Why Your Boxer Has Bad Breath

While a dog’s mouth mightn’t smell minty fresh, it shouldn’t have a foul odor.

If your Boxer’s breath smells bad, it’s most likely a sign of poor oral health due to a kibble or homecooked diet that doesn’t include raw meaty bones.

Bones are nature’s toothbrush and without them the state of a dog’s teeth rapidly declines.

The good news is that fixing the diet and introducing raw meaty bones can remove plaque and prevent more depositing, resolving foul breath.

Owners often see dramatic results within just a few weeks.

But there are a few other possible causes of bad breath worth being aware of.

Possible Causes Of Bad Breath In Boxers

If your Boxer’s breath smells bad, don’t ignore it.

As with most health problems, a range of different things can all cause foul-smelling breath and some are a lot more serious than others.

Causes of bad breath include:

  • periodontal disease — a healthy Boxer’s teeth should be white and free of any yellow or brown discoloration caused by plaque buildup which turns into tartar and can in turn support bacterial overgrowth and gingivitis (gum inflammation)
  • rotten tooth
  • foreign body stuck in teeth (thoroughly inspect the mouth with a flashlight)
  • teething — adult teeth come in anywhere from 4 to 8 months old, bad breath from teething may have a sour tinge to it
  • eating feces — whether from wildlife, other dogs or cats
  • eating an old bone he had buried in the back yard
  • burps associated with gastrointestinal issues
  • diabetes (produces slightly sweet-smelling or fruity breath)
  • kidney disease (ammonia or urine-type smell)
  • liver problems (musty smell from sulfur that liver is having trouble filtering)
  • oral tumor (rotting vegetable smell from dying tissues)
  • detox (if you have recently improved your dog’s diet or stopped medication you may notice temporary halitosis. This kind of bad breath will clear on its own if you maintain proper feeding)

Most serious health conditions will involve more symptoms than just bad breath on its own.

Number One Cause Of Bad Breath In Boxers

The most likely cause of bad breath is something much less dramatic than all of the above.

In most dogs bad breath is a simple case of poor dental hygiene caused by inappropriate diet.

As a result of not eating raw meaty bones, your Boxer probably has particles of putrefying food trapped between the teeth.

Both the decaying food and the bacteria that are breaking it down can produce an odor.

How To Fix Bad Breath In Boxer Dogs

The solution to typical bad breath in Boxers is so simple many owners overlook it entirely and reach instead for “remedies”, breath freshening products or even teeth cleanings under anesthetic.

To prevent or fix mouth odor, ensure your Boxer always eats a natural canine diet containing loads of raw meaty bones.

In 2016, researchers studying Beagles observed an 87 per cent reduction in dental calculus after just three weeks of feeding beef bones.

Every meat meal your Boxer consumes should contain edible bone as well as muscle meat (and a little offal once or twice a week).

Edible bone means bone that is not just chewed upon, but swallowed and entirely consumed by your dog, as an essential component of his nutrition.

See also: How To Raw Feed A Boxer

In addition, your Boxer needs a “recreational” bone once or twice a week (lamb necks are a great choice).

He’ll consume almost all of this bone too, but it can be a good idea to take away the last chunk once it gets to gulp-able size.

Bones Are Nature’s Toothbrush

Raw meaty bones improve dental health because:

  • the crunching, gnawing, ripping and tearing action involved in devouring raw meaty bones cleans food debris and plaque from teeth
  • chewing the ligaments, cartilage and tendons on bones has a flossing effect
  • beneficial bacteria and live enzymes in raw meat destroy pathogenic bacteria and prevent the plaque and tartar that otherwise builds up on your dog’s teeth
  • raw meaty bones create the right habitat for a healthy oral microbiome

In contrast, the vast majority of pet dogs have developed periodontal disease by the age of two.

What do almost all of these dogs eat?

Kibble.

Veterinarian Dr Tom Lonsdale ran an experiment and found even previously raw-fed dogs developed signs of dental disease after only 17 days of eating kibble.

The symptoms resolved once the dogs were returned to a raw meaty bone-based diet.

Pre-made raw diets only go halfway towards optimal dental health because mince or patties deny the dog all that crunching, ripping and tearing.

To receive the oral benefits, dogs need to not only swallow pulverized bone, but to physically crush it up themselves.

Plus, chewing bones is psychologically satisfying and a big stress reliever for carnivores like dogs.

How Not To Treat Bad Breath In Boxers

Resist the temptation to combat bad breath by resorting to products that can cause more problems than they fix, including:

  • mouthwashes
  • water additives
  • mouth sprays
  • dog-safe toothpaste, and
  • dental chews.

Why?

Check the ingredient list.

These remedies involve your Boxer ingesting chemicals that have no place in a dog’s body.

Even dental chews are highly processed, shelf stable, treated with chemical preservatives and contain non biologically-appropriate ingredients as well as artificial flavorings and colorings.

And all of it is unnecessary if you just feed your Boxer what he’s born to eat.

Expensive and risky anesthetic procedures to clean the teeth become 100 per cent unnecessary if you provide your Boxer with a species-appropriate diet that includes plenty of raw meaty bones.

Some vets might be happy to downplay the dangers of anesthesia (which are multiplied for brachycephalic breeds like Boxers) and to make these cleanings routine.

However, veterinarian Dr Michael Fox told Dogs Naturally Magazine, “Cleaning teeth on a regular basis under general anesthesia is a high-risk money-maker than can mean death for otherwise healthy animals.”

If you ever must have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned, there are places that offer cleanings without anesthetizing your dog.

Note: another disingenuous claim made in discussions about dog food is that kibble itself cleans a dog’s teeth because it’s crunchy and abrasive.

This is a bit like suggesting you can eat corn chips instead of brushing your teeth.

It’s a marketing gimmick and demonstrably untrue given it’s these same kibble-fed dogs that provide the clientele for annual cleanings under anesthetic.

In his book Give Your Dog a Bone, Australian vet and leading voice in the field of dog nutrition, Dr Ian Billinghurst goes so far as to link the very emergence of the specialty of veterinary dentistry to the widespread adoption of kibble feeding.

Conclusion

While many things can cause bad breath in dogs, it’s usually due to a lack of raw meaty bones in the diet.

When a dog doesn’t eat bones he is missing out on the central element of a natural canine diet.

Without bones, rotting food builds up between the teeth, leading to bacterial overgrowth and eventually periodontal disease.

If your Boxer has bad breath and isn’t yet eating a raw diet that includes lots of bones, this is the first thing to do.

You are likely to notice a huge improvement right away.

Of course, if you feed raw meaty bones for a good period of time and your Boxer’s breath still stinks, it might be time to reassess what’s going on.

Blood tests through your vet might be in order to identify whether persistent bad breath has a more systemic cause.

References

A longitudinal assessment of periodontal disease in 52 miniature schnauzers, Mark D Marshall, BMC Veterinary Research, 2014

Is bad breath in dogs a sign of illness? Jones Veterinary Hospital

Give Your Dog a Bone, Dr Ian Billinghurst, 1993

Pets With Bad Breath Is A Stinky Issue, Academy Animal Hospital, October 18 2017

Puppy teething, Greencross Vets

Raw beef bones as chewing items to reduce dental calculus in Beagle dogs, F R Marx et al, Australian Veterinary Journal, 2016

The Disturbing Cause of Dental Disease In Dogs, Dana Scott, Dogs Naturally Magazine, May 12, 2020

What To Read Now

13 Tips For Keeping A Boxer Cool