Paws for Wellness A happy and healthy pet starts with a plan!

Causes and Remedies for Dog Breath

Dog licking owners faceWhile your dog’s breath might not always smell minty fresh, it also shouldn’t be so offensive that you want to get away. If your dog’s bad breath knocks your socks off, it’s probably not normal and should be addressed. So what’s causing that stinky breath and what can you do about it?


Before you can treat the bad breath, you need to understand what the root cause is. There are several potential reasons for bad breath in dogs, including:

Periodontal and dental diseases

Periodontal disease and gingivitis cause a buildup of plaque and tartar that can result in bacteria that causes foul breath. Periodontal disease is highly common in dogs, with more than 80% of dogs showing some signs of periodontal disease after the age of 3. Other oral hygiene issues, including oral masses and gingival hyperplasia, can also cause bad breath.


Some things your pup consumes might cause their breath to stink. If your dog gets into the trash, eats table scraps, or steals the cat’s food, that may contribute to smelly breath.


In puppies, bad breath can be caused by teething. In these cases, the bad breath is only temporary, and will go away when the adult teeth come in fully.

Medical Issues

While many causes of dog breath are easily preventable, foul breath can also be an indication of something more serious, such as gastrointestinal or metabolic diseases. If your dog’s bad breath is persistent or accompanied by other, more serious symptoms, it’s important that you bring them in for a visit to rule out other conditions.


Solutions will differ depending on the cause:

Tooth brushing and oral chews

If you aren’t already, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth every day. Just like humans, dogs require regular dental care to prevent gingivitis and dental diseases. Stock up on some doggy toothpaste (never use human toothpaste – it can be highly poisonous to your dog) and a toothbrush or finger brush, and get into the routine of giving your dog’s teeth a good one minute scrub.

You can also promote good dental health and hygiene by providing your dog with some delicious oral chews, designed to help clean your teeth through chewing. Ask us about our recommendation for a chew that’s right for your dog!

Veterinary dental cleaning

In addition to regular brushing, an annual professional cleaning can help keep the tartar and plaque at bay. Make an appointment with us to get your pet’s teeth cleaned.


Parsley is a healthy and natural way to help freshen up your pup’s breath. Add some to their food or make tasty parsley snacks to treat your pet and tackle their nasty breath.

Change in diet

Poor quality, canned foods, or table scraps can all cause bad breath in dogs. It’s also not good for them, so switch to something dry and healthier for your dog. Also make sure that your dog isn’t getting into the cat’s food or eating feces, and take the necessary actions to prevent this from happening in the future.

Schedule a visit to the vet

The best way to determine what’s causing the dog breath is a trip to the vet. Let us identify where the problem lies and rule out any serious conditions. We’re committed to making sure that your pup is healthy, happy, and dog breath-free!


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    Dr. Laura Neuhaus (Raiff)


    Dr. Laura Neuhaus is a graduate of the University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, she completed an emergency and specialty medicine internship at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center in San Diego. She enjoys ophthalmology and has a special interest in avian medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, and spending time outdoors. She is the proud parent of a cat and 2 parrotlets.
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    A Virginia native, Dr. Mitchell Meyerhoeffer (Dr. M is fine!) started his career in the veterinary field in high school at Chesterfield Technical Center's veterinary science program. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University while working as a veterinary assistant in a specialty and emergency hospital. Dr. M then completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine training at Virginia Tech, enjoying the hiking and outdoor scenery in Blacksburg when he could ...
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