Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell?

by | Apr 11 2022

As pet parents, we love our furry friends unconditionally.

That said, however, there are certain occasions when it becomes a little difficult to give them as much affection as we’d like. A prime example of this is when your dog suddenly develops bad breath.

Perhaps they simply ate something they shouldn’t have and the odour will be short-lived. Or maybe your dog fights the regular brushing routine, making it difficult to get into those nooks and crannies and remove all the nasty plaque-causing bacteria.

On the other hand, foul-smelling breath that’s showing no signs of disappearing could be related to an underlying health issue that requires urgent attention.

In this article, we address each possibility to help you figure out the root cause, so you can get back to showering your prized pooch in hugs and kisses!


Underlying health issues that can cause bad breath


If you’ve noticed that your pet has recently developed bad breath, and particularly if this unwanted new characteristic is accompanied by other symptoms, it could point to an underlying health issue.

It is vital to consult your vet at the earliest point if you’re concerned about a possible illness.

Here is a rundown of the main health conditions that can lead to halitosis:



Diabetes forces the body to break down fat rather than glucose, which leads to a build-up of ketones. This can result in your dog’s breath taking on a sweet or acetone-like smell, similar to nail polish remover.


Kidney disease

When a dog’s kidney function is compromised due to an underlying illness, it can lead to a build-up of urea in the blood. This is a toxin that can cause your dog’s breath to smell and in severe cases, may cause ulceration in the mouth.


Liver disease

The liver serves as a built-in filtration system for toxins in the body. When its function is compromised and these toxins are free to wreak havoc, it can have a natural knock-on effect on how a dog’s breath smells. Any recent onset of bad breath that has appeared alongside further symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and jaundice might indicate an issue with the liver.


Oral tumours

These masses, which often come in the form of melanoma (the most common) and squamous cell carcinoma, can become infected and lead to bad breath. On average, they tend to affect older dogs who are around 11 years old. Other symptoms of oral tumours include swelling of the face, increased salivation and weight loss.

Other, less serious underlying factors such as diet and food allergies, poor gut health, or even a foreign object getting stuck in your pet’s mouth may be the cause of bad breath. However, the most common culprit of all tends to be dental disease.


Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell - Mark + Chappell (2)

Dental disease: the most likely cause of halitosis


One of the leading causes of halitosis in dogs is dental disease. In fact, so prevalent is this issue that a reported 80% of dogs show signs of tooth decay by the time they reach three years of age.

So, how does the problem occur in the first place?

Poor oral healthcare is a huge contributing factor. If a dog’s teeth are not regularly brushed – ideally two to three times per week – using a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, this can lead to a build-up of bacteria.

This, in turn, causes plaque to develop on the teeth and under the gums. When this plaque hardens, it forms tartar, which can lead to a variety of dental issues such as periodontal disease and gingivitis.

While problematic on their own terms, causing symptoms like inflamed gums, loose teeth, and of course, bad breath, these conditions can have serious health implications if undetected and untreated, from tooth loss and abscesses to organ damage.

Certain breeds of dogs, such as smaller dogs and those with smaller snouts, can be more prone to dental disease and bad breath. The same can be said for dogs with crooked, crowded or misaligned teeth. As our canine friends grow older, they are also at higher risk of developing dental and gum disease.


How to treat bad breath


Given that there are many potential causes of bad breath in dogs, there are also many different treatments. The most important immediate action to take if you suspect your pet’s halitosis is a result of an underlying health issue is to consult your vet for advice.

Maintaining a regular brushing routine, including sporadic professional cleanings, will also help to both prevent and treat bad breath.

In terms of further preventative measures, incorporating a range of specially formulated dental products into your pup’s diet can have a positive impact.

Formulated by animal nutritionists to promote the wellbeing of your pet, Healthy Treats Breath and Dental cream-filled treats help to control plaque and tartar build-up while featuring parsley and clove oils to promote fresh breath.

These are available to buy from Mark + Chappell, where you will also find a wealth of expert pet-care advice, along with a wide range of industry-approved products that help to combat everything from bad breath to separation anxiety.

Visit us today for all your pet-related concerns and discover how our products and expertise can help you in giving your dog the amazing life it deserves.


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