Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes and Remedies

If you want to understand how to fix bad dog breath, you are on the right page. Keep reading to get all the information.

If you want to understand how to fix bad dog breath, you are on the right page. Keep reading to get all the information.

Dog’s owner may not focus on the bad dog breath and think it is just “dog breath”, but there is always a cause behind that odor.

While it’s perfectly normal for your dog to have some smell on their breath from eating, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest dog parents.

But what is more important in this context is that bad dog breath is not just unpleasant, it may also be a sign of health problems. In this article, we will cover some of the most common causes of bad breath in dogs and solutions to try at home. 

What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

Are you worried about your dog’s bad breath? First, it’s important to understand why your dog’s breath might be offensive.

Many factors work together to give your dog horrible breath. Of course, they are the same things that give humans bad breath. The most common are oral health issues, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes.

Oral Health Issues

The most common causes of bad breath in dogs are poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease. This is where plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth and gums, leading to the growth of bacteria which causes bad breath and sometimes even more severe symptoms like inflamed gums and loose teeth.

Dental diseases in dogs can worsen and lead to fatal conditions if not treated properly.

Smaller dogs are usually more prone to have teeth issues. This is due to the fact that they live longer and their teeth are oftentimes set closer together.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly two-thirds of dogs have some form of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, so this is a very likely cause for your dog’s bad breath.

Kidney Disease

Bad breath that smells like urine or feces can either be a sign that your dog has recently eaten poop or can be a symptom of health issues affecting your pet’s kidneys.

The waste products that are normally eliminated by the kidneys build up in the bloodstream and then show up in the breath of affected individuals.

Liver Disease

If your dog has exceptionally strong, foul breath combined with vomiting, appetite loss, or yellowing gums and corneas, that could be a sign of liver disease.

Liver disease can cause the breath to smell musty or like a dead animal. This is because the liver is no longer able to properly filter out toxins so stinky sulfur compounds, such as thiols, are released into the lungs.

You should visit the vet immediately if you suspect your dog has liver disease, as it can be life-threatening.


Diabetes can cause a buildup of ketones, a byproduct from the body breaking down fat instead of glucose, resulting in breath smelling sweet, fruity, or like nail polish remover.

Uncontrolled diabetes can also suppress the immune system, allowing bacteria in the mouth to grow unchecked. Additionally, the increased sugar content of saliva is the best food for bad, odor-producing bacteria to thrive.

How Do I Get Rid of My Dog’s Bad Breath?

You don’t have to spend an ample amount to fight dental disease. Here are some easy home remedies for bad breath in dogs you can try. They’re tested and proven effective.

Keep Their Teeth Clean

Perhaps the best way to keep your dog’s mouth healthy and to control bad breath is to brush his teeth daily. This is an excellent way to prevent tartar and plaque buildup.

Brushing your dog’s teeth will go a long way to reducing the plaque and tartar buildup that can cause bad breath.

There are many dental products available, and it’s important to buy toothpaste made specifically for dogs because human toothpaste contains ingredients such as xylitol that are toxic to dogs.

Also, consider annual cleanings by your veterinarian. Your vet can check for tooth decay and provide proper teeth cleaning and polishing.

Keep in mind that your vet will put your dog under anesthesia for the cleaning procedure. However, anesthesia can be risky in older dogs, so it’s best to brush your dog’s teeth regularly to help avoid any major problems.


Apples also serve to help freshen a dog’s breath, especially for puppies and older dogs that have bad breath. Giving a dog a slice of fresh apple before going on car rides might help the owner to avoid the dog breath aroma in close quarters.

In addition, apples can help to clean teeth as well. The apple’s skin is quite fibrous and it is fairly difficult to chew, which means the dog will continue to chew while the peel scrapes against the teeth and gums. It will help to remove plaque, thus helping to prevent tartar.

You can also add half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to their water. This particular kind of vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant, and your dog will also love the taste.

Coconut Oil

This oil is quickly becoming a favorite cure-all for humans. For dogs, coconut oil means sweeter breath, better digestion, healthier skin, and a softer and shinier coat. 

Coconut oil also provides many benefits when used as a doggy toothpaste. Its anti-microbial properties help remove harmful bacteria from your dog’s mouth, which in turn helps prevent plaque from developing.

More importantly, most dogs love the taste of coconut oil. For bad breath, add one or two drops of parsley oil to the soft baby toothbrush along with the coconut oil.


Good old-fashioned cinnamon is an easy and natural trick for transforming your dog’s stale, smelly breath. 

Studies show that cinnamon may increase brain function, ward off diabetes in dogs, help to stave off yeast infections, combat arthritis, and can even help keep your dog’s food fresher for longer.

Owners can give their canine just a hint of cinnamon by rubbing it on their gums, and that should be a quick fix for bad breath. Do not give your dog cinnamon sticks, as they can cause coughing and breathing problems.


One of the principal causes of doggy bad breath is bacteria that inhabit the digestive system. This is where probiotics come in.

While bacteria is causing that nasty-smelling breath in your dog, there are such things as good bacteria. Probiotics are known to help the digestive system by supporting good bacteria in the body.

Use a probiotic made especially for dogs, and you’ll notice a big difference – not just in your dog’s breath, but in its overall well-being.

Keeping your dog on a proper and healthy diet can also make a large difference across the board for your dog. Improved breath is just one small side effect.


Bad breath in dogs can be pretty common in our pooches. On the other hand, it is not something to be taken lightly, and can often be an indicator of something more serious.

If your dog’s breath is consistently foul, and you notice other symptoms, like loss of appetite, excessive drooling or drinking, or vomiting, a trip to the vet’s office is likely the best solution.