Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Death

Why does my dog’s breath smell like death? Bad breath among canines is an annoying problem. The smell is repulsive, but the major concern here is that bad breath indicates a more serious health issue.

Canine halitosis can be anywhere from poor dental health to liver or kidney disease. Whatever it is, you should seek the help of the vet for proper diagnosis and cure.

Remember that dental problems can branch out to a more serious condition if not treated right away. stay with us and get all reasons behind “Why does my dog’s breath smell like death?”

Why does my dog’s 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:

  • Plaque and tartar buildup

One of the leading dental problems among dogs is tartar and plaque buildup. This occurs due to poor dental hygiene and failure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly.

Plaque forms when bits of food are left rotting on the dog’s teeth. Over time, this will produce a bad smell, which some pet owners question as “Why does my dog’s breath smell like death?”.

The bacteria in your dog’s mouth will make the situation worse. If not addressed, your dog’s bad breath will linger and become accompanied by a myriad of other health problems.

As the bacteria in your dog’s mouth mix with food, it starts to form plaque. If not removed, it will harden and become difficult to address.

Worse, the plaque may dig into the gums of your dog. Also, the affected tooth will rot and open up. It’s also one of the leading causes of bad breath among dogs including Yorkies about which you can read here why dose yorkies have bad breath.

When this happens, bacteria and viruses can easily enter and result in a massive infection that can compromise your dog’s life.

  • Oral tumors

Oral tumors can also be the culprit behind your dog’s breath that smells like death. It can or can’t be cancerous, so it’s best to bring your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis.

Some dogs will grow an oral tumor without showing any immediate signs. 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 when it comes to 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 then become a bigger problem, which is periodontal disease. Note that periodontal disease is categorized by stages. 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 even more like death. It will also cause intense pain in your dog’s mouth and eventual tooth loss.

  • Diabetes

On a more serious note, another reason for “Why does my dog’s breath smell like death?” 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 have a metallic and rotten smell. 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. Your pooch will suffer from severe symptoms like weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and depression over time.

With kidney disease, about 2/3 of the dog’s kidneys will be damaged. 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. Similar to 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 happened to ingest a lot.

You will not ask ‘Why does my dog’s breath smell like death?’ in all cases. Some puppies’ breath also smells good and you can read about it here( https://petcosset.com/why-does-puppy-breath-smell-good/).

Why does my dog’s breath smell like metal?

A metallic scent on your dog’s breath is a hallmark 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. You should also get periodontal disease ruled out.

In the end, you can get a clearer answer of Why does my dog’s breath smell like death? once you brought your dog to the 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.

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. It’s best to have the doggo checked at the vet’s clinic for more concrete answers and immediate treatment.

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

How to prevent bad breath among 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:

Regular brushing

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

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

Dental chews

The more your dog chews, the less plaque there would be. You should get your pooch some chew treats and chew toys that will help clean their teeth.

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

Balanced diet

If you want to maintain the oral hygiene of your dog, you should feed them a high-quality balanced diet in order to avoid dental and health problems. As every disease is somehow related to what you feed your dog.

You should not let your dog eat from trash bins or other dumpster sites. Maintaining their food hygiene is equally important.

Visit the vet

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.


Why does my dog’s breath smell like death? It can be anything from plaque, gingivitis, liver disease to kidney disease, or even oral cancer. You should never dismiss your dog’s bad breath because it can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition.

A visit to the vet will help identify the real cause and provide the proper treatment for the bad breath in your dog. 

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