Stinky Kisses: Why does my dog’s breath smell?

Why does my dog’s breath smell?Chelsea - Oakview Vet - Plover WI

Few smells are as unpleasant as a dog with bad breath. Daisy might think that you appreciate her kisses, but if she has bad breath, then getting up close and personal is the last thing that you want to do. We all know bad breath when we smell it. Bad breath is usually the results of bacteria in your dog’s mouth. There are other causes of bad breath such as diabetes or kidney disease, so if you notice any changes in your pet’s breath – please see your veterinarian.

Most often, canine bad breath is caused by oral disease. Unfortunately, small breed dogs get more than their fair share of dental disease – tartar, gingivitis and periodontal disease.


Bad Teeth
A small dog with heavy plaque build up causing severe dental disease. Do you want kisses from this dog?

How to treat bad breath

Most of the treats, chews and supplements purported to treat doggie bad breath are ineffective because they don’t address the underlying cause of the problem. Addressing the actual problem depends on your veterinarian’s assessment and recommendations. If dental disease is discovered, Daisy might require a professional dental cleaning and treatment. If it’s an issue of diet, you might have to change Daisy’s food. If the cause is an abnormality in the liver, kidneys or GI tract, your veterinarian will outline your options for addressing these issues.

Can I prevent my dog from having bad breath?

Dog Teeth cropped
Clean teeth and fresh breath! Read on for Dr. Hankison’s Checklist for Dental Health!

Many people assume that bad breath in older dogs is inevitable, but that’s not always the case. Being proactive about your pet’s oral health will keep your pet healthier and happier, plus make your life together more pleasant.



Dr. Hanksion’s Checklist for Dental Health:

  • Schedule regular check ups for your pet to make sure that she doesn’t have any underlying medical issues that may cause halitosis.
  • Make sure that your veterinarian evaluates your pet’s oral health at every visit.
  • Feed your dog a high-quality pet food. Dry food has been shown to reduce plaque the most. Canned food, however, doesn’t cause much more plaque than dry food. The diet’s that have been shown to be the worst are the “semi-moist” foods. To keep the texture soft, the manufacturer has to use excessive sugar, salt or chemicals that create a “gummy” consistency that contributes to dental disease.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth frequently. Once a day is best, while every other day is good. Once a week is better than most pet owners – so anything is better than nothing. Be sure to use a pet toothpaste because human toothpaste can cause issues for pets. I will address teeth brushing in a later article.
  • Provide safe, appropriately sized chew toys that help with the natural teeth cleaning process of chewing. Greenies, Milk Bone Brushing Chews, Nylabones, rawhides (American-made is recommended due to some previous issues from imported rawhides) are some chew toys to consider. As always, check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any treats or chew toys.
Busy Buddy enhanced
Busy Buddy toys can help clean teeth through play


  • NEVER give your pet a chew unsupervised. Unfortunately, some dogs will try to swallow toys rather than chew them (even if they have always chewed on them appropriately before).
  • Most dogs will gnaw and chew at these toys – that is great! Unfortunately, if Daisy chews her toy twice and tries to swallow it whole – NEVER give her that toy again.
  • Please do not give your dog BONES. While chewing on bones can be an effective way to remove calculus, bones are the number one cause of broken teeth. There are safer ways to keep their teeth clean.




Dr Hankison is our fearless dental guru! With over 30 years in practice, clients and staff alike appreciate his knowledge, compassion, and humility.

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