Excessive Licking and Bad Breath in Dogs – Causes & Tips for Prevention

excessive licking and bad breath in dogs

Our beloved canines, commonly referred to as our closest companions, bring endless joy into our lives, evident in their enthusiastic tail wagging and unwavering loyalty. Just like humans, dogs too can face health challenges that affect their well-being. Pet owners often encounter common problems such as persistent licking and bad breath in their furry friends.

While a dog’s licks can be endearing, persistent licking might indicate underlying health problems. Similarly, foul breath or halitosis can signify various dental or systemic issues. 

In this article, we delve deep into the reasons behind excess licking and foul breath in dogs. We explore the potential causes, ranging from dental hygiene to underlying medical conditions, and provide valuable insights into how to identify, manage, and prevent these problems.

Understanding these signs is crucial for every dog owner, ensuring our furry friends lead happy, healthy lives. Let’s embark on this informative journey to decode the mysteries behind excessive licking and bad breath in dogs

Key Points

  • Excessive licking and halitosis or bad breath in dogs can occur due to poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, plaque build-up, improper diet, liver or kidney disease, and even certain cancers.
  • Providing your dog’s with dental chews, brushing its teeth daily, and feeding it a healthy diet could minimize the dog’s bad breath and licking issues.
  • You must detect dental disease early on to prevent the problem from escalating.

Why Does My Dog Have a Bad Breath And Keeps Licking?

Bad breath in dogs, known as halitosis, can stem from various causes. One common culprit is plaque buildup, which harbors bacteria that emit foul odors. Inadequate dental hygiene leads to these issues. 

Dogs licking excessively may indicate an attempt to clean their mouths. Sometimes, bad breath results from ingesting something foul. However, persistent halitosis might signal underlying health problems like liver disease, kidney disease, or cancer. Excessive licking of anal glands can also cause bad breath and indicates a poor dog’s diet.

Regular dental care, including brushing and using canine-chews, can prevent plaque buildup. If your dog has bad breath that persists despite good oral care, it’s crucial to consult a vet to rule out serious health conditions and ensure your furry companion’s well-being.

Causes Of Bad Dog Breath – What is Causing Your Dog’s Bad Breath?

Here are some common causes of halitosis in dogs:

Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Improper dental hygiene in dogs can lead to serious health issues and persistent bad breath. When oral care is neglected, plaque and tartar accumulate, providing a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Over time, this can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. 

As these conditions worsen, the foul odor intensifies due to the bacterial buildup. Dogs that eat wet food instead of dry food tend to suffer more as dry (kibble) food gets the teeth cleaned.

Regular brushing, dental treats, and professional cleanings are essential to prevent these problems, ensuring not only fresh breath but also overall canine well-being.

Periodontal Disease

Canine periodontal disease or gum inflammation is a common dental condition in dogs, resulting from the buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth. When left untreated, it progresses to inflamed gums, infection, and tooth loss.

The main cause is poor dental hygiene, which allows plaque to harden into tartar. Signs include bleeding gums, difficulty chewing, and loose or damaged teeth. Smaller breeds tend to suffer more due to small mouths and overcrowding of teeth.

As the disease advances, bacteria in the infected dog’s gums emit a foul odor, causing persistent bad breath. Regular brushing, dental check-ups, and proper chew toys are crucial for prevention. If your dog has bad breath, time dental care is vital to halt the progression of periodontal disease, ensuring a dog’s oral and overall health.

Other Mouth Issues

Beyond periodontal disease, several canine oral health issues can cause halitosis in dogs. These include tooth decay, oral tumors, fractured teeth, and infected teeth or gums. Cavities and infections create a breeding ground for bacteria, emitting foul odors. Additionally, oral tumors, although less common, can cause distinct and persistent bad breath.

 Regular veterinary oral health council check-ups and dental cleaning are essential to identify and address these issues promptly. Proper dental hygiene, including brushing and dental treats, aids in prevention, ensuring a dog’s breath remains fresh and their overall health is maintained.

Unpleasant Dietary Habits – Oral Foreign Body

Coprophagia or eating own poop, the consumption of feces or decomposing animal remains, is an unpleasant dietary habit seen in some dogs. Apart from being unappetizing, this behavior can lead to persistent halitosis causing the breath stinks. When dogs consume feces, they introduce harmful bacteria and parasites into their mouths, resulting in foul breath. 

This habit can indicate nutritional deficiencies, liver and kidney disease, gastrointestinal issues, or behavioral problems. Preventing coprophagia involves a proper diet, regular exercise, and behavioral training. Addressing this behavior promptly not only ensures a dog’s oral hygiene but also their overall well-being.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smells So Bad All Of A Sudden? Other Serious Conditions Causing Bad Dog Breath

Here are some rare conditions that could cause sudden bad breath in dogs.

Kidney Disease/Kidney Infection

Kidney disease or kidney infection in dogs, is a serious condition affecting the dog’s kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood. When kidneys are impaired, toxins build up in the body, causing various symptoms. One notable sign is unusually strong and often sweet-smelling breath, resembling ammonia or urine-like odor. 

This distinctive smell sweet breath occurs due to the accumulation of uremic toxins in the bloodstream, which are usually excreted by healthy kidneys. Bad breath, combined with symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, and loss of appetite with weight loss, should prompt immediate veterinary attention.

Take your dog to the vet immediately. Early detection and proper management are vital for a dog’s overall health and well-being.

Liver Disease

Liver disease or liver infection in dogs can lead to various complications, including changes in their breath. Dogs suffering from liver issues often have a distinct fetid breath, often described as sweet or musty. This odor arises due to the liver in dog’s immune system and reduced ability to filter toxins from the bloodstream effectively. dog’s liver function tests can help show this cause of smelly breath.

 Consequently, waste products accumulate, causing the dog’s breath to carry a noticeable scent. Other symptoms may include jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Prompt veterinary care is crucial, as liver diseases can be serious and require tailored treatments to manage symptoms and enhance the dog’s quality of life.

Stomach Problems

Stomach issues in dogs, such as gastritis, poor digestion, or gastrointestinal infections, can also result in persistent halitosis. When a dog’s stomach is upset, it often leads to regurgitation or vomiting. The stomach acids, along with partially digested food, can coat the dog’s teeth regularly, and gums, causing foul-smelling breath.

 Additionally, if there’s an underlying issue like gastric reflux, the regurgitated material carries a distinct odor. Dogs with stomach problems may also experience excessive drooling, abdominal discomfort, and changes in appetite. Addressing the underlying stomach issue through dietary changes, medication, or veterinary care is essential to alleviate bad puppy breath and ensure the dog’s overall well-being.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Death? 

A dog’s breath smelling like death can be a cause for serious concern, indicating an underlying health issue that demands immediate attention. Various factors could contribute to this foul odor. Dental problems, such as severe periodontal disease or infected or damaged teeth, often emit an exceptionally unpleasant smell resembling decay.  These issues can affect pet’s health.

Additionally, kidney or liver diseases can cause toxic substances to accumulate in the body, leading to a distinct foul breath. Another possibility is gastrointestinal issues like a blockage or necrotic tissue, which can produce a putrid odor. Finally, advanced stages of cancer might lead to a condition known as necrosis, causing tissues to die and resulting in a foul smell. 

Regardless of the cause, a veterinarian’s evaluation is crucial to diagnose the underlying problem. Early detection and proper treatment are vital to improve the dog’s quality of life and address the concerning odor.

Does Bad Breath in Dog Mean Infection?

Bad breath in dogs doesn’t always indicate an infection, but it can be a sign of various underlying issues. Common causes include dental problems like plaque buildup, gingivitis, or infected teeth. 

These conditions allow bacteria to proliferate, leading to foul odors. However, persistent bad breath can also signal more severe problems such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or gastrointestinal issues. Infections are one possibility, but other health concerns should be considered too.

If a dog’s breath consistently smells unpleasant, consulting a veterinarian is essential to identify the exact cause and administer appropriate treatment.

Treating Bad Dog Breath – Ways To Freshen Dog Breath

 Oral Care Is Key

Maintaining good oral health is essential to combat bad dog breath. Get your dogs teeth brushed daily using dog-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush helps eliminate plaque and prevents the buildup of bacteria which are the main causes of bad breath in dogs. Never use human toothpaste to clean dog’s teeth.

Provide Chews and Toys

Chewing can aid in cleaning a dog’s teeth naturally. Canine chews and toys designed to promote dental health help reduce plaque and keep doggy breath fresh. Dog owners should opt for products endorsed by veterinary professionals to ensure the removal of foul breath in dogs.

Schedule Regular Professional Dental Cleanings

Routine dental cleanings performed by veterinarians are vital. These cleanings reach areas that regular brushing may miss, ensuring a thorough removal of plaque and tartar buildup. Get your pooch’s teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year. Most dogs will need anesthesia for this though, so dog owners must check – whether is the dog healthy and okay for teeth cleaning.

Give Special Diet

Special probiotic-rich kibble or dental diets, formulated to reduce plaque and tartar accumulation, can be beneficial. These diets have larger kibbles or unique textures that provide a brushing effect while the dog chews, promoting better oral health and fresh breath in dogs.

Conduct Regular Veterinary Dental Care Check-ups

Routine check-ups with the vet to determine the underlying medical condition like kidney disease or causes of dog bad breath are crucial. They can identify dental issues early and recommend appropriate treatments. In some cases, bad breath in dogs may indicate underlying health problems that require specialized care.

Use Water Additives and Mouthwashes

Water additives and dog-friendly mouthwashes for dogs tend to fight bad breath and eliminate the causes of dog bad breath. These products contain enzymes and antimicrobial agents that target bacteria in dog’s mouth, freshening breath and promoting oral hygiene.

Ensure Adequate Hydration

Providing fresh water at all times ensures hydration, preventing dry dog’s mouth, which can contribute to bad breath in dogs.

How Do I Get Rid Of My Dogs Stinky Breath? What Can You Give A Dog For Bad Breath?

 Home Care: Brushing and Chewing

Regular brushing with canine toothpaste and a dog-friendly toothbrush is essential to prevent bad breath in dogs. Brush your dog’s teeth several times a week, focusing on the gum line and back teeth. Additionally, provide canine toys and chews designed to reduce plaque and freshen your dog’s breath smells well. These chewing activities naturally help clean teeth.

 Supplements and Dental Treats

Consider dental supplements for dog’s bad breath like water additives, dental gels, or powders that contain enzymes combating bacteria and plaque. Dental treats with natural ingredients such as mint, parsley, or chlorophyll can also help freshen bad breath in dogs. Look for products approved by veterinary dental associations for effectiveness and safety.

 Professional Dental Cleanings

Regular veterinary check-ups are vital for preventing dog’s bad breath. Professionals can perform thorough cleanings, addressing hard-to-reach areas and ensuring optimal dental health. Some vets also offer specialized dental diets tailored to improve dental hygiene and eliminate bad breath in dogs.

 Medications and Mouthwashes

Prescribed medications for sweet smell breath, dental disease and kidney disease or kidney failure may be necessary for severe cases. Veterinarians might recommend mouthwashes with antibacterial properties to use daily, targeting specific oral issues and preventing dog’s bad breath at its source.

 Dietary Adjustments and Fresh Water

Evaluate your dog’s diet and ensure what dog ate is not foul smelling. High-quality, balanced dog food can contribute to better breath and healthier dogs teeth. Additionally, always provide fresh water, as staying hydrated helps prevent dry mouth, a common cause of dog’s bad breath.

By combining these strategies and consulting with a veterinarian for tailored advice, you can effectively combat your dog’s stinky breath and promote optimal oral hygiene.


What does liver failure smell like in dogs?

In dogs with liver or kidney disease or failure, the breath often develops a distinct and unusually foul odor, reminiscent of ammonia or rotten eggs. This smell arises due to the body’s inability to effectively filter and process toxins, leading to the buildup of harmful substances in the bloodstream.

This distinctive odor, along with other symptoms like jaundice, loss of appetite, and lethargy, should prompt immediate veterinary attention, as it indicates a serious underlying health issue.

Why does my dog have bad breath and thirsty?

Bad breath and excessive thirst in dogs can be indicative of various health issues, including dental problems, kidney disease, diabetes, or liver issues. Dental disease like gum disease can cause bad breath, while increased thirst might suggest kidney disease or diabetes, where dogs drink more water to compensate for excessive urination.

It’s essential to consult a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and initiate appropriate treatment for your dog’s well-being.

Why does my dogs breath smell so bad? Why does my dog smell so bad all of a sudden?

Your dog’s bad breath could be due to dental issues or an underlying health problem. If the smell suddenly worsens, it might indicate an infection, digestive problem, or dietary issue, requiring a vet’s evaluation.

How do you get rid of sour dog breath?

To eliminate sour dog breath and dental disease, focus on oral hygiene. Regular brushing with dog toothpaste, providing rubber or food-grade plastic chews, and vet-approved dental treats can help remove plaque and freshen breath. Consult a vet if the odor persists for underlying health concerns.


In conclusion, understanding the underlying causes of bad breath and excessive licking in dogs is crucial for responsible pet ownership. From dental hygiene and dietary adjustments to regular veterinary check-ups, proactive measures play a pivotal role.

Excessive licking can indicate discomfort, allergies, or behavioral issues, while persistent bad breath might point to dental problems, infections, or systemic diseases. 

By addressing these causes of bad breath promptly through proper oral care dental cleaning, a balanced diet, and professional guidance, pet owners can ensure their furry companions lead healthy, happy lives, free from the discomfort of bad breath and excessive licking.

Stay vigilant, consult a veterinarian when needed, and cherish the moments with your canine friend, knowing you’re providing it with the best possible care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *