Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish? Causes For a Dog’s Bad Breath
Dogs aren't exactly known for their dental hygiene and their minty fresh breath. But there's a big difference between standard dog breath and the strong, sour odors that remind their owners of rotting fish, or even fecal matter.
Even with regular dental care for your dog, bad breath is a possibility. When dental care is lacking, it can quickly lead to more extreme odors. Whether you've only recently noticed that your dog's breath smells, or your dog's bad breath has been a chronic, years-long issue, pet owners can address this problem by identifying the root cause and taking action to treat and mitigate the odors.
Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell So Bad?
If your dog is suffering from bad breath, it's likely due to one of the following dog bad breath causes:
- Poor Dental Hygiene: This is the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, and the resulting bad breath tends to grow worse over time as your dog's oral hygiene worsens. As plaque and tartar build up in your dog's mouth, the bacteria create a stronger odor that will become more noticeable to pet owners. As dental hygiene worsens, it can lead to dental health complications that make breath even worse, including cavities, gum infections, tooth loss and periodontal disease.
- Dietary or Microbiome Issues: Imbalances in your dog's gut bacteria could exacerbate your dog's bad breath. Similarly, your dog may have recently eaten poop; like it or not, some breeds are more predisposed to this than others, and this gross dietary habit could involve either their own poop or the poop of another dog or animal.
- Diabetes: Sugar imbalances in your dog's bloodstream can produce bad breath.
- Kidney Problems: Kidney diseases sometimes cause bad breath, among other symptoms.
- Liver Disease: Some dogs will develop extreme bad breath when they develop liver disease. This is often accompanied by vomiting, a loss of appetite and yellow coloring on your dog's gums.
Most cases of a dog's bad breath will fall into one of these categories. While these cases can range from minor to serious, it's important to know the signs of bad breath that aren't the product of a few missed cleanings. Dog owners should line up prompt medical care for underlying health issues.
When Should You Worry About Fishy Dog Breath?
Some characteristics of your dog's bad breath can clue you in to underlying health issues that require medical treatment. A sweet smell to your dog's breath, for example, can be a sign of diabetes. By contrast, if you've been asking, "Why does my dog's breath smell like poop or pee?", it might be a sign of kidney disease—or it could just be a sign that your dog has recently eaten feces.
Other accompanying symptoms of bad breath, such as a loss of appetite or vomiting, may also be a sign of an oral injury, rotting tooth or even liver disease. All of these scenarios require prompt medical attention and may require a dental procedure or other medical care to alleviate the problem.
Even if fishy dog breath doesn't present an immediate threat, it often does require some form of attention from a vet, even if all your dog needs is a thorough dental cleaning.
Tips For Treating Your Dog's Bad Breath
Once you've identified your dog's bad breath, causes dictate the treatment. In cases of kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes, treating and managing that condition is the best way to clear up your dog's bad breath. In the cases of bad dietary habits, carefully watching what your pet consumes in the house by keeping them away from garbage or fecal matter will help rule out other issues.
When bad breath is the product of poor oral hygiene, the steps to treat this condition are relatively straightforward. If plaque and tartar have already built up on your dog's teeth and bones, you might consider a professional dental cleaning, which allows your vet to identify loose, rotting teeth that need to be removed.
These cleanings can also reduce gingivitis while reducing bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath. After this cleaning has taken place, you can maintain dental care at home through regular brushing with a dog toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste, as well as dental treats and even dog food designed to naturally clean your dog's teeth. This combination of dental care may cause additional improvements in your dog's bad breath over time and will slow down the development of plaque and tartar that leads to bad breath in the future.
If your dog's breath smells, regular oral hygiene can go a long way toward improving even severe cases of bad breath—improving the long-term dental health of your dog.