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Best Dog Foods For Bad Breath: Ratings, Reviews & Top Picks

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 13 min read

Best Dog Foods For Bad Breath

Does your dog’s breath make your eyes water? Is it so bad that he scares the flies away? Well, chances are there is something going on in that body of his, and not necessarily his mouth, but as his mom or dad it is up to you to do some digging and help him back on his way to fresher breath.  That can mean seeking out the best dog food for bad breath in order to remedy the situraion.  The fact that you are reading this now means you have taken the first steps to finding a cure for your pup’s stinky breath!

Some dogs, like humans, just have smelly mouths, and your pooch might just be one of the unlucky few that lets off a whiffy odor for no real reason, and there are some breeds that are more prone to dental diseases compared to others. Whatever his situation, here in this guide we are going to discuss that gut-wrenching bad breath of his, what may be causing it, the best dry dog food that can help to prevent or delay tooth decay, and what else you can do besides giving him high-quality nutrition.

While this might not be the most pleasant of topics to read about, if you love him but not his breath, it is something you just gotta do! First we look at the causes for bad breath, followed by our analysis of the best dog foods for bad breath to get your pup smelling a little fresher when greeting both family and friends. Let’s jump in!

At a Glance: Our Favorite Food For Bad Breath

Top Overall Pick: Science Diet Oral Care

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What Causes Bad Dog Breath? 

Bad Breath Causes in Dogs
There are many causes for bad breath in dogs.

In the medical world of dogs, bad breath is officially known as Halitosis. But before we even consider what nutrition is best for your dog’s bad breath, it is important to understand what it is that’s causing it. Because there are a number of medical conditions that could be behind your pup’s smelly breath, we want to take a deeper look to make sure that something may not need medical attention before changing foods.

If your pup exhibits any health-related issues, we always recommend that you see your vet immediately.  They will be best equipped to diagnose any serious problems that may require further analysis.  There are several factors that can cause Halitosis in dogs, and if your beloved pooch is suffering then it is likely to be one of the following reasons: 

Poor Oral Hygiene

Just like us humans, if your dog’s teeth aren’t brushed regularly, then his breath is going to start getting smelly simply due to a buildup of plaque and tartar, it really isn’t rocket science! However, many dog owners just think that smelly dog breath is just part of the ride, but not only does it not have to be, bad breath is often a signal that there may be an underlying cause and further health problems that you need to consider. Not only does plaque and tartar cause smelly breath, it also begins to break down his gums which exposes even more room for the pesky bacteria to develop. This will quickly cause inflamed gums, cavities, infections, and tooth loss. 

Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal disease is a collective term to describe the infections in the structures surrounding his teeth, these structures include his gums, his periodontal ligament and the ridge of bone around his jaw that contains his teeth sockets. In dogs there are four stages of periodontal disease, first it starts with inflamed gums and stained teeth, which is known as Gingivitis. Eventually he will reach the advanced stages whereby more than 50% of his connective attachment tissues and gums become rotten, where the roots of his teeth will begin to show. Early signs of periodontal disease are bleeding gums (or finding blood on his chew toys), bad breath and stained teeth.

Unpleasant Habits

Some dogs like to rummage through the garbage and eat rotten leftovers and some like to eat rotten animal carcasses or bones when out on walkies. Some dogs like to eat poop, some are fussy and will only eat fox or cat poop (geese and cow poop are my boy’s personal favorites!), whereas some dogs will eat all kinds of poop, and some dogs will even eat their own! Whichever delightful delicacy your pooch favors, it is probably going to make his breath stink! Fear not, your dog is not alone, and research has found that 24% of dogs will try this doggy delicacy at least once in their lifetime, but only 16% of them will go onto being serial poop munchers.

Kidney & Liver Disease

Dogs don’t just eat poop, sometimes they also drink urine. So, if your dog’s breath smells like urine then it is a sign that he might have kidney disease. Kidney disease can often be a symptom of another larger problem, so if you notice that he is drinking pee or his breath smells like pee, then take him to the Veterinarian immediately. In addition to smelly breath, if your dog’s gum are slightly yellow in color, and he is vomiting, then this could also be a sign of liver disease, which is equally as devastating and could also be a sign of something more sinister.


If your dog’s breath smells like sweets or has a fruity aroma, then whilst it might smell appealing, it can actually be a sign that he has Diabetes. While this is a serious condition, it is something that can be easily managed once diagnosed and medicated. So, if you notice a sweet smell, or your dog is drinking vast amounts of water and urinating a lot, then get a Veterinary appointment booked for him immediately. 

Breeds Prone to Bad Breath

Greyhound with Bad Breath
Greyhounds are one of many breeds that suffer from chronic bad breath.

Certain dogs are more prone to periodontal diseases and bad breath more so than others, so this is another important factor to consider when it comes to his dental hygiene. However, it is important to note here that just because your dog doesn’t fall into any of the below categories does not mean that he will be  free from the perils of bad breath and associated diseases. 

Small dog breeds, particularly those who are considered to be toy dogs, are particularly prone to periodontal diseases. Their little mouths are a lot smaller than bigger dogs, but they still have to fit in the same amount of teeth, so they become a lot more compact. Not only does this cause spatial issues, but they are also more likely to suffer from a buildup of plaque and tartar, gum recession, loss of teeth, and of course, bad breath. 

Dogs with narrow muzzles, such as the Greyhound or the whippet to name a couple, are also prone to a variety of dental diseases, simply because of the lack of space in their mouth. It is becoming increasingly common for dogs with narrow muzzles to be born with missing teeth too. So these dog breeds need that extra bit of dental attention.

Top Foods For Bad Breath

Top Dog Foods For Stinky Breath
There are several foods made specifically to remedy bad breath.

We have scoured the market for the best dry dog food which all contribute towards having healthier and cleaner teeth, which will noticeably freshen his breath. There are several choices here dependant on the current health of your dog’s teeth. For those dogs who are younger who have not quite reached the stage of Gingivitis or periodontal disease stages, then choosing a kibble that is high in fiber will help to break down the built-up tartar and plaque, and ultimately freshen his breath. If your dog is medium-sized or above, then there is also the option to feed him kibble that is larger in size, which encourages him to chew and crunch more, which again helps to break down and remove that bacteria on his teeth and gums, but of course this is not an option for smaller breeds. 

There are also more advanced options for those who have been diagnosed with periodontal diseases, and whose Veterinarian has prescribed a specific dental care diet. We have listed three of these kibbles at the end of our list, but be aware that to order these you need to submit your Veterinarian prescription for your order to be approved.

These diets are designed by Veterinarians and Nutritionists whose ingredients and kibble design are aimed at dogs whose teeth are in poor condition, who will eat these alongside undergoing professional cleans and potential surgery. Again, these recipes will noticeably freshen his breath.  So, in no particular order, here are our top dry dog food kibbles that are the very best on the market designed specifically for his bad breath!

Science Diet
NUTRO Wellness
Prescription Diet
Purina Pro
Royal Canin

Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care 

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Oral...
  • This dry dog food helps improve the dental health of your grown...
  • Helps reduce plaque & tartar build-up with clinically proven...
  • Interlocking fiber technology cleans canine teeth and supports...
  • A dog food with Omega-6 fatty acids & Vitamin E for healthy skin...

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Hill’s Science Diet is created specifically for oral care, without the need for a Veterinarian prescription. Not only is each individual kibble textured, but it is also actively makes your pooches breath much fresher. In addition to the natural ingredients, it has added antioxidants such as cranberries and apples, and vitamin C & E, which all contribute to a healthy immune system and his ability to fight away illnesses. Hill’s describe their kibble size as large which also encourages your dog to crunch and scrape away the tartar even more so. Many Veterinarians have also voted that Hill’s Science Diet is their number 1 go to kibble for specific dietary needs. Science diet is one of our favorite brands for English Bulldogs and many other breeds.

We love that this recipe is designed specifically with oral care in mind, and the kibble texture acts as a toothbrush as your dog chews which helps to scrape his teeth clean and freshen his breath. Out of the foods we have listed, this is our top overall pick.

NUTRO Wholesome Essentials 

  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Natural...
  • Farm-Raised Chicken Is The #1 Ingredient To Deliver Great Taste...
  • Tailored Nutrition For Your Large Breed'S Unique Weight...
  • Natural Sources Of Glucosamine And Chondroitin. Formulated To...

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Farm-raised chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients on the list which is great not only for his protein needs, but also for his Glucosamine and Chondroitin needs, as these contribute towards stronger teeth and bones. It has extra added vitamins and minerals for your dog’s antioxidant needs which help to support his immune system and healthy oxidative state. Sweet potato, peas, apples, carrots and dried beet pulp are a few of the fiber ingredients in this recipe that will help to erode that plaque buildup in his mouth as he crunches the kibble, as well as contributing to a healthy digestive system. This particular recipe is also designed for large breed dogs, and larger kibble also means that your dog will need to crunch that bit more. Extra chewing is also key to breaking down the pesky tartar and bacteria. Note that this recipe will only be suited to medium or large sized dogs. 

We love that this recipe is a high fiber diet recipe, which helps to break down a buildup of plaque and tartar, so this is a great choice for those younger breeds who don’t have periodontal diseases yet, but who need a good start for their oral health.

Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care 

Hill'S Prescription Diet T/D Dental Health...
  • Ur Dog'S Tooth Enamel - Proven Formula That Slows Tartar And...
  • Ingredients To Reduce Bad Breath In Dogs
  • Hill'S Prescription Diet T/D Canine Dental Health - 5Lb

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This recipe has been awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance for helping to reduce the buildup of tartar and plaque accumulation, which further helps to freshen up his breath. The special fiber design also means that the kibble actively reduces the bacteria in his mouth, and it has the highest amount of fiber on this list, which is not only great for his oral health but it is also great for those pups who need help with their digestive health. It also has added antioxidants and vitamins which help to support his healthy immune system and improve his overall wellbeing. 

We love that this kibble is designed for smaller breeds, so it is small enough to fit into their tiny mouths. It’s worth noting that a prescription is needed from a vet to purchase this food.

Purina Pro Dental Health Formula 

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This recipe is made with real meat flavors that he will love, so despite this being a Veterinary diet, he will love it just as much as any other. Veterinarians, scientists and nutritionists across the world have designed this recipe with poor oral hygiene in mind, and the kibble is also designed with a specific texture that will get into the gaps in his teeth. It is also full of antioxidants and vitamins to support the other areas that he needs, such as a healthy immune system and healthy coat. It is not packed with fiber, which makes this recipe a great alternative for those dogs who do not do well on a highly fibrous diet.  Purina Pro is one of our favorite food brands for Siberian Huskies, as well as other breeds.

We love that this recipe is not only clinically proven to reduce the buildup of tartar thanks to the textured kibble, but it also offers one of the highest protein contents on this list.

Royal Canin Dental Care 

ROYAL CANIN Canine Dental Dry (7.7 lb)
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate to prevent dental tartar buildup in your...
  • A scrubbing kibble texture that removes plaque and tartar as your...
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain your pet's joint health
  • Omega-3 fatty acids to help boost your dog's immune system...

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This complete and balanced dog food is created specifically to control plaque and tartar buildup, as well as freshening his breath. It also provides the balanced nutrition and vitamins that he needs to keep his immune system strong and improve his general health. It also has an optimal balance of omega 3 fatty acids which further help to strengthen his bones and joint health, as well as DHA ingredients to support his eye health and cognitive health.  This is yet another formula where Royal Canin and Science Diet duke it out for a top food.

We love that this recipe not only tackles his bad breath, but it also has the highest number of calories per cup which makes it the better option for dogs who need that extra bit of energy to keep them going throughout the day.

Final Thoughts 

So, the ‘tooth’ of the matter is that you need to take care of his oral hygiene, because not only will this freshen up his breath, but it will also decrease his chances of periodontal diseases, and other more serious health concerns. Whilst many people think that dogs mouths are much cleaner than us humans, it does not mean that they are self-cleaning, and their mouths still need a bit of extra help! 

Bad breath can easily be freshened up with the right high-quality dry dog food, and whilst you will still need to brush his teeth and give him daily dental chews, the wrong dog food can still make his breath smelly even after all of the other steps. By choosing one of our recommendations above, not only will you be giving him one of the best quality natural foods that will service all of his other needs, such as lean protein and antioxidant superfoods, but you know that it is going to clean up that mouth of his and turn his teeth into pearly whites once again. Stick with one of our picks and you are sure to find the best bad breath dog food for your pup!

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