It’s endearing when your dog wiggles into your arms and starts showering you with kisses. But when you get one whiff of his mouth, you might want to put the relationship on hold. It’s hard to say no to those big puppy eyes, but it’s easy to downright reject that doggy breath! We know you love your dog, we really do. But if you want to make snuggling up a little less, well, stinky, here are some simple home remedies to try to keep your pup’s breath fresh.
1. A Better Diet
Sometimes a simple change in diet can make a huge difference in your dog’s overall health. Avoid giving your dog canned foods and make sure to feed him a high-quality kibble that’s easy to digest. A crunchier kibble will leave less food particles behind and can help dogs maintain oral health. Also, try adding some whole grains, liked cooked brown rice. And also—add veggies! Wash and drain a handful of lettuce or chopped carrots and feed it to your pup once or twice a week. Lettuce works through your dog’s teeth as he chews, scraping off excess food particles; carrots can help help remove smelly plaque—sweetening doggy breath in the process.
2. Tartar-Fighting Treats
You can find treats meant to reduce tartar and plaque at any local pet store. They’re often designed in the shape of an elongated “X” to effectively clean the teeth, and come in delicious flavors your pup will love.
3. Brush Regularly
You’ll need a soft-bristled toothbrush (like a kid’s toothbrush) and toothpaste just for dogs. Don’t ever use human toothpaste on your dog—fluoride is poisonous! Start by letting your dog get a taste of the toothpaste, using your finger to spread a light layer along the gumline of his upper teeth. Using the toothbrush, brush gently along the gum line in circular motions, angling the toothbrush up slightly and working from back to front. Rinse the brush thoroughly and do a quick final brushing using water only to clear away any remaining toothpaste residue. Repeat daily or as often as your dog will let you.
4. Make Sure Chew Toys Are Sturdy and Safe
When choosing a chew toy, pick one that’s the appropriate size for your dog and one made without any toxins in the paints or dyes. With a toy, your dog will clean his own teeth by the natural process of chewing—it’s both fun and effective for curing stinky breath!
5. Avoid Hard Bones
Bones that are too hard can cause a dog’s teeth to break or chip, especially in older dogs that have more brittle and delicate teeth. This type of breakage can make it easy for infections and painful toothaches to set in. It may be time to retire your pup’s favorite pig hoof, unfortunately.
6. Keep Your Pup Hydrated
Most of the bacteria that cause bad breath in dogs are anaerobic, which means they can live or grow without oxygen. By drinking lots of water, your dog’s mouth stays moist, which helps to flush out some of the odor-causing bacteria.
7. Know When You Need to See the Vet
While these tips have been proven effective, persistent bad breath could indicate other health issues. If it’s been going on a long time and shows no improvement, consult your vet. You’ll also want to schedule a professional cleaning with your vet at least twice a year.
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Written by Caroline Park