Quick links

What makes a dog’s breath smell...

Posted by on 22nd Dec 2015

... and how to combat it

We’re sure to have all had bad breath once in our life and know it’s quite unpleasant, but for a dog that has bad breath, this could be a sign of poor health and can lead to larger medical problems in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or organs. It may seem like an anecdotal problem, but the effects it could have on your dog’s health can be detrimental.

What is bad breath?

Bad breath is the build up of odorous bacteria that’s produced in your dog’s mouth, lungs or gut and is more often than not caused by dental or gum disease. Bad breath is especially common in small breeds as they’re prone to the build up of tartar and plaque.

What can I do?

In the circumstance of your dog having bad breath it’s recommended that you seek a vet’s advice. When you visit the vet a physical examination will be carried out and you’ll be asked questions concerning your dog’s diet, fitness, behaviour and oral health. If you notice a change in your dog’s breath and it has an unusual smell, a veterinary appointment must be made as soon as possible.

There are many smells to look out for that is connected to a wide range of medical problems:

  • Sweet or fruity smell – this could indicate diabetes
    • Foul odour followed by vomiting or lack of appetite and the appearance of yellow gums or corneas – this could indicate liver problems
    • Urine smell – this could indicate kidney disease
  • What treatment is available?

    The type of treatment given to your dog depends highly on the cause. If your dog’s bad breath is caused by oral health then a professional clean might be required, but if it is caused by your dog’s diet you’ll need to change his food. If it’s a more serious case, then your vet will advise you on the steps you should take.


  • Regular vet check-ups need to be incorporated into your dog’s routine
    • Ensure that you and a vet monitor your dog’s teeth, gums and breath
    • Examine the ingredients of your dog’s food – make sure it’s high quality and easy to digest
    • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a specially formulated dog tooth paste.
    • Offer your dog chew toys to help naturally clean their teeth