Why does my dogs breath smell?

Dog breath is a common and, generally harmless condition. While there are many reasons why a dog’s breath might smell, the most common cause is dental disease. Other causes of bad breath in dogs include gastrointestinal problems, liver disease, and metabolic disorders. If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms, such as excessive drooling, appetite loss, or weight loss, then it could be a sign of a more serious condition and you should take them to see a veterinarian.

Dental disease

Most cases of bad breath are caused by dental problems or, dental disease. Bacteria can build up on a dog’s teeth and gums, causing plaque and tartar to form. If these deposits are not removed, they can potentially lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and/or periodontal disease (disease of the tissues around the teeth). Both of these conditions are known to cause bad breath, and may also lead to pain and tooth loss.

If dental disease is the root of the problem, your veterinarian may suggest a professional teeth cleaning. This involves cleaning and removing the build up of plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth, and may also involve extracting any diseased teeth so that nothing may spread.

Gastrointestinal problems

Gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach ulcers or pancreatitis, can also cause bad breath in dogs. These conditions can lead to a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream, which will certainly not smell like roses when breathed out.

If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, they may need to be treated with antibiotics or other medications.

Liver disease

Liver disease is another common cause of bad breath in dogs. The liver is responsible for filtering toxins from the blood, and if it is not working properly, these toxins will build up giving his breath a not-so-great smell.

If your dog’s breath suddenly becomes extremely foul and their bad breath is accompanied by signs such as vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease might be the source of their problems and you should take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

If liver disease is causing the bad breath, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.

Metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, will also cause bad breath in dogs. When the body is not able to metabolize sugar properly, it can lead to a build-up of ketones in the blood. These ketones are then breathed out, causing bad breath.

If your dog has diabetes, they will need to be treated with insulin injections and/or special diet.

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs at Home

There are a few things that you can do to help treat bad breath in dogs but the first and most important thing to do is to have your dog checked by a veterinarian to rule out any serious underlying causes.

Here are a few things that you can do at home to help treat your dog’s bad breath:

  • Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly with a dog-specific toothpaste
  • Giving your dog dental chews or bones to help keep their teeth clean (plus it keeps them busy!)
  • Feeding them a high-quality diet
  • Adding enzymes to their food to help with digestion
  • Making sure they stay well hydrated


Bad breath is a common problem in dogs, but it is usually not serious. However, if the bad breath is accompanied by any other symptoms (such as diarrhea, vomiting, etc) it could be a sign of something more serious and you should take your dog to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.