I share my life with with a pack of superaffectionate dogs who love bestowing kisses — and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings by refusing a sloppy smooch, I’m motivated to keep their mouths healthy and halitosis-free. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few dog-breath-freshening tricks that really work.
Keeping hound halitosis at bay is simple — here’s how to do it.
1. It isn’t normal for your pup to have “dog breath” — it’s actually a sign of an unhealthy mouth. Left untreated, sick teeth and gums quickly lead to life-threatening health problems. So please, brush your dog’s teeth regularly — at least once a week.
If you have a dog with a small, pushed-in face, such as a Shih Tzu, you really need to be brushing those teeth every single day, because the conformation of their little mouths leaves them extravulnerable to decay. Ply your pets with treats to help them associate tooth torture with tasty treats, and use toothpaste made just for dogs. Pick a paste with a flavor you actually like — vanilla-flavored Triple-Pet toothpaste with tea tree oil is a great choice.
2. Provide dogs with raw bones to chew on. One source of dog breath is a buildup of calculus (tartar) on the teeth, and gnawing at bones — raw, soft ones, never cooked! — polishes up pets’ pearly whites.
My dogs adore the frozen beef bones by Primal Pet Foods, which I serve up straight from the icebox (it’s an especially refreshing treat for them on a sultry day, like a protein popsicle). Or ask the butcher at your neighborhood supermarket for beef marrow bones. Just be sure that the bones aren’t chopped up so small that they pose a splintering and/or chokingthreat to your best friend — ask the butcher to cut the bones crosswise (not lengthwise) to about three or four inches in length.
3. Dispensing a delicious dental chew lets your dog help you do some of the work to keep his own breath smelling fresh. Not all dog dental chews are created equal, however: Look for one that contains breath-freshening chlorophyll, cinnamon, and clove. (Don’t freak out when you notice your dog’s poop is a bit on the greenish side — that’s just the chlorophyll doing its green thing.)
I add a sprinkle of breath-sweetening cinnamon to my dogs’ meals at every feeding, plus I clip off some of the fresh wheatgrass I give my cats and add it to the dogs’ food. That raw source of chlorophyll is an excellent breath-freshener.
4. Chewing isn’t the only way pets can polish up their own teeth. Dogs can also drink their way to fresh-smelling breath with Healthy Mouth Dental Water, an all-natural cocktail made of enzymes, chlorophyll, and other ingredients designed to blast away bad breath. Simply replace your pup’s regular drinking water with Healthy Mouth-spiked wet stuff, and you’ll notice a difference within days, as the active ingredients work to kill bad bacteria in the mouth.
5. Speaking of bad bacteria, you’ll want to be sure that your dog’s mouth is populated with beneficial bacteria that way outnumber the harmful, halitosis-causing kind. That’s where probiotics come in. Use a probiotic made especially for dogs, and you’ll notice a big difference — not just in your dog’s breath, but in its overall well-being.
(Helpful hint: Probiotics are also great for keeping human breath smelling sweet — take them every single day and you’ll swiftly see results. Oragenics, maker of EvoraPet, is a great brand for both pets and people.)
6. Coconut oil is one of those pantry items you should never be without. It doesn’t just boost digestive, immune system, and metabolic functions — it also helps to combat canine bad breath. Put a lovin’ teaspoonful over your dog’s food every single day, and you’ll soon sniff sweeter breath — plus dogs love the taste; for them, coconut oil is a sweet treat. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with coconut oil, making the chore an offer even ornery canines can’t refuse!
7. Like coconut oil, neem (an extract of the neem tree) is one of those brilliant botanicals that have many positive effects on dog (and human) health. Besides being great for the skin and coat, neem is also excellent for promoting oral health in hounds and humans. My dogs take Supercritical Neem Leaf Extract by Organix-South; I add one little black capsule to their food twice weekly and take one every day myself.