Purple Heart
why does my dog have bad breath Female owner sitting with dog on couch

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.

Did you know that your dog’s breath shouldn’t stink? Your dog may never have minty fresh breath but it shouldn’t clear the room! There are two common reasons for stinky breath in dogs; dental disease and poor digestion.

Dental Disease

The majority of dental disease occurs out of sight, under the gum. This is called periodontal disease and can only be found with x-rays. Many dogs hide this throbbing pain by acting normally and eating well. To take x-rays, your dog will need to be placed under light anesthesia. This is concerning for many pet parents. When done well, anesthesia is very safe. Here are a list of questions to ask your veterinarian to ensure the best anesthetic protocols are being followed.

  • Will your dog have a dedicated nurse monitoring anesthesia?
  • Will your dog have an IV catheter placed?
  • Will your dog have preanesthetic blood work?
  • Will a recirculating air warmer be used?
  • Will your dog’s heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure be monitored?
  • Will your dog have full mouth dental x-rays?
  • Will the veterinarian be performing extractions that are needed?
  • Will a nurse stay with your dog during recovery?

All the answers to these questions should be yes!


While the majority of dental disease occurs under the gum, there is a lot you can do to prevent disease. Daily brushing prevents tartar formation that causes gingivitis. I like using child or toddler toothbrush. Toothpaste is completely optional. Examining your dog’s teeth regularly can identify problems such as masses and chipped or fractured teeth.

Poor Digestion

If your dog’s oral health checks out, the foul smell may be coming from their stomach. Your pup may have other symptoms such as reflux or chronic vomiting. These symptoms may be caused by food allergies or an imbalance in the gut bacteria. Here are a few suggestions to improve gut health:

  • Switch to a raw diet. This helps improve the type of bacteria present in the gut and can improve overall health.
  • Change meat source. If your dog is currently eating chicken, try switching to a different protein like beef, lamb or turkey.
  • Add a probiotic. My favorite probiotic for improving digestion is Bacillus CoagulansVet by Thorne.


What has helped your dog’s bad breath? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! If you think your pet is trying to shake their stinky breath with grass, think again! Read our guide on why your pup is eating grass and learn when to be concerned.

With love,

Dr. Angie