Y’all… Does your dog’s breath smell stinky like a fish or rotten meat? If so, you’re not alone. Halitosis in dogs is real and many dog parents suffer from the effects of it while loving on their pups. But, is your dogs bad breath a nuisance or a serious health problem? A dogs bad breath is so common that some pet owners believe that’s just how things are and they don’t think twice about it. But the truth is, that is not how it’s supposed to be – your dog’s breath shouldn’t smell like death. Your dog’s bad breath can indicate health issues in their digestive system, kidneys, or mouth. Let’s go over some of the reasons why your dog’s breath may smell and ways to get their breath smelling fresh!

What is Halitosis in Dogs?

Halitosis is the term that the medical community uses to describe a foul odor coming from the mouth. Bacteria in the mouth that is associated with plaque and cavities is the most common factor in halitosis in dogs. Most of the time the only symptom of halitosis is the bad breath coming from your dogs mouth. However, we shouldn’t just assume that our dog’s bad breath is just a bad case of bacteria – there could be a serious underlying medical condition.

What Are The Causes Of Halitosis in Dogs?

Halitosis occurs because of a variety reasons. Some of them include:

  • Bacteria associated with plaque
  • Tartar or calculus buildup
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Bacterial or Fungal infections
  • Decomposing food particles within periodontal pockets
  • Bleeding due to coagulation abnormalities
  • Coprophagia (when your dog eats feces)
  • Tissue necrosis

With all that said you should know that the most common cause of halitosis in your dog is periodontal disease which comes from plaque biofilm and tartar build-up – just like in humans.

Which Dog Breeds Are More Prone To Having Bad Breath?

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

  • Pug
  • Pekingese
  • Poodles
  • Chihuahua
  • Schnauzers
  • Shetland Sheep
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • St Bernard
  • Maltese
  • Maltipoo
  • Bernard
  • Bulldogs
  • Italian Greyhounds
  • Rottweiler
  • Papillon
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Since these dog breeds commonly show signs of periodontal disease you need to take extra care of their oral health so that they can live long happy lives without stinking you out!

When Is My Dog’s Bad Breath A Sign Of Sickness?

A quick look at your dogs teeth and you’ll be able to identify if plaque and tartar are a cause of your dog’s bad breath. However, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, the dog’s bad breath is a symptom of an underlying serious illness. Here are some health concerns often associated with halitosis.

Could Liver Disease Be The Reason My Dog’s Breath Stinks?

If liver problems are to blame for your dogs foul breath you can expect a more rotten and foul odor. A liver disease can stem from gum disease in dogs. This can be accompanied by vomiting and lack of appetite.You should see your vet immediately if you think liver disease could be the underlying health issue causing your dogs bad breath.

Could Kidney Disease Be The Reason My Dog’s Breath Stinks?

If kidney problems are to blame for your dogs foul breath you can expect an ammonia odor coming from your dogs mouth. 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. That smell is not a public urinal – that is your dog needing to see their vet immediately.

Could Diabetes Be The Reason My Dog’s Breath Stinks?

If diabetes is to blame for your dogs foul breath you should smell a hint of sweetness or fruity in their breath. Dogs can be prone to getting diabetes due to their eating habits. Most of popular dog foods and treats are loaded with sugar which can be destructive to their health. A sweet fruity smell in their breath isn’t a sweet deal and you should consider seeing your vet soon.

Could An Oral Tumor Be To Blame For My Dog’s Bad Breath?

Large breeds can be prone to oral tumors that have began to die in the dogs mouth. The growths occur when the cells in your dog’s mouth multiply extremely fast and the blood flow in the area can’t deliver enough oxygen to keep the growths alive. The dead growths then cause unprotected areas of the mouth to become breeding grounds for bacteria – and bacteria equals funk breath. Some of the warning signs include foul breath and discoloration of the dogs teeth and tongue. If you notice any of these characteristics, it’s time for a pup check up.

How Can I Get Rid Of My Dog’s Bad Breath?

For most dogs their bad breath is due to the build up on their teeth and it is a simple solution to treat their bad breath, but what works for one dog may not work for everyone. Depending on the severity of your dog’s bad breath and the underlying cause of the bad breath you may want to seek the advice of a veterinarian before treating it. Here are a few ways that you can battle your dog’s bad breath:

Use Treats To Get Rid Of Your Dog’s Bad Breath

There are so many treats that claim to cure your dog’s bad breath, but I highly suggest that you consult your vet and find a vet-approved dental chew that can do the trick. My personal favorite vet-approved dental chew is from Oravet (you can get a 30 day supply right off of Amazon).

Most “bad breath” treats need to appeal to a dog’s taste buds, so companies love to fill them with sugar and flavorings. As we learned earlier sugar can be one of the causes for bad breath and poor health in your dog so you do not want to buy just any treats for bad breath. Sure, they might help mask the immediate smell in your dog’s mouth, but a long-term effect may be tooth decay or diabetes which just worsens the halitosis and their overall health. Adding bones or hard chews into a dog’s diet is a great way to keep their teeth clean and their breath fresh. Consider these Yak Milk Dog Chews from EcoKind as a safe alternative to rawhide or regular bones. Yak Milk bones are 100% all natural, vet approved and approved by our seven rescues!

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Can Get Rid Of Your Dog’s Bad Breath

Just like in humans, regular brushing is so important for your dog’s health and overall hygiene. This set of dog toothbrush and toothpaste from Virback will be very helpful. Make sure you’re using tooth paste designed for dogs and not humans – human toothpaste can upset your dog’s stomach. Scientists have formulated dog toothpaste to taste like chicken so your dog will enjoy the taste.

Check out this amazingly informal video of how to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth from VetVid Episode 007.

Add A Mouthwash To Your Dog’s Daily Routine To Get Rid Of A Dog’s Bad Breath

Listen, your dog isn’t going to gargle and spit every morning, but they do make a dog “mouthwash” that you can add directly to their water bowl. Unlike the human version of mouthwash, these are completely safe for your dog to drink. Check out the Dental Care Water Additive from Oxyfresh!

Your Dog’s Bad Breath May Mean It’s Time For A Vet Check Up

The real and safe answer to your dog’s bad breath is to schedule them a visit with their vet. The veterinarian can examine your dog’s oral problem thoroughly to find the root cause of the foul odor. A true diagnosis and professional recommendations to cure the true cause of your dog’s bad breath.

Give Your Dog Some Dental Love With Homemade Dog Breath Fresheners

There are so many options for a homemade remedy and once you find the right one that your dog loves and that works best for your pup, stick with it!

Here are some homemade 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.



Keep your dog happy, healthy, and smelling fresh in order to make play time more comfortable and the puppy kisses more enjoyable!

Join us over in the MuttScrub Facebook Community for more tips and tricks!


You may also enjoy our other blogs here:

How to Eliminate Dog Odor In Your House

How to find a good anti-itch shampoo for dogs.