Dog Problems: My Dogs Breath Smells Like Fish… What Should I Do?

We love our pets. We want to pet them, cuddle with them, and love them...but sometimes, when they get close, we realize just how stinky their breath is!

Figuring out the root cause can be difficult. I remember thinking, “Wow, my dogs breath smells like fish. Did he eat something weird?” There isn’t just one cause of fishy breath in dogs, so it took me some time to discover the cause and find a good solution.

Below I’ve rounded up some of the most common questions about fishy breath along with some solutions that might help you resolve the smell.


Isn’t Dog Breath Normal?

Dog Breath Normal

Some people think that dogs just have bad breath. After all, people even use the phrase dog breath as an insult to people with stinky breath.

But dog’s should not have bad breath if they have good dental hygiene. Just like humans need to take care of their teeth, dog’s need some help with their teeth as well!

Dogs can get gum disease, tartar, and plaque just like humans can. And when these things happen, they can end up with bad breath! Dental hygiene isn’t the only cause of bad breath, but it is one possible cause.

The takeaway here is that bad breath in dogs is not normal. If your dog’s breath smells, you should try to figure out why.

What Are Some Reasons My Dogs Breath Smells Like Fish?

There are a few main root causes that usually cause bad smelling breath:

  • Gum and tooth problems
  • Infection or bacteria in the mouth
  • Blocked anal glands
  • Diabetes or kidney disease

Each of these causes can lead to bad or fishy smelling dog breath. Chronic bad breath in dogs is known as Halitosis. The most notable reason among these causes is periodontal disease, which is caused by bacteria in the mouth.

Small Dogs Are At Higher Risk For Mouth Problems

Small animal breeds that have short-nosed, flat-faced features are more prone to getting periodontal diseases that can lead to bad smelling, fishy breath. Why? Because their teeth are closer together.

This closeness can cause it to be more difficult for teeth to get clean, and without special care, these small dogs run a high risk of infections in their mouths.

But Why Does It Smell So Fishy?

There’s bad breath that smells a little like fish, and there’s really fishy bad breath. This part gets a little disgusting, but you should know this to fully understand the cause of fishy dog breath.

Why Does Dogs Breath Smell So Fishy

Anal Glands Could Be The Problem

When dog’s go to the bathroom, they have anal glands that excrete anal gland fluid. If these glands are not emptying properly, they can become infected. When a dog licks their bottom before using the bathroom, the fishy smell from the glands is transferred to the bacteria in their mouth.

Another sign of anal gland infection is when a dog slides its butt around on the ground. You may think this is just a cute quirk, but your dog is actually trying to relieve pain caused by the infected sacs.

If you see this happening and your dog has fishy breath, take them to the vet. If you wait too long, the glands could abscess and cause a lot of pain for your dog.

How Can I Fix My Dog’s Bad Breath?

There are a few different things to consider to help solve this problem:

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Is brushing your dog’s teeth part of the car plan you have in place for them?

If it’s not and you see that your dog has bad breath, you might want to incorporate teeth brushing. It will help prevent plaque buildup that can lead to periodontal disease and bad breath.

Here’s how to start brushing your dog’s teeth

Try A Dental Chew

If you think that your dog’s bad breath might be caused by their dental hygiene, you can start trying to solve this problem at home by giving them a dental chew. Dental chews are great to keep healthy teeth for your dog at all times, even if they don’t have bad breath!

Dental chews help to clean off plaque and bacteria buildup from your dog’s teeth. This can help solve bad breath as the smell is often caused by the biological processes of the bacteria.

Try giving your dog a dental chew once a week and see if this causes any improvements in the fishy smell.

Add Some Doggie Mouthwash

Doggie mouthwash is much simpler than it sounds, and it can be used to help prevent bacteria buildup in your dog’s mouth.

All you need to do is put an additive in the dog’s water at the required dosages. Then, your dog drinks the water! The mouthwash is perfectly safe for them to drink, and it can help to clean their teeth.

Get Them Checked Out At The Vet

If a dental chew does not solve the bad breath problem, you will want to have your dog checked out by a vet, because this means that there is a more serious cause.

While you don’t need to panic, it is prudent that you take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Explain the symptoms fully so that the vet can help you to solve the problem.

It can be scary to take your pet to the vet but know that you are ensuring that they have a healthy future.

Skip The Fishy Breath

Dogs Breath Smells Like Fish

I hope that this FAQ has helped you to resolve the stinky breath problem that has been plaguing you and your dog. By paying close attention to their symptoms, their diet, and their activities, you should be able to identify and eliminate the cause of their smelly breath!

If you are still struggling and you have not yet talked to a vet, make sure you do so. They can help you solve this problem.

Let us know in the comments what has worked best for you and your dog. Then, share with other dog owners who might be suffering from the effects of fishy breath!

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