My Dog’s Breath Smells Really Bad

Does your dog’s breath smell stinky like fish or rotten meat? If so, you’re not alone. Many doggie parents suffer from the effects of their pooch’s halitosis. The foul smell from their mouth makes playtime and hugs less comfortable and enjoyable.  

Is it a nuisance or a serious problem? This condition is so common that many pet owners believe that’s how things are really supposed to be. But the truth is, that is not how it’s supposed to be. It can indicate so many health issues in the digestive system, kidney, or mouth of your pup.  

We will help you learn some of the reasons why your dog’s breath smells really bad and some ways you can fix it now. 

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What is Halitosis in Dogs? 

Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. For the most part, the condition in dogs has the same cause as in humans, and that is bacteria in the mouth associated with plaque and tartar.

The bacteria in the mouth cause decay and creates smelly sulfur compounds that affect the integrity of the tissue barrier.

Like us, our four-legged friends love to munch on foods all the time. The only difference is that they can’t brush their teeth or floss on their own. 

What Causes Halitosis in Dogs? 

Halitosis occurs because of many possible reasons. Some of them include: 

  • Bacteria associated with plaque 
  • Tartar or calculus buildup 
  • Decomposing food particles within periodontal pockets 
  • Bleeding due to coagulation abnormalities 
  • Tissue necrosis 

Note that normal lung air and stomach odors do not cause halitosis in dogs.  

The most common cause of halitosis in your doggo is a periodontal disease that comes from plaque biofilm and tartar build-up. Plaque biofilm can form as easily as when dogs start to salivate, even when they have freshly polished teeth. After some days, this buildup mineralizes and forms tartar. 

The tartar that forms on the tooth causes more plaque buildup and later on, gum inflammation or gingivitis. As it ages, gingivitis progresses into periodontitis or the loss of tooth support due to bacterial flora transforming from good bacteria to bad.  

Which Breeds are More Prone to Halitosis? 

Small and flat-faced breeds are more prone to oral diseases because their teeth are closer together. Some of these breeds include: 

  • Pug 
  • Chihuahua 
  • Schnauzers 
  • Maltese 
  • St. Bernard 
  • Bulldog 
  • Rottweiler 
  • Papillon 
  • Yorkshire Terrier 

These regular victims of periodontal disease need extra care and attention so that they can keep their pearly whites clean and healthy! 

When is Bad Breath a Sign of Sickness? 

It’s easy to identify plaque and tartar as a cause of bad breath. Just get your pet to open wide, and take a look inside their mouth. If it’s dirty, then it’s time to give them a brush and pay a visit to the vet. 

However, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, bad breath is a symptom of an underlying illness. Here are some health concerns often associated with halitosis. 

Liver Disease 

Liver disease can stem from gum disease in dogs. This can be accompanied by vomiting and lack of appetite. 

Kidney Disease 

When your dog can’t eliminate their waste, especially urine, the pungent smell of ammonia comes out of their mouth as the pee makes its way to the bloodstream. This unpleasant scent is similar to that of a public toilet. 


Our fur babies can be prone to diabetes because of their eating habits. Most dog foods and treats are loaded with sugar which can be destructible for their health. A sweet fruity smell in their breath is a sign of the illness. 

It can be accompanied by discoloration in the mouth, a change in behavior, and a weak immune system.  

Oral Tumors 

PetMD explains that large breeds are prone to oral tumors because of their body growing at a rate where their red blood cells cannot seem to keep up.  

This then causes unprotected areas of the mouth to be breeding grounds for bacteria. Warning signs include foul breath and discoloration of teeth and tongue.  

If you notice any of these signs or issues in your dog, take them to the vet to get checked out immediately. 

How Can I Treat Bad Breath in My Dog? 

Depending on the severity of your dog’s bad breath, there is a variety of ways you can treat the condition, from home remedies to professional help. Here are some of them. 


There are so many treats that claim to cure your dog’s bad breath. These treats need to appeal to a dog’s palate, so most companies love to be excessive with sugar and flavorings. Do not buy these kinds of treats for your pup. 

Sure, they might help remove the smell in Fido’s mouth, but a long-term effect may be tooth decay which can just worsen the halitosis.  

Some great ingredients in dog treats include cinnamon, clove, and chlorophyll. Bones in a dog’s diet are also a great way to keep their teeth clean and their breath fresh.  

Consider these cheese knot treats from Rewardables. They are free from grain and made with real cheese to help strengthen and sanitize your dog’s teeth and gums. Your dog will surely enjoy nibbling on these treats. 

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth 

Regular brushing is so important for your dog’s hygiene. Make sure it’s a part of their routine no matter how young or old they are. It’s best to start them young since many older dogs will not allow you to brush their teeth due to insufficient training. 

This set of dog toothbrush and toothpaste from Bluestem will be very helpful. As hilarious as it sounds, scientists formulated it to taste like chicken so your furry friend will enjoy the taste.

Still, it claims to feature its coactiv+ formula that fights off plaque and reduces tartar for improved oral hygiene and fresher breath.   

Consult a Vet 

A vet can help with your dog’s oral problem by diagnosing the cause of the condition and prescribing the appropriate medications.  

Whatever it is, your vet will know how to proceed and take action. You can also ask them about the best products or DIY remedies for your dog’s foul breath.  

A Balanced Diet 

A holistic approach to your dog’s bad breath involves a well-balanced diet. Different breeds have different needs when it comes to nutrition. Here are some tips that can help. 

  • Wet food is easier to digest and less likely to get trapped between their teeth. Give them just a small amount and avoid high sugar foods that may rot their teeth. 
  • Home-cooked meals are ideal for digestion, teeth, and fresh breath. Make sure it is packed with the right amount of nutrients

Homemade Dog Breath Fresheners 

There are so many options for a homemade remedy and once you find the right one that works best for your pup, stick with it! Here are some easy breath-freshening tips: 

  • Raw coconut oil mixed in with their food 
  • Half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in your dog’s water bowl 
  • Cinnamon, turmeric, or parsley sprinkled on your dog’s solid food.  

Veterinary Secrets shares some home remedies that work for your doggie’s stinky breath! 

The Way to Fresher Dog Breath 

Your dog’s bad breath can be as mild as tartar build-up, or as serious as a kidney problem. What should you do? It goes without saying that any health concerns you have mean you should seek professional advice first. 

A good oral hygiene routine and a healthy balanced diet should be established. Even a “normal” dog breath shouldn’t be ignored as it may be your dog’s diet that lacks balance or they need more regular dental care.  

Keep your dog healthy and happy in order to make playtime more comfortable and kissing more enjoyable!