Preventative Care@3x

Unraveling the Mystery: Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

Feb 6, 2024 | Dog, Pet Dental Health

Pet Have Bad Breath BlueWe all love the warm, fuzzy companionship of our dogs, but there’s one thing that can make that experience less enjoyable – bad breath. While it might be tempting to dismiss it as a common issue, bad breath in dogs can signify underlying health problems that require attention. In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons your dog might have bad breath and why addressing it promptly is crucial for their overall well-being.

 What Can Cause Bad Breath for Dogs?  

Dental Disease: 

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is dental or gum disease. Neglecting your dog’s oral health can lead to plaque accumulation, gingivitis, and gum inflammation. These conditions allow dangerous bacteria to enter the bloodstream, potentially causing heart issues, liver problems, or kidney damage. Regular dental cleanings, both professional and at-home, play a crucial role in preventing periodontal disease and maintaining your dog’s oral health. 

 Kidney and Liver Issues: 

If your dog’s breath smells like urine or a dead animal, it could indicate kidney or liver problems. Kidney disease can lead to a urine-like odor, while liver failure may cause breath that smells like a deceased animal. Both conditions require immediate veterinary attention, as they can be serious and potentially life-threatening. 

Gut Microbiomes Imbalance: 

A delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut is essential for their overall health. Imbalances in this microbiome can be why your dog has bad breath, as harmful bacteria produce foul-smelling gas. Maintaining a healthy gut through proper nutrition and, if necessary, supplements can help address this issue. Ask your veterinarian if you have questions on how to maintain proper gut nutrition in your dog.  

Oral Tumors: 

Oral tumors growing rapidly can cause dead tissue, leading to bad breath that resembles the smell of rotten meat. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as excessive drooling, blood from the mouth, or difficulty chewing. If any of these signs are present, immediate veterinary attention is crucial. 


Sweet-smelling breath in dogs might be a sign of diabetes, specifically resulting from ketoacidosis (High levels of ketones cause the blood to become more acidic). Uncontrolled diabetes can weaken your dog’s immune system, leading to even more bacterial growth in their mouth. If you notice symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, or cloudy eyes, consult your vet promptly. 

Heart Disease: 

Bacteria associated with dental disease are the same type of bacteria commonly found in heart disease. Because of this, periodontal disease has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease in dogs.  Symptoms such as: difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, or pale gums may indicate heart issues. Maintaining good oral hygiene can contribute to overall heart health in your furry friend. 

 How to Prevent Bad Breath: 

The best way to help prevent most oral disease in your dog is through consistent removal of plaque and tartar that forms on the teeth (just like what dentists recommend for us!). While yearly dental cleanings by your veterinarian is the best way to accomplish this, brushing your dog’s teeth consistently (1-2x per week) is an effective way for you to help keep their teeth and gums healthy in between dental cleanings. To learn more, check our Dog Owners Guide to Dental Health blog!      

While bad breath is not uncommon in dogs, it should not be considered normal. Addressing the root cause is essential for your dog’s well-being. Regular dental care, attention to gut health, and prompt veterinary visits for any unusual symptoms can help keep your canine companion’s breath fresh and ensure a healthier, happier life. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Why does my dog have bad breath?” – now you have the answers and the tools to tackle the issue head-on. 

If you notice that your pet has bad breath, don’t let this issue go unaddressed, contact any of our locations to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced veterinarians right away! 

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.