Dog Obedience Insider

Canine Bad Breath: How to cure your dog or puppies halitosis

Canine bad breath can be caused by a number of different factors (we will cover the majority of causes below). Whether it affects your puppy or your older dog it can be a symptom of other health problems including gastrointestinal problems and kidney & liver problems.

If the cause of the problems are due to more serious health issues then you will need to take your pooch to the vet however if the bad breath is purely down to a poor diet, cheap dog food or due to your pooch not having his teeth cleaned regularly then you will pick up some very useful tips to curing this smelly problem on this page.

So lets get started…

Although dental problems are normally the cause of canine bad breath – other causes of this problem can include…

  • Mouth problems (including infections)
  • Breathing problems
  • Tonsillitis
  • Kidney and Liver problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems (this might even involve Cancer).
  • Oral disease including Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
  • Lung Cancer
  • Diabetes

The most common cause of canine bad breath in an older dog or puppy is normally down to teeth and dental problems. Below is a quick guide to your dog’s teeth.

How many teeth does an adult dog have?

Adult dogs have forty two teeth altogether starting with six Incisors in the upper jaw and six Incisors in the lower jaw. When it comes to Canine teeth an adult dog has two Canine teeth in the upper jaw and two Canine teeth in the lower jaw. An adult dog has slightly more Premolars with eight Premolars in the upper jaw and and the same in the lower jaw. Finally an adult dog has four Molars in the upper jaw and six Molars in the lower jaw.

From the age of about 14 days old a puppy will start to cut their milk teeth – however at this young age the puppy will not have any Molars present. As the puppy gets older (from the age of four up to six months old) the milk teeth will be replaced by adult teeth. It is important that if any milk teeth remain in your puppy’s mouth then they might need to be removed as they could cause obstruction to the growing adult teeth.

Dogs teeth are not designed to grind teeth and are primarily used to cut and tear their food – consequently a dog’s teeth do not tend to accumulate decay as their food will not get stuck or lodged in the teeth as they would if they were grinding their food. However, when it comes to tartar build up – this is much more common in dogs especially if a dog is only fed soft dog food.

If Tartar does start to build up it may need to be removed by the vet as it can lead to bad breath, inflammation of the gums, gingivitis and even cause the teeth to fall out if left untreated.

Dog’s are also not able chew their food and don’t have enzymes present in their saliva which is used to help clean any build up of carbohydrates on teeth.

Brushing your Dog or Puppy’s Teeth

When brushing your dog’s teeth you should start from an early age as it will get your puppy used to having something in their mouth. A really good technique is to dip your finger in something really tasty that your young puppy will love – you could use peanut butter. Place your finger in your pooches mouth and gently move it around so your puppy gets used to it.

After a while you could wrap some gauze around your finger and still using something tasty place your finger in your dog or puppy’s mouth – this will have a different sensation so your next step will be to use a small very soft bristled tooth brush.

After your dog or puppy has got used to you finger you can start using a soft tooth brush. You should make sure that you purchase some tooth paste that is recommended by your vet. You should aim to have the bristles of the tooth brush angled slightly so you can run the brush along and just under the gum line.

Start with the upper teeth at the back and work towards the front (always start in the same place so you will know which area has been cleaned). Always move the tooth brush in small circles aiming to get just beneath the gums where any food might have built up. Aim to complete the whole process in about thirty up to sixty seconds.

Canine bad breath can not only lead to a smelly mouth it can also lead to your pooch showing some physical symptoms too. For example your dog might be experiencing pain in the mouth which might lead to your dog or puppy attempting to paw at his mouth.

Where there is inflammation and excessive tooth decay your dog might actually start to lose teeth – which can then lead to excessive drooling. If the tooth problems are so severe your pooch might not be able to eat which can then lead to weight loss. This is why canine bad breath needs to be treated seriously so that any underlying problems that are either causing the bad breath or secondary problems as a consequence of the bad breath do not get worst and lead to more problems.

Another cause of canine bad breath is Coprophagia – this is the behavioral problem where dogs start to eat poop. As you can imagine eating poop will make your dog’s mouth particularly smelly – this is the same with cheap dog food which have little nutritional benefits especially a diet of soft dog food with no kibble. A very positive tool that can help to clean your dogs teeth and remove excessive tartar and lodged food are dog dental sticks – these are available from most good pet stores.

Although Diabetes, Rhinitis (where the nasal passage has become inflamed) and Sinusitis (where the Sinus has become inflamed) can cause canine bad breath the most common cause of the problem is Periodontal disease (mouth and oral disease caused by excessive Plaque and Tartar build up).


There are a variety of different smells caused by different health problems. Below is a quick rough guide:

Tartar and gum disease – causes a putrid smell.

Inflammation – also causes a putrid smell.

Absessed tooth – the same smell.

Kidney problems – causes a urine like smell.

Diabetes – causes a fruity smell.

Oral tumors – causes a rotting smell.

Anyway that’s our guide to canine bad breath – although some breeds particularly smaller breeds like Pugs and Boston Terriers are more susceptible to the problem – by keeping a close eye on your dog’s health and with regular vet check ups and regular cleaning of your dog’s teeth – you should be able to spot the problem before it becomes too serious.

More information on bad breath in dogs…


1. Dogs rarely get tooth cavities although they do get a build up of tartar.

2. Large deposits of tartar enable bacteria to multiply which can then go on to affect the tooth sockets and gums.

3. Regular descaling can get rid of any tartar build up which will also alleviate any breath problems.

4. Some pet owners choose to use homeopathic remedies for breath problems. So for this reason we have listed a few alternative remedies below.

Arnica 300 – is a useful remedy to treat pain, bruising and bleeding if the teeth have been extracted.

Hekla Lava 6c – can be used if the jaw bones become eroded due to the teeth sockets being infected.

Fragaria 6c – is great for reducing tartar build up.

Chamomilla 6c – is a great remedy for teething puppies. When new teeth come through it can cause pain, fever, excessive chewing and even aggression.

Phytolacca 6c – is also another superb remedy for teething problems in puppies. Especially if there is bleeding, pain and the tongue is red and sore.


Watch the video below for advice on getting rid of bad breath in dogs…

Watch the video below for an expert guide to brushing your dogs teeth…

Gums and Infections…

If the gums do become infected this can also lead to bad breath. Benign tumors called Epulis Tumors can also cause problematic breath as they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Below we have listed some useful homeopathic remedies for benign Epulis tumors.

Hekla Lava 30c – is a useful remedy for bone tumors.

Calcarea Carbonica 30c – is useful for obese dogs.

Calcarea Fluorica 30c – is very beneficial for fibrous tumors and she be administered twice a week until the tumor reduces in size.

Tonsillitis in dogs…

Tonsillitis can also cause bad breath in dogs. The tonsils are little sacs that are found at the back of the throat. They are responsible for defending the body from bacteria and infection. Tonsillitis develops when the tonsils become inflamed.

The symptoms of Tonsillitis can include a fever, salivation, vomiting, gagging, refusal of food and difficulty in swallowing. The treatment for the condition will normally involve the vet prescribing anti-biotics.