Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath

Kidney Disease Could Be A Source of Dog's Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common health issue affecting numerous dogs. According to a November 2020 bulletin from the American Veterinary Medical Association, it affects 80% of canines.

Bacteria can build up on the uneven surface or rugae of the tongue and leads to a foul smell. Plaque and tartar build-up alongside other common causes like kidney disease or liver problems, also lead to halitosis. 

Usually, getting a scale and polish done will drastically reduce your dog’s bad breath. During this procedure, a vet cleans your dog’s teeth right down to the gum line, removing all plaque buildup. If abiding by a strict tooth brushing regimen and practicing adequate dental care also does not help, it could be a sign of other major diseases. 

5 Reasons Your Dog Has Bad Breath

Although we have already touched upon some factors that cause bad breath, we will exclusively discuss more physiological and biological causes in this section.

Dietary Habits

A high intake of sulfur compounds in the diet is to be avoided. Moreover, as if eating cat poop wasn’t bad enough, some dogs eat their own poop or the poop of other dogs; a clinical condition known as coprophagia. These revolting dietary habits that are undertaken by your dog lead to foul breath.

Dental or Gum Disease

Oral hygiene is often neglected in pets. A sour taste in the mouth could be a sign of periodontal disease. Too much plaque and tartar build-up can push the gums anteriorly away from the teeth, exposing new areas for bacteria to thrive in. This inflames the dog’s gums and can lead to cavities, infection, tissue destruction, tooth loss, and even pus formation.

Oral Tumors

Although bad breath may not necessarily be a symptom of an oral tumor, oral tumors do result in bad breath. Oral tumors, unless detected early, can pose a major health problem in later parts of life. Canines who have had a health condition like an oral tumor, show increased susceptibility to mouth ulcers, gum disease, and bad breath.

The only way to ensure these problems do not arise is to take care of the dental health of your pooch and visit a vet at least quarterly.

Food or Foreign Substance

Consuming fermented food or dairy products can lead to the growth of bacteria in the mouth, leading to bad dog breath. These food items tend to get stuck around the gums and teeth, leading to gum inflammation. Part and parcel of good oral health are making sure your dog has a good brushing regimen, to scrape off these food or foreign substances lodged in the nooks of the dog’s teeth.

Treatment options include going for a dental cleaning once a week, and getting the feedback of an expert. Regular vet visits also ensure that any oral health issues are dealt with immediately, without acting as potential hazards for the future.


Diabetes is a medical condition in which normal glucose or sugar levels go beyond the control of the natural physiological regulation system of the body. As a result, the sugar content in the saliva also increases, leading to a corrosive action on teeth. Baby teeth are especially affected by juvenile diabetes. This extra glucose leads to an accumulation of plaque, which is the leading cause of bad breath.

An easy way to diagnose if your dog has diabetes is to smell its breath. Canines with diabetes tend to have bad breath that smells sweet, a symptom known as ketoacidosis [1]. If you find this symptom persisting in your pet, it is time to visit a licensed professional.

5 Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

What Can You Do To Prevent Bad Dog Breath?

Using a good toothpaste and implementing a vigorous brushing technique for your dogs is something that should never be skimped upon.

A dog’s mouth can be a breeding ground for pathogens that can not only adversely affects its health but also that of its owners. Since dogs have a tendency to drool all over the place, it is of utmost importance to get rid of the bacteria in the mouth, so that no germs are brought into the house either.

Other than going for weekly dental cleanings and brushing regularly, dental chew treats and other chew toys can be a somewhat effective way of doing away with bad breath in dogs. These are a good means of combating gingivitis, a periodontal disease whose most common causes include plaque build-up.

In addition to this, a lesser-known fact is that vitamin E or tocopherol helps in battling bad dog breath. Remember to buy a pack of multivitamins if you are truly invested in keeping away dental disease in your dog!

Dog Bad Breath May Be Due to Liver Disease

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bad breath in dogs a sign of illness?

Yes, more often than not, bad breath is a sign of underlying illness. This can range from gum disease to kidney and liver disease in extreme cases. Generally, your dog’s breath can smell bad after intake of dairy products or fermented food. However, if your dog’s breath is chronically smelling bad, it might be a cause for concern.

What can I give my dog for bad breath at home?

Home remedies for bad breath including changing lifestyle and dietary habits. Incorporating parsley into your dog’s diet can be a way to freshen up your dog’s breath. Apple cider vinegar, when mixed in your dog’s water bowl, can also help in the prevention of gum disease.

Since plaque is the common cause of bad dog breath, using dental chew treats can also help clean the teeth, all in the comfort of your home. However, it is mandatory to note that home remedies are not a substitute for vet visits.

Do I need to brush my dog’s teeth regularly?

It is a common misconception that dogs do not need to brush daily. Humans are advised to brush their teeth twice a day for good oral hygiene, and the same goes for their pet dogs. Not brushing thoroughly or daily can lead to bleeding gums and tooth decay or loss.

How do I prevent my dog from having bad breath?

Give your dog fresh food and keep a check on your dog’s mouth for any signs of disease. Each dog has specific needs and it is best to abide by the advice of an experienced vet. Although natural and medicinal remedies are many, a good ‘ol toothbrush and toothpaste can work wonders.


It is through the mouth that most pathogens enter our dog’s body, affecting all other systems devastatingly. If topics like oral health are highlighted more, we can prevent most problems that affect both man and his pet friends.

It is quite normal to go searching for answers to common questions that pop up in a pet owner’s mind. These questions can range from simple inquiries about which toothpaste is better to how to prevent gum disease in dogs.

We hope that through the means of this article, we have helped you answer these common questions and identify the causes of bad breath along with giving you treatment options. The science behind the body is simple and if one understands the main cause of a problem, it becomes relatively easy to combat it.

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