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What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs

dog with bad breath

No matter how well-behaved or gorgeous your dog may be, most people don’t want to get too close to them because of one thing – their breath! 

Bad breath in dogs can be caused by various reasons, including food that causes bad breath, dental problems, and gum disease. 

Possible Reasons For Bad Breath in Dogs

Dogs can develop bad breath for various reasons, just like humans. Common causes include poor dental hygiene, gum disease, mouth infections, and certain foods. 

However, bad breath can also signify more serious health problems like liver or kidney disease. 

Therefore, if your dog’s breath is particularly foul-smelling, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Let’s look at some of the main causes of bad breath in dogs and how you can help your pup smell better!


One of the most common causes of bad breath in dogs is diabetes. When your dog’s body can’t properly regulate blood sugar levels, it can lead to ketoacidosis. 

It can cause your dog’s breath to smell sweet or fruity. If you notice your dog’s breath smells this way, take them to the vet immediately for a checkup.

Gum Disease

As with humans, plaque and tartar can build up on a dog’s teeth. It can lead to gum disease, the leading cause of bad breath in dogs. 

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that grow in the mouth and release sulfur compounds, which smell bad. 

If left untreated, gum disease can damage a dog’s teeth and gums and even lead to tooth loss. Treatment for gum disease includes professional cleaning, at-home dental care, and surgery.

Dental Abscesses

Dental abscesses are another common reason for bad breath in dogs. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around a tooth or in the mouth’s tissue. 

When bacteria gets into this pocket, it can cause an infection. The infection can cause the dog’s breath to smell bad. 

Other symptoms of a dental abscess include drooling, pawing at the mouth, and chewing on one side of the mouth. If your dog has any of these symptoms, you should immediately take him to the vet.


Intestinal parasites are a common cause of bad breath in dogs. These tiny creatures live in your dog’s intestines and feast on the food he eats. 

As they digest their meals, they produce foul-smelling gases that escape your dog’s mouth, causing his breath to stink.

While bad breath can signify a serious problem, most cases are minor and treatable. For example, some parasites feed on carbohydrates found in your dog’s poop. 

As they digest these foods, they produce volatile fatty acids that cause his poop to smell worse than normal—and cause his breath to smell as well.

Tooth Infections

A tooth infection is one of the dogs’ most common causes of bad breath. The infection can cause the gums to inflame and bleed, leading to bad breath. 

If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to the jawbone and other body parts. To prevent tooth infections, brush your dog’s teeth regularly and take them to the vet for checkups.

Liver Problems

One possible cause of bad breath in dogs is liver problems. If your dog’s liver isn’t functioning properly, it can lead to a buildup of toxins in the blood. 

It can cause bad breath and other symptoms like lethargy, appetite loss, and vomiting. Your vet will likely conduct tests on your dog’s liver to diagnose this problem.

Nervous System Disorders

A dog’s nervous system that’s not functioning properly can cause bad breath. It is because the nerves that control saliva production are not working correctly. 

As a result, the dog’s mouth does not produce enough saliva to keep the teeth and gums healthy. The bacteria in the mouth then begin to break down the food particles that are left behind, which causes bad breath. 

Another way this condition can happen is if the brain cannot send messages to glands in the mouth. 

These glands secrete saliva when stimulated by smell or taste receptors. If these do not work, there will be no saliva, and bad breath will develop. 

Ingested Toxins

Another common cause of bad breath in dogs is the presence of toxins in their system. 

These toxins can come from many sources, including the food they eat, the water they drink, and even the air they breathe. Ingesting these toxins can lead to bacteria in the mouth.

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from bad breath. The causes can range from poor dental hygiene to more serious health problems. 

If you think your dog has bad breath, take them to the vet for a check-up. In the meantime, here are some tips for treating bad breath at home:

  1. Start by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. It will help remove plaque and bacteria that cause bad breath.
  2. Make sure your dog is getting enough water. A lack of water can cause bad breath by leading to a build-up of toxins in the body.
  3. Feed your dog healthy foods that are low in sugar and carbohydrates. These can contribute to bad breath by feeding the bacteria that cause it.

Preventing Bad Breath in Dogs

The first step to preventing bad breath in dogs is to feed them a high-quality diet. You should also brush their teeth regularly and give them dental chews or treats. 

Additionally, you can try using a water additive or mouthwash designed specifically for dogs. Finally, take your dog to the vet for regular checkups.


Bad breath in dogs can be caused by several things, including dental disease, poor oral hygiene, and certain medical conditions. 

However, dogs’ most common cause of bad breath is simply what they eat. Foods high in protein and fat tend to cause the worst breath, so if you’re noticing your dog’s breath is particularly stinky, take a look at their diet.

You may also want to check your dog’s teeth with a veterinarian to rule out any dental problems.