Say Goodbye to Stinky Dog Breath with These Mints and Breath Fresheners
It's a situation every pet parent has experienced: Your pup comes in for an enthusiastic kiss, but their stinky breath is more like a slap in the face. "Halitosis (bad breath) is a common condition in dogs," says Shadi Ireifej, DVM, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at pet telehealth service VetTriage.com. "Whereas in humans, we accept it as being normal after we wake up from sleeping, or as a sign of dental or oral disease, in dogs it is accepted as normal without any immediate association to dental or oral pathology."
What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?
First, the serious news: Chronic bad breath often points to an underlying medical condition. "Halitosis should never be considered a normal phenomenon in dogs," says Ireifej, who encourages pet owners who notice a constant smell to make an appointment with a vet before considering over-the-counter remedies.
"Dental disease is by far the most common and frequently under-diagnosed," Ireifej says. Lodged foreign bodies, tumors, or growths could also be the culprit. Sometimes bad breath isn't from halitosis but a condition called uremia that results from kidney failure or disease or from ketosis (which stems from diabetes mellitus).
If your dog gets frequent check-ups and you keep up on your dog's dental routine, occasional bouts of bad breath can still happen for the same reasons it happens to humans. Food particles lingering in the mouth after a meal invites plaque and tartar build-up. Digestive issues, particularly if you recently changed your dog's diet, can also lead to bad breath.
When this is the case, dog breath mints and dog breath fresheners can do wonders. These are treats, additives to water, or even breath sprays that help neutralize bacteria between brushings.
How to Choose the Right Breath Freshener for Your Dog
Before you start shopping, get acquainted with the different categories of dog breath mints and dog breath fresheners on the market.
Dog breath mints are chewable treats that clean teeth while they improve breath with freshening ingredients like spearmint or peppermint. "These are beneficial, as long as your dog enjoys them, because they provide an abrasive surface to manually dislodge organic debris and perhaps tartar/calculi," Ireifej says. "Just be sure that if you are treating a dog with food allergies that the protein ingredients in these products are not those that your dog is allergic to."
Dog water breath fresheners are liquid add-ins that promote better breath with ingredients that reduce plaque and tartar. Usually, these products are tasteless and odorless. "However, if you are noticing that your dog or cat is drinking less, then adding such products to their water for the sake of oral health is not worth it," Ireifej says. "Maintaining hydration is far more vital than the questionable efficacy such products will have in your pet's mouth."
Don't hesitate to run one of your picks by your dog's vet, too. They can help you decide which product is right for your dog's specific needs.