Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
Health Learn About Dogs Raising a Dog

Bad Dog Breath

Rachel Poli Author
Jul 23 ·

Has your dog ever jumped up in your lap, showering you with kisses, only for you to push them away because their breath smells so bad? You may be wondering, why does my dog have bad breath? Believe it or not, there are many different reasons for this. You need to figure out what causes it so you can treat the bad breath and prevent it from happening next time.

Luckily, we’ve put together a guide to help you learn all about it and how to fix bad dog breath.

the complete guide to bad dog breath

What is Halitosis?

Yes, bad breath does have another name and can be a condition. Halitosis is a bad odor that comes from the oral cavity of your dog’s mouth. There may be several reasons as to why your dog has Halitosis. But, no matter the cause, it is treatable (and preventable) with some extra care and home remedies. 

What causes bad dog breath?

First, let’s talk about dog bad breath causes. Similar to humans, it’s important to take great care of your dog’s teeth and gums. Otherwise, this may cause bad breath issues. Sometimes, it’s caused by an underlying issue, though.

Periodontal Disease

This is the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, and it’s simply due to poor oral hygiene. Periodontal disease comes from plaque and tartar build-up. When it build-ups, as soon as the dog starts to salivate, the plaque produces tartar which can then cause gum inflammation or gingivitis. This changes the good bacteria into bad bacteria, thus causing Halitosis. If it gets too bad, your dog’s teeth may fall out, or you may need to get them pulled.

Sometimes, food particles make their way into periodontal pockets where they stay and cause an odor. If you don’t regularly brush your dog’s teeth or get them cleaned at the groomer’s, this can certainly cause more problems, including bad breath. It can also lead to cavities, tooth loss, infection, and destruction of the tissue.

the complete guide to bad dog breath

Oral Tumors

Oral tumors are an advanced dental disease that causes extreme bad breath in dogs when an influx of bacteria occurs in the mouth. Sometimes this can cause the gums to bleed excessively, giving off a metallic scent due to the iron in their blood.

Your dog may get an oral tumor due to poor oral hygiene. This causes the gums to deteriorate. Thus, your dog’s teeth may fall out, their gums may bleed, and their teeth sockets turn into tumors. The rotting flesh is what causes the bad breath.

Dietary Habits

Whenever we’re eating, you can be sure that your doggo is sitting by your feet. They’re waiting for you to drop something from the table or for you to share some food with them willingly. While there is some human food that’s okay for your pooch to have once in a while, they really should stick with their own commercial dog food brand.

Of course, the occasional chip may fall to the floor, and your dog will nab it first. Or maybe you need to hide their medication in a piece of cheese. But, after a while, this food will build up in their mouth and, if you don’t brush their teeth, it could cause an odor.

Pica and Coprophagia

Speaking of dietary habits, some dogs eat what they’re not supposed to. For example, Pica is a condition in which dogs eat inedible objects. This may include shoes, wood, paper, toys, and other objects. As a puppy, this may seem normal if they’re teething. However, if they’re older and they’re still trying to eat rocks in the backyard, it might be time to call your vet.

In addition, coprophagia is another condition in which dogs eat feces. Whether it’s their own, another dog’s, or they get into your cat’s litter box, this will, of course, make your dog’s breath smell like poop. Again, this is more of a behavioral trait that can be nipped in the bud. In the meantime, however, bad bacteria and other viral infections can be passed onto your dog if they eat someone else’s poop. 

Toxic Plants

In addition to eating things they shouldn’t, your dog’s bad breath could also be caused by them eating bad breath. For example, if they have an upset stomach, they may chew on plants or grass to help them throw up. However, domestic dogs can’t tell the difference between good plants and toxic ones. So, if they eat a toxic plant, you’ll be able to tell by the odor of their breath.

the complete guide to bad dog breath

Kidney Disease

If your dog’s breath smells like ammonia or urine, then this could be a sign that they have kidney disease. If the kidneys aren’t working properly, then the urine will stay in your dog’s system longer than it should. This causes bad breath. Additionally, a cause of kidney disease is periodontal disease. So, caring for your dog’s teeth and mouth may not only prevent halitosis but may also prevent kidney disease.


Your dog’s bad breath may also tell you of another underlying health condition. For example, if it smells of a sweet odor, there might be a possibility they have Diabetes. This is a treatable condition, but it’s serious. In addition to their breath smelling sweet, if you notice that your dog is drinking and urinating more frequently, then it may be time to call your veterinarian.

Liver Disease

If your dog’s breath is foul and their gums have a yellow tinge to them, then this might be a sign of liver disease. Your pooch may also vomit a lot and have a lack of appetite. If this is the case, then bring your dog to the vet or emergency room right away.

How to get rid of bad dog breath

Your dog’s breath can tell a lot about what’s going on with their health. Sometimes it’s something as simple as them eating something they’re not supposed to, or it can be a sign of a health issue. Whatever it is, you’ll want to find the root of the bad breath. Once you figure it out, there are a few ways on how to fix bad dog breath.

the complete guide to bad dog breath

Dental cleaning

A simple fix is to get your dog’s teeth clean. If it’s been a while, you can have your vet brush your dog’s teeth, have a professional groomer do it, or you can do it yourself at home. This should be the first step in figuring out what’s wrong with your dog’s breath. Then, bring your doggo to the vet, and they will do a thorough examination of your dog’s teeth. They’ll check for cavities, tumors, rotting food, and more.

Veterinarian treatment

If it turns out that an underlying health problem is causing your dog’s bad breath, then certainly work with your vet to help treat your dog. Whether it’s kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, or anything else, your vet will take great care of your dog.

Change your dog’s diet.

Sometimes, your dog’s food isn’t the right choice for them. For example, one sign of pica and coprophagia is a lack of nutrition. Your dog may eat their own poop to recycle their nutrition in an attempt to get more. This is another reason to talk to your vet about the best dog food for your pooch.

Preventing bad dog breath

You may be wondering, what can I give my dog for bad breath? The best way to prevent bad dog breath is to care for their teeth properly as a young puppy. This will get your dog used to teeth cleaning and the like. If your dog doesn’t have any bad breath issues now, but you haven’t been caring for its teeth properly, there are some ways you can prevent the halitosis from happening.

Natural remedies for bad dog breath

There are many things you can do at home to help prevent bad breath for your furry friend.

Brush your dog’s teeth regularly

First, you can brush your dog’s teeth regularly. You can get a pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrush in different sizes (depending on how big your dog is). The best way to do this is to start this routine when your pooch is a puppy. This will help them get used to the sensation of you going at their mouth. Then, as they get older, it’ll be a routine for them.

You can brush their teeth regularly, and you can also have a professional groomer do it. For example, if your doggo gets a bath regularly, then you can ask the groomers to brush your dog’s teeth and ensure their mouth is clean and healthy.


Probiotics help put good bacteria into your dog’s system. They can help with many things for your dog, such as boosting their gastrointestinal health or immune system. Think of probiotics for dogs as vitamins for humans. In addition to all of that, probiotics can help stave off halitosis. 

Coconut oil and other healthy snacks

Coconut oil has plenty of health benefits for your doggo. Making their breath smell sweeter is one of them. In addition, you can add a teaspoon of coconut oil to their food once a day, or you can even brush their teeth with a little bit of coconut oil.

In addition, some other snacks might help with their breath. For example, carrot sticks or apple slices might help. This will give your pooch something to chew on, and it’ll help scrape any tartar or plaque off their teeth. Carrot sticks, especially frozen ones, are great for teething puppies.

Dog treats for bad breath

Dental chews are a great way to help with your dog’s bad breath as well. Dental chews are meant to help scrape off plaque and tartar. It’s tasty for your doggo can help with teething, and makes their breath smell better.

Homemade dog treats for bad breath

You don’t need to buy dental chews all the time to help with your dog’s bad breath. You can also make your own homemade dog treats, which is another natural bad dog breath remedy. For example, you can try out the recipes below:

These recipes all have in common that they use a combination of parsley, coconut oil, mint, and apples. All of these ingredients help stave off bad breath. Plus, if you make your own homemade dog treats for bad breath, you’ll save money in the long run, and your doggo will surely enjoy the treat.

Dog bad breath home remedy is the way to go

The easiest way to help your dog’s breath smell fresh is to keep up with their teeth cleaning at home. Give them treats (homemade or dental chews) that will promote healthy chewing habits. This will encourage your dog only to eat what they’re supposed to, be tasty for them, and promote fresh breath.

Your dog will thank you later, and you’ll be able to accept those kisses with ease!

Similar reading: learn more about your dog’s health

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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