Bad breath in dogs

Bad breath in dogs

Bad breath in dogs is often a sign of an underlying problem. Most of the time, it is associated with poor oral hygiene. But you should know that halitosis – as it is also called – can also be associated with an extra-oral problem. In fact, that foul odor coming from your dog’s mouth may be due to a serious health problem. Why do dogs smell bad from the mouth? What to do if your dog has bad breath? It is possible to fight bad breath in dogs, but it is important to know the cause.

Does your dog suffer from halitosis? Is his breath so unbearable that you have to turn your head away when he gets too close to you? It is possible to fight against bad breath in dogs, but it is still necessary to know the origin of it. Discover the causes of bad breath in dogs and the solutions to adopt to solve the problem.

1- Bad breath in dogs: possible causes

Dogs are pets that enjoy being close to their owners and family members. However, it is not always pleasant to see your dog wanting to lick your face, especially when the animal has bad breath. Some dogs even smell very bad from the mouth, but it’s not always because of their food. There are several reasons why dogs can have halitosis: tartar, coprophagia, oral or digestive infection, etc.

1-2 Tartar

In most cases, bad breath is caused by tartar in the dog’s mouth. This is all the more likely if you have not scaled your dog’s teeth in the last six months.

Tartar, as a reminder, is a plaque that forms on the teeth and, over time, gets into the gums. Filled with bacteria, if they accumulate for too long, they give off a foul odor and can cause teeth loosening, gum and/or oral cavity infection, the appearance of sores on the mucosa, etc.

1-3 Coprophagia

Coprophagia is a natural feeding behavior in some animals, including dogs. It consists of ingesting fecal matter, whether it is human excrement or its own. And naturally, just as you keep an unpleasant odor of garlic in your mouth when you eat it, the dog keeps the odor of the excremental material it has ingested in its mouth.

In the same way, bad breath can come from smelly food that your dog has eaten: rotten meat, leftover food found in the garbage, rotten food, etc.

2- Bad breath due to dental and intra-oral lesions

As previously mentioned, the dog’s oral cavity is a veritable nest of bacteria. There are large quantities of anaerobic bacteria, known to release volatile sulfur compounds, which are in fact foul-smelling gases whose strong odor is enough to wake up the dead.

These same bacteria can cause infections such as gingivitis or periodontitis, leading to the retention of food remains which – once putrefied – will give off an unbearable smell.

3- Bad breath due to digestive problems

Digestive problems can also be the cause of bad breath in dogs. Just like us, when we have eaten too much, dogs can also suffer from malodorous belching in case of indigestion.

But you have to be careful. Because some diseases like dysphagia or megaesophagia, which result in difficulty swallowing and accumulation of food in the esophagus, can have the same effect. Similarly, severe constipation, or the presence of lesions in the digestive tract/system can also lead to halitosis. In the majority of cases, this can be stomach ulcers, stomatitis, but it can also indicate the presence of a tumor.

4- Extra-oral diseases causing bad breath in dogs

You may be surprised to learn that some diseases, which have nothing to do with the oral cavity and the digestive system, can also cause halitosis. This is the case with certain metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

But note that digestive cancer, kidney failure, inflammation of the intestines, rhinitis, sinusitis, as well as anorexia can also cause bad breath in dogs.

5- Solutions for dog halitosis

There are several solutions to give dogs good breath. The best way to fight bad breath is to make sure that the bacteria living in your dog’s oral cavity do not proliferate. And there’s only one way to do that: make sure he has good oral hygiene.

This means regular brushing, preferably once a day, especially if you’ve been feeding him pate. This is because pate tends to stick to the teeth and promote plaque formation.

You can easily find products in pet stores that will slow down tartar formation. Most of the time, these are food supplements presented in the form of treats, kibbles, chewable bones, etc.

Also, take the time to check regularly for tartar build-up. And at the slightest sign – such as the appearance of yellow spots at the base of the teeth – take your dog to see a veterinarian. Only he or she can decide whether your dog needs scaling or not.

If bad breath persists despite all the precautions you’ve taken, a visit is necessary. It is possible that the halitosis is due to a disease.


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