Help: My Dog’s Breath Stinks

help my dog's breath stinks

You love when your dog hops up on your lap and gives you kisses. What you don’t love, though, is when your dog’s breath stinks. 

Sometimes, bad dog breath signals that they need their teeth brushed. In other cases, it can be a more serious issue.

This guide explains what causes bad breath in dogs and provides tips to improve your dog’s oral health. 

Causes of why your dog’s breath stinks

If your dog’s breath stinks, lots of issues could contribute to the problem. Here are some of the most well-known causes of bad dog breath:

Poor oral hygiene

Like humans, dogs’ breath starts to stink if their teeth aren’t brushed consistently. Your dog can’t hold a toothbrush themselves, so you need to be proactive about regular brushing. 

Sneaking smelly snacks

Some dogs have a penchant for eating smelly things — including, unfortunately, feces. This issue is known as coprophagia, which could be the source of your dog’s bad breath. 

Nutrient deficiencies

Various bacteria live in your dog’s mouth and digestive tract. Nutrient deficiencies can cause imbalances in this bacteria. If these imbalances go on for too long, they can cause bad breath.


If you notice that your dog’s breath smells sweet or fruity, that can be a sign of diabetes. Diabetes is also accompanied by other symptoms like frequent drinking and frequent urination.

Kidney disease

Does your dog’s breath smell like urine? If so, that could indicate they’re suffering from kidney disease. 

Liver disease

Your dog may be experiencing liver disease if they have bad breath and other symptoms like frequent vomiting, a yellow tinge to the gums, and a sudden decrease in appetite.

Oral tumors

Oral tumors are also associated with bad breath in dogs — particularly older dogs. If the tumors grow and become infected, the tissues start to die. If this happens, your dog will have bad breath even if you brush their teeth often.

Cat insurance from From Dog insurance from Coverage Contribution Own risk
petsecur logo €8.46 €12.11 €3.250 — €6.000 10% — 50% €0 — €150
per year
ohra logo €14.05 €17.77 €3.000 — €6.000 20% €30 — €50
per year
figopet logo €12.16 €17.42 €3.000 — €5.000 20% — 50% €0 — €250
per year
InShared logo €13.27 €20,14 €3.000 — €6.000 20% none View
Unive logo €13.86 €14.67 €2.500 — €5.000 20% none View
aegon logo €10.56 €13.14 €3.500 25% €25
per claim

How to get rid of bad dog breath

To get rid of bad breath in dogs, you first need to identify the cause. Start by ruling out the most straightforward issues.

For example, if you know that it’s been a while since you brushed your dog’s teeth, then likely it’s time to start this up again. Getting a dog to enjoy tooth brushing takes training and time! Don’t expect it to happen overnight.

Brushing your dog’s teeth will also help to eliminate a bad smell that lingers after they ate something foul.

When to call a vet

If your dog’s bad breath persists even with regular brushing and careful monitoring to ensure they’re not eating anything they shouldn’t, you should contact a vet.

The vet can conduct a thorough exam to identify the cause of their bad breath, then prescribe a customized protocol to address underlying health issues. They can also perform a more thorough cleaning to get rid of plaque or tartar that’s built up on your dog’s teeth.

Preventing bad breath

It’s easier to prevent bad breath than it is to manage it. Here are some strategies you can implement to ensure your dog’s breath stays as fresh as possible:

  • Brush their teeth regularly (ideally daily) with dog-friendly toothpaste
  • Let them gnaw on bones and dental chews (no rawhide)
  • Feed a balanced, veterinarian-approved diet 
  • Carefully monitor scavengers to ensure they don’t eat anything smelly or potentially toxic

You should also schedule regular checkups so your dog’s vet can examine their teeth and catch potential issues early.

What is dental disease in dogs?

If you don’t address poor oral hygiene, your dog may develop dental diseases like gingivitis, periodontal disease, fractured teeth, rotted teeth, and infections.

Dental disease occurs gradually when the teeth aren’t brushed regularly.

Over time, without proper brushing, tartar can accumulate on your dog’s teeth. If this goes on for too long, gingivitis can set in and cause swollen gums.

Long-term gingivitis and plaque buildup can cause bacteria to spread to the teeth roots. The spread of bacteria loosens the ligaments that attach to the teeth, causing severe pain and potential bone loss.   

Signs of dental disease 

If your dog has dental disease, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Bloody gums
  • Tooth discoloration (they may turn brown or yellow)
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased drooling
  • Bloody saliva
  • Blood in their water bowl or on chew toys

Your dog might also be suddenly irritable or aggressive. When their behavior changes out of nowhere, it could be because they’re in pain. 

How to prevent dental disease

The easiest way to prevent dental disease in dogs is to brush their teeth regularly. Ideally, you’ll brush their teeth daily. 

You can brush your dog’s teeth with a soft human toothbrush or a special dog toothbrush. Use dog-specific toothpaste and gently brush each tooth in circular motions. 

If your dog resists having their teeth brushed, consult your vet. They can recommend other products that improve oral hygiene without causing your dog extra discomfort or stress.

You can also keep your dog’s teeth clean with high-quality dental chews. Regular chewing encourages saliva production, which prevents plaque and tartar from building up on their teeth. 

What to do when you suspect dental disease

If your dog exhibits symptoms of dental disease, schedule an appointment with the vet right away.

The vet will perform an exam to look for signs of dental disease and rule out other contributing issues. If they also suspect dental disease, they may recommend putting your dog under anesthesia and performing an in-depth dental exam and cleaning.

If you catch dental disease early, you can prevent it from worsening and preserve the dog’s remaining teeth.

Sick of bad dog breath? We can help! 

Many issues can lead to bad dog breath, from poor oral hygiene to chronic illness.

Remember the information discussed in this guide if you’re tired of holding your breath whenever your dog kisses you. It’ll help you get to the bottom of the problem and make your dog’s breath much more bearable.

Do you want an expert opinion on your dog’s bad breath? If so, Cooper Pet Care is here for you. 

Contact us today and connect with a vet in minutes!   

Looking for answers for
your furry friend?

Use our automatic Symptom Checker for advice on what to do next.

  • Answer questions about the issue to narrow down options
  • Wide range of symptoms and answers
  • Information on the most common toxic foods and household items
What seems to be the problem?
My dog Lily has vomited
Is there blood in the vomit?
Check Symptoms Now

Pet Resource Center