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The other day, I was chatting with a fellow pet parent about our dogs. He went on and on about how much he loves his dog, but he can't stand her horrible breath. I was confused, what horrible breath? And then I remembered that dogs can have really bad breath. I laughed at myself because doggy breath is not something we have to deal with with our pack and I completely forgot that it was a thing.
If you're living with a dog that can singe your bangs with his/her dragon breath, then these steps may help. The rare occasions when we have had to deal with bad breath, the following helped.
1 – Feed a Diet of Fresh Food
One of the many benefits of raw feeding is clean teeth and fresh breath. Eating a diet of kibble results in tartar buildup and eventually dental disease in many dogs. As humans, we know that our breath is on fire if we haven't been brushing and flossing regularly – the same goes for our dogs. By kicking the kibble to the curb and feeding my dogs a diet of fresh food, their breath improved.
Feeding a raw food diet is also easier on the gut and that improved gut health leads to fresher breath too because we don't have nasty gut funk coming out in a nasty belch when our dog leans in for a kiss. Yuck!
2 – Brush Your Dogs' Teeth with Coconut Oil
Although I feed a diet of raw, my dogs still need the occasional teeth cleaning and I do it with rubber finger (available on Amazon.com) and coconut oil (I prefer CocoTherapy products). Coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. I use it to heal cuts and scrapes, to soothe dry paw pads, and when brushing my dogs' teeth.
A few years ago, Zoey got some venison caught in her teeth and her breath was on FIRE! I could tell that she was trying to dislodge something so grabbed the rubber finger and some coconut oil and brushed her teeth. This dislodged the meat and allowed me to clean up any excess bacteria that was causing the bad breath.
3 – Feed Your Dog Raw Bones
Raw meaty bones and recreational bones satisfy my dogs' chew drive, create a calm environment as they zone out while chewing, and they clean their teeth. As they're chewing, they scrape any tarter from the teeth and any meat on the bones will floss between the teeth. It's amazing what a difference the bones make.
It took me a while to become comfortable with feeding bones. I had to test out different types of bones (marrow bones, rib bones, knuckle bones, etc.) before I found the ones that work best for my dogs.
- duck frames
- duck necks
- beef knuckle bones
- buffalo knuckle bones
- bison neck bones
- lamb neck bones
I source all of the bones through my local raw food co-op.
4 – Give Your Dog Healthy Chews
Still not comfortable with feeding raw bones to your dog? Not a big deal, there are many natural chews on the market that will help satisfy the chew drive while helping to keep teeth clean. I receive a monthly “chews only” subscription box from Real.Dog that is great for a big house of dogs. Each box contains quality sourced chews such as dehydrated duck feet, beef trachea, duck necks, beef back strap, and more.
The price is right in my budget and allows me to give my dogs safe chews. They don't last as long as a raw bone, but they still make the dogs happy while helping to keep those gums and teeth healthy.
Other chews that I give to my dogs include:
- Beef Esophagus Jerky Chews (Large)
Monster Himalayan Yak Dog Chew
Monster Braided Bully Stick
Pretzel Bully Stick
5 – Add a Probiotic to Your Dog's Diet
Bad breath can also be tied to poor gut health. Years ago, I met a woman who had a Golden Retriever that had noxious breath and body odor. Looking back, I wonder if this dog had digestive issues that were being aggravated by a processed diet because we experienced a little of this when Rodrigo was still being fed a kibble diet.
Although Rodrigo now eats a raw food diet, he still has digestive issues that are helped through fresh food and supplementation. The following are foods that I feed that support my dogs' gut health.
Fermented Foods for Dogs
Foods that Support Gut Health
- Raw goat's milk
- Olewo carrots
Supplements that Support Gut Health
Making sure Rodrigo has a strong and healthy gut microbiome has become my mission and the difference in his overall health has been astounding.
6 – Treat Your Dogs' Gums with 1-TDC
I was recently introduced to the supplement 1-TDC, it's a supplement that promotes anti-inflammatory response in the system while also protecting our dogs from dental disease. I apply the supplement to the gum line of my senior dogs and let them lick the rest.
I've been using this supplement with my senior dogs to help with joint issues and was surprised to see the decline of the small amount of tartar and staining on their teeth.
7 – Clean Up the Yard Daily (or Immediately)
And, finally, we must talk poop eating. Sadly, one reason why a dog may have bad breath is that the dog is eating his stool or the stool of other dogs. I went through this with Rodrigo and learned that in some cases a dog will eat stool to gain the enzymes in the poop. Looking back, Rodrigo's habit of eating his poop occurred when he was having gut issues. When his gut is happy and healthy, he doesn't eat his poop.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop
I've tried a couple of the supplements on the market or adding pineapple to Rodrigo's meals and it didn't work (and my dog is raw fed). But the following did work for him and hopefully it'll work for your dog too.
- I kept the yard clean. Every day, even in the winter (in the dark with a flashlight) I kept the yard clean. It helped that Rodrigo only pooped in three spots so I could quickly clean the yard.
- I added a digestive supplement to his diet. All of those foods above that support gut health, yeah, those are important. Fermented foods and Olewo carrots were very helpful.
- Finding and avoiding triggers. I learned that there are foods (chicken, turkey, and some beef) that aggravate his gut. Paying attention to his diet and understanding what foods promoted gut issues helped me to adjust his diet to better suit his needs.
- Good ole' fashioned training. My dogs have their own fenced yard and I would accompany Rodrigo on potty breaks. If I noticed him sniffing around his poop as if he's about to take a bite, I would say “leave it.” Training him that this wasn't okay made him think twice. Of course, who knows what he did when I wasn't around.
All in all, bad breath has been easy for me to resolve with my dogs. It's important that I state that if the bad breath is accompanied by pain or a sensitive area or other signs of the dog not feeling well, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Because bad breath can be a sign that your dog is seriously ill and hiding a lot of pain.