Unlike humans, dogs don’t feel any embarrassment when they have bad breath. They’re more than happy to lick your face and cuddle up close no matter how stinky their breath may be. But is it normal for your dog’s breath to smell bad all the time? 

While bad breath is extremely common in dogs, it might not just be something they ate. Bad breath can be a sign of illness, tooth decay, and many other problems. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of bad doggy breath, and how to treat it. 

Five Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

1: Bacteria Buildup

Persistent bad breath in dogs is usually caused by a buildup of bacteria on their teeth, just like with humans. The bacteria release a foul odor as they break down food particles on the teeth. To keep their breath fresh, you need to brush your dog’s teeth every day, or at least three times a week. But constant bad breath may be a sign that your dog is due for their annual dental cleaning. 

2: Periodontal Disease

Over time, plaque and tartar buildup can cause an infection known as periodontal disease in dogs—you probably know it as gum disease. If your dog has stinky breath along with bleeding or inflamed gums, discolored teeth, excessive drooling, or loose teeth, then they might have a chronic gum infection. Without treatment, periodontal disease only gets worse and more painful, eventually leading to tooth loss. 

3: They Ate Something Rotten

Dogs aren’t usually very picky about what they eat. Sometimes, sudden bad breath can be a sign that your dog ate something gross. For instance, if your dog gets into the garbage, a wild animal carcass, or another dog’s feces, it can show up on their breath. 

However, eating something nasty can cause health issues as well as bad breath. If you suspect your dog has been eating something they shouldn’t, it’s a good idea to schedule a veterinary checkup to screen for parasites, intestinal obstructions, and other issues. 

4: Stomach Problems

Bad breath can also indicate that there’s a bacterial imbalance in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This can give your dog smelly gas and loose stools, as well. Other stomach problems that can cause bad breath include indigestion, acid reflux, and bowel obstructions. 

5: Other Health Issues

Several chronic health problems can also cause your dog’s breath to stink. For instance, diabetes in dogs can cause bad breath with a sweet or fruity smell. Kidney disease can cause breath that smells like urine. And liver disease can lead to extremely foul-smelling breath along with vomiting and yellow gums. 

None of these diseases are curable in dogs, but they are treatable, so it’s crucial that you seek emergency veterinary care if you notice any of these unique cases of bad breath. If the disease is diagnosed early enough, your dog’s symptoms can be managed with consistent care, extending their lifetime. 

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath in Dogs

Getting rid of bad dog breath completely requires treating the root of the problem. The best way to fix your dog’s bad breath is to go to the vet, so they can identify the cause. However, there are also some simple ways to help prevent bad breath from returning.

Here are a few ways you can prevent bad doggy breath:

  • Brushing your dog’s teeth every day (only use toothpaste that is formulated specifically for dogs)
  • Providing your dog with dental chews to help freshen breath and reduce plaque
  • Monitoring their activity so they don’t eat anything harmful
  • Taking your dog to the vet once a year for a professional teeth cleaning

Dog Veterinarian in Gilbert, Arizona

If you find yourself plugging your nose whenever your dog’s mouth gets too close, you should get their bad breath checked out. The compassionate team at Anasazi Animal Clinic will diagnose the cause behind your dog’s bad breath, and provide the treatment they need. 

We can also recommend the best canine dental products to help keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh. Give our clinic a call at 480-497-0505 today to schedule an appointment, or send us a message online. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/14/2023). Photo by Milli on Unsplash