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Bad breath in dogs

Dog breath never smells like roses, but bad breath in dogs could make even the proudest owner weep. If your canine companion is suffering from bad dog breath, it could be a sign of a few different issues. Find out about the causes and symptoms of bad breath in dogs.

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

Dental disease

If you’re worried about your dog’s breath, tooth and gum disease could be the cause. As dogs age, dental diseases become more commonplace. You can attempt to prevent this – and lessen the symptoms – by regularly cleaning your dog’s teeth. It’s worth seeing a professional about your dog’s dental health to make sure there’s no tooth decay or gum infections.

Mouth tumours

If your dog has difficulty eating, alongside symptoms like bad breath it could be due to tumours in the mouth. The smell will be very noticeable, and you may notice blood-stained saliva. If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to get to the vet as soon as possible.

Gut problems

Gut infections can give your dog bad breath due to the build-up of bad bacteria. This can cause a build-up of gas, that never smells great. Other symptoms may include diarrhoea or vomiting.  You might see these symptoms before you notice your dog’s smelly breath.

A bad diet

Fishy dog food can lead to some stinky smells from a panting pup. There’s an easy fix though, try varying your dog’s diet as you might find some smells are worse than others.

Food or other things stuck in the mouth

Dogs love to chew, but sometimes things can get stuck in the mouth. Meat can begin to rot while sticks or bones could lodge into the mouth and cause infection and decay.


If your dog is drinking a lot, seems unwell, and has bad breath, it could be a sign of diabetes or other issues like kidney or liver disease. If you’re even slightly concerned, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

How to get rid of bad breath in dogs

Get your dog’s teeth examined

If you’re ever concerned – or even just doing a routine checkup – getting your dog’s teeth examined is a good habit. Dental issues can be common in dogs, so it pays to stay ahead of the issue. Plus, if your dog does have bad breath, it means you can get to the bottom of it sooner.

Regular teeth brushing

Maintaining a consistent and thorough dental hygiene routine for your dog is one of the best ways to minimise smelly dog breath. There are a lot of resources available on proper dental maintenance, and many brands offer teeth cleaning products for your pet.

Dental treats

Dental treats are a great addition to good dental hygiene. Just be careful, as some are fattier than others and could cause your pup to gain unhealthy weight. If you’re unsure what to get your dog, a vet can advise.

Diets designed to reduce plaque 

Vets can recommend special diets to reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

Avoid sugary treats

With how cute our pups are, the urge to spoil them rotten with treats is difficult to resist. Avoiding sugary treats can benefit your dog’s dental health and reduce bad breath.

Scale and polish

Think of this like visiting the hygienist but for your dog. Vets can clear any nasty taste from your dog’s mouth and reduce the smell of stinky dog breath with a professional scale and polish.  

When to call a vet

It’s important to take the lead when it comes to dental health. If you’re ever worried about your dog’s bad breath, a vet can remove the guesswork and reassure you.

It’s important to take the lead when it comes to dental health. If you’re ever worried about your dog’s bad breath, a vet can remove the guesswork and reassure you. That’s why it’s important to be insured – with Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance  you can get 24/7 vet assistance to discuss your pet’s health. That means if your dog is suffering from bad breath, you’re only a call away from your next best step. 

Don’t hesitate – it’s always worth contacting a vet when you’re worried about your pet. 

Frequently asked questions

Can bad breath in dogs be cured?

In almost all circumstances bad breath in dogs can be resolved by tackling the root issue. In the event your dog’s bad breath is persistent there are still things you can do to improve it. Maintaining dental hygiene, giving them dental treats, and visiting a vet for a scale and polish can all help. 

Do older dogs have bad breath?

Yes, as dogs get older, they’re more likely to suffer from a variety of issues that can cause smelly breath in dogs. It’s important to look after your dog’s dental hygiene from a young age and to check the health of their teeth and gums.

Why does my dog's breath smell horrible?

Dogs aren’t the same as us – they use their mouths for eating, retrieving, and even cleaning. They can’t clean their teeth easily either, so there are a lot of issues that can arise. From dental disease to gut infections, stuck food to a smelly diet, there are many reasons for bad breath in dogs. If you’re ever unsure of the reason, contact your vet for advice.