There’s nothing better than being greeted at the door by your canine companion - but have you recently been met with that unpleasant ‘dog breath’ smell as they try to give your face a loving lick?
Stinky dog breath is a common issue, but it’s not just the smell you should be concerned about. A strong, unpleasant odour coming from your dog’s mouth could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
The good news is that most oral health issues (and the smelly dog breath that comes with them) can be prevented or treated with a bit of extra care, some healthy things to chew on, and a tweak to your dog's diet.
Although as always, if you’re seriously concerned, have a word to your vet.
What causes smelly dog breath?
If bacteria and food are left to build up on your dog’s teeth, plaque and tartar start to form - which brings about a certain (smelly!) odor.
Unpleasant dog breath shouldn’t be ignored because it could be an early sign of dental disease. It can be hard for dogs to tell you they’re in pain (especially when the source of the pain is somewhere less visible, like inside their mouth), so it’s important to stay on top of their oral health before plaque buildup turns into gingivitis or dental disease.
Kibble vs Raw - what’s the optimal diet?
The food your dog eats can either keep teeth clean and prevent bad breath, or increase plaque buildup and the odours that come with it - so it’s crucial to be informed and choose wisely!
Highly-processed kibbles lack the key nutrients your dog needs to thrive, and they don’t provide any ‘brushing or flossing’ action for your dog’s teeth, contrary to popular belief.
Many kibble products are jam-packed with sugars and high-carb ‘fillers’ such as wheat, oat, starches and corn products. These fillers increase oral bacteria in the mouth (damaging teeth and gums) and can also mess with your dog’s digestive system, as dogs don’t have the digestive enzymes to cope with grains.
Raw foods, on the other hand, contain naturally occurring enzymes that help your dog digest food, as well as break down plaque and protect teeth and gums. These enzymes are killed with heat - so if you’re feeding your pet dry kibble or canned food, chances are it’s been processed at high temperatures and those precious enzymes are nowhere to be found.
A slow, gentle air-drying process (like the one we use to create the ZIWI Peak range) is favoured by many pet guardians because it preserves the raw meat’s enzymes, with the added convenience of being a food that requires no prep and can safely be stored in the pantry for up to 8 weeks after opening.
To highlight the huge differences between a kibble and raw diet, let’s take a look at a well-known experiment by Australian Vet Tom Lonsdale...
Dr Lonsdale recruited four raw-fed dogs and fed them nothing but kibble for the next 17 days. After 17 days, all four dogs had stinky breath, yellow teeth and sore, bleeding gums.
The changes Dr Lonsdale saw were so significant he started calling kibble “junk food.”
“Because they haven’t been scrubbed away by the appropriate food, the bacteria multiplied,” explains Dr Lonsdale. “And they’re now gaining access to these dogs’ mouths, and from the mouth to the rest of the body. And that is the reason why animals end up with many diseases of the liver, the kidneys, the heart, the immune system, and so on.”
Tips to avoid unpleasant dog breath
A high-meat diet is a powerful ally in the fight against smelly dog breath and all the issues that come with it.
By switching your furry friend to an optimal, high-meat diet, you’ll start to notice beautiful clean teeth and improved dog breath very quickly. We also suggest you:
- Try feeding them parsley, which is a natural breath deodorizer. Parsley contains chlorophyll and essential oils and works as a diuretic to detoxify the body, which is why it’s a key ingredient in all ZIWI Peak recipes. You can also feed it to your dog raw – simply tear the fresh herb into small pieces and mix it into their food.
- Keep your dog’s water and food bowls clean at all times, as dirty bowls are a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
- Feed your dog raw and air-dried bones - they’re nature’s toothbrush!
- Visit your vet for regular oral examinations or professional teeth cleaning if required.
It’s important to educate yourself on the ingredients you feed your dog - so do your research. Start reading food labels and have a chat with your vet for further advice. If you can keep your dog’s oral health in check by following a diet that cares for their teeth and tastes delicious, fresh breath is simply a nice bonus!
*and possibly a trip to your vet.