Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish? Causes For a Dog’s Bad Breath

May 16, 2023 in Uncategorized

Dogs aren't known for their dental hygiene and minty fresh breath. However, a big difference exists between normal dog breath and the strong, sour odors that remind their owners of rotting fish or feces.

Even with regular dental care for your dog, bad breath is possible. When dental care is lacking, it can quickly lead to more extreme odors. Whether you've only recently noticed that your dogs breath smells, or your dogs bad breath has been a chronic, years-long issue, pet owners can address this problem by identifying the root cause and treating and mitigating the odors.

Close Up Profile Portrait Of Cute Domestic Dog Looking Way

Why Does Dog Breath Smells Like Fish?

If your dog is suffering from bad breath, it's likely due to one of the following dogs bad breath causes:

  • Poor Dental Hygiene: This is the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. If it tends to be persistent over time, your dog's oral hygiene deteriorates. 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 worsen breathing, including cavities, gum infections, tooth loss and periodontal disease.
  • Dietary or Microbiome Issues: Imbalances in your dog's gut bacteria could exacerbate 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 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 dogs 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 into underlying health issues that require medical treatment. For example, a sweet smell on your dog's breath can indicate diabetes. By contrast, if you've been asking, Why does my dog smell like fish? Or "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. 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.

The steps to treat this condition are relatively straightforward when bad breath results from poor oral hygiene. 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 removal.

These cleanings can also reduce gingivitis while reducing oral bacteria that cause bad breath. After this cleaning, you can maintain dental care at home through regular brushing with a dog toothbrush, pet-safe toothpaste, 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 dogs bad breath over time and will slow down the development of plaque and tartar that leads to bad breath in the future.

If your dogs 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.