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The best step you can take to combat your dog's foul breath is regular teeth cleanings. Severe halitosis in dogs can be indicative of serious health problems, so schedule a veterinary appointment to check for periodontal disease if it's becoming a struggle to stomach kissing your pooch.
“A lot of people just believe that dogs just have bad breath,” Dr. Stephanie Livermore, a veterinarian specializing in dog dentistry at New York City’s Pearly Bites clinic, explains. “They don’t have great breath, but if an owner is smelling a really foul odor that is starting to get more foul, there is a really good chance that there is disease below the gum line.”
But if your dog's dental health checks out, then dog breath fresheners can present an effective way to take the edge off their doggy breath. The best dog breath fresheners don't just cover bad breath but also have positive dental health benefits. Our top pick dog breath freshener combats plaque and tartar, the most common culprits when it comes to periodontal disease.
In addition to breath-freshening treats, our other recommendations include water additives, pastes, and dietary approaches—all of which have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) through clinical trials.
Here are the best dog breath fresheners.
Best Overall: Greenies Regular Natural Dog Dental Care Chews, Fresh Flavor
Adaptability for different sizes of dog
Rich in vitamins and minerals to promote immune health
Can’t think of anything
These all-natural chews are vet favorites, battling tartar and plaque and supporting gum health while giving dogs long-lasting and minty fresh breath to improve their owner’s day-to-day experience. Shaped like tiny toothbrushes, the chews are designed with multiple textures to hit different parts of the mouth. They're also slightly flexible, so they conform to the gum line for a deeper clean.
In addition to protection against standard dental problems, Greenies treats are heavy on vitamins and minerals that strengthen dogs’ immune systems and improve their overall bodily health. Plus, they're formulated to be as widely useful as possible, with highly soluble ingredients that most dogs should have no problem digesting, with wheat flour as the primary ingredient.
While regular Greenies Dog Dental Care Chews are best for dogs between 25 and 50 pounds, Greenies also makes products suited for every size of pup. There are even varieties customized to address specific health issues like weight management.
Best Budget: TropiClean Dental Health Solution for Dogs
Low price tag
Suitable for dogs of all sizes and breeds
Odor sometimes puts off dogs
TropiClean’s slate of dog dental health products is in that rare sweet spot of affordability and veterinarian-recommended. Their Fresh Breath Dental Health product is not only our favorite budget option but our vote for the best water additive. If you’re looking for a breath-freshening option for a puppy who is too small to handle chews and harder treats, this is a no-brainer. All you need to do is add a tablespoon to the little one’s water bowl, and you are on the road to a guaranteed 12 hours of fresher breath.
TropiClean also offers options catered toward a variety of puppy health issues, including their Hip & Joint, Digestive, and Skin Care additives.
Best Chew: Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Fr3sh Tartar Control Dog Chews
Healthy ingredients but hardy
Superior teeth-cleaning functionality
Offers digestive support
Not good for dogs who eat quickly or have chewing difficulties
C.E.T.-brand chews, toothpaste, and other products tend to earn top ratings from veterinarians across the board (including Dr. Livermore, who regularly gives out their products to patients). The co-signs from professionals are largely due to the numerous benefits that the treat’s all-natural ingredients offer for dental health.
These Z-shaped chews are designed to cover every nook and cranny of your dog’s mouth, breaking down tartar and plaque. Thanks to an infusion of prebiotics, they also work to counteract digestive problems that can be at the root of bad breath.
Best Diet Option: Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dry Dog Food
Great overall bang for your buck
Highly recommended by veterinarians
Benefits for skin, coat, and immune system
Won’t work for dogs with chewing difficulty or periodontal disease
With this line of kibble products from Hill’s, your dog’s daily meal can become a means of counteracting foul breath and dental problems. Hill’s is a consistent winner for veterinarians’ favorite brand of dog food because it has been carefully engineered to combat a wide variety of canine health issues. The fiber, Omega-6 fatty acid, and antioxidant content in the kibble help promote a healthy gut, skin, and coat.
Rather than break apart in the dog’s mouth, the kibble is also designed to scrape against dogs’ teeth to remove plaque and tartar. Despite this toughness, however, it has proven to go down easy for dogs of a variety of breeds and sizes, provided that they don’t already have significant periodontal disease.
Best Toothpaste: Petsmile Professional Pet Toothpaste
Multifunctionality against a variety of dog dental issues
Also suitable for cats
A consumer favorite among the shortlist of VOHC-approved pet toothpaste, Petsmile’s Professional Dog Toothpaste has a strong antibacterial functionality that justifies its price point, which is only slightly higher than other dog toothpastes in its weight class. Available in three very dog-friendly flavors, it wards off cavities and gingivitis and dissolves proteins that become breeding grounds for plaque and bacteria. If you’re so inclined, it is also perfectly safe to try some Petsmile out on your cat as well.
Best Splurge: Healthymouth Dog Topical Gel
Tough on bacteria and plaque
Potential difficulties with application
Healthymouth’s trademark topical gel offers just about the most premium dental care that your dog can get short of a professional cleaning. You can spread the gel on your dog’s teeth and gums after every meal with the cotton applicators that come with the kit and let it work its plaque-zapping magic overnight. If you’re looking for a nuclear solution for bacterial issues, this is a miracle in a jar. The near-$70 price tag may look daunting, but one jar usually lasts over three months, and for the medical-grade potency, it’s more than worth the investment for consistently fresh breath and a healthy mouth.
Our favorite overall dog breath fresheners are Greenies Fresh Regular Dental Dog Treats. They are effective at freshening your dog's breath and improving gum health, plus dogs love them. For more thorough maintenance of your dog's dental health, you may want to consider switching to an oral care diet. Our favorite is Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care.
What to Look for in Dog Breath Fresheners
Dental Health Benefits
According to Livermore, more than 80 percent of dogs have some form of periodontal disease before the age of 3. In other words, your favorite canine’s gross breath is not something to be taken lightly. Don’t overlook regular treatment of minor dental issues that can develop into something very serious and painful in your dog’s older age. Make sure that when selecting a breath-freshening product, you look for ones that are tackling plaque, tartar, and other detrimental bacteria within your dog’s mouth. Treating bad breath in dogs isn't a matter of making quick fixes but instead about consistent dental hygiene.
As with anything that is coming into contact with your dog’s mouth, it is crucial that you make sure the treat or product you are using is suitable for your size and breed of dog. Be sure to check the intended weight range for the product you choose. If your dog has struggled with or been put off by specific snacks or additives in the past—whether due to texture, hardness, flavor, or another reason—avoid any product that might have a similar taste or toughness.
Most of the breath freshener options we’ve included here contain natural ingredients, and their VOHC endorsements demonstrate that there aren’t many risk factors to speak of with these products. But definitely check out the ingredient list to make sure there’s nothing that you know will disagree with your pup.
Can breath fresheners replace brushing my dog’s teeth?
In short, absolutely not. “The first thing that a pet owner should be doing is having a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment,” Dr. Livermore explains. VOHC-approved breath fresheners should merely be considered an extension of the important work that doggie dentists and regular teeth cleanings do.
Are mint-flavored products safe for dogs?
Mint-flavored products pose no potential issues safety-wise, but as Dr. Livermore notes, some dogs don’t love the flavor. It may seem unlikely that a savory or meat-flavored product could result in fresher breath for your pup; however, these treats and supplements tackle the issues that cause bad breath at the source. As much as any product boasting mint freshness, they help assure long-term dental health and can potentially be an easier sell for your pup.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
Our team of pet-loving writers, editors, and experts suggest and test products, relying on many years of expertise in training, fostering, veterinary, and pet ownership. We keep safety, usefulness, and durability in mind when selecting our pet items of choice. A dog lover since his earliest years, Brooklyn-based writer and editor Winston Cook-Wilson has thoroughly researched the factors which contribute to dog’s poor dental health through discussions with veterinarians who specialize in dentistry. He has also studied the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s guidelines to make sure that this list is a well-sourced and ethical set of recommendations.