Homemade Dog Water Additive For Bad Breath: 3 Best Options!

 Every dog owner knows that we are so lucky to have canines in our lives.

Unfortunately, dogs and bad breath seem to come together as normally as sticks and stones or Sunny and Cher.

It’s practically unavoidable.

However, bad dog breath shouldn’t be something that hinders a bond that has been developed between man and canine for thousands of years.

Who else is going to nibble our ears with such enthusiasm, bury their heads into our laps with such warmth- or be so obsessed with our belly button(?!).

That’s why you may wonder how you might solve this issue once and for all. What is the best homemade dog water additive for bad breath that you can use on a daily basis?

While dealing with bad breath in humans is simple (since we can easily just gargle some mouthwash and spit it out), this is not the case for dogs as they just don’t have the ability to do so!

What works better for our precious pooches are water additives that you can set and forget in your dog’s water bowl.

There are several safe, natural, and readily available ingredients at home that can help to remove plaque and tartar, keep the gum line healthy, and promote excellent overall oral health.

Popular options to keep stinky breath at bay include mint, citric acid, and parsley. You can also use salt and water to make a quick and easy ‘doggy mouthwash’ for fresh breath anytime, anywhere!

(Side note: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. From time to time I like to recommend products in my posts that I feel may truly be helpful to readers and their pets. If you do end up buying something by clicking the links on my site, I may receive a tiny amount of commission from the big guys. 

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Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Fishy?

Dog playing with rope toy

Are you worried because your dog’s breath smells fishy- even though they haven’t touched seafood for as long as you can remember?

Well, there are several reasons as to why this happens, and luckily there are also multiple strategies that you can incorporate for better results in terms of dental care for your pup.

Reason Number One: Poor Oral Hygiene

This is the most likely reason as to why you constantly experience a fishy (or worse) odor emitting from your best friend’s mouth. If you do not take care of your dog’s oral hygiene regularly and properly, this smell will only compound and worsen!

Therefore, it is extremely important that you brush your dog’s teeth and clean its mouth regularly, whether manually or through the use of dental dog treats, water additives, and toys. If you are not sure how to start a daily routine, talk with your vet for the best advice and products.

Otherwise, take a look at our extensive resource here for all the different ways that you can clean your pup’s mouth. This will be especially helpful in cases where your dog has just eaten something particularly nasty!

Reason Number Two: Periodontal Diseases

When your dog eats without brushing afterwards, food remains can become stuck on or in between the teeth. The more that this occurs, the more build-up that eventually accumulates on the teeth.

This results in the formation of plaque, and as plaque hardens it becomes tartar and becomes even more difficult to remove.

As you probably already know from countless TV commercials and elementary school dental nurses, this is the most favorable environment for bacterial growth.

Bacteria feed on this plaque and tartar and create acids which eat at the enamel of the teeth, creating eventual cavities. From here, it’s a downward spiral as the cavities themselves become a breeding ground for more bacteria and food remains.

Can you just imagine the type of smells that would be emitted from such an environment? Absolutely delicious, don’t you think?

Reason Number Three: Unpleasant Dietary Habits

English Spaniel eating raw meat

Dogs are unfortunately notorious for trying out anything that they may come across in their path. Rotten meat, discarded fish heads, slugs, and even poop are all fair game from your best pal’s perspective!

You’ve probably caught your pup ruffling through the garbage on more than one occasion, searching for any delectable morsels that you, silly hooman, may have accidentally thrown out.

This is not as strange as it might seem, since dogs have been natural scavengers and hunters dating back to ancient days. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility at all for them to partake in decomposing animals that they find in the yard. However, it’s no wonder then that their breath has a tendency to smell so horrible.

The answer to curbing these unfortunate dietary habits is to provide enough food for your dog. This will at least lessen the appeal of looking for things that may be dangerous for his breath and health.

If your dog has a tendency to come trotting up to you with a rotting bird carcass or cat poop in its mouth, consider monitoring it and keeping it on a tight leash when out and about!

A little less freedom for your pup on your daily walks is much more preferable to a mouth that is capable of inducing nausea from the strongest of stomachs.

Reason Number Four: Diabetes And Kidney Or Liver Diseases

Diabetic dogs can sometimes emit a fishy (or even fruity) smell from their mouths. If you realize that your dog has fruity breath that is not so unpleasant as it is strange, take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination and testing.

It could be a sign that your pup has become diabetic, in which case it will require lifelong treatment.

Kidney and liver diseases in dogs can also result in fishy, bad breath. If your dog has breath that smells like urine, or is accompanied by vomiting and yellow eyes or teeth, it could be an indication that there is a serious underlying issue at hand.

Again, the best course of action would be to take your pooch to the vet ASAP for a checkup and blood tests as these diseases can have serious, severe implications.

What Can I Put In My Dog’s Water For Bad Breath?

Lemon mint and ice cubes

Having discussed the reasons above, you now know that a dog can have bad breath even if you are brushing its teeth from time to time.

The most applicable way to protect your dog’s oral hygiene between brushings at home is to add certain additives to your pup’s drinking water. This will help to make sure your best friend’s breath is fresh all the time for kisses galore!

Here are a few different things you can mix into your dog’s water for a fresher mouth:


Mint has proven to be one of the most popular additives to a dog’s water bowl, and for good reason! Just like for human beings, mint is able to freshen dog breath very effectively, as well as provide other benefits such as aiding digestion.

Mint can easily be added straight into your dog’s water source in the form of a couple of leaves for it to be taken naturally. The water bowl can (and should) be left out at all times so your dog can enjoy all-day breath freshening and rehydration!

However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If a dog is given too much mint, it can suffer from symptoms of GI distress such as vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, make sure that you don’t overdo it!

Water that contains too much mint can also turn your dog off it altogether. This obviously isn’t ideal, as not only will your pooch not receive any oral health benefits, it may also become dehydrated in the process. Remember- everything in moderation.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is also another effective additive that you can use to clean up your dog’s smelly breath.

You may wonder where you can attain an ingredient like this, but it is actually readily available in lemon and other citrus fruits!

Simply squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into your dog’s water. The citric acid present has the ability to kill bacteria and neutralize the release of Sulphur compounds both in water and in the dog’s mouth. Add a few drops of apple cider vinegar for even more of a health kick.

Just like with mint, don’t add too many drops of citric acid at once! Most dogs are not fans of the taste of citrus fruits, and too much of the acid can cause irritation to the stomach and even central nervous system depression.


Parsley is a wonderful herb that is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and which has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities. This makes it not only good for a dog’s oral health, but also for its immune system and overall health too!

Its antimicrobial quality helps to rid a dog’s mouth of any bacteria that might be residing there. By doing so, it effectively freshens the breath and helps to clear up minor inflammation and infection.

To add parsley to your dog’s drinking water, chop a teaspoon’s worth finely and drop it into the bowl. Alternatively, you can blend it with water to create a juice for a finer texture. Just make sure you use the curly variety of parsley, and avoid the poisonous seeds!

How Do You Make Dog Mouthwash? 3 Easy Steps!

Salt spoon and water

Making a homemade dog mouthwash is very simple, but understand that it isn’t the same concept as human mouthwash per se. That’s because dogs don’t have the ability to spit any liquid back out!

People have certainly improvised different methods of making doggy mouthwash, all over the internet. Having looked at most of them, I have combined the simplest to make and the most effective.

If you are already taking good care of your dog’s dental hygiene, you don’t have to go for a very strong mouthwash. Follow the steps below and have your simple dog mouthwash:

Step One: Prepare A Cup Of Warm Water

Self-explanatory, really– the title says it all! Prepare some warm water and place it in a clean bowl.

Step Two: Add A ½ Teaspoon Of Salt

I have chosen to use regular table salt for this mouthwash for two main reasons:

  1. Salt is a readily available ingredient in most households, and
  2. Salt’s chloride content helps to kill bacteria that might be living in a dog’s mouth.

Please do not put too much of it into the water however since it can excessively alkalise the oral environment and conversely make it more welcoming for bacteria.

Since the dog will be swallowing the mouthwash and not spitting it out, overly salty water can also create dehydration and toxicity issues if too much is ingested.

Therefore, placing half a teaspoon of salt into the water will be plenty for a canine mouthwash. I also recommend that you rinse your dog’s mouth after administering the mouthwash by providing fresh drinking water.

Step 3: Dissolve

Stir the mixture thoroughly to dissolve the salt completely.

If you give the mouthwash to your dog without allowing it to dissolve properly, you may end up hurting the dog’s tongue, teeth and mouth by allowing the coarse particles to grind against the surfaces.

How To Use The Mouthwash

Wiping pug's mouth with cloth

You will need a washcloth for this step. Dip part of the cloth into the mixture and wring it to reduce it to a suitable dampness so that not too much of the solution is swallowed.

Following that, swab it gently but firmly around the teeth, tongue, and gums. This may be a strange sensation for your dog, and some may not allow it at first. Allow your dog to get used to it at its own pace but doing little bits of cleaning at a time.

After you have finished cleaning with the mouthwash, reward your dog for its patience by giving it a dental-friendly treat. This will eventually condition your dog to recognize cleaning as a positive process.

You can use this mouthwash as frequently as you’d like, since it is mild enough (yet powerful!).

Can You Put Listerine In The Dog’s Water?

You should never put Listerine in your dog’s water under any circumstances.

While it is one of the most popular mouthwashes for human beings, it works for us since we know how to avoid swallowing entirely. A dog, however, cannot do so.

Listerine contains very harsh chemicals, including but not limited to such standouts as methyl silicate, menthol, and ethanol. These are very strong chemicals that are not friendly to the dog’s stomach or mouth.

Adding the mouthwash into a dog’s water will mean that the chemicals will be ingested entirely. This is obviously very damaging for the digestive system and overall health of a canine.

While it could theoretically help do away with the bad dog breath as it does in humans, it will endanger the wellbeing of the dog.

So, Give It To Me Straight: How Can I Make My Dog’s Breath Smell Better?

Rat terrier with paw on mouth

There are so many different ways to make your dog’s breath smell better other than simply using water additives. Take a more holistic approach to your dog’s oral hygiene by following the steps below:

Monitor Your Dog’s Eating Habits

You have a responsibility over the things that your dog eats. As much as that is about providing the most suitable dog food for its needs, it is also about making sure that your dog isn’t enjoying forbidden menu items on the side as well.

Do not allow your dog the habit of foraging through garbage, or scavenging in the bushes for dead or rotting animals.

It also means that you need to keep accessible areas clean at all times. For example, make sure that your yard is clear of any cat poop, dangerous plants, or slug populations.

Keeping your dog’s mouth clean and breath fresh ultimately begins with controlling the things they eat.

Brush Their Teeth

You should also brush your dog’s teeth as frequently as possible. This should be done with a toothbrush or finger brush at least once a day, though twice is really ideal.

Brushing helps to remove waste materials that could otherwise rot in your dog’s mouth and bring about a bad smell. Just make sure to use toothpaste created especially for dogs and not the one sitting on the bathroom shelf, as those can be dangerous for pets.

Consult with your vet on the best toothpaste and brush to use, which will depend on your dog’s specific size and needs.

Otherwise, our article here will have everything you need to know regarding oral hygiene products and methods for keeping a dog’s mouth clean!

Provide Chew Toys

Arm & Hammer Super Treadz Gator & Gorilla Chew Toy for Dogs | Best Dental Dog Chew Toy | Reduces Plaque & Tartar Buildup Without Brushing

Chew toys can be essential in the fight against bad breath since they can help to remove plaque naturally and prevent further tartar build-up and tooth decay.

There are endless options on the market when it comes to dental-minded chew toys, and one of the best is the Super Treadz Gorilla Chew Toy by Arm & Hammer.

If your dog is not attracted to a normal chew toy, you can try to interest them in something like a wood-like chew toy, or an actual raw bone to chew on. Both are sufficiently hard to be able to scrape food residue and plaque off teeth.

Regular Vet Visits

It can sometimes be difficult to narrow down the exact root of the bad breath that your dog is experiencing at any given time. Don’t automatically assume that it is one reason or another, as the problem could be more serious than you actually think!

The only way to find out for sure is by having your dog thoroughly examined by a professionally-trained vet. Visiting your vet regularly is a good idea as you can have the dental health of your dog monitored.

It might sound like an unnecessary expense, but regular vet check-ups can actually be a big money-saver in the long run as you catch any potentially serious issues early!

Use Water Additives

Finally, make good use of those water additives that you found out about in this article today. Whether you decide to use mint, lemon juice, or parsley, adding these ingredients into your dog’s water can help to ensure a healthy mouth and the freshest breath possible.

Complete your dog’s oral care routine with the use of salt water mouthwash. Combined with water additives and regular brushing, this will really take the state of your dog’s mouth to a level that you are sure to be satisfied with!

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