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My Dog’s Breath Smells — Why?

A big dog licking a man's face.

You might not want to do that.” I looked up as I felt a gentle hand pull me away. “I don’t really recommend kissing Buttons. Her breath is kind of … let’s just say she could use a breath mint.” If you’ve ever thought (or said aloud), “My dog’s breath smells — why?” you’re not alone!

One of my favorite perks of being a veterinarian is getting kisses from my patients. I love puppy snuggles, kitty headbutts and good, old-fashioned face lickings. Nothing gives me greater joy than the affection of the pets I serve. I wasn’t going to let this whiff warning prevent Buttons and me from smooching.

I leaned in, and Buttons darted forward … and then a gust of rotten eggs and elephant dung plowed me over. I aborted mid-lick.

“Told you.”

My dog’s breath smells — what’s going on inside his mouth?

A dog with his mouth open and tongue out, looking up.
Ever thought, “My dog’s breath smells!”? You’re definitely not alone. Photography ©ClarkandCompany | Getty Images.

First, rest assured that you’re hardly the first dog parent who thinks, “My dog’s breath smells!” Bad breath or halitosis is incredibly common in dogs, with about half of all dog owners reporting their dog has “stank mouth.” While most dog lovers are more concerned with stopping the stink, I’m more interested in treating the cause.

Halitosis in dogs is due primarily to oral and systemic causes, with approximately 85 percent of canine bad breath originating in the mouth. Contrary to popular belief (and several misguided products), bad dog breath doesn’t emanate from the intestines or stomach and doesn’t end with enzymes and essences.

Unless your dog is suspected of having a serious condition (see below), most of the stench search will be inside the mouth. Mouth bacteria are responsible for the vast majority of bad breath in dogs. These malodorous microbes thrive within the biofilm of plaque and mineralized calculus they create on a dog’s teeth. The germs then burrow beneath the gums, causing infection and damage to the support structures of teeth. While wreaking havoc in the mouth and gums, these pathogenic…


About the author

Jessica Goldberg

Jessica Goldberg

Editor for @DogCoutureCNTRY | Love my outdoors yoga | Family, friends and of course puppies dogs. Go figure! social media geek at heart community manager. Follow @JessicaGoldb

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