addressing the dietary aspect of bad breath can make a noticeable difference in your dog’s oral health and overall well-being.

Wet food

Feeding solely wet food has been shown to increase the chances of dogs having halitosis

Low-Quality Foods

The type of dog food you choose for your furry friend can significantly impact their breath odor. Commercial dog foods that contain additives, preservatives, and low-quality ingredients can contribute significantly to bad breath.

Opt for a high-quality, natural dog food with balanced nutrition to help maintain oral health and prevent the onset of bad breath.

Choosing the Right Dog Food for Fresh Breath

Selecting the right dog food is crucial for maintaining fresh breath and overall oral health. When browsing the aisles of pet stores, keep these tips in mind:

1. Read the ingredient list: Take the time to read and understand the ingredient list on the dog food packaging. Look for foods that prioritize high-quality, natural ingredients and avoid those that contain artificial additives, unnecessary preservatives, and low-quality fillers.

2. Consider your dog’s specific needs: Every dog is unique, and their dietary requirements may vary. Consider factors such as age, breed, size, and any specific health concerns when choosing their food.

3. Look for dental care formulas: Some dog foods are specifically formulated to promote oral health. These formulas often contain ingredients that help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, leading to fresher breath. Consider incorporating dental care formulas into your dog’s diet for additional oral health benefits.

4. Feed kibble: Research has shown that feeding large kibble with enhanced dental contact can improve the smell of a dog’s breath. The abrasiveness of dental kibble and chews creates a mechanical removal of dental plaque.

dog eating dog food kibble dog

Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food to Prevent Bad Breath

When selecting dog food to keep your furry friend’s breath fresh, it’s vital to pay attention to the ingredients. Certain components can contribute to the development of bad breath and oral health issues.

Here are some ingredients to avoid:

1. Unnecessary artificial additives and preservatives: While you want your dog’s food to include a preservative (otherwise it would spoil pretty quickly), it is important to avoid unnecessary ingredients. Ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, and unnecessary preservatives can negatively impact your dog’s oral health. They can disrupt the balance of oral bacteria and contribute to foul breath.

Keep in mind that antioxidants are not true preservatives, to learn more about the difference between preservatives and antioxidants and their roles in your dog’s food read here.

2. Low-quality meat by-products: Dog foods that contain low-quality meat by-products can lead to an increase in sulfur-producing bacteria, resulting in bad breath. Opt for dog foods that use high-quality meat sources and avoid those with vague or generic meat descriptions.

3. High-carbohydrate fillers: Carbohydrates, such as corn, wheat, and soy, are often used as fillers in dog food. These ingredients can contribute to plaque formation and bacterial overgrowth, leading to bad breath. Look for dog foods that prioritize high-quality, digestible carbohydrates, or consider a grain-free option.

4. High Sugar diets: Sugar feeds bacteria, and they love it! So, make sure your dog’s food does not include a high amount of unnatural or added sugars as this can contribute significantly to your dog developing tartar, dental calculus, and halitosis.

By avoiding these ingredients and opting for high-quality dog food, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of bad breath in your furry friend.

Additional Tips for Maintaining Fresh Breath in Dogs

dog jerky treat

In addition to choosing the right dog food, there are several other steps you can take to ensure your furry friend maintains fresh breath:

  • Practice good dental hygiene: brush your dog’s teeth at least once to twice a week
  • Give your dog lots of things to chew
  • Feed more dry food
  • Feed a high-quality diet

1. Regular dental hygiene: Just like humans, dogs benefit from regular dental hygiene practices. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly helps remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles that contribute to bad breath. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to ensure their safety and effectiveness. If your dog is resistant to teeth brushing, consult with your veterinarian for alternative dental hygiene options.

2. Provide dental chews and toys: Chewing on appropriate dental chews and toys can help promote oral health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup. Look for products that are specifically designed to improve dental hygiene and freshen breath.

3. Encourage water consumption: Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining good oral health. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush out bacteria and promote saliva production, which can help prevent bad breath.

4. Regular veterinary check-ups: Regular visits to the veterinarian are crucial for monitoring your dog’s overall health, including their oral health. Your vet can perform dental examinations, and cleanings, and address any underlying health issues that may contribute to bad breath.

5. Keep the fur around snouts clipped and/or clean: The fur around the snouts of “bearded” dogs may potentially contribute to bad breath as long hair around the mouth can more easily become dirty with food particles and saliva.

6. Treat any infections: If your dog has an infection in or around their mouth make sure you take them to the veterinarian ASAP to get it treated as this can not only lead to bad breath but infections can spread and cause issues in other parts of the body.

By incorporating these additional tips into your dog’s routine, you can go the extra mile in ensuring their breath stays fresh and their oral health remains optimal.

Do Water Additives Work for Bad Breath in Dogs

Some owners have tremendous results with water additives and bad breath in their dogs. These products usually work by using enzymes to break down tartar and eliminate bad breath in dogs and cats.

The water additives for dogs on the market are:

  1. Oxyfresh
  2. Dental Fresh
  3. TropiClean

Remember that a healthy diet is not a quick fix for bad breath. Consistency is key, and maintaining good dental hygiene practices, such as regular teeth brushing and dental check-ups, is essential for fresh breath and overall oral health.

Natural Remedies for Bad Breath in Dogs

If you prefer to explore natural remedies for addressing bad breath in dogs, several options can help freshen their breath:

1. Probiotics

Probiotics can help promote a healthy balance of oral bacteria, reducing the likelihood of bad breath. Look for dog-specific probiotic supplements or opt for dog foods that contain natural probiotic sources.

2. Herbal remedies

Certain herbs, such as parsley and mint, are known for their breath-freshening properties. You can incorporate these herbs into your dog’s diet or look for dog-specific herbal remedies that promote fresh breath. Speak to a veterinary specialist to find out the right herbs for your pup.

3. Water and powder additives

As discussed above, some water additives are specifically formulated to freshen dogs’ breath. These additives can be added to your dog’s drinking water, providing a convenient and effortless way to combat bad breath.

4. Feed foods that help with bad breath

Hard foods that encourage chewing like carrots are a great treat for dogs every once and a while. Some other foods are:

  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Carrots

When considering natural remedies, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure their safety and effectiveness for your specific dog.

Seeking Veterinary Advice for Persistent Bad Breath

dog and vet

If you’ve tried everything and your dog’s bad breath persists despite your efforts to address it through diet and oral hygiene, it’s essential to seek veterinary advice.

Persistent bad breath can be an indication of underlying health issues that require professional attention. Your veterinarian can perform a comprehensive examination, including dental evaluations, blood tests, and imaging if necessary, to identify and treat any potential health concerns.

Remember, bad breath is not a normal condition for dogs, and it’s crucial to address it promptly to ensure your furry friend’s overall health and well-being.

Conclusion: Improving Your Dog’s Breath Through Proper Nutrition

When it comes to bad breath in dogs, diet plays a significant role. By understanding the links between dog food and bad breath, avoiding certain ingredients, and choosing high-quality, balanced nutrition, you can transform your dog’s breath from foul to fresh.

Additionally, incorporating regular dental hygiene practices, providing dental chews and toys, and seeking veterinary advice when necessary are essential for maintaining optimal oral health.

Remember, each dog is unique, and their dietary needs may vary. Take the time to understand your dog’s specific requirements and consult with your veterinarian for personalized recommendations. With proper nutrition and care, you can ensure your furry friend’s breath stays fresh, keeping everyone around happy and healthy.

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