Dogs & Bad Breath: Why It Happens & How To Fix It

A kiss before work, a cuddle before bed – dogs being affectionate is the best. But those face licks are less cute when there’s smelly dog breath involved.

There’s a whole host of reasons your dog might have bad breath, but most are an easy fix and – especially when it comes to cleaner teeth – you’ll be able to stop it from becoming a more serious problem.

Why does my dog have bad breath?

Your dog’s bad breath isn’t something to worry about if it’s only every now and then. If it’s persistent, or it can clear a room, there might be something more at play. 

Not enough brushing

Make sure you clean your dog’s teeth regularly to stop plaque and tartar build-up. These attract bacteria which can be smelly and can lead to gum disease

An infection or an abscess

These give off a strong, unpleasant smell and will need a trip to the vet to sort

Coprophagia (eating poo)

Quite normal behaviour for young dogs, but not a habit you want them to get into. Have a chat with your vet nurse about the best way to steer them away from the poo – and back to sweeter-smelling treats!


Bad breath in dogs isn’t just sour, it can be sweet and this is one bad breath smell that’s definitely worth checking with your vet 

Respiratory problems

The nose and mouth are all linked to the sinuses, so any bacteria or infection (like sinusitis) in the nose can also cause your dog’s breath to smell bad.

How can I improve my dog’s bad breath?

Just like humans,  your dog’s dental health is key, and they’ll always benefit from regular teeth brushing – which helps their breath, too. Cleaning your dog’s teeth isn’t as tricky as it sounds, it just takes a little patience (and practice!).

Pop a treat on the toothbrush

To reward them when you brush

Lots of praise

To put them at ease

Dog-friendly toothpaste

In meaty flavours they’ll love.

Avoid using human toothpaste as it usually contains ingredients (xylitol and alcohol) that are toxic for dogs.

What if brushing doesn’t help?

If you find your dog’s breath isn’t improving, take them in for a check-up with your vet or vet nurse. Deposits of plaque and tartar in hard to reach places can be left behind – especially if your dog only gives you 20 seconds to get a brush in. These can cause gum disease so it’s good to keep an eye on these signs:

Inflamed gums

A dark red line where the gum meets the teeth

Receding gums

Where the root of the tooth is exposed

Yellow or brown deposits round the teeth

Usually noticeable on the upper canines first as these aren’t used for chewing. Try lifting up your dog’s lip to check.

How often should I clean my dog’s teeth?

In an ideal world, you’d clean your dog’s teeth twice a day. But that’s easier said than done especially if you’ve got a dog that hides at the sight of a toothbrush, or one that gives you about 5 seconds to get the job done!

Studies show that just brushing them two or three times a week can help prevent plaque build-up and tackle that stinky bad breath. On the days you don’t get round to brushing, a dental stick is a good alternative.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our blog on dental health here.

6 thoughts on “Dogs & Bad Breath: Why It Happens & How To Fix It”

    • Hi Louise,

      Our Dental Dailies are suitable for dogs with pancreatitis providing they have no dietary ingredient exclusions.


    • Hi Louisa,

      Our Dental Dailies are suitable for dogs with pancreatitis providing they have no dietary ingredient exclusions.


  1. We have one dog that licks the other on the face often and they both have really bad breath. Also they were eating the peaches on the ground, we thought that was the issue, but the peaches have been gone and the bad breath is still there. I do believe that the dog that licks maybe eating poop also.


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