Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell So Bad?

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While you love sloppy kisses from your pup, one thing you can't handle is his bad breath. Why is it so smelly?


As a pet parent, you're concerned. You're wondering what bad breath in dogs means medically speaking, and how you can treat it. What if there's an underlying health issue you need to address?

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Taking a look at some of the causes of bad breath is going to be helpful when trying to pinpoint exactly what's going on. Then, you can look into getting your dog treatment and making sure he has clean, fresh breath in no time.


What are the common causes of bad breath in dogs?

Bad breath in dogs can be caused by a number of factors, the most common being periodontal diseases and poor oral hygiene. If your dog has a buildup of tartar and plaque in his mouth—which looks like sticky, hard, and scaly discolorations—then bacteria is going to develop, and he may be susceptible to bad breath. Along with having stinky breath, bad oral care can cause cavities, tooth loss, tissue destruction, and infection.

Another cause may be that your dog is eating unpleasant things, like poop or garbage. To stop your dog from doing this, you may need to feed him vitamins, since that's what he might be trying to get by eating poop, supplement his food with enzymes, and get taste-aversion products that contains things like parsley, yucca, and chamomile to spray on his poop.


Yet another possible cause of bad breath in dogs is kidney disease. If your dog's breath smells like urine, he may be suffering from kidney disease, and you'll need to take him to the veterinarian right away. If your dog is drinking more water, urinating more frequently, is losing weight, seems depressed, is vomiting, and has diarrhea, he could have kidney disease.

Diabetes may be a factor if your dog's breath smells sweet or fruity, and a foul odor emanating from the mouth, yellow gums, and a lack of appetite could signal liver disease. These are both serious conditions, so you should take your pup to the vet as soon as possible to have him examined.


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Treating bad breath in dogs

Once you've eliminated any health problems by talking to your vet, the first thing you should do to combat bad breath in dogs is take the time to invest in proper oral care. This means that you brush his teeth on a regular basis with a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste. If you don't know quite where to start with this process, take a look at our guide to brushing your dog's teeth.


Caring pet parents should also schedule a professional teeth cleaning for their dogs at the veterinarian every one to three years, depending on the health of their dogs' teeth and gums. During this procedure, your dog will go under anesthesia, and your vet will clean under your dog's gums as well as other tough-to-reach places. If need be, the vet will take X-rays as well to ensure there aren't any other underlying issues.

There are some dog foods that are made for oral care. You can look for food that is specially formulated for doggies' teeth and gums. One of the treats you can give him is dental chews, which are known for helping with bad breath in dogs by controlling tartar and freshening their teeth. You need to give your dog the dental chews on a regular basis and couple them with brushing your dog's teeth in order for them to be truly effective.


If your dog doesn't like dental chews, you can hide doggy toothpaste or dental chews in his toys. While he's munching away on the toy, his breath will become fresher and his teeth will get stronger.

You can also get mouthwash for your dog that you add into his water bowl. He likely won't notice a thing, and he'll be cleaning his mouth every time he goes for a sip.

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Bad breath in dogs can be a sign of an underlying health issue, or it may just show you that your dog is eating nasty things. The best course of action, aside from brushing his teeth frequently and monitoring his teeth and gums, is to take him to the veterinarian if you think something else is wrong. If the bad breath is coupled with other signs of illness, it's especially important that you seek out your vet's advice right away so your dog can be treated in a timely manner.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.