Are Listerine strips safe for dogs

Are Listerine strips safe for dogs?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

We probably shouldn’t use Listerine Pocketpaks® breath strips to treat our dog’s bad breath now that we know all of this. The best breath strips for your dog are the ones made just for them. Listerine Pocketpaks ® breath strips contain just too many toxic or potentially harmful ingredients, especially if they are used long-term as part of an oral health regimen.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Are Listerine strips safe for dogs?“.

Yes I understand. The smell of your dogs breath is so bad you just want a quick fix. Perhaps you’re thinking you could just give them Listerine Pocketpaks® breath strips. 

Are Listerine strips safe for dogs

Lets discuss this first before you ask which flavor would be better a fresh burst of cool mint.

Can dogs even use Listerine breath strips?

First lets take a look at:

  • Listerine breath strips are what they sound like.
  • What are the ingredients in them?
  • Is anything in them toxic for dogs?

We’ll deal with the root of the problem next:

  • In any case why do dogs have bad breath?
  • How can they be treated?

Perhaps we’ll even discover there are breath strips made specifically for dogs (spoiler alert: there are).

What are Listerine breath strips?

Listerine Pocketpaks® breath strips were introduced in the fall of 2001 by Pfizer. They are tissue-thin polymer strips that dissolve in your mouth to soothe your breath – essentially a way to carry Listerine in your pocket.

There is one more thing – they are made for humans.

What are the ingredients in Listerine Breath Strips?

You can find them here:

It contains pullulan menthol sucralose mentha viridis (spearmint) leaf oil glycerol oleate polysorbate 80 copper gluconate carrageenan methyl salicylate eucalyptol thymol flavor Ceratonia siliqua (carob) gum glucose propylene glycol xanthan gum green 3 yellow 6 and other flavors.

In each ingredient of the product there are trade secrets. Sssh!

The list of ingredients does not include xylitol. If you search the internet for whether breath freshening products made for humans are suitable for dogs you’ll find warnings about xylitol which can sometimes cause dangerous drops in a dogs blood sugar.

Listerine breath strips do not contain xylitol. Are they safe then?

I wouldnot go that far.

Are any of these ingredients toxic to dogs?

Yes! Can you tell me which ones?


Menthol is popular with many humans. Refreshing. It is not so refreshing for dogs whose tissues in the mouth and digestive system are irritated causing colic vomiting and diarrhea.

ASPCA lists menthol in a list of ingredients known to cause “cough drop toxicity” which causes gastrointestinal upset.

The cooling action of menthol can in the worst cases stop the lungs from exchanging oxygen which can lead to death. Bad news.

Toxic doses of menthol are reported at 2000 mg/kg. Would one strip be sufficient? Who knows? It is a “trade secret” how much of each ingredient is in each strip (or the whole pack in case your dog decides to eat it all).


Dogs may experience diarrhea when ingesting these substances even though they are not technically toxic. Thats good to know.

Spearmint leaf oil

Even though essential oils derived from mint plants are potentially beneficial and therapeutic in diluted amounts the ASPCA considers them toxic in large amounts which can result in vomiting diarrhea and weakness in pets. 

Potassium Acesulfame

It is not technically toxic and it was not considered a health hazard in one study. Studies have shown that this sweetener causes respiratory diseases leukemias and cancer in the lungs and breast.

Polysorbate 80

It is not listed as toxic anywhere but after studies showed intravenous injection caused hypersensitive reactions and cardiopulmonary distress there are still “concerns” about this substance.


This food additive is derived from red seaweed and is potentially carcinogenic. In lab animals it caused intestinal damage inflammation ulcers lesions and colon cancer.

Methyl Salicylate

It is a chemical related to aspirin and is found in ointments liniments and sports rubs. Small amounts can probably be tolerated by dogs but overdoses are quite dangerous.

Propylene Glycol

Large quantities of this substance are toxic.

Green 3 and Yellow 6

Dogs probably should not consume these coloring agents. These agents have been linked to allergic reactions hyperactivity in children and adrenal gland and kidney tumors in animals. I think its safer to stick to natural food colorings when it comes to dog food.

Why do dogs have bad breath?

In this case we’re not talking about “dog breath” we’re talking about bad breath. Dog breath isnot abnormal. Periodontal disease is usually accompanied by bad breath due to plaque and tartar buildup. 

In between on and around the teeth small pieces of food can get stuck. As the food begins to decompose a soft plaque forms. When the plaque hardens it becomes tartar. This causes swelling and reddening of the gums. Gingivitis is caused by this.

With decay and infections this becomes even more damaging – and painful! For the dog. The signs of increasingly serious periodontal disease can include redness and swelling in the gums excessive drooling or disinterest in eating drinking and playing.

Among the less common causes of bad breath are diabetes liver disease and kidney disease.

How to stop bad breath in dogs?

Your veterinarian should be consulted if you suspect anything other than mild periodontal disease. Otherwise.

Brush your dog’s teeth!

It is possible to buy toothbrushes and toothpaste for dogs and do it yourself. The toothpaste for dogs is edible unlike toothpaste for humans. Many dogs enjoy it.

Change their food

Food that is dry is abrasive which can be beneficial. Crunching helps get rid of the crud. Maintaining a healthy diet is essential as well. Furthermore there are oral health diets – a selection of dog food formulated to improve oral health as well as additives for water.

Give them dental sticks

Once or twice a day give your dog one of these. Dogs love them because they are so easy to make and are so easy to clean up. 

Give them chewable toys

Toys can serve as toothbrushes if they are designed specifically for this purpose. However even if they are not they can serve as brushing tools. Encourage your dog to chew something!

Rawhide and bones

The rawhide may not be appropriate for all dogs but if your dog is a soft chewer a quality rawhide may be a good choice. Bones of the appropriate size may also be useful. 

Natural ways!

Using natural products to clean your dogs teeth is among the healthiest and most budget-friendly options.

 Crush carrots celery or apples for them to munch on. Serve their food with coconut oil or yogurt. Mint leaves are another option. Pour a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or a few drops of lemon juice into their bowl of water. Each of these methods will promote good dental health.

Take your dog to the vet

It might be necessary to take your dog to the veterinarian if the situation is quite dire or none of the above solutions are working. A vet will typically perform a deep cleaning which involves scraping and polishing etc. Anesthesia is required. Costs are higher as well.

So are there breath strips for dogs?

Because you came here wondering if Listerine breath strips could be given to your dog I have to mention.

Dogs can use breath strips. Among the companies that make them are Arm & Hammer and Pet Strips.


We probably should not use Listerine Pocketpaks® breath strips to treat our dogs bad breath now that we know all of this.

The best breath strips for your dog are the ones made just for them. Listerine Pocketpaks ® breath strips contain just too many toxic or potentially harmful ingredients especially if they are used long-term as part of an oral health regimen.

Additionally there are so many better ways to improve your dogs breath and clean their teeth! 

Stopping bad breath is best accomplished by combining all the methods above. They all offer unique benefits. In addition to your dogs breath you should also consider their overall health.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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