Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Remedies

Dogs love getting up close and personal. Unfortunately, this can be a smelly experience in some cases. Here, our Portland vets discuss what causes bad breath in dogs and what you can do to treat and prevent it from happening.

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

'Dog breath' is a saying that has been used for many years to refer to people with smelly breath. This may have occurred because many dogs have had a case of awful breath at least once in their lives. While it's normal for dogs to have some smell on their breath due to eating, playing with toys, and living, sometimes this smell can become unbearable.

The stink in your dog's bad breath can indicate an underlying health issue causing the smell rather than just a result of their daily activities. So if you find yourself asking, 'Why do dogs have bad breath?' it may be one of the following reasons:

Dental Issues

Bad breath in dogs can be caused by oral health issues, such as tooth decay, gum disease and infections. Bacteria and food particles accumulate in their mouths over time, leading to plaque buildup and a persistent odor. 

If you notice a mild, unpleasant smell coming from your dog's mouth, it may be an early sign of oral health problems. Addressing these issues promptly is important, as they can worsen and affect your pet's overall health and well-being.

To ensure your dog's bad breath is not due to poor oral hygiene, take care of your pet's oral health and take them to the vet for regular professional dental cleanings.

Kidney Disease

While the smell of poop or urine from your dog's breath may simply be caused by them eating something they shouldn't, it could also point to a kidney issue.

When the kidneys fail to filter and process toxins and waste materials, these harmful substances accumulate in the body, causing bad breath and posing a significant threat to the dog's health.

Liver Disease

Bad breath, vomiting, and diarrhea are all symptoms of liver disease. If you suspect liver disease, you should bring your dog to your vet or nearest emergency veterinary clinic right away.

How is bad breath in dogs treated?

When a dog has smelly breath, an underlying health condition often causes it. The type of treatment your dog needs will depend on the cause of the bad breath. It is crucial not to ignore any changes in the smell of your dog's breath and to take them to the vet for examination and diagnosis. Addressing bad breath is essential as it may indicate underlying health issues that need immediate attention.

Your vet may recommend prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, or surgeries to treat your pet's condition, depending on the severity and which part of their body it affects. Your vet can advise you on the best treatment for the underlying health issue causing your dog's bad breath.

How can you prevent stinky dog breath?

The good news is that preventing stinky dog breath is pretty straightforward. One of the easiest ways is to ensure your dog receives regular oral hygiene care daily and professional dental cleanings annually. 

When it comes to at-home care, you can start by brushing your dog's teeth daily, especially when they are young, to help them get used to the experience. If your pup doesn't tolerate brushing, there are a variety of dental chews and specialized dog food available that can promote oral health. Your vet can recommend the best oral health products for your dog.

Preventing internal organ failure and disease that can cause bad breath is also important. You can take several measures to help your dog avoid these issues. For example, some human medications, common houseplants, and foods that are safe for us can be toxic to our pets (like chocolate!). It's crucial to know which substances in your home could cause organ disease or failure in your dog and keep them out of reach as much as possible. Your vet and the ASPCA website can offer a wealth of knowledge on this subject.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your dog developed smelly breath? Contact our veterinary team in Portland to book a dental examination for your pup today.

New Patients Welcome

Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Portland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (503) 644-3101