Causes Of Bad Breath In Dogs. A Helpful Guide

Checking for the cause of bad breath in dogs. We should keep the dog still and carefully examine its mouth. We ought to look for:


  • A brownish tinge that’s a telltale sign of tartar build-up
  • Dark brown spots on the teeth
  • Red gums, which tell us that they are inflamed
  • Rotten or loose teeth.

How common is bad breath in dogs?


The truth is, bad breath in dogs is a common occurrence, and it has been giving dog owners a hard time for years now. No matter how many times we tell them not to eat this or that, dogs just love eating foul things, which usually leads to horrible breath.


But are there any other reasons why our furry pride and joy might need a doggy breath mint?


Causes of bad breath in dogs


Before our dogs develop bad breath, we ought to know that there are some things we can do about it. Truthfully, any dog owner out there should make sure the dog has good oral hygiene and is not eating everything that gets under its nose.


Nevertheless, there are other causes of bad breath in dogs, and they are not all connected to what they’ve been munching on.


Oral hygiene and dental or gum disease


Of course, the number one reason for bad breath in dogs is the lack of oral hygiene. But can we really blame them for it? After all, they cannot hold a toothbrush, so in the end, if the dog’s breath stinks, it’s on us.


In any case, the plaque and tartar build-up inside their mouth is bound to start stinking up the room soon. Furthermore, the fact that we cannot really use floss on them (they might wonder what we are trying to do) means that bits of food can easily get stuck between their teeth.


Another bad thing that can come out of not brushing their teeth is dental or gum disease. Even humans who have a lot of tartar and plaque built up could experience receding gums. Thus, bacteria can have a field day on the exposed gums, making it a lot more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene. This can lead to gum disease and even some teeth getting infected. Pus might be formed too, and some of the tissue can also get destroyed.


This is a serious problem in most dogs, purely because, without their teeth, they won’t be able to eat properly. So prevention and getting their teeth cleaned is vital.


Healthy mouth, healthy pup — gum disease signs we should keep an eye on


This would, of course, be very tricky to find in puppies. Puppies are also less prone to gum disease purely because they’re young and their teeth haven’t yet been replaced.


When it’s about four months old, the puppy will get its adult teeth. That’s when we need to develop an oral hygiene routine that will keep their pearly whites in top-notch condition.




Diabetes, the silent killer of many humans and even dogs, could be the reason why bad breath in dogs appears. If we notice that the dog is urinating more than usual and that their breath has a fruity scent to it, it’s crucial to get them to the vet as soon as possible. This disease can drastically affect the dog’s immune system, leading the bacteria to accumulate inside its mouth.


The good news is that diabetes in dogs is treatable, but we will have to take certain precautions regarding their food and overall lifestyle. Moreover, it won’t hurt if we up our game and make oral hygiene a priority.


Kidney disease


There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day at work and kissing our dog. However, if its breath smells like urine, there might be a very serious reason why that is.


Unless a dog loves licking its own urine, this could be a sign that they are suffering from kidney disease. And trust us — this is when you’ll have to run to the vet.


Just like in humans, dog kidneys are also able to get rid of toxins and filter out waste. Therefore, they are crucial for our dog’s health; if something’s wrong with them, we need to know right away. However, that might be a bit tricky, as the symptoms of kidney disease do correspond to other, less severe conditions.


In any case, if the dog seems lethargic, is frequently urinating, and doesn’t want to eat, this could be a warning signal. The dog would then need to get a full blood analysis so that the vet can determine the exact cause.


Unfortunately, many owners fail to notice the signs until it is too late, which makes noticing bad breath in dogs even more important.


Liver disease


Another life-threatening cause of bad breath in dogs is liver disease, which also requires a vet’s attention as soon as possible.


When a dog has liver disease, its breath is truly foul. What’s more, it might be vomiting often and refusing to eat, which leads to even more oral problems. The teeth might decay, and its gums might get a yellowish tinge to them.


Needless to say, this problem won’t improve if we try to ignore the signs or try to heal the dog ourselves. Dogs with both liver and kidney disease need to have their blood analyzed and be put on the right kind of medication.


Oral tumor


The T-word sends thousands of shivers down our spine, but it’s even worse when we imagine our dogs going through such a problem. Nevertheless, oral tumors can occur even in our canine friends, so it’s vital to pay attention to any warning signs.


Typically, oral tumors grow very fast, so the blood vessels aren’t able to keep up with them. Thus, dead tissue is what will make the breath smell horrible and potentially lead to even more serious problems. The bacteria will love the fact there’s a good place in the mouth they can stay, so they’ll run towards it and induce an extremely foul bad breath in dogs.


So what are the symptoms? In general, if we notice a strange mass or some discoloration, we’ll have to take the dog to the vet. Do know, though, that these tumors can vary a lot in size. But in any case, if you haven’t noticed it before, it could be a red flag.


Eating toxic substances


Everyone knows that some dogs are prone to eating and chewing just about anything. So if they find themselves somewhere where there are toxic substances, and these smell nice to them, they will probably try them.


This is where we have to react as fast as possible; toxins inside the dog’s body can turn a seemingly calm afternoon into a real tragedy. Rodenticide or even antifreeze are the most common culprits, but really anything that’s toxic to us will be toxic to dogs too.


Of course, preventing the dog from sniffing and eating everything is crucial in this case. Proper training to avoid this will likely keep the dog from harming itself by ingesting weird substances.


Eating weird things


In line with the previous point, bad breath in dogs can also develop if our canine friends are prone to eating all sorts of weird things and we’re not just talking about garbage.


Of course, some of us have found our dogs inside the trash can at least once in our lives. But what makes this behavior alarming is if they are always trying to eat cat feces or their own poop. coprophagia in dogs is quite common, but you never know what they’ve eaten and then released outside. In any case, it will make their breath stink horribly.


Also, it’s not uncommon for dogs to either play with or eat animal remains. This too will turn their mouth into a source of an incredible stench. So just like with toxic substances, we need to educate them not to behave like that.


Bad food


Now, experts are still at odds as to what makes a dog’s breath more terrible — dry or wet dog food? In the end, it depends on the ingredients. However, do know that some types of dry food can actually help clean the dog’s mouth, while some types of wet food can also beat the bad breath because they are richer in water.


Common dog behavior or dogs just being dogs


The final cause of bad breath in dogs could just be their normal behavior. Dogs love licking themselves, chewing their paws, and occasionally sniffing and/or licking their butts. Thus, if we notice that their breath stinks, it could just be a sign that their bath is long overdue.


In the end, staying on top of things like dog bathing, as well as oral hygiene, could very well prevent and even get rid of bad breath. Still, here are a few suggestions that’ll help you win this battle.


How to prevent or get rid of bad breath in dogs


Get that toothbrush


Nowadays, most pet shops can offer us many options regarding our dog’s oral hygiene. From doggy toothbrushes and toothpaste to special breath sprays, there’s really no reason why we should risk endangering their health by forgetting to brush their teeth.


However, this is easier said than done. If you have ever tried opening the dog’s jaws, you probably know how much they hate it. Thus, it’s crucial that we all make it a routine and help the dogs see why it’s good for them. And in the end, remember that some dogs don’t like to bathe — but we still get them clean anyway!


Smaller breeds vs. larger breeds


One thing to note here, though, is that in general, smaller breeds are more prone to tartar and plaque build-up. It all has to do with the shape of their mouth and the fact that most of them have just a little bit of space between the teeth, i.e., the teeth are closer together than in larger breeds. That’s a fantastic breeding ground for all sorts of oral problems, so they will have to get their teeth brushed every single day.


Find suitable chew toys


Of course, dental chew toys are the second-best preventative measure we can think of. And luckily, just like with basic oral hygiene tools, there are various options available.


However, what’s great about these chew toys is that dogs are more likely to enjoy chewing something than brushing their teeth. While they are chewing, they will unintentionally get rid of the build-up, which means they will have much healthier teeth in the future.


But that’s not all. Some brands even have dental sticks dogs are usually quite fond of. This sort of smell is like something we once sniffed out at a dentist’s office, but the smell isn’t foul. These too can freshen the dog’s breath, and they are also a great treat for good puppies!


Prevent diabetes


As we have already mentioned, diabetes can also lead to bad breath in dogs, so it’s necessary to prevent it rather than cure it. We can easily do this by taking care of the dog just as we would of our own child.


We ought to provide it with plenty of walks and quality food, as well as ensure it’s never too anxious. Dogs that have anxiety disorders are prone to eating weird stuff, which can beat the whole purpose of solving their bad breath issues.


We should also take them to the vet for regular check-ups and maintain their good health. In fact, the vet can also give us more tips on how to possibly get the dog used to regular teeth brushing.


Go for homemade meals


Now, don’t get us wrong — we know that not many owners are able to cook for their dogs. However, given that some types of dog food are better in the trash than in their stomachs, this is a viable solution if we want to prevent bad breath in dogs.


The gist of it is that we will know exactly what the dog has eaten and therefore never get a whiff of stinky breath. Nevertheless, know that dogs need to chew on something, be it food or a toy. So providing them with chewable snacks is crucial.


A good way of knowing they are getting the right nutrients is by baking their treats. There are plenty of recipes online that call for the use of all-natural ingredients. By eating those, dogs can not only have healthy teeth but live a long and happy life too.


Prevent garbage rummaging and poop eating


Of course, a dog’s breath won’t smell so bad if they don’t eat their poop. Thus, if they are showing signs of coprophagia or are in fact eating cat feces, we need to address that first.


In addition, if they are prone to hunting food leftovers in the trash can, we ought to put a stop to it. Proper training here will help us out, as the dog has to realize that some things are just off-limits. In the end, even if that fails, consider not letting the dog near the trash can or moving it someplace else.


Home remedies for treating bad breath in dogs


Coconut oil


Humans can indulge in some oil pulling with coconut oil, and dogs can even get a fresher breath with it. All it takes is to put some in the dog’s food. They might even see it as a treat purely because it tastes good, almost sweet to them.


Also, some dog owners use coconut oil as dog-friendly toothpaste, so that’s another option if you want to avoid buying a separate one for your pup.




Cinnamon is yet another ingredient we probably have at home but never thought of putting into our dog’s food. Luckily, it’s also a great remedy; it deals with bad breath in dogs pretty well because it neutralizes the odor quickly and efficiently.


The good news is that we can just sprinkle a little bit over the dog’s food and enjoy looking at them while they munch away. Furthermore, we ought to remember that cinnamon has other health benefits too. It can ward off diabetes, help with arthritis, improve the dog’s brain function, and even help their food stay fresh for longer.


However, a word of caution: make sure you are not putting too much cinnamon in their food. It may have an anti-clotting effect on the blood, so bleeding is a well-known consequence.




Nowadays, most people are using probiotics to improve their overall health, and there’s no reason why dogs shouldn’t too. Moreover, there are dog-safe probiotics on the market, but some human ones can also be given to our canine friends.


The best part is that these won’t just improve the breath. Probiotics will also have a great effect on the dog’s digestion and will boost its overall well-being.


Dental water


It might seem like a gimmick, but some dog owners are so protective that they will even start giving their dogs dental water. This is a specially made “cocktail” of all sorts of ingredients that can ward off bad breath in dogs and improve their oral hygiene. Usually, it contains certain enzymes, as well as chlorophyll.


All it takes is to replace regular water with this one. The results will be noticeable within just a few days, as dental water will kill the bad bacteria found in the dog’s mouth.




Another great source of chlorophyll is wheatgrass, and the best part is that we can grow it ourselves. It’s a tasty treat for both cats and dogs, and it can improve the dog’s breath fairly quickly. Moreover, it boosts their digestion, cleanses their blood, and gives them more energy, among other things.


Setting up a daily or weekly teeth brushing routine


Finally, we wanted to give you a few tips on how to make the first step and introduce a teeth-brushing routine into your dog’s life.


Find a doggy-safe toothpaste (Get on Amazon)


Regular toothpaste won’t do, as it contains ingredients that are potentially toxic to dogs. Luckily, you can use coconut oil or get real dog toothpaste at your local pet store. There are many options, and you can even choose the flavor. Most dogs wouldn’t mind vanilla and mint toothpaste, but if you’ve got a picky canine, go for the meat-flavored one.


Start slow


We do recommend that you don’t force this routine on your dog if they don’t want to accept it immediately. However, the best way to get them used to the idea is to first use your own finger to go up and down their teeth.


Introduce the brush


You can use a regular human brush if you have a larger dog, and a smaller one, like those made for children, for smaller breeds.


Toothbrushes made specifically for dogs are basically the same as those we use. However, some have two different ends, so you can get better results with them. In fact, there are even finger toothbrushes, which may be an even easier solution, as you’ll have more control over the brushing.


Invest in some sprays or dog breath drops


Finally, to complete the routine, you can always spray a bit of dog breath spray into the dog’s mouth. Do know that they might not like this, so they will try to lick it off as soon as possible. Also, you can use dog breath drops, which may be a bit easier to “apply,” as you can just put them on your palm and let the dog lick them off or pour them directly onto its tongue.


Final thoughts


Hopefully, you are now ready to conquer the bacteria and help your dog live its best life by improving its oral hygiene and preventing diseases that may have dangerous consequences.


In the end, know that dogs depend on us and us alone. So no matter how much time you have after taking them for a walk, do make sure to clean their teeth and keep bad breath at bay. Trust us — you will never again make a disgusted face after your dog kisses you!

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