Health & Well-being
May 31, 2022

Does your dog need a mint? How to get rid of bad breath


We all love when our dog wants to show some affection. They trot up to you, big happy eyes, ready for some cuddles, and then it happens. They breathe near your face and you catch a whiff of what can best be described as hot garbage. Suddenly you’re wondering how something so cute could have such awful breath!


Bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common complaint from many dog owners. The most common cause is periodontal disease, which affects gums and the bones surrounding the teeth. A recent study revealed that approximately 93 percent of dogs older than 3 years of age had some form of periodontal disease.

It all starts when oral bacteria attach to your dog’s teeth and form a film called plaque. When the plaque sticks around for more than a few days, it becomes mineralized and is now called tartar or calculus. Sorry if you just had a terrible flashback to your high school math class. The longer the plaque and calculus stay attached to the teeth, the more their gums become inflamed until they develop gingivitis. 

Untreated gingivitis may progress even further to a more severe form called periodontitis. With periodontitis, some of the bacteria start producing hydrogen sulfide, which can be responsible for bone loss and that smelly, awful breath.  

A dog with inflamed gums, and a lot of plaque and calculus.

There are plenty of other causes for halitosis including: gastrointestinal diseases; eating smelly food (after all, how good is your breath after eating something like anchovies?); coprophagia, which is when they eat poop; lip fold pyoderma, a skin infection that creates puss; non-periodontal oral diseases; abnormal tissue growth, oral foreign bodies; and oral trauma such as open fractures.


Halitosis is easily diagnosed by smelling your dog's breath, and the treatment depends on the cause. As we’ve already mentioned, the most common cause is periodontal disease, and it’s crucial to understand that periodontal disease is painful. Gingivitis and teeth calculi should be treated with a professional cleaning and polishing by a veterinarian. Unfortunately, in some cases tooth extraction may be required as well. Plaque and calculus can accumulate fairly rapidly immediately after teeth cleaning and polishing, and a follow-up oral hygiene treatment is mandatory. 

We also recommend brushing their teeth every day with appropriate toothpaste. Just like us, it’s a great practice to have and it’s never too late to start. There are lots of other dental chews and products that can help, just consult your veterinarian. And although fresh mint can be good in small amounts, do not use actual breath mints on your dog. They can often contain xylitol and other ingredients that can be toxic. 

Make sure your puppy doesn't have puppy breath.

So what else can you do? Foods that are rich in polyphenols, like blueberries and brown algae, can be great natural breath fresheners. Stay’s fresh recipes are loaded with these healthy ingredients, which works out great for both you and your dog. The beef recipe also contains celery, another way to improve breath.

Taking care of their oral and dental health is crucial for great breath. Keeping your canine’s canines clean (and all the other teeth) can prevent pain and costly procedures. It’s something you can both smile about.

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