What dog doesn’t, right?
Well, okay, I have been around a few dogs in my life whose breath did not smell putrid. But they were definitely the exception.
My dogs have always had bad breath… until now!
I’ve been adding a liquid drinking water additive to my dog’s water bowl every time I fill it up.
And now — after 11 days — his breath smells so much better. (We call it his doggie mouthwash.)
Do You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
I don’t brush my dog’s teeth as frequently as I should.
That’s one of the key things you can do to prevent dog bad breath from happening in the first place.
- Tartar (or plaque) is the result of a lot of bacteria building up in your dog’s mouth and surfacing on your dog’s teeth. The more plaque, the more bad breath.
- So, the more you brush, the more bacteria you remove from your dog’s mouth, the less plaque will build up on your dog’s teeth, and the less likely he will be to have bad breath.
Even though my dog actually enjoys having his teeth brushed, it’s completely my fault that I don’t take the time to brush them very often.
As a result, the tartar and plaque just keep building up on his teeth — especially on the back molars. Recently, even his front teeth have begun to show signs of plaque building up near the gum line. And that just looks gross!
He is 6 years old, a 100-lb Black Lab / Great Pyrenees mix.
What Do You Feed Your Dog?
So… he pretty much has fish breath 24/7.
It’s especially noticeable after he wakes up from his many power naps throughout the day. It is similar to human morning breath, after sleeping with your mouth closed for so long. Now add fish to that equation!
The fact that he’s eating a dry dog food is supposedly better than eating a moist dog food — because chewing on hard things like kibble can help to minimize the plaque somewhat. But trust me, he’s still got plenty of plaque and tartar.
Along those same lines, I also don’t put much weight in the claims that crunchy dog treats help to remove plaque on your dog’s teeth. Technically, it’s true – harder things scraping against your dog’s teeth are better for plaque removal than softer things scraping against your dog’s teeth. But it takes something super-hard (like a veterinarian’s dental tools!) to effectively remove plaque build-up on a dog’s teeth. Things that “give” or break away aren’t nearly as effective. Except maybe a raw beef bone. More on that in a minute!
Time To Schedule A Doggie Dental?
At this point, we had practically resigned ourselves to the fact that it was time to schedule a doggie dental with our vet in order to have our dog’s teeth professionally cleaned and get the plaque removed once and for all. (Or for a couple of years at least — until it builds back up.)
I’ve talked with our vet about it during the past couple of annual check-ups. So, perhaps it’s time.
We would love for our dog’s teeth to be plaque-free and white again.
But wait… I had one more trick up my sleeve.
I wanted to try at least one DIY remedy to see if I could help to remove some of the plaque and improve the dog breath myself first.
Dog Bad Breath Is Similar To Human Bad Breath
While searching for products to help with my dog’s bad breath, I learned that the most effective products are those that have enzymes in them.
The first thing I thought of — though not really related — is the fact the “best” laundry detergents, dishwasher detergents, and odor neutralizers always have “powerful enzymes” in them which make them more effective than products that aren’t enzyme-based. So, generally speaking, I’m sold on the fact that enzymes are powerful… and effective.
Specifically with regard to bad breath, the enzymes work with saliva to kill the bacteria in your mouth (or in your dog’s mouth).
I started reading that lots of people have had success with a product called Biotene to cure human bad breath. Biotene contains 4 powerful enzymes: glucose oxidase, lactoferrin, lysozyme and lactoperoxidase. Some of those people felt it worked so well that they started using it to treat their dogs’ bad breath.
However, Biotene also has Xylitol in it. So do not give this product to your dog! You can safely use it for yourself, but it’s not safe for dogs. (I looked at a bottle of Biotene at Target today and noticed that it clearly states across the front of the bottle “contains Xylitol”.)
Fortunately, they now make a veterinary version of Biotene that’s safe for dogs. (They now label it as Oratene.) That product contains 2 natural enzyme systems that help remove plaque and inhibit odor causing bacteria. And… there’s no Xylitol in it!
Check out these glowing reviews of veterinary Biotene / Oratene — 1 from a dog owner, and 1 from a veterinarian:
I couldn’t find the Biotene / Oratene drinking water additive for pets in any of the pet stores around here, so I quickly moved on to other dog breath products instead.
TIP: If you get Biotene for your dog, be sure to look for the large V on the bottle, which stands for “veterinary”.
Other Dog Breath Products
I’ve tried dog mints in the past. They had no effect on my dog’s bad breath, so I knew I wasn’t going the mint route this time.
There are also products that you sprinkle on your dog’s food — like Proden Plaqueoff and PawMax Dental Sprinkles — that many people swear by. They may work, but they’re so darned expensive. I wasn’t ready to go there… not just yet.
I was looking for a cheaper solution for my at-home trial. That way, I wouldn’t be out a lot of money if it didn’t work.
Trust me, I am the world’s biggest skeptic when it comes to products that “cure” things. So I had only marginal hope for any of the dog bad breath products I might try.
But after seeing the raving reviews for the Biotene / Oratene for dogs (online, and in the video above) I was pretty sure I wanted to start with a drinking water additive for my dog — preferably one with enzymes.
Much to my surprise, the first one I tried actually worked!
Though it’s not enzyme-based, Synergy Dental Fresh (a drinking water additive that’s made for pets) can be credited for making my dog’s fish breath smell better than ever.
So far, I’ve been using it for 11 days. But I noticed a change in his breath (for the better) probably after 5 days or so.
Dog Bones + Drinking Water Additive
To be fair, I think it’s a combination of 2 things that helped remove the plaque and the bad breath:
- Giving my dog a large beef marrow bone from the butcher (which literally scraped off much — but not all — of the plaque).
- Adding 1 tablespoon of Dental Fresh drinking water additive to his water bowl every time I refill it (technically, 1 teaspoon per 8 oz of water).
I gave him the dog bone on the same day that I started putting the drinking water additive in his water bowl.
- The dog bone lasted 2 days, after he chewed hard on it for about 3 hours both days. (Six hours total; he was bored with it after that.)
- The drinking water additive I’m still adding to his water bowl every time I fill it up. (As of today, I’ve used it 11 days in a row.)
When gnawing on fresh beef bones from the butcher, a dog has to work really hard — for hours, and from lots of different angles — just to get all of the meat that’s still attached to the bone. This really helps to clean your dog’s molars. After that comes all of the licking and gnawing with the front teeth to get at that delicious marrow found inside the bone’s core.
So, in this case, my dog unknowingly spent hours scraping plaque from his own teeth! Although he’s not plaque-free just yet, there is noticeably less plaque on his teeth than before.
And thanks to the Dental Fresh drinking water additive, he’s got fresher breath too. That’s right, no more fish breath!
The Dental Fresh bottle says it “brightens and whitens teeth, deodorizes breath & eliminates bad breath, and removes plaque and tartar” from your dog’s teeth. So, hopefully, it will help to keep his teeth cleaner longer, while freshening his breath at the same time.
I look at it as a win-win! He got the dog bone of his dreams and healthier teeth. We got fresher breath, and lower vet bills — since we can postpone that doggie dental appointment now!
For What It’s Worth…
While it seems to be working and I have no complaints, the Synergy Dental Fresh probably isn’t the only drinking water additive that would make my dog’s breath smell fresher (…and help remove the plaque and tartar, and make his teeth whiter over time).
By the way, the active ingredients in Dental Fresh are stabilized Chlorine Dioxide 0.1%, stabilized with Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). Chlorine Dioxide is a powerful disinfectant of water. Similar to the reviews I’ve read for the enzyme-based drinking water additives, the ingredients in Dental Fresh also prevent your dog’s water bowl from getting that slimy build-up over time. That’s a nice bonus!
When this bottle of Dental Fresh runs out, I’ll probably try a different drinking water additive — just to have something to compare it to. (And I’ll keep giving him fresh marrow bones from the butcher; 1 every 3 weeks or so.)
Personally, I think most of the dog-safe drinking water additives would work equally well to get rid of the bacteria and bad smells inside my dog’s mouth.
Plus, I still want to try one with enzymes (like the veterinary Biotene / Oratene drinking water additive). I can’t help but wonder, “What if the enzyme-based products work even better?… or faster… or longer!”
I would also prefer a pump bottle, as opposed to using the free-pour method and guessing how much amounts to a teaspoon each time. So that’s another reason I see the veterinary Biotene / Oratene in our future soon.
One thing’s for sure… I don’t think I’ll ever be without some type of drinking water additive for my dog from this day forward. It’s that good! Surprise, surprise… dog mouthwash really does work.
If you’ve tried a drinking water additive that’s safe for dogs, I would love to hear about your experience.
Pumping vs Pouring
For convenience, and to get the dose more accurate every time I fill up my dog’s water bowl, I decided to pour the Synergy Dental Fresh into a pump bottle.
It’s an old hand soap bottle that has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, so there’s no more soap residue inside the bottle or the pump.
Now, it’s so much easier to squirt the exact number of pumps into my dog’s water bowl each time — rather than pouring and measuring each time, or doing what I was doing: pouring and guessing that I was getting somewhere close to the right amount.
Here’s the dosing information for the Synergy Dental Fresh:
- 1 teaspoon of Dental Fresh per 8 ounces of water.
- My dog’s water bowl is 32 oz, so I need 4 teaspoons.
- In my case, 12 pumps amounts to 4 teaspoons. (Every pump bottle would be different.)
UPDATE #1: As Promised…
When our first bottle of Dental Fresh (that worked pretty well) ran out, I decided to try a different water additive to improve dog breath — just so I’d have something to compare the Dental Fresh to.
I recently bought a bottle of Tropiclean Fresh Breath Pet Water Additive.
- I didn’t like it at all. (For the record, my dog could care less. He has never been able to tell when I’ve added something to his water, as far as I can tell.)
- It immediately made the water foamy/bubbly; the bubbles would eventually disappear after a few minutes. (The Dental Fresh product did not do this.)
- It didn’t keep the water bowl from getting slimy like the Dental Fresh did.
- It made the water look murky/cloudy all the time. I kept wanting to change it, but then I’d just be wasting the product that I had poured in.
- It didn’t seem to have much effect on my dog’s breath. (That’s the most important thing.)
Remember how I said (above) that I gave my dog a fresh bone from the butcher on the same day that I started to use the Dental Fresh water additive? (I have continued to give him a fresh bone a couple of times each month.)
To be honest, while the Dental Fresh did appear to work — as long as I was consistently putting it in my dog’s water — I think the dog bones themselves also had an effect on his breath (and removal of tartar on his teeth). I say that because the minute I stopped using either of water additives, his doggie breath almost immediately became noticeable again. (It was most obvious when I stopped using the Tropiclean. The Dental Fresh seemed to be a tad more effective over the longterm.)
So… I like the Dental Fresh better than the Tropiclean — because it seems to work slightly better and last a little longer. Thank goodness they sell the Dental Fresh in larger quantities!
At this time, instead of buying another water additive, I’m trying to be more consistent with brushing my dog’s teeth while continuing to give him fresh marrow bones a couple of times each month. Fortunately, he loves the taste of doggie toothpaste… any brand… and any flavor! So I’m lucky that he sits patiently while I brush 3 or 4 teeth in one sitting. Then, he gets antsy and I stop — so he won’t come to dread teeth brushing time.
The 2 tartar control products for dogs I’m reviewing right now are:
- Arm & Hammer Advanced Care Dental Foam (The foam pump bottle makes it a cinch to squirt the product right onto your dog’s teeth.)
- Tropiclean Brushing Gel (The lady at the pet store initially recommended this gel over the Tropiclean water additive, but I didn’t listen.)
I’ll post those reviews soon.
And for the record, yes I still look forward to trying a dog mouthwash with enzymes — like the veterinary Biotene / Oratene mentioned above.
Please let us know if there’s a good remedy that you’ve found for treating your dog’s bad breath!
UPDATE #2: Homemade Dog Breath Treats
For what it’s worth, I recently started making my dog homemade dog breath treats to help combat the bad breath issue.
They’re not a miracle cure by any means, but every little bit helps!
UPDATE #3: Chlorophyll Products Are Worth A Try Too
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend using liquid Chlorophyll because it stains things green! I would stick to giving dogs Chlorophyll in pill form — but that’s just me. (Here’s the easiest way to give dogs pills.)
I’m planning to chat with the vet about the correct dosage of human Chlorophyll capsules for my dog on his next vet visit. I’ll also be asking our veterinarian’s opinion on these pet supplements with Chlorophyll in them.
Important: For added safety, we are talking about Chlorophyll here — which is 100% safe. Not to be confused with Chloroform — which is 100% toxic.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!