What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

May 05, 2021 4 min read

dogs breath in cold air

You love your dog more than anything in the whole world. And you’d give anything you could to make sure they’re happy and healthy. They come up to you, ready to give you a big kiss then — WHEW — you catch a whiff of their breath and it knocks you back. You still love them with all your heart, but you also wonder what’s causing their bad breath. 

Dental disease is estimated to affect over 80 percent of dogs. But is bad breath always caused by dental disease? What causes bad breath in dogs? 

The truth of the matter is there are several causes for a dog’s bad breath, and it’s good knowing the multiple culprits. Best of all, depending on the cause, you could be able to remediate it at home — especially by providing them with all-natural dog chews

Clean Your Dog's Mouth with All-Natural Dog Chews

If your dog has been showing signs of bad breath, these could be the underlying causes — and the simple ways you could keep their mouth clean.   

Dental disease

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is dental disease. This happens when there is a buildup of plaque and tartar, which is, ultimately, a buildup of bacteria within their mouth. This can infect their teeth, tongue, and gums, causing serious dental disease which can lead to tooth decay, gum recession, and other health complications.

This often occurs when a dog’s teeth aren’t cleaned frequently enough. Cleaning can be done at the vet, at home with a traditional toothbrush, or dental treats. 

Unhealthy oral or gut microbes 

Certain diets can also lead to oral issues, too — which start in the gut. What happens is your dog eats certain foods which promote bad bacteria in their stomach and mouth. This is a problem as it leads to a buildup of bad bacteria bacteria that is actually detrimental to the health of the gut. 

This creates bad breath because it can lead to bacteria also infecting the intestines, which will produce gas that is absorbed back into the blood and eventually exhaled through the mouth. Suddenly, you have a face full of stinky breath, all because your dog is eating food they’re not supposed to be. 

closeup of dogs mouth

Similarly, your dog’s health can be impacted by the bacteria in their mouth, too. If their mouth isn’t cleaned enough — which will already smell — it will lead to a buildup of bad bacteria in the stomach, thus leading to the doubly bad smelling breath. It’s important you regularly clean their mouth and clean up their diet to avoid such side effects.  

Kidney or liver disease 

Similarly, kidney and liver disease can be a cause for bad breath as well. But the smells of each disease will smell different from one another. Liver disease tends to appear as a musty, “dead” smell. Think of it as a heavy-sulfur smell — like your dog’s breath smells like farts. It’s caused by a buildup of toxins in the liver, which are transported to and released by the lungs. 

Kidney disease smells more fishy, though. It’s caused by the concentration of urea in the body — which will equally smell like urine. Kidney disease, similar to the liver, is another possible sign of bad breath because these organs are essential to filtering toxins out of the body. If there is something wrong, internally, it will lead to those toxins accumulating and eventually getting released through your dog’s mouth. 

brushing dogs teeth

How Do You Treat Their Bad Breath? 

You can treat your dog’s bad breath in a few simple ways, both at home and with the assistance of a professional. If you want to tackle their dental health from home, you can start by providing them with treats like bully sticks for dogs. Our 12-inch bully sticks provide them with a natural, tough treat which they can grind their teeth on — which allows them to scrape plaque and tartar from their teeth. 

Beyond providing your dog with healthy dental treats, you should also do things at home to improve their dental health, too. This includes providing them with chew toys that are safe for them, as well as trying to brush your dog’s teeth once a day. Brushing their teeth might not be easy, as they may feel compelled to jerk away or run to their safe space, but it’s something to work on. Reward them whenever you try to brush their teeth, showing you appreciate their effort and calm. 

Lastly, you should bring your dog to your veterinarian to get regular dental cleanings. If need be, they can sedate your dog to properly scrape their teeth of plaque and tartar, as well as cleaning their teeth with toothpaste. 

Give Your Dog Dental-Friendly Dog Chews

Protecting your dog’s health is all about prevention. It’s important you act as soon as possible if you notice your dog has souring dental health.


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