Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

December 7, 2022

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

yellow Labrador dog with tongue out

Reasons for bad breath can vary from simple and easy to manage, such as gum disease, to much more serious conditions like kidney failure. Don’t panic; many cases of stinky dog breath are easy to take care of. If the problem goes beyond your own abilities, you may simply need a bit of help from the veterinarian if there’s some type of underlying medical issue. 

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

If you are sitting next to your dog and you smell a horrific odor, then you move closer to your dog and your dog’s breath smells, you may be wondering ‘why does my dog have bad breath?’ Stinky dog breath isn’t fun, especially since we love to cuddle our fur babies on regular basis! Fortunately, more often than not, bad breath in dogs is a simple issue. It is, however, something to be aware of and take care of as soon as possible.

Has Your Dog Been Taking Antibiotics?

Antibiotics that kill bacteria in the body may cause foul-smelling breath because there are no healthy bacteria left to naturally break down food in the gut and produce gases that may cause your dog’s bad breath. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria that keep yeast infections at bay, so if you notice an increase in your dog’s bad breath after he takes antibiotics, you might want to ask your vet about adding an antifungal medication as well.

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Is There Anything Stuck in Your Dog’s Mouth?

If you’re a pet parent, you know dogs enjoy chewing on things. This could be anything from your favorite pair of shoes to a stick they found in the backyard. Some materials can get stuck in your dog’s mouth and may be difficult to see without taking a look. This could result in your dog’s breath being unbearable. If your dog will allow you to take a look inside their mouth, check for any foreign objects that could be causing the issue. 

Plaque Buildup and Bacteria

The most common cause of bad breath is plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. Plaque is made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that stick together on the teeth. Poor oral hygiene leads to more plaque buildup, which in turn leads to bad breath in dogs. Bacteria can cause gum disease, which leads to bad breath, and sometimes tooth loss or dental disease, which results in worsened bad breath. 

Oral Hygiene and Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease in which the gums become inflamed and infected because of bacterial plaque on the teeth, resulting in poor oral health. Over time, inflammation can destroy the tissues that support your dog’s teeth. As these tissues break down, pockets form between the teeth and gums. This lets more bacteria gather around your dog’s teeth. If left untreated, this dental disease can lead to bone loss and tooth loss, which can be very painful for your pup.

If you’re worried that your dog may be at risk of developing periodontal disease or has poor oral health, it’s important to get them checked out by your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to assess whether your dog has any existing signs of periodontal disease or whether there are any other underlying health issues that could cause them to develop it in the future.

Is Diabetes Causing Bad Dog Breath?

Diabetes is a disease that can affect both humans and our pets. In dogs, it can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis, which is a serious complication of diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when there are too many ketones in the body and not enough insulin to burn them up as fuel. These ketones build up in the bloodstream and make the dog very sick.

Ketoacidosis can cause an extremely foul breath odor due to acetone being released into the mouth. The smell is similar to nail polish remover or paint thinner. Dogs with this condition may also drool or vomit blood, vomit clear liquids, be very thirsty, and urinate more than usual.

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Kidney Disease and Bad Breath in Dogs

Kidney disease and bad breath are common problems in dogs. The kidneys clean the blood by filtering it and getting rid of waste and extra water. If your dog’s kidneys are damaged, they cannot filter the blood properly, and waste products build up in the body. This can lead to a number of problems, including bad breath.

The kidneys are located on either side of the spine at the base of the rib cage. They filter the blood by taking in nutrients from it and sending them back into circulation. They also remove waste products and extra fluid from the blood. These waste products include urea, which has a distinctive odor that can be detected on your dog’s breath.

The kidneys also help control blood pressure and keep electrolyte levels in the body at a healthy level. If your dog has kidney disease and bad breath, it could be because he has high blood pressure or low potassium levels in his bloodstream. These conditions can cause kidney injury, which leads to poor filtration of blood by the kidneys, which results in an accumulation of urea in the bloodstream and contributes to bad breath caused by kidney failure.

Most cases of kidney disease can be managed with medication or repaired with surgery. However, if you notice that your dog has been drinking more than usual and peeing more than normal for several days or weeks at a time, have him checked by a veterinarian.

Bad Breath Due to Liver Disease

Liver disease can cause bad breath by changing the chemistry of your dog’s saliva, but it cannot cause bad breath on its own. If your dog has liver disease and bad breath, it probably indicates that there is another underlying condition that needs to be addressed.

Liver disease can cause a number of symptoms, including bad breath. When liver function is impaired, toxins build up in the bloodstream, causing symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. The buildup of toxins may also affect the mouth and cause bad breath.

If your dog has liver disease, his breath may smell more pungent than usual or even have a metallic odor. This effect can be especially pronounced after he eats or drinks something sweet. 

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Bad Breath?

You should take your dog to the veterinarian if any of the following are true:

  • Change in appetite, lethargy, or vomiting
  • Redness or swelling around the mouth
  • Drooling or difficulty swallowing
  • Overwhelming odor

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Taking the Next Steps

If your dog’s gut health is not in order, getting them back on track is a necessity. Managing the balance of good and bad bacteria is essential to their health. Earth Buddy offers a Gut Health product containing CBD to promote your pet’s oral health and bovine colostrum for GI support and an immune boost.

Brushing your dog’s teeth can also be helpful. Appropriate routine oral hygiene care can make a world of difference. If your dog absolutely despises brushing their teeth, ask your veterinarian what types of oral chews they recommend for hygiene purposes and how to fix bad breath in dogs

If you suspect your dog has any sort of disease or condition, don’t try to manage it at home. Bring your dog to the vet to determine the cause and what steps to take moving forward to treat bad breath in your dog.



For further reading, we recommend the sources listed below:

  1. https://www.medvetforpets.com/dka-dog-cats/
  2. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/halitosis-in-dogs
  3. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/hepatic-disease-in-small-animals/overview-of-hepatic-disease-in-small-animals
  4. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/dentistry/periodontal-disease-in-small-animals

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