Written by David Reich  — Fact checked by Piet Hellemans, DVM

In short:

Bad breath in dogs can be a sign of a tooth or gum disease or other illness.

Preventing bad breath is easier than getting rid of it. You can do this by brushing your dog’s teeth twice a week and treating them with chewy snacks and appropriate toys.

Bad breath can be a sign of other medical condition such as kidney disease, so make sure you take your pup to the vet regularly.

Let’s talk about bad breath in dogs

Have you noticed bad breath in your dogs? Well, you are not alone. While you may have tried to maintain excellent hygiene for the pet, there are times that the dreadful breath will not go away. This bad smell can affect how you relate, and bond with the dog as no one wants to get close up to a bad, smelly or stinky mouth. Besides being gross and uncomfortable, dog oral health problems may also be a sign of bad tooth disease or illness.

Before you give your doggy some dog breath mints, you need to check and identify the real problem carefully. It helps you treat the awful condition from the root instead of from the surface. Let’s explore the causes of your dog’s smelling breath and how to prevent and treat it.

Possible causes of bad breath in dogs

Periodontal Disease

A common cause of dog bad breath is periodontal disease. What is periodontal disease? This is a bad gum disease that is caused by an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It comes from plaque and tartar sticking to the dog’s gum line. The bad disease affects both adult and young dogs. The unpleasant dental problem of bad breath becomes evident by the time your dog is getting to three years of age. If left untreated for long, the dog’s bad breath may escalate and also affect your dog’s liver, kidneys, and heart.


While puppies are playful and have the best breath, the breath may get nasty and bad when they are teething. This is because most of them play with toys and could harm their gums. Teething puppies tend to produce bacteria along their gum lines when they’re getting teeth. If the gum bleeds, they could invite a bad bacterium which, in turn, creates a smelling breath.


A dog with diabetes will have a certain bad dog breath. It smells like acetone; a component mostly used to remove nail polish. Like people, dogs with diabetes will have a high level of ketones in their blood, and this makes it more acidic. The ketones will give away an unpleasant, stale fruity or charred smell. If you notice that your doggy has an acetone-like dog breath and doesn’t have diabetes, you need to visit the veterinarian for some assessments. Other diabetic symptoms for your dog include drinking too much water, urinating too many times, sudden weight loss, as well as an enhanced appetite.

Liver Disease

Smelly breath can also be an indication of a liver disease. If you notice that your dog has a pungent, strong bad breath coupled with vomiting, loss of appetite and yellowing gums, it could mean that it is suffering from liver disease. The smell is a little different from a severe periodontal disease as it smells like a dead animal or musty. The disease is dreadful and life-threatening and should be quickly resolved. You should visit the vet as soon as possible.

Kidney Disease

Does your dog’s breath smell like ammonia or strong urine? Well, they might be suffering from kidney disease. While the bad uremic smell is caused by toxins in the dog’s body, a strong ammonic smell indicates that the kidneys are failing. It couples with changes in weight, appetite, drinking, or frequent urination (or less). In extremities, you may notice your dog getting depressed when the awful disease strikes.

Gastrointestinal Problems

While it is less common, this may also be a cause of bad breath for your dog. It can be caused by infection with bacteria, medications or new foods. Any oral ingestion that affects oral health may also affect the general dog’s health and could cause a terrible disease. As such, you need to visit the vet as soon as you notice any bad or unusual symptoms, for example pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Bad Breath

Prevention is always better than cure. Catching a bad disease before it happens is your best shot when dealing with any health issue for your pets. Once you get your puppy or dog, you need to begin with the common or day to day procedures to protect it from getting these oral and dental problems. Here is how you prevent the bad breath in dogs, enhance and protect their teeth, dental, and oral health.

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Brush the dog’s teeth at least twice a week

This is the simplest yet most effective way to combat your dog’s bad breath and enhance its tooth wellness. You should give the dog a thorough brushing to eliminate bad plaque from forming on the gum. Make it a habit to help your dog enjoy healthy gums and good breath.

Appropriate chew toys

Get chew toys when it’s time to teeth: When the dog is teething, it undergoes several problems, and the gums feel itchy. To protect it from harming itself during this time, you should get rubber and chewy toys. Besides strengthening the teeth, the toys will be instrumental in eliminating bad tartar from the dog’s mouth. It is a good protection for the dog’s oral health.

Chewy snacks or stix

Use Dental chews to improve dental health and help to improve the doggy breath. Chews can help with removing plaque and bacteria on the teeth. They are also great for anxious dogs who like to chew. NatuPet’s CBD Stix promote healthy teeth and gums through the chewing action and saliva generation required to eat them.

Keep food and water dish clean

Ensure that the food and water dishes are clean: How frequently do you clean the dog’s dishes and bowls? The dog’s food bowls can contain a lot of bad bacteria and germs and this can alter the dog’s dental wellness. In the end, this brings a very foul smell. To prevent these germs, you should clean the dishes at least after every meal. If you cannot clean them after every meal, you should do so once per day.

A healthy diet for healthy teeth and gums

Use coconut oil to clean the gut system: Coconut oil is great for cleaning the dog’s gastrointestinal system. If there is anything in the dog’s stomach that causes nasty breath, it will go away within a few days. Check with your vet to know the correct dosage to administer to your dog.

Introduce fruits and vegetables for the dogs: While dogs are carnivorous, you need to introduce vegetables and fruits such as carrots and strawberries to help clean the gut system. They are also great for removing bad plaque from the dog’s teeth and eliminating bad dog breath. Like with coconut, you need to talk to the vet and know the correct serving size for the dog. It may depend on the age, activity, disease, and extremity of the bad breath.

Apple Cider Vinegar can also help with a dog’s oral health. It helps to keep the pH levels in your dog’s blood mildly acidic, which helps to keep pests at bay. This Vinegar will also help in the healing of your dog’s mouth. The higher acidity levels of apple cider vinegar have been shown to break down plaque and bacteria on the teeth, keeping their mouth healthy.

How to Get Rid of My dog’s bad breath

You can use the prevention tips to get rid of your pet’s bad breath. Nevertheless, your best shot at treating the bad dog breath, disease, or any unpleasant scents will be taking the pet to the vet. While at the vet, the dog will receive a series of tests and assessments to determine the actual cause of the bad condition. The vet will help you develop a diet for the dog and administer the proper medication depending on the condition. We are against self-diagnosing the dog as this could lead to giving the animal the wrong medication. If this happens, you risk escalating the bad dental issue at hand. Find a great veterinarian and take your pet for dental treatment and eliminate the dog’s bad breath.

CBD Expert at | Website | posts

David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant | posts

Piet Hellemans, DVM has been a veterinarian since 2006 and currently practices in and around Amsterdam. He graduated from Universiteit Utrecht, earning his degree in Veterinary Medicine. He also works as a veterinary consultant and advises companies, individuals, and foundations on promoting animal welfare. In recent years, he’s become a strong advocate for the use of CBD on pets and has written numerous articles on other websites extolling its properties.

Piet is an advocate for the NatuPet brand and fact-checks our content, so we are sure to provide our readers with accurate information.

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