Bad breath in dogs
- Does your dog have smelly breath? Has it been going on for a while?
- Bad breath is often due to dental disease, but can also be cause by other, more serious conditions.
- Bad breath isn't normal and should always be checked by your vet.
- Contact your vet if your dog has bad breath. Make a same-day appointment if their symptoms have come on suddenly, they are in pain or seem unwell.
Causes of bad breath
Bad breath in dogs can be caused by:
- Dental disease such as tartar build up, gum infections, and tooth root abscesses
- Airway infections in the lungs, sinuses or windpipe.
- Stomatitis (inflammation inside the mouth) which can be caused by infections, allergies or eating something that irritates the mouth.
- Something stuck in the mouth such as a piece of bone or stick.
- Gut problems such as infections, vomiting bugs or blockages.
- Diet for example fish based diets.
- Kidney disease can cause the breath to smell like ammonia (similar to bleach).
- Liver disease can cause foul, sweet, musty breath.
- Diabetes can cause the breath to smell sweet (similar to pear drops or nail polish remover).
- Lumps/masses in the mouth often become infected and smell.
When to contact your vet
Contact your vet if you notice a change in your dog’s breath. They will investigate and treat the cause. Make a same day appointment if your dog’s breath has changed suddenly, they are painful, or seem unwell.
Consider insuring your dog to help with healthcare costs in the future.
Published: February 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst