Stinky Dog Breath: What Causes It And How To Fix It

Have you ever gotten a whiff of Fido’s breath as he gives you a kiss and think “pee-ew”?

You are not alone. Bad dog breath is a common issue for dog owners, but you should not ignore it.

Stinky dog breath can be a sign of underlying health issues and needs to be addressed. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so it is a good time to freshen up on proper dental care for your pet.

Photo: Unsplash/Jeremy Stewardson

Read on to learn more about what causes stinky dog breath and how to fix it.

Causes of Bad Dog Breath

Periodontal Disease & Plaque Buildup

80% of dogs over the age of three suffer from some form of periodontal disease. It is one of the most common diseases that pets suffer from.

It all starts with plaque buildup.

Periodontal Disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. Early detection and treatment are critical,…

Posted by Somerset Animal Hospital on Thursday, February 3, 2022

Just like us, plaque starts to form on the teeth every time a dog eats and eventually turns into tartar if not removed by regular teeth brushing.

The bad bacteria cause putrid breath and damage to your dog’s teeth and gums.

“Periodontal diseases begin with gingivitis and left untreated, the infection often spreads deeper into the tooth socket, destroying the bone,” states VCA Hospitals.

Eating Something Smelly

Dogs use their nose to explore the world and love smelly things. They will eat cat poo and anything else they can find including dead animals. This behavior is not only gross but can cause an upset stomach.

Photo: Pixabay/DanaTentis

Underlying Health Issue

A dog with sweet or foul-smelling breath can also be suffering from a serious condition like diabetes, kidney, or liver disease. If your dog is displaying other symptoms or not eating consult your vet immediately.

How can I get rid of my dog’s bad breath?

Once you have ruled out that your dog’s funky-smelling breath is not from a health issue there are a few ways to help treat and prevent bad breath.

Adobe Stock: mraoraor

Brush- The easiest way to prevent plaque buildup and keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh is to brush your dog’s teeth with a toothpaste and toothbrush made for dogs. If there is already plaque and tarter on the teeth you will need to consult your vet about scheduling a dental cleaning.

Supervise- Make sure to secure your garbage and keep an eye on Fido to make sure he doesn’t eat roadkill or look for a snack in the cat’s litter box.

Photo: Pixabay/SNGPhotography

Dental Chews- Give Fido something good to chew on, like vet-approved dental chews, which will help prevent plaque and freshen his breath. Chewing in general is good for your dog’s teeth and mental health. A Kong filled with a tasty treat is a fun way to entertain and challenge your dog.

Never give your dog cooked bones as they can splinter and cause internal damage and fracture teeth.

Minty Treats- Try baking up a batch of these tasty minty dog treats and instantly freshen your pup’s breath. These are not meant to cover up a dental issue but are a great way to get rid of doggie breath after Fido helped himself to something stinky.

How often should you brush your dog’s teeth?

Photo: Unsplash/Alexi Ohre

Veterinarians recommend that dog owners brush their dog’s teeth every single day, or at the very least three times a week. Just like humans, plaque and tarter can buildup and cause serious health issues. It is the leading cause of bad breath.

Small dog breeds are more prone to tarter buildup due to their teeth being closer together, so be sure to pay extra attention to their little mouths.

Watch the video below to see how to properly brush your pet’s teeth and why it is important.

Why Does Puppy Breath Smell So Good?

Puppy breath is intoxicating and smells so sweet. But why? It turns out the pleasant smell is due to a combination of a clean mouth, diet, and natural occurring bacteria.

Aside from the puppy’s clean teeth and a diet of his mother’s milk, Dr. Mary Buelow, Assistant Professor of Clinical Dentistry and Oral Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania told Rover, “Some of it is the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, some of it is just the bacteria that are normal in there.”

Photo: Pixabay/JACLOU-DL

Just like all good things, it doesn’t last. The sweet scent will disappear once the puppy is around six months old.

Dog owners are advised to start brushing their puppy’s teeth and getting it used to the routine for a happy and healthy life.


Periodontal disease is very common in dogs, but it is preventable if you take a few simple steps. Fido will have a clean mouth and you won’t have to shy away from his kisses due to stinky breath – a win-win!

Additional Resources

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