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Why does my breath smell like dog poop?

Understanding Bad Dog Breath

Bad dog breath is very common and dog owners simply get used to it. But it should not be that way. Most times, canine halitosis is a sign of poor periodontal health.

The term “doggy breath” is normally used in a condescending way to refer to people who have stinky breath. You’d think that this is because a dog always has bad breath, but this really couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What does a dog’s stinky breath smell like?

Usually, a dog’s breath is known to stink of fish, poop, urine, acetone, ammonia, sewer, garbage, dead animals, rotting cheese, blood, and other similar smells.

In fact, it is abnormal for a dog’s breath to consistently stink. Bad odors coming from your dog’s mouth are indicative of diseases and disorders. If your dog’s mouth stinks like any of the smells mentioned, it means that they have a problem that needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.

A dog’s breath, just like human breath, should smell of nothing in particular.

Is bad dog breath a symptom or a medical condition?

Stinky dog breath is a symptom as well as a medical condition, depending on what it smells like.

Halitosis is a medical condition where the dog suffers from chronic bad breath due to disease and poor oral hygiene. If a dog’s teeth are not brushed properly, it can lead to plaque and tartar buildup that causes a bad smell.

In some cases, certain specific smells may indicate that something is wrong with the dog’s internal organs. It could be a symptom of something more serious, like tumors or kidney disease.

A study even showed that there seems to be a correlation between bad breath in the human owner and their dog.

Causes for Bad dog Breath

As discussed above, bad dog breath can be a symptom as well as a medical condition. As a condition, bad breath in dogs is caused by a number of factors. The main factor being a lack of oral hygiene for extended periods of time.

Periodontal Disease

Poor oral dental hygiene is the number one cause for stinky dog breath or halitosis in dogs.

Not brushing your dog’s teeth for a long time and not changing toothbrushes regularly could be the root of the problem. They cause a plaque or tartar buildup on the teeth. Over time, this plaque gets so thick it starts to push the teeth away from the gums.

Consequently, this creates more space for bacteria to thrive inside the gums and mouth, resulting in bad breath as well as teeth and gum infections. Cavities, root infections, and a condition called gingivitis are all caused by poor dental hygiene.

By far, most cases of stinky breath and halitosis in dogs can be traced back to poor periodontal health.

Kidney Disease

If your dog’s breath smells strongly of ammonia or urine, it could be a symptom of kidney disease.

The logic behind this is that if the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, urea in the dog’s body isn’t being eliminated. The residual urea remains in the dog’s system for longer than it should and causes an ammonia smell and urine-like breath.

Kidney disease, which causes halitosis, is in fact also caused by periodontal disease. When neglected, dental disorders in dogs can become advanced and cause an overflow of germs and bacteria into the mouth. These get ingested and enter the bloodstream, causing long-term damages to kidneys and liver.

Toxic Plants

If your dog’s breath smells like rotting cheese or toxic fumes, it could mean that they have consumed a poisonous plant.

It’s normal for dogs to be seen chewing and eating plants when they have an upset stomach—it helps them vomit.

However, domestic dogs lack the sense to differentiate poisonous plants from the safe ones and sometimes end up eating the former. This causes an acidic, rancid smell from their mouth. In some cases, the dogs will eliminate the poisonous plant from their system, but sometimes, medical intervention will be needed.


When your dog’s breath smells like chemicals or gives off a whiff of acetone, it’s likely that they are suffering from diabetes. Diabetes can also cause your dog’s breath to smell sickly sweet like your breath smells after drinking very sweet tea.

A diabetic dog lacks insulin. And without insulin, it becomes very difficult for the dogs to break down the sugars that they consume. In order to derive the necessary sugars, the dog’s body starts breaking down fat. This results in the dog’s body going into ketosis, and ketones are a byproduct of this. These ketones smell like acetone causing their breath to smell like chemicals.

This is a very serious disorder and may even cause blindness, dehydration, and weaknesses in the dog. It must be treated with urgency and due care.

Pica and Coprophagia

Pica and coprophagia are eating disorders in dogs when the animals believe inedible items to be food and try and eat them. This is what causes their breath to smell of whatever it is that they have eaten – from paper to poop!

Pica refers to the act of eating objects like shoes, paper, wood, etc. Most dogs tend to eat toys, rocks, wood, and even chew off some fabric. This could be dangerous as they may choke on the small parts.

Coprophagia is more distasteful and refers to a dog’s habit of eating feces, either their own or of other animals. This causes their breath to smell like poop, for obvious reasons. While coprophagia may harm the dogs by causing an infection transmitted via the bacteria and viruses in the fecal matter, it won’t necessarily kill the animal.

Both these disorders are caused by the behavioral traits of the dogs and sometimes by wrong training practices also.

Oral Tumors

Oral tumors or advanced dental diseases that cause an influx of bacteria into the mouth can make the dog’s breath smell like garbage or sewers. It gives off an extremely foul odor. In extreme cases of negligence, these oral tumors may bleed and give off an unpleasant metallic odor due to blood iron content.

Dogs usually develop oral tumors, lesions, and masses, as a result of poor oral hygiene. Over a period of time, negligence of periodontal health causes the gums to deteriorate and finally rot. This causes the teeth to fall out, gums to bleed, and teeth sockets to develop tumors. The rotting flesh and bacteria in the mouth cause the stinky breath in the dogs.


Vet-approved dog food can also cause bad breath in dogs. Meat, bones, and other food items tend to get stuck in their teeth, causing their mouth to stink. Sometimes, it could just be that the food that is not being digested properly and is giving off a bad smell.

It’s a good idea to speak to your vet about what food to feed the dog. Very dry meals food that is too wet could also be causing the issue. Undigested food could be sending stomach acids and gases up into the mouth and causing a stench. Favor raw feeding or freeze-dried and even human-grade dog foods when possible.

Treatment for Halitosis in Dogs

The treatment of halitosis depends on the severity of the problem and the cause of the condition. One size doesn’t fit all in this case.

Obviously, it is always better to try and eliminate the root cause of the problem instead of finding temporary solutions like dental chew sticks and fresh smelling herbs.

Here’s what to do if your dog’s bad breath problem persists or gets worse.

Dental Cleaning

Most bad breath problems in dogs are due to poor oral hygiene. So the first thing you must do is visit a dog-dentist to get your pet’s teeth cleaned thoroughly.
Get the vet to perform an exhaustive dental and mouth checkup—they’ll look for lesions, tumors, cavities or rotting food inside the mouth.

To get rid of all the plaque that has been building up over a period of time, you may need multiple dental sessions. Speak to your vet about dental hygiene maintenance for your dog. The market is full of innovative products that help you maintain your dog’s dental health with little-to-no effort. Get regular dental follow-ups done until your dog breath smells like nothing.

Vet Treatment

If the stench persists in spite of thorough plaque removal, the root cause could be something else. You’ll have to speak to your vet and get the necessary tests done in order to confirm what the problem is first.

If your dog has a kidney or liver problem or is found with oral lesions and tumors—you must take utmost care and follow the doctor’s instructions carefully.

In such a scenario, your dog’s breath is a telltale sign of how their health is improving.

Dietary Changes

If your dog suffers from coprophagia or pica, it could be that eating feces is a sign of poor nutrition in your dog. Your dog could be relying on feces for the nutrition that they aren’t getting from the food you give them. Find out the root cause and get to it.

If the bad breath is due to certain foods that your dog finds difficult to digest, start making the necessary changes to their diet.

In order to cure bad dog breath, you’ll need to have a lot of patience. Finding the right diet for your dog will require some trial and error.

Incorporate fresh fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods like probiotic yogurt into your dog’s diet. This will not only cleanse the internal system but will also help them keep their teeth clean.

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Related: We have more information under our dog health categories.

My Dog’s Breath Smells Like Poop

As a pet companion, you must’ve already noticed that your dog’s breath smells like poop sometimes. Their stinky breath can make it difficult to be so close to them when cuddling or playing. So, why does your dog’s breath smell like poop? And how can you eliminate bad breath in your dog?

In this AnimalWised article, we are going to explain the cause of bad breath in dogs. We’ll also tell you how to eliminate bad breath in your dog.

You may also be interested in: Natural Mosquito Repellent For Dogs

  1. Why does my dog’s breath smell like poop?
  2. How to eliminate bad breath in dogs
  3. Dog products for bad breath
  4. Dental Health in dogs
  5. How to prevent bad breath in dogs

Why does my dog’s breath smell like poop?

Most dog companions tend to dismiss bad breath in dogs, however, there is usually a good reason behind why their breath smells like poop. Some causes are more serious than others. Nevertheless, we should address this issue as it is uncomfortable for us and could be a potential health issue for our dog. Take a look at the common causes of bad breath in dogs:

  • Dental issues: such as tooth decay, a mouth infection or gum problems. Learn more in our article about common dental disorders in dogs.
  • Lung bacteria: similar to when we have a cold. Congestion tends to make one’s breath smell different.
  • Diabetes: if your dog has a sweet or fruity breath smell, this could be a sign that they have diabetes. Consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Kidney disease: if your dog’s breath smells like urine, they were probably drinking urine. This is a sign of kidney disease. Consult with your veterinarian.
  • Liver disease: if your dog’s breath smells bad and they are also vomiting or they have yellow gums, this may be a sign that they have a liver disease, such as hepatitis in dogs. Just like a kidney disease, this is very serious and will need your veterinarian’s attention.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: if your dog’s bad breath is accompanied with a loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, they may be experiencing some gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis in dogs. It’s important you seek your veterinarian help.
  • Dietary habits or problem: perhaps your dog has eaten a piece of meat that has gone bad. Your dog could’ve eaten actual poop. Dogs are known for enjoying to eat cat poop, but not only is this smelly, it’s also highly unhygienic for your dog. To learn more about this, we encourage you to also read our article on why dogs eat poop.

How to eliminate bad breath in dogs

Now that you know the most common cases of why a dog’s breath may smell like poop, it’s time to see how to eliminate bad breath in dogs. Of course, if your dog is experiencing any other symptoms, it’s best to take them to their veterinarian for a check-up. Some of these health issues are very serious and need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

On the other hand, if your dog has bad breath due to their dental hygiene or eating improper food, you can stop your dog’s bad breath with some simple changes. First, you will want to make sure your dog has clean and fresh water everyday. You need to change their water each day to avoid bad breath and other health problems they could have by drinking dirty water. Your adult dog should not be drinking anything but water. If you’re giving your dog milk or other dairy products, we encourage you read our article about dogs and lactose intolerance.

Next, we can adjust their diet. A fresh and natural canine diet should not leave your dog’s breath smelling like poop. You may ask yourself, what exactly is a natural canine diet? Well, it mainly consists of protein and fat. The protein should have two or three types of protein from meat. For example: whole chicken, lamb, beef and fish. For fat sources, you can opt for chicken fat. Good fat sources can solute some of the most important vitamins a dog needs.

When it comes to carbs, it should be kept in a low amount as dogs thrive on meat. If you are cooking for your dog, then we recommend to include low amounts of whole carbs, such as sweet potatoes. Lastly, you can offer some fruits and vegetables that provide good vitamins and minerals to help your dog’s over-all health. This can be tricky as there are many forbidden food for dogs, just make sure to inform yourself before giving them a new treat.

Lastly, to promote good breath smell in your dog, you can use ingredients such as mint, cilantro, sage and parsley. These aromatic plants will make their taste better and their breath smell good. Mint as been used for a very long time in dental products but it’s also a great addition to a meal as it has a great and fresh taste. Cilantro is also very tasty and easy to find in your local supermarket. Sage is popular for its antiseptic properties. It’s also effective in preventing bacteria build up inside the mouth. That’s what makes it a great choice for preventing bad breath in dogs. Parsley is another easy to find aromatic plant that will add flavor to your dog’s food while improving their digestion and helping keep their breath smelling fresh,

My Dog's Breath Smells Like Poop - How to eliminate bad breath in dogs

Dog products for bad breath

Another great way to eliminate bad breath in dogs is by using some canine products designed for their dental hygiene and good breath. This is a great and easy way to help the smell of your dog’s breath. However, these products are not necessary when your dog is healthy and has a good diet. These are simply a nice addition if you wish to use them. These products include:

  • Dog chew stick toothbrush
  • Dental sticks for dogs
  • Dental care kit
  • Toothpaste for dogs
  • Breath sprays for dogs
  • Dog chew toys for dental hygiene

These chew toys make it easy to clean their teeth and prevent plaque formation as your dog will love to play with them. It’s also easy to clean as most of them are dishwater safe. For the dental care kits and toothpaste for dogs, veterinarians recommend brushing their teeth regularly. However, consult your veterinarian before deciding on incorporating this routine and deciding on which product to use. Keep in mind that you must use toothpaste for dogs, never use human toothpaste. You’ll also need a soft toothbrush for dogs or the rubber brushed you can put on your finger.

Consult your veterinarian or canine dental hygiene expert before choosing a product as different breeds of dogs will need different solutions.

Dental Health in dogs

Apart from a healthy diet for dental health, your dog will need to have regular check-ups with their local veterinarian every six months. This will help detect and diagnose any health problem that may arise and treat it as soon as possible. Some health issues occur very quickly and can become fatal if not checked on time. This is why it’s recommended to take your dog to the vet every six months as a regular check-up.

Most of the time, bad breath in dogs occur due to tooth decay. To treat this, your canine professional will have it thoroughly cleaned while your dog is entirely under the influence of anesthesia. In some cases, it may involve tooth extraction. It’s important you understand that bad breath in dogs is not normal and should be treated.

Once you have noticed your dog’s stinky breath, try to observe their habits and whether they have any other symptoms. Then, call your veterinarian for a check-up. Make sure to tell them everything you have observed. They will run some examinations and organize the best treatment for the underlying cause of your dog’s situation.

This may be something simply, such as changing their diet to a natural canine diet and avoiding sweet foods. They may even recommend a dental hygiene product for your dog. However, when accompanied by other symptoms, it may be more serious. Your veterinarian will determine exactly what the health issue is, but it can vary from diabetes to a liver disease.

My Dog's Breath Smells Like Poop - Dental Health in dogs

How to prevent bad breath in dogs

The best way to prevent bad breath in dogs is by brushing their teeth regularly, providing them with a rich and natural canine diet, providing them with chew toys and lastly, by bringing them to their veterinarian for their regular check-ups every 6 months.

The combination of these habits will not only prevent your dog from having bad breath but it will also promote their overall health and wellbeing. If you’re worried about your dog’s breath or health, it’s best to consult your veterinarian as each dog is different. They will examine your dog’s health and create a plan to have them in the best health possible.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog’s Breath Smells Like Poop, we recommend you visit our Home Remedies category.

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