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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

You are most likely to notice it in very cuddly dogs that like to give their owners a kiss. Sometimes you only notice it when the dog barks, yawns, pants or burps near the head. We are talking about bad breath in dogs. This is a problem that should not be underestimated, as long-lasting intense bad breath can be an indication of a serious illness.  

Why does my dog smell bad from the mouth?

First of all, there is not always cause for concern. Slight bad breath in dogs is normal, for example, after eating. Anyone who has ever fed their dog rumen for example, knows the beastly smell of these “delicacies”. 

Even if your dog is prone to coprophagy – that is, eating its own or other people’s faeces – it is understandable that the dog smells really disgusting coming out of its mouth. Eating carrion will smell no less vile.

These smells fade with time, which is the crucial difference to other possible causes. Watch your pet and smell his mouth every now and then. If you can always detect a very strong and unpleasant odour, there may be other reasons for your dog’s bad breath.

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Causes of bad breath in dogs

Unfortunately, there are other less pleasant triggers that can cause health problems in addition to the intensive odour. If your four-legged friend has a bad smell coming out of his mouth for a long period of time, a visit to your veterinarian is inevitable. 

  • Very often it is caused by the teeth, the gums, the dentition: Tartar, dental decay, paradontitis, inflammation of the mouth (gingivitis, tonsillitis), inflammation of the sinuses, various infections, tumours, but also a change of teeth in puppies and much more can cause bad breath in your dog. 
  • Foreign bodies between the teeth: Various foreign bodies such as blades of grass, pieces of sticks, food scraps, splinters of bones, etc. can also get stuck between the teeth and be responsible for bad breath.
  • Metabolic and organ diseases: Diabetes, stomach and intestinal problems, parasite infestation, diseases of the liver, respiratory tract or kidney, among others, can also cause bad breath.

Good to know: With kidney problems, the dog may smell like urine coming out of its mouth, with diabetes, you may notice a sweet fruity smell. If a disease of the stomach is the cause of the bad breath, sometimes a bitter, sour smell can be detected.

As you can see, the list of possible causes is quite long. If you cannot immediately find a foreign body in your quadruped’s mouth and remove it, a trip to the veterinary clinic is always advisable.  

Strong and persistent bad breath can be a sign of a serious health problem, which in many cases can also be accompanied by pain and other distressing symptoms. 

What to do if the dog stinks from the mouth?

Depending on the cause identified by the vet, you will be given treatment instructions. Since in many cases the teeth are to blame for bad breath in dogs, your pet’s dental health should be taken very seriously. But what can you do? You will hardly be able to teach your best friend to brush his teeth on his own 😊. 

In addition to regular check-ups with your vet, there are a few things you can do as an owner to support your dog’s dental health:

  • The obvious thing to do is to brush your dog’s teeth. With a special toothbrush or a so-called fingerstall, it is quite easy to remove food residues and co. and to prevent tartar. Provided, of course, that your pet is used to this procedure. 
  • In the meantime, there are also various chew toys that support dental health.
  • There are also special toothpastes.
  • Dental care snacks can support dental health. Choose natural dried chewing products, such as tendons, etc., for your dog. 
  • Even a piece of apple to chew can clean the teeth naturally.
  • In general, chewing promotes the production of saliva, which in turn can kill bacteria and viruses. 
  • Change the food. Foods with sugar are often partly responsible for bad teeth. It is also not uncommon for your pet to have a food intolerance or allergy to certain food ingredients. 

Important: It is usually said that dogs refuse to eat when they are in pain. This does not always have to be the case. Some dogs only show pain very late in life. Those who appear “weak” in nature are considered easy prey. That is why dogs often hide (tooth) pain very well. 



Bad breath in dogs is not only unpleasant for dog parents. If a health problem is the trigger, other symptoms and possible pain are usually present. For the love of the animal, an appointment with your veterinarian should be made as soon as possible. Also, make sure your pet has regular dental care/checks, as teeth are often the trigger.