How To Stop Bad Dog Breath
If your dog has smelly breath, you are not alone. Studies show that up to 80% of dogs over 2 years old have periodontal disease, the leading cause of bad breath. Not only is it gross, it often leads to serious and expensive medical problems.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Dog’s shouldn’t naturally have bad breath, and if they do it’s a good idea to fix the problem at source.
So what is the cause?
Bad breath is a symptom of periodontal disease, most commonly related to diet and oral hygiene. Unlike people, dogs can’t brush their teeth without your help so the foods you feed have a major impact on their oral health.
THE PROBLEM WITH DRY FOOD
The only way to keep the mouth clean is to get rid of the food and bacteria that stick to the teeth after feeding. Dry kibble doesn’t offer an abrasive surface to help this process. Instead it’s broken up into small pieces, some of which remain in the mouth. And because of the high carbohydrate content of ALL dry foods - yes, even grain-free - it’s not easily broken down.
Dog’s don’t have the enzyme amylase in their saliva, so any remnants of dinner stay in the mouth where they become a breeding ground for bacteria. And over time this can create problems unless you physically remove it. In my opinion this is the most likely reason so many dogs have periodontal disease, as a function of the majority of dogs being fed dry food diets.
It’s like trying to clean your teeth with biscuits - it just doesn’t work.
IS BAD BREATH REALLY BAD?
Bad breath and the associated periodontal disease is widely known to be harmful to dogs. Poor oral health creates what is known as “periodontal disease burden” which extends all the way to organs and can cause serious problems.
This has been extensively researched. One study showed an association between periodontal disease and histopathologic changes in the kidney and liver. Another study of nearly 60 000 dogs shows a link between gum disease and heart disease. Further research suggests that the prevention of periodontal disease has an important impact on the general health of dogs.
So yes, bad breath is serious and absolutely worth doing something about.
HOW TO GET RID OF BAD BREATH
Feed a biologically appropriate balanced diet.
Feed raw meaty bones.
The most important decision you make for your dogs health is deciding what to feed. Choosing to feed a high quality biologically appropriate diet is the best step you can make towards having a healthy and happy dog. A good raw diet contains minimal carbohydrates, which reduces the potential for bacteria growth in the mouth. It also improves immune function and gut health, which reduces the symptom of bad breath.
There are also numerous functional foods that are likely to help. Beneficial foods to have in the diet include coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon. Probiotics are also a way of balancing the gut bacteria and can help with bad breath. These are all found in Whoa Nelly! so if you are feeding our food we have you covered.
In addition to their diet, feeding bones is the best way to keep your dogs mouth clean. That’s why they call them nature’s toothbrush! Studies show that feeding regular bones efficiently reduces dental calculus. In fact, even the President of the Australian Veterinary Dentists Society Dr Stephen Coles states that dogs should chew bones twice a week to prevent dental disease. Dogs and their ancestors have been munching on bones for millions of years, so it’s nothing new!
Feeding bones does present a risk for choking or cracking teeth, so choosing the right bone and feeding under supervision is essential. Learn how to choose the right bone for your dog here.
WHAT ABOUT “DENTAL CHEWS”?
There are several dental chew products available. These are marketed as a “safe” alternative to bones. They are also not biologically appropriate food, often full of ingredients like wheat flour and chemical names and numbers. They are often expensive and contain carbohydrates which contribute to the problem. And ironically some are actually shaped like a bone!
Our philosophy is to feed dogs foods they are biologically adapted to eating. Bones have quite clearly been a part of their diet for millennia, and the creation of processed food and dental products is not the answer. Feeding a regular bone under supervision is the best way to get rid of bad breath and look after the long term health of your dog.
So give your dog a bone!