Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

One of the most noticeable but, overlooked medical conditions in dogs is bad breath. Bad breath or halitosis is most certainly recognized right off and more times than not, dog owners tend to just ignore it because bad breath is something we have come to associate with dogs or puppies. However, bad breath can be a result of bacteria build up in the mouth, lungs or stomach. The diagnosis and remedy is different for all three of these causes and can indicate different underlying problems. Upon the initial indication that your dog has developed halitosis it is best to evaluate the situation, preferably with your veterinarian and take control right from the beginning so that you can prevent possible life threatening conditions involving your dog’s kidneys, liver or any other organs that could be amiss.


  1. Sometimes your dog’s bad breath is just an indication of his diet. However, if the odor changes and becomes stronger with no change in diet, that can indicate a problem.
  2. Most problems with bad breath are caused by a buildup of bacteria or gum disease. Certain breeds, especially smaller breeds, tend to have more of a chance of developing dental problems than others.
  3. Your dog could have developed issues with his respiratory system and have an usually amount of mouth breathing or panting that is labored.
  4. Diabetes usually causes your dog’s breath to have a fruity smell and he may seem thirsty all the time.
  5. A gastrointestinal tract issue can be any problem that reduces your dog’s ability to digest his food or alters the way the food is digested. If your dog’s breath seems to have a “rotting food” smell then it could very well be exactly that. He may experience acid reflux type coughing that is followed by a foul smelling discharge. If your dog has these symptoms it is best to seek a veterinarian’s care because reflux can cause irritation and burning in the throat and can lead to an infection.
  6. Kidney issues could be accompanied by breath that smells like urine.
  7. Liver issues usually cause your dog to vomit and have yellow colored gums. As a result his breath can smell like feces and be very strong, even from a distance.

Getting The Correct Diagnosis

Your veterinarian can help you determine what the cause of your dog’s bad breath might be. Sometimes your vet can determine the issue by a simple physical exam. He may have to take blood in order to rule out certain more serious diseases. It is safer to rule these issues out then to find out too late that you could have reversed or prevented the damage. When you bring your dog in for an exam be prepared to answer some simple questions about his diet, physical activity or any changes in normal behavior that he may have experienced lately. If you have left your dog unattended and he could have eaten something dangerous, make sure you make your vet aware of this. Make sure to note whether your dog has been drinking more water than usual or going to the bathroom more or less frequently than normal.

Often dog breath isn’t a serious problem and if dealt with swiftly and properly you can help your dog get back to normal and feeling and smelling his best in no time at all.

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