Dog Tips

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Your dog having a bad smell may not be new for you and it is quite common as well. But at times, you will need to investigate and find out the underlying reason behind it. The causes of a bad smell can range from tooth decay to kidney disease. 

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? Let’s jump right into the most common causes of a bad odor in a dog’s breath.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

  • Periodontal Disease – It is one of the most common causes of foul breath in both humans and dogs. Over 80% of the dogs above the age of 3 get affected by it1. The build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth triggers inflammation and affects the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Bad breath is a sign that your dog might have this condition. The inability to chew, especially hard food or treats, broken or missing teeth, excessive drooling, bleeding gums, favoring one side of the mouth for chewing, etc. are other signs that indicate the development of this disease in your dog.

  • Dietary Habits – If your dog ends up eating feces, vomit, garbage, or other unsavory items on a walk when you’re not aware, or if it drinks toilet water, it can cause bad breath for obvious reasons. Bones and bully sticks can also cause a foul breath.

  • Kidney disease – When kidneys fail to properly filter and process waste, it results in bad breath. 

  • Liver Disease – If your dog is showing other symptoms like vomiting, yellow gums, or refusal to eat along with bad breath then it could be a sign of liver disease

  • Diabetes –Even if your dog’s smell is too sweet or fruity, it could be a sign of diabetes. 

  • Anal-gland problems - Dogs have anal glands on either side of their anus, which they use to learn about each other by depositing and sniffing secretions. Soft stool, abnormalities, or impacted glands here can be a cause of that fishy smell. 

  • Fear/anxiety – Secretion in anal glands becomes a part of a dog’s fight or flight response at the time of anxiety. A bad fishy smell could be a sign of that as well. Our pet experts recommend that you learn dog anxiety symptoms to better address this issue.

Dog’s Breath Smells Like Fish - When to Be Concerned

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? When should I be concerned? We’ve listed the common causes of bad breath in dogs above. While it is never okay for your dog to have a bad fishy breath, sometimes it can be a sign of a severe underlying condition that needs immediate attention. If your dog’s foul breath is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, yellow or pale gums, lethargy, lack of appetite, etc. it may be because of a kidney or liver infection. You should consult a doctor straight away.

Even if you don’t see other symptoms but the bad breath is prolonged, you should visit the vet at the earliest. 

Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell Like Urine?

If and when your dog’s kidney is not functioning at its best, the toxins and waste accumulation in their system can lead to a build-up of urea in the blood. This can cause your dog’s breath to smell like urine or ammonia. 

Excessive build-up of urea can cause ulceration in the mouth. Consulting a vet at the earliest would be of importance here.

How to Cure / Prevent Bad Breath in Dogs?

As they say, prevention is always better than cure. The best ways to prevent a bad fishy odor from your dog’s breath are – 

  • Dental hygiene – This one is just the same as for humans. Regular teeth and gums cleaning can prevent the build-up of bacteria in the dog’s mouth reducing the chances of a dental illness. Pet dental care costs should be a top consideration for pet owners.

  • Dental chews – There are some dental chews and dog food available in the market that promote healthy teeth and gums for doggies.

  • Balanced diet – Most of the diseases for humans and dogs both start from the gut. A good quality, well-balanced diet prevents bad breath arising from bacterial imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract. We are proud to offer pet nutrition and diet tips from our experts.

  • Regular Vet Visits – We saw that several medical conditions like diabetes can be the cause of bad breath. It is important to visit the vet at least once in 6 months to make sure there are no underlying, unnoticed diseases.

For curing the bad breath at home, you can do one of these:

  • Add plain yogurt to your dog’s food plate

  • Make some ginger tea for your dog

  • Using coconut oil as a toothpaste can also help. It can even boost their metabolism, promote digestion, and maintain healthy skin and coat.

  • Chopping some fresh parsley and mint leaves and adding them to your dog's food can help

  • Raw apples, carrots, broccoli, and celery stalks can help remove tartar and plaque from your dog’s mouth and hence reduce the bad smell

You can certainly use the above remedies and get rid of the bad fishy smell from your dog’s mouth but the underlying medical condition won’t be treated with this. You need to visit the vet if the bad breath is a frequent occurrence.

How Can Pet Insurance Help?

Bad breaths can be due to several reasons like kidney or liver diseases, digestive tract infections, and much more. The cost of treating these can run into thousands at times and can become a financial worry for you. This wouldn’t help when you’re already worried about the health of your four-legged baby.


Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: