Why Does My Puppy’s Breath Smell Bad?

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If you’ve recently gotten a new puppy, you’re probably enjoying all kinds of new experiences. Slobbery puppy kisses, warm puppy tummies, sweet puppy cuddles – these are all things you’ll experience with your new four-legged friend. One other thing that might not be as much fun is nasty puppy breath.

There are several reasons your puppy – or your full-grown dog for that matter – might have bad breath. Bad breath could be from teething, dental issues, tooth decay or just from eating something nasty. For adult dogs, dental issues are usually the culprit. For puppies, it’s usually teething.

How about a nasty fishy smell coming from your new puppy’s mouth? Is that a bad sign? It doesn’t have to be. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common causes of bad breath in canines and how to get rid of that fishy smell.

Why Does My Puppy Have Fishy Breath?


If your furry little friend is still in the puppy stage of his life and is experiencing some nasty, fishy breath, chances are he’s teething. This is, hands down, the most common cause for bad breath in puppies. Puppies teethe just the same as human babies. They have baby teeth that they shed before growing new, adult teeth.

This is actually a good thing for you because puppy teeth are sharp. They’re like little razor blades. A bite from a puppy, even a playful bite, can really hurt. You’ll be very glad when your puppy loses his baby teeth and grows new adult teeth, which are much less sharp and painful.

A dog’s adult teeth are larger, but they’re also duller. These are your dog’s permanent teeth. Until he sheds his baby teeth and grows his permanent teeth, though, he’ll want to bite and chew on anything he can get in his mouth. This includes sticks, toys, bones, furniture, pillows and your hands and feet.

Chewing on things makes your puppy’s mouth feel good. It can also help him shed his baby teeth faster when they’re loose. Of course, the mixture of chewing on everything in his path and the blood from loose and shedding teeth can make your puppy’s breath stink quite terribly.

Rest assured, though, this foul breath won’t last forever. Usually, by the time your puppy is about seven months old, he’ll have all his adult teeth, and the teething process will end. When it does, the stinky breath will go with it as well.

Other Reasons for Stinky Puppy Breath

Puppy Ate Something Gross

Although teething is most often the cause of nasty puppy breath, it isn’t the only cause. If your dog is old enough to have passed the point of teething and is still having bad breath, there are a couple of other reasons this could be happening.

In addition to puppies and dogs chewing on everything, they also eat anything they can find. Dogs love dog food, human food and treats. However, they also like things that are a little less savory, such as dirt, grass and even their own poop.

Additionally, they’ll eat other animal’s poop as well. This is known as coprophagia.


In literal terms, coprophagia simply translates to “feces-eating.” Coprophagia, however, is a much nicer word. It’s safe to say that if your dog has been eating feces – either his own or something else’s – his breath is going to smell awful.

That’s why it’s important that you clean up after your dog every time he poops. When you take your furry friend out do his business, take a bag with you and pick it up immediately. If your puppy accidentally poops inside, put it in a bag and throw it away immediately. Don’t give him the opportunity to eat it.

If you have other inside animals, particularly cats, you’ll also want to keep a close eye on your dog inside to make sure he doesn’t get into the cat’s litter pan.

Other Gross Stuff

Puppies and dogs will also eat rotten food, dead animals and lots of other super gross stuff. If your puppy jumps in your lap and breathes something in your face that smells a lot like poop or something rotten, chances are it probably is.

The good news is that you can usually prevent this type of nasty breath by keeping a very close eye on your furry friend anytime he’s outside running around the yard. Keeping your pup away from nasty things he shouldn’t be eating will help cut down on the instances of nasty breath.

Stinky Food

Have you ever eaten tuna fish salad or taken a fish oil supplement and let out a disgusting, fish-flavored burp hours later? Of course you have. At some point, we all eat something that causes us to burp up something horribly nasty later on in the day. Some dog food can do the same thing to your pup.

This is especially true of fish- and seafood-flavored dog food, but it can happen with other foods as well. If you think your pup’s bad breath is coming from his food, buy a new brand or flavor the next time you shop. Remember, any time you change your dog’s food, do it slowly. Changing his food all at once with no transition can cause him to become sick.

After you have fully transitioned to the dog’s new food, his breath should get better. If it doesn’t, the food probably wasn’t the culprit.

Cleaning Their Butts

As much as we love our dogs and as much joy as they bring us, they can also be pretty gross. If you’ve had a dog or puppy for any length of time, you’ve surely seen him licking himself clean. This includes licking his butt, specifically his anal sac.

Although “anal sac” is kind of a gross word, it’s a pretty important body part on a dog. Anal sacs are what cause dogs to sniff other dogs’ butts. They emit a very strong smell, and a dog can learn a lot about another dog by sniffing its anal sac, such as what type of food the dog eats, whether the dog is a male or female and even whether or not the other dog is dangerous.

When your dog’s anal sac is working properly, it empties each time your dog goes to poop. Sometimes, though, the sac doesn’t empty and remains full, and when he licks his bottom to clean himself, it gives your dog’s mouth a very nasty smell indeed. If, in addition to bad breath, you notice your dog sliding his butt across the floor, it’s probably because his anal sac isn’t emptying properly.

This usually requires a trip to the vet. It’s a common problem, and vets can cure it easily enough. This will help keep the instances of bad breath down.

How to Handle Bad Teething Breath in Dogs

As we’ve already mentioned, teething is the most common cause of bad breath in puppies. Unless you’ve determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is some other cause, teething is probably the cause. It’s also quite normal.

Just because it’s normal, though, doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell horrible. Chances are you’ll be looking for a way to stop the stink. The good news is that there are options available to help get rid of your puppy’s bad breath.

Brush Your Pup’s Teeth

Good dental hygiene is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. It’s a good idea to start brushing your pup’s teeth at an early age so that he gets used to it and doesn’t make a fuss when he gets older and his bite can hurt you more.

It’s imperative that you never try to brush your dog’s teeth with human toothpaste, however. There are chemicals in human toothpaste that can be dangerous, even deadly, to your dog. This doesn’t mean you can’t brush his teeth, though. It’s simply a matter of finding the right things to use.

There are toothpastes made specifically for dogs. You can buy them at most vets’ offices, on, from pet stores or even off of Amazon. You can also brush your dog’s teeth with baking soda and water.

Although your dog probably won’t enjoy the taste very much, baking soda can get rid of stinky breath. It also gets rid of both bacteria and plaque, which can lead to bad breath.

Coconut Oil

Another good, natural option for getting rid of your puppy’s bad breath is coconut oil. This will taste better to your dog than baking soda, so he probably won’t fight you quite as much. You also don’t have to use a brush. Instead, you simply apply a small bit of coconut oil onto your finger and massage it into your puppy’s gums.

He’ll enjoy the feel of the massaging against his sore, teething gums. Also, dogs quite enjoy the taste of coconut, so it should be a win-win for both of you. In order to cut down on the possibility of negative reactions and toxic ingredients, you’ll want to buy coconut oil specifically made for dogs. Like doggy toothpaste, you can find it pretty much anywhere pet products are sold.

Summing It Up

If your dog has super foul breath, chances are it’s because of one of the above-listed reasons. If your pup is still in the teething stage, 99% of the time, that’s going to be the cause of that fishy odor. If, after the teething process is complete, your dog still has bad breath that doesn’t go away after you change his food, that could be cause for concern.

If your non-teething dog constantly has bad breath that isn’t coming from his food, it’s probably time for a vet visit. Tooth decay can be a huge problem in dogs. It can be expensive to treat and can lead to all kinds of other health problems down the road, so you want to catch it early if that is the culprit. Most of the time, though, you can help prevent tooth decay and other dental problems by practicing good dental hygiene starting from the time your pup is still young.

Below, we’ve listed several products that can help you take care of your four-legged best friend’s teeth.

This toothpaste will not only help keep your doggy’s breath smelling fresh; it’ll also cut down on tartar, plaque and harmful bacteria that likes to grow inside your dog’s mouth. It comes in a two and half-ounce tube, which should last a while, and tastes like sweet dog bones, so your dog shouldn’t give you too much trouble about putting it in his mouth.

Greenies dental dog treats are excellent treats for keeping your dog’s dental health in tip-top shape. You can feed your dog one treat a day. The chews are made from all-natural ingredients. They’re also long-lasting and taste delicious, so your dog never really gets tired of them. In addition to being great for your dog’s oral health, they also make good training treats. Just limit your pup to one treat a day after he’s done something particularly reward-worthy.

The best time to get your dog used to brushing his teeth is when he’s still a young puppy. This kit from Nylabone is made specifically for puppies and their small mouths. The brush is small and angled perfectly for getting inside your puppy’s mouth. The toothpaste tastes good, so even if the brush scares your friend, the smell and taste should entice him to let you use it. It has all the tartar, plaque and bacteria killing effects of all Nylabone toothpastes.

This delicious, chicken-flavored teething ring for puppies is a great way to help cut down on bad breath while your pup is teething. As we’ve already mentioned, teething puppies will pretty much chew on anything. These teething rings will give them something to chew on that won’t make their breath smell quite so foul. Plus, it’ll give them something to chew on that isn’t your furniture, your favorite book or your toes.

As much as we all wish our dogs were the 100% obedient creatures we see on tv shows about amazingly trained dogs, that just isn’t always the case. It would be great if our dogs would sit perfectly still and open their mouths wide for us so that we could brush their teeth as often as we need to do so.

Sometimes, though, brushing your dog’s teeth is hard. If you have one of those dogs who simply will not let you brush his teeth, these dental chews are the next best thing. They are filled with “brushless toothpaste” which gives your dog all the benefits of brushing his teeth without you actually having to do it.

Every now and then, your dog will turn into a ninja. It’s true. Even if you only take your dog out a few times a day to do his business and keep your eyes on him the entire time, somehow he’ll ninja out and manage to eat something you didn’t see him eat.

Because he’s a ninja, you won’t even know it until you get him back inside. He’ll jump into your lap and give you a nice, big puppy kiss, and then the smell will hit you full-force. On those occasions, when bad breath is simply caused by eating something nasty, this dental spray can be a huge help. It’s super easy and convenient to spray, and the good taste means your dog won’t hate it.

If you’re simply looking to freshen your dog’s breath and cut down on tartar and plaque in the easiest way possible, this water additive is perfect for that. Simply add a few drops to your dog’s water bowl. As your dog drinks his water, he’ll also drink the additive, which will freshen his breath, cut down on plaque and tartar and even help whiten his teeth.

These breath mints for dogs are very similar to Altoids for humans. They’re very chewy, which means your dog will have to really chew them up to swallow them. This gives the mints time to work, freshening your dog’s breath and removing both plaque and tartar from his teeth. They also taste like chicken, so you don’t have to worry about your dog not liking them.

This powder works similarly to the water additive. This product, though, is sprinkled onto your dog’s food. It’s tasty and smells good, which will entice your dog to eat it. It’s meant to be used in between brushings, which means you don’t have to brush your dog’s teeth nearly as often. It has also been proven to reduce tartar by 18% and plaque by 20% in dogs that used it for a little less than a month.

As we’ve already mentioned, dabbing a little coconut oil on your fingers and rubbing it around on your puppy’s gums is a great way to help kill bad breath in your puppy’s mouth. Additionally, this can be a great way to help ease some of the pain and discomfort your puppy experiences during his teething period.

This is another great chew toy for teething puppies. It’s marketed as a chew toy for “aggressive chewers” which means that it lasts a really long time, even up against those sharp little puppy teeth. Even better, though, is that it’s mint-flavored, which dogs actually happen to enjoy. Don’t believe us? Drop a mint leaf on the floor and see how quickly your dog chomps it up.

In addition to your dog enjoying it, though, you’ll also enjoy the way it gives your dog’s breath a delicious, clean, minty scent. Think of this chew toy as spearmint gum for dogs. If you still aren’t sold on the whole “dogs enjoying mint-flavored chew toys” thing, the company also has a peanut butter-flavored BarkBone stick as well. While it doesn’t smell quite so fresh and clean as the mint one, it does smell better than teething puppy breath.

Although this cute little toy cactus is last on our list of products, it’s actually one of our favorites. It will be one of your dog’s favorites as well. Although this little cactus might not look like it, it actually has a lot going on. First of all, the little bristles that represent the cactus’ needles are perfectly situated for cleaning your dog’s teeth while he chews on this toy.

Furthermore, it emits a slight odor of milk and sweetness which is nearly irresistible to your dog, which should keep him chewing on it even longer. It comes with an embedded squeaker inside so if the toy itself or the smell loses your dog’s attention, the squeak will certainly draw him back again.

Finally, though, it actually has a place for toothpaste, so that when your dog is biting on it, it actually squeezes some doggy toothpaste into his mouth to help fight plaque and tartar. It also comes with a neat little cleaning brush so you can keep it clean and sanitary.