dog’s breath smells like fish

“Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?”

Dental Disease as a Cause of Fishy Breath in Dogs

Dental Disease in Dogs

One of the major reasons why a dog’s breath may have a fishy odor is dental disease. Dental issues in dogs are common and can develop at any age. Tartar buildup and gum disease can cause bad breath due to the overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria. If left untreated, dental diseases can lead to tooth loss, periodontal disease, and other serious infections.

Moreover, as the bacteria in your dog’s mouth grow in numbers, they can reach the bloodstream, leading to infections in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, maintaining your pet’s dental health is integral to ensure their overall well-being.

Your dog should have regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings. Also, ensure that you brush your pet’s teeth regularly, use dental chews, and choose foods that are beneficial for their dental health.

Additionally, it is best to note what goes into your dog’s mouth. Avoid feeding your pet with hard bones, as it may lead to chipped teeth, and cause pain and infection.

In conclusion, if your dog’s breath smells like fish, then there is a high possibility that they are suffering from dental disease. Take proper measures and appointments with your pet’s veterinarian to avoid such severe issues that can threaten the life of your furry friend.

Dental Disease

Dental Disease in dogs

Dental disease is not uncommon in dogs and is one of the primary causes of bad breath. This condition is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth, leading to inflammation of the gums, teeth decay, and bad breath. Generally, dental disease affects dogs over three years old and smaller breeds that are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup.

The signs of dental disease include bad breath, inflamed gums, yellowish or brown teeth, and difficulty chewing. If left untreated, dental disease can lead to serious health problems like tooth decay, loose teeth, and even bacterial infections that can spread to other parts of your dog’s body.

Fortunately, dental disease can be prevented and treated with proper dental care. Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth is essential to removing plaque and tartar buildup. You can use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste, which are specially designed for dogs, to clean their teeth. It’s important to note that human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs, and you should always use dog toothpaste.

It’s also advisable to give your dog dental chews and toys, which help with the removal of plaque and tartar. Additionally, feeding your dog dry dog food can also help prevent dental disease, as it helps scrape off plaque and tartar from their teeth.

If you notice any signs of dental disease in your dog, like bad breath, inflamed gums, or difficulty chewing, it’s essential to take them to the vet for a dental checkup. The vet will perform a dental exam, and if necessary, they will clean your dog’s teeth to remove any buildup of plaque and tartar. The vet may also recommend regular dental cleanings to ensure your dog’s teeth and gums remain healthy.

In conclusion, dental disease is one of the primary causes of bad breath in dogs, and if left untreated can lead to serious health problems. Regular dental care, which includes brushing your dog’s teeth, providing dental chews and toys, and feeding your dog a proper diet, can go a long way in preventing and treating dental disease. It’s also essential to take your dog to the vet regularly for dental checkups and cleanings to ensure their dental health is in optimal condition.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal Issues

It is not uncommon for dogs to exhibit bad breath from time to time. However, if you suddenly notice that your furry friend’s breath smells like fish, it could be an indication of serious underlying health problems. Issues with a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, such as an infection or blockage, can also cause bad breath that smells fishy. Here are some of the most common gastrointestinal issues that could be causing your dog to have fishy breath:



Gastroenteritis is a common gastrointestinal issue in dogs that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This condition is often caused by an infection that could be bacterial, viral, or parasitic. Dogs with gastroenteritis symptoms may exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. In severe cases, gastroenteritis could lead to dehydration and ulcers in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. The condition is often treated with medications and a change in the dog’s diet.

Intestinal blockage

Intestinal blockage

An obstruction in the small and large intestines of dogs could cause a wide range of symptoms, including fishy breath. Blockages could happen due to the ingestion of foreign objects like toys, bones, or non-food items. If left untreated, an intestinal blockage could cause serious complications like perforation, which could lead to an infection. Treatment for intestinal blockages could range from medication to surgery.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a common dental issue for dogs. It occurs due to the buildup of plaque on the teeth, which eventually hardens into tartar. The bacteria in the tartar could cause an infection that could lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Dogs with periodontal disease may exhibit symptoms like bad breath, swollen gums, and tooth loss. Treatment for periodontal disease may involve a thorough cleaning of the dog’s teeth under general anesthesia and antibiotics administration.

Oral tumors

Oral tumors

In rare cases, fishy breath in dogs could indicate oral tumors. Oral tumors could occur in any part of the dog’s mouth, including the tongue, gums, and throat. The tumors are often malignant, and they could spread to other parts of the dog’s body if left untreated. Dogs with oral tumors may exhibit symptoms like bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, difficulty eating, and weight loss. Treatment for oral tumors may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic gastrointestinal issue that tends to affect dogs aged between 6-7 years old. The condition occurs due to inflammation of the dog’s digestive tract, which could cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. While the exact cause of IBD is unknown, it is believed that diet and genetics play a role. Treatment for IBD could involve dietary changes, medication, and in severe cases, surgery.


If your dog’s breath has suddenly started to smell like fish, it could be an indication of an underlying gastrointestinal issue. Some of the most common gastrointestinal issues that could be causing fishy breath include gastroenteritis, intestinal blockage, periodontal disease, oral tumors, and IBD. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is essential to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment could prevent the development of serious complications or, in some cases, save your dog’s life.


Dog food

Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet to maintain good health. However, the type of food they are given can also have a significant impact on their breath. If your dog’s breath smells like fish, it could be because they eat a lot of fishy foods, such as tuna or salmon. Although fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, a diet consisting of too much fish can lead to an unwanted smell that can be off-putting to owners and uncomfortable for the dog.

Another possible cause of fishy breath in dogs is a poor-quality diet that’s high in additives and preservatives. These artificial ingredients can lead to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth, resulting in bad breath. Processed foods, in particular, can be problematic for dogs’ digestive systems and their oral health. If you suspect that your dog’s food is the culprit behind the fishy breath, consider switching them to a healthier, more natural diet. Speak to your vet to get recommendations on the best types of food to feed your dog.

It’s also important to note that certain human foods can affect your dog’s breath. Common culprits include table scraps and treats that are high in sugar or salt. Feeding your dog human foods as a treat or supplement to their diet can lead to a variety of health problems, including bad breath. If you want to give your dog a treat, stick to healthy options that are designed specifically for dogs, such as dental chews or fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lastly, it’s essential to ensure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth, which can make bad breath worse. By providing your dog with plenty of water, you can help to flush out any odor-causing bacteria in their mouth and keep their breath smelling fresh.

Consult with Your Vet

vet exam

Before trying any remedies or changes, it is best to schedule an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying health problems that are causing your dog’s fishy breath. Your vet may perform a physical exam along with diagnostic tests to check for potential oral infections, gastrointestinal issues, or any other medical conditions. Once any underlying health issues are addressed and resolved, your dog’s breath may improve.

If your dog is older or has a history of medical issues, your vet may suggest a comprehensive check-up to ensure overall health.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

dog brushing teeth

Just like humans, dogs need regular dental care to maintain good oral hygiene and fresh breath. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, which can be a significant source of bad breath. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste for effective brushing. Do not attempt to use human products, as they contain substances that can be toxic to dogs. Encourage your dog to enjoy the process by using positive rewards, such as treats or playtime, after each successful brushing session.

If your dog is not comfortable with brushing, start slowly by allowing them to sniff and taste the toothpaste before applying it to their teeth gradually.

Try Natural Remedies

dog chewing on herbs

Some natural remedies can help alleviate fishy breath in dogs. Adding chopped or pureed fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, and mint, to your dog’s food can help neutralize odors. Chewing on raw carrots or apple slices can also help freshen breath by promoting saliva production, which can help wash away bacteria and food particles. Coconut oil is another natural remedy for bad breath in dogs. Adding a few drops to your dog’s food or directly applying it to their teeth can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the mouth.

However, always consult with your vet before trying any new treatment or supplement, as some natural remedies may interact with existing health conditions or medications.

Choose the Right Food

dog eating healthy food

The type of food you feed your dog can also contribute to their breath condition. Certain foods, such as fish-based or low-quality commercial food, can cause fishy breath in dogs. On the other hand, high-quality dog food with a balanced nutritional profile can help maintain good oral hygiene and fresh breath. Look for dog food formulas that contain natural and organic ingredients, high in protein and fiber, and free from artificial flavors and preservatives.

Consult with your vet to determine the best diet plan for your dog, taking into account their medical history, age, breed, and body condition.

Provide Plenty of Water

dog drinking water

Water is essential for overall health and fresh breath in dogs. Proper hydration helps keep the mouth moist, which can flush away bacteria and food particles that contribute to bad breath. Always provide fresh, clean water to your dog, and encourage them to drink regularly. You can also add a water additive that contains enzymes or chlorhexidine, which can help kill bacteria and freshen breath.

If your dog is hesitant to drink water, try adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth or water-based canned foods to encourage them to drink more.

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