Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Death

Bad breath is an annoying problem in canines. Being a dog owner, you must have thought, “why does my dog’s breath smell like death?” at some point. The smell is repulsive, but the major concern is that bad breath indicates a more severe health issue.

Canine halitosis can be from poor dental health to liver or kidney disease. Whatever it is, you should seek the vet’s help for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember that dental problems can branch out to a more severe condition if not treated right away. This article will talk about different causes of bad breath in dogs. 

why does my dog’s breath smell like death

Why does my dog’s breath smell like death?

dog breath smell like death

Bad breath among dogs shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere smell. You have to consider the possibility of the following conditions:

Some dogs will grow an oral tumor without showing any immediate signs. However, if your dog has bad breath and you suspect a tumor, a quick check will reveal a lot.

Any mass that’s not typical to a dog’s mouth can be an oral tumor.

Usually, dogs with oral tumors will drool a lot and have a breath that smells like death. You will also notice difficulty eating, and the dog’s face may appear swollen.

Most oral tumors are considered locally invasive, which means that they cause severe damage to the spot where it’s located.

You have to act fast for oral tumors because they can damage the jawbone if neglected. It will also cause extremely bad breath in your dog’s mouth.

At the vet’s clinic, your dog will undergo a biopsy to identify if the oral tumor is cancerous or not. From there, the vet will proceed with the proper treatment.

  • Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease among dogs is caused by plaque and bacterial buildup. This will damage the periodontium or the tissue that supports and surrounds the teeth. Over time, it will make your dog’s breath smell like death as the teeth rot and the infection progresses.

This condition will usually start as gingivitis and then become a bigger problem: periodontal disease. Note that stages categorize periodontal disease. Stage 1 is the easiest to treat since it’s only gingivitis and has a mild bad smell.

As your dog’s periodontal disease approaches Stage 4, its breath will smell like death. It will also cause intense pain in your dog’s mouth and eventual tooth loss.

  • Diabetes

Another reason for bad breath in dogs can be due to diabetes. Although the breath of your diabetic dog is stinky, it usually has a fruity or sweet hint.

Aside from that, your dog will have increased thirst, thus frequent drinking. This will also lead to frequent urination than usual, which should be a cause of concern.Another tell-tale sign of diabetes in dogs is increased appetite accompanied by weight loss. If you suspect that your dog has diabetes, you must bring it to the vet as soon as possible.

The vet can manage the symptoms, including bad breath. The vet will also suggest changes in your dog’s diet and physical activities.

  • Kidney disease

When a dog experiences kidney failure, its breath will taste metallic and rotten. This is due to the buildup of toxins on the body as the kidney fails to eliminate it as usual.

Remember that the kidney acts as the filter of the body. Once it malfunctions, the waste matter will be left in the dog’s bloodstream. As a result, your pup will suffer from severe symptoms like weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and depression.

About 2/3 of the dog’s kidneys will be damaged with kidney disease. When it happens, the waste matter will accumulate in the bloodstream and all over the body. If not treated right away, this will lead to a dog’s death.

  • Liver disease

Another culprit for bad breath in dogs is liver disease. Like kidney disease, liver problems will cause toxin buildup in your dog’s body. This will lead to a musty or rotten meat smell due to accumulating sulfur compounds.

Dog with liver disease will have a yellowish tongue, eyes, and gums. There would also be blood on their poop aside from their breath that smells like death.

Liver disease can be due to leptospirosis infection or untreated heartworms. Some plants can also damage your dog’s kidney if it ingests a lot.

Dog breath doesn’t smell bad in all cases. Some puppies’ breath also smells good.

Why does my dog’s breath smell like metal?

A metallic scent on your dog’s breath is a sign of kidney failure. The metallic smell comes from the toxins and wastes that the kidney failed to remove from your dog’s body.

However, respiratory problems like nasal tumors and nasal infections may cause a slight metallic smell on your dog’s breath. It would help if you got periodontal disease ruled out by visiting your vet. 

Why does my dog’s breath smells like dead fish?

If your dog’s breath smell like dead fish, it’s possible that there are excessive tartar and plaque buildup on its mouth. My dog, sherlock, once also smelled like a dead fish, and after a dental checkup, bad breath was gone. Please read here: Why Does My Dog Smell Fishy

Other than this, it can also be a case of kidney failure or liver disease.

As you see, your dog’s breath can point to different health problems. Therefore, it’s best to check the doggo for more concrete answers and immediate treatment at the vet’s clinic.

However, if your dog just ate fish, some leftovers on their teeth might need to be brushed properly.

4 Tips to prevent bad breath in dogs

A dog’s breath that smells like death can be tamed with proper hygiene and regular vet checks. The following are also effective in preventing bad breath on your dog:

how to prevent bad breath in dogs

1- Regular brushing

Like humans, dogs need to have their teeth brushed regularly using dog toothpaste. However, they can’t do it independently, so you have to help them out.

To reduce plaque buildup, make it a habit to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week. You can either use commercialized toothpaste, or you can also learn how to make dog toothpaste.

2- Dental chews

The more your dog chews, the less plaque there would be. So you should get your puppy some chew treats and chew toys to help clean their teeth.

Some special treats are available in the market, infused with breath-freshening ingredients. These can also help with your dog’s bad breath.

3- Balanced diet

If you want to maintain your dog’s oral hygiene, you should feed them a high-quality, balanced diet to avoid dental and health problems, as every disease is somehow related to what you feed your dog.

It would help if you did not let your dog eat from trash bins or other dumpster sites. However, maintaining their food hygiene is equally important.

4- Visit the vet regularly 

As much as we go to the dentist periodically, our dogs also need their teeth checked by the vet. This will help identify dental problems early before it becomes highly infected.



Anything from plaque, gingivitis, liver disease to kidney disease, or even oral cancer can cause bad breath in your dog. It would help if you never dismissed your dog’s bad breath because it can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition. Instead, a visit to the vet will help identify the real cause and provide the proper treatment for the bad breath in your dog. 

We hope you have found the answer to your question, “why does my dog’s breath smell like death?” in this article. We also hope that you have gained valuable information about your canine’s dental health. 

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