How to Improve Your Dog’s Dental Hygiene &
Get Rid of Bad Doggie Breath


dog with mouth open

Have you ever been greeted by your puppy with an over-excited tail wag and a big ‘ol slobbery kiss right on the face? Nothing says “I love you” like a wet smooch now does it? But while the sentiment is sweet, if your dog’s breath smells more like stale garbage than fresh mint, a greeting like this can be rather unpleasant, if not gross.

Feelings aside, you may wonder what’s causing your pup to have such bad breath and what you should do about it.

pug with bad breath

Diseases that can cause bad breath in dogs

It turns out there are a few diseases that can cause bad breath, so we wanted you to be aware and get your dog checked out if you suspect a real problem.

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is the beginning stages of gum disease or periodontal disease. Just like in humans, dogs’ teeth must be cleaned properly and regularly to prevent excess buildup of plaque and tartar which can lead to the growth of bacteria that causes bad breath. Plaque pushes teeth away from the gums, exposing new areas for bacteria to grow, leaving your pup vulnerable to not only gum disease, but inflammation, infection, and even tooth loss.

Other, serious causes of bad breath and poor dental health include:

Diabetes - can cause your dog’s breath to have a sweet or fruity smell. This, linked with increased drinking and urination, is a clear indication that your pup may have diabetes. If your pup’s slobbery kisses have a sweet smell to them, contact your veterinarian right away.

Kidney disease - can cause your dog’s breath to smell like urine. While it’s more common for dogs to eat poop and then have breath that smells like poop, drinking urine is not a normal behavior. If your dog’s breath smells like urine, contact your vet for more information as it could be an indication of kidney disease.

Liver disease - can cause your dog’s breath to be truly repulsive. Paired with excess vomiting, lack of appetite and a yellow tinge to your puppy's gums, these symptoms warrant a visit to the emergency vet immediately.

australian shepherd

How to improve your dog’s dental health

If your dog is a member of the stinky breath club:

1) Take them to the vet to see if they recommend a professional teeth cleaning. When the vet takes a blood sample from your dog to make sure he or she can receive anesthesia, ask them to also make sure there isn’t something more serious going on that may be causing your dog’s bad breath.

2) Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to old garbage, animal feces or other outdoor finds at home.

3) Brush your dog’s teeth regularly. Interestingly, according to the AKC Health Foundation, smaller dogs are more susceptible to periodontal disease as their teeth are closer together and therefore more susceptible to plaque and tartar build up. Brushing smaller dogs’ teeth from an early age is an especially good habit to get into!

The best chews for improving your dog’s dental health

A great, natural way to improve your dog’s dental hygiene is by providing them with plenty of healthy chews and chew toys. Not only do chews promote brain stimulation and keep your dog from getting bored, but they are a natural way to reduce and prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar in your dog’s mouth.

Dental sticks, oral hygiene chews, flavored bone products and bully sticks are all great options for naturally removing plaque and tartar buildup, and improving your dog’s gum health and breath.

Bully sticks

Are bully sticks bad for dogs’ teeth?

Quite the opposite actually! Bully sticks are a great chew treat option to help improve your dog’s dental health because they naturally remove plaque and tartar buildup before it has a chance to stick to your pup’s teeth.  

Bully sticks are also a great source of amino acids so they improve your dog’s hair, skin and nail growth while also improving dental health! Since bully sticks are a single ingredient treat, they are also free from additives and chemicals that could further damage your pup’s dental hygiene.

Since dental hygiene is an important health standard for any age, bully sticks can be given throughout your pup’s life. You may, however, need to give your dog different sizes of bully sticks as his or her weight and chew strength increase over time. Learn why size matters when choosing the right size bully stick for your dog.

Bow Wow Labs customer story: How bully sticks improved my pup’s oral health

One of our customers used bully sticks to significantly improve the dental health of her dog, River. Check out her story to learn more about how chewing on bully sticks can make a world of difference!

Related resources

Why Dogs Love to Chew + How to Encourage Good Chewing Behavior
Can Bully Sticks Make My Dog Sick? Understanding the Health Benefits and Risks of Bully Sticks
What to Do If Your Dog is Choking - How to Recognize the Signs and Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

 Photos by - Emmanuel Butron Zapata, Rafal Wachsman and Jonathan Slater