7 Common Causes of Stinky Dog Breath?

Updated on July 12, 2019
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."


''Doggy breath'' is often a term used to define the typical odor that originates from a dog's oral cavity. Sometimes, the breath smells acceptable and almost pleasant, especially in small puppies that are just being weaned. At other times, the stench is unbearable, especially in dogs that do not have good oral hygiene.

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

  1. Dental Decay
  2. Foreign Objects
  3. Anal Glands
  4. Coprophagia
  5. Diabetes
  6. Kidney Disease
  7. Gastro-Intestinal Disorders

Causes of Foul Dog Breath

Following are some of the most common causes.

1. Dental Decay

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs by age three have some form of oral disease. Periodontal disease, gingivitis, a tooth abscess, an oral ulcer, or even oral cancer are some of the most common dental issues.

2. Foreign Objects

Carefully inspect your dog's mouth and look for any foreign objects (grass, hair, sticks). If something is stuck in his teeth, then the foul breath will likely disappear once the object is removed.

3. Anal Glands

Are you smelling some odd, fishy scent in your dog's breath, like he stole your can of sardines? It could be his anal glands. So, how can anal glands be the issue if the bad breath is coming from the opposite end? The answer is simple. Your dog just licked his anal gland and very likely expressed them. Tada!

4. Coprophagia

This technical term describes a dog's obnoxious habit of eating poop. It can be his own poop, your neighbor's dog's poop, or even your cat's. In any case, they all translate into one result: foul breath!

5. Diabetes

A fruity smell may indicate diabetes. If the scent is similar to nail polish remover, then it may be a symptom of ''ketoacidosis,'' a potentially fatal diabetic complication that needs immediate veterinarian attention.

6. Kidney Disease

Breath resembling sour urine may be indicative of kidney problems.

7. Gastro-Intestinal Disorders

Sometimes the problem originates in the stomach or in the intestinal tract.


There are various causes for foul breath. So what should you do if Rover gives you a smooch and sends you running away to seek cover in the dog house? Take him to the vet for a routine check-up.

If your vet has already excluded all medical causes, you may want to consider putting your pet on a raw meat diet. Owners of pets on raw meat diets claim that their dogs have more pleasant breath. If this is not feasible, simply pass down the breath mints. There are a lot of minty pet products that will make your dog's breath smell much better.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli


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