dog bad breath

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Every dog owner knows how bad a dog’s breath can be, but there’s also a point where that bad breath may become a serious medical concern. Bad breath, medically called halitosis, may be a sign that your dog has a dental hygiene problem, or it could simply be that your dog ate something that’s causing bad breath. This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for other potential symptoms that may give you a clue.

Preventing bad breath in dogs means regular dental care. Just like humans, dogs need to have their teeth cleaned regularly to avoid dental disease. You can keep your dog’s teeth clean by brushing them, taking them to the vet for cleanings, and using treats and chews that are designed to improve dental hygiene.

You shouldn’t be too worried by a dog’s bad breath. While it can be a sign that something is wrong with your dog, dogs also tend to have bad breath as a result of the food they eat and whatever else they may get into. Still, it’s important to know what to watch out for and what you can do to improve your dog’s breath. If you’re dealing with a dog with bad breath, here’s everything you need to know to take care of them.

Causes Of Bad Breath In Dogs

The first step to figuring out how to get rid of a dog’s bad breath is determining what’s causing that bad breath in the first place. Dog bad breath can be caused by lots of different things, including your dog getting into something gross like garbage or feces. This is common in anxious dog breeds. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common causes of bad breath in dogs:

  • Plaque and tartar
  • Decomposing food stuck in periodontal pockets
  • Tissue necrosis from oral tumors
  • Periodontal disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Ingestion of garbage or feces
  • Licking their anal glands
Common Causes of bad breath in dogs

You should consider the symptoms your dog is experiencing when trying to determine the cause of bad dog breath. You might be wondering, why does my dog have diarrhea in addition to bad breath? It could be a result of something bad your dog got into that’s upsetting its stomach. It’s important to take these symptoms into account so you can get a proper diagnosis.

Many of these issues are a result of poor dental hygiene. While you’re at home, you should make sure you’re brushing your dog’s teeth at least every other day. In addition to routine brushing, you should also take your dog to the vet for yearly dental cleanings. This is the best way to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar as well as periodontal disease that may result from poor dental hygiene.

In some cases, your dog may have bad breath because there’s decomposing food stuck in periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets are the spaces between your dog’s gums and teeth, and they’re typically not too wide. However, poor dental hygiene can lead to larger periodontal pockets, which increases the risk of getting food stuck in there. This is another reason why it’s so important to clean your dog’s teeth regularly.

If your dog has oral tumors, necrosis of tumor tissue could be the cause of their bad breath. While oral tumors don’t necessarily cause bad breath on their own, necrosis of oral tumors can cause bad dog breath. Oral tumors in dogs are typically removed via surgery, so you should see a vet as soon as possible if you think your dog may have oral tumors.

Bad dog breath can also be caused by several diseases, including kidney disease and diabetes. Your dog’s kidneys are responsible for transforming waste into urine, but kidney disease can lead to a buildup of urea in the bloodstream. This isn’t necessarily the most common cause of bad breath, but it’s something to consider.

bad dog breath can also be caused by kidney disease and diabetes

Liver disease may also lead to bad breath in dogs, though dogs with liver disease usually present with other symptoms as well. If your dog has liver disease, you may also notice vomiting, jaundice, and a lack of appetite. You should visit the vet right away if you suspect your dog may have liver disease.

In addition to liver and kidney disease, diabetes can also cause bad breath in dogs. Diabetes in dogs can lead to increased sugar levels in the body, and that increased sugar creates a breeding ground for bacteria in your dog’s mouth. If your dog has diabetes, you may also notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased urination and excessive water intake
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Chronic infections
Graphic shows symptoms related to diabetes in dogs

Of course, sometimes your dog’s bad breath isn’t caused by anything serious at all. It could be that your dog got into the garbage and ate something that’s causing bad breath. In fact, some dogs may even eat feces, which is a surefire recipe for bad breath. These scenarios aren’t generally considered medical emergencies, but you might want to talk to your vet or a trainer about what you can do to get your dog to stop eating out of the garbage because it could be a result of dog anxiety.

When To Worry About Your Dog’s Bad Breath

As a pet owner, it’s important to know what to watch out for when it comes to your dog. For the most part, bad dog breath isn’t a huge concern. Dogs tend to have bad breath as far as human noses are concerned, and that bad breath can be amplified by your dog getting into the garbage or eating foods that may cause bad breath.

That being said, there comes a time when you need to take your dog to the vet to get rid of bad breath. Because bad breath can be a sign of certain medical conditions, you don’t want to ignore it. From periodontal disease to diabetes, your dog’s bad breath could be a warning sign of a bigger problem.

The first thing you need to consider is how long your dog’s breath has been bad. Does your dog usually have bad breath, or did you notice their breath suddenly got worse one day? You should also consider how long that bad breath lasts. Bad breath that appears suddenly and goes away on its own may be something as simple as your dog getting into the garbage. Bad breath that appears suddenly and doesn’t go away for several days or weeks may be a sign that your dog has an infection or disease.

In addition to the duration and onset of bad breath, you should also keep an eye out for any symptoms that may be present along with bad breath. Knowing common symptoms and what to look out for when it comes to diabetes and other diseases can help you recognize serious medical conditions before they get worse. Here are some of the signs that your dog’s bad breath may be caused by a serious medical condition:

  • Inflamed gums, cavities, and oral infections
  • Tooth loss
  • Pus in the mouth
  • Sweet, fruity breath
  • Excessive urination and water intake
  • Jaundice

Ultimately, there are a lot of factors to consider if your dog has bad breath. While it could be caused by something as simple as ingesting garbage or feces, bad breath is often a sign of an underlying condition. Early diagnosis and treatment is an important part of keeping your dog healthy, so you should take your dog to the vet if their bad breath won’t go away with regular brushing, or if they’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.

Treating Your Dog’s Bad Dog Breath

Treatment for bad dog breath depends on what’s causing it in the first place. It’s also important to consider how long your dog has had bad breath. Bad breath that lasts for a day or two may be a result of something your dog ate, but bad breath that persists for several days, weeks, or months could be a sign that there’s something wrong with your dog. The best thing you can do if you want to get rid of your dog’s bad breath is visit a vet for a proper diagnosis.

When your dog’s bad breath is caused by a disease or infection, the primary concern is treating that disease or infection. Your vet can give you a proper diagnosis and prescribe the medication your pup needs to fight off disease or infection. If your vet prescribes any medication, make sure you follow their instructions for maximum effectiveness.

Getting rid of your dog’s bad breath may simply be a matter of limiting access to things like feces, garbage, and roadkill. As gross as it may sound, dogs will eat just about anything, including things that aren’t good for them. What’s even worse is that you can’t simply reason with your dog and tell them to stop eating trash or dragging home roadkill. If your dog has bad breath because it won’t stop getting into the garbage or eating feces, you need to make sure your dog doesn’t have access to these things.

If your dog has bad breath as a result of poor dental hygiene, your vet may clean your dog’s teeth and recommend a dental hygiene routine that can prevent bad breath in the future. Keep in mind that dental hygiene is about more than preventing bad breath; poor dental hygiene can lead to serious medical issues, so it’s important to make sure you brush your dog’s teeth and take them to the vet for yearly cleanings.

When you take your dog to the vet for its yearly cleaning, the vet will need to anesthetize your dog to perform a thorough cleaning. Typically, dogs are put under anesthesia  for a dental cleaning. This anesthesia allows your vet to perform a more thorough cleaning, and it also makes for a safer process since your dog can’t fidget while the vet is cleaning and evaluating its mouth. You should have these anesthetized dental cleanings done at least once per year to keep your dog’s teeth cleaned.

While you’re at the vet getting your dog’s teeth cleaned, make sure you ask them which toothpaste is good for preventing bad dog breath. Believe it or not, human toothpaste can actually be lethal to dogs depending on what’s in it. Plus, dogs have different needs when it comes to dental hygiene, so you need to find a toothpaste that’s specially formulated for your dog’s mouth.

In addition to regular brushing and dental cleanings at the vet, there are some other steps you can take to prevent bad breath in dogs. For example, you can make sure your dog has plenty of chew toys, as chewing on a toy can help remove some of the plaque from your dog’s teeth and promote good oral hygiene. Chew toys can also help increase saliva production, which helps keep your dog’s mouth clean and prevents bad breath. You may also want to ask your vet about using chews that are specifically designed to improve dental hygiene in dogs. The best chew toys for dogs are soft enough that you can depress your fingernail into; hard bones and toys can actually do major damage to their teeth.

Dog chewing on toy

Bad Breath In Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get rid of my dog’s bad breath?

In order to get rid of your dog’s bad breath, you have to figure out what’s causing that bad breath in the first place. The first step you should take is visiting a vet to talk about dog bad breath causes and rule out any serious diseases or infections.

Once you’ve got a diagnosis, your vet can help you decide on the best treatment option for your dog’s bad breath. This typically starts with dental cleaning and some basic recommendations for improving dental hygiene at home. Brushing your dog’s teeth a few times a week may be the best dog bad breath home remedy.

If your dog has bad breath as a result of a medical condition, treating that condition is the key to getting rid of bad breath. In some cases, your vet may prescribe medication to help treat the underlying cause of your dog’s bad breath. However, surgery may also be required for certain conditions, such as oral tumors.

You can get rid of bad breath at home by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and making sure they’re getting their dental cleaning on time. You can also give your dog a chew toy to help work some of the plaque off their teeth, and keep them away from garbage, feces, and other things that may cause bad breath.

Why does my dog's breath smell like death?

It’s not unusual for a dog to have bad breath, but breath that smells exceptionally bad may be a sign of poor dental hygiene or an underlying medical condition. The only way to know for certain what’s going on is to take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis.

Oftentimes, bad dog breath is caused by something as simple as poor oral hygiene or something bad your dog got into. If you aren’t brushing your dog’s teeth a few times a week, you should be. You can talk to your vet to learn more about what kind of toothpaste to use and how to brush your dog’s teeth. If your dog is getting into the trash or eating feces or roadkill, you need to limit their access to these areas.

Bad breath that persists through brushing and dental cleanings or lasts for several weeks or months may be a result of a medical condition. Your dog could have bad breath as a result of kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes, in addition to a handful of other medical conditions. Make sure you see a vet if your dog has bad breath that doesn’t improve with brushing.

Why is my dog's breath so bad all of a sudden?

One thing to keep an eye out for is sudden bad breath. Some people are more sensitive to dog breath than others, so those people may think their dog’s breath smells bad all the time. But if you’re not typically bothered by your dog’s breath and it suddenly smells terrible, that’s a sign that something has changed recently.

Sudden bad breath could be caused by something your dog ate, so make sure they didn’t get into the garbage or eat any roadkill or feces. Keeping your dog out of the garbage is important because some garbage may be toxic to dogs. 

If your dog has sudden bad breath and you know they didn’t get into anything, you should consult a vet. This bad breath may be caused by periodontal disease, an infection, or some other medical issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Does bad breath in dogs mean infection?

While your dog’s bad breath may be caused by an infection, that’s not always the case. Bad breath in dogs can be caused by medical issues, but it can also be caused by something as simple as your dog getting into the garbage or eating feces.

Because it can be so tough to figure out why your dog has bad breath, you may want to consider taking them to the vet for a diagnosis. Your vet can rule out any serious medical issues, such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, and periodontal disease.

Preventing bad breath is all about dental hygiene, so make sure you’re brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. You should also visit your vet at least once per year to have your dog’s teeth and gums cleaned.

Final Notes

As a dog owner, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities when it comes to keeping your dog healthy. The good news is, preventing bad dog breath is often as simple as making sure you’re brushing your dog’s teeth a few times a week. You should also take your dog to the vet for yearly dental cleanings to keep their mouth healthy.

Understanding when it’s time to get professional help from a vet is also important. If your dog’s bad breath doesn’t go away with regular brushing and a dental cleaning from your vet, that may be a sign that your dog has an infection or disease that’s causing bad breath. If your dog has bad breath and presents other symptoms, or if their bad breath doesn’t go away for an extended period of time, you should see a vet to get a proper diagnosis.

The good news is, Dutch takes the hassle out of the process of keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Dutch can connect you with vets in your area who can help you figure out what’s going on with your dog’s breath. These vets can help you choose the right toothpaste and start a brushing routine. Best of all, you can take care of your dog from the comfort of your home. If your dog has bad breath, contact Dutch to get connected with a vet today.



  1. Halitosis in Dogs and the Effect of Periodontal Therapy, The Journal of Nutrition,

  2. Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats, Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC,

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.