Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish? Understanding the Causes and Solutions


As a dog owner, you may have noticed that your furry friend’s breath can sometimes be unpleasant. However, if you detect a fishy odor coming from your dog’s mouth, it can be particularly concerning and alarming. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind fishy smelling breath in dogs and offer practical advice on how to reduce and prevent it.

The Scientific Explanation

A dog’s digestive system plays a significant role in its overall health, including its breath. Dogs have a unique digestive system that relies on the breakdown of proteins through tissues in their mouth rather than enzymes in their stomach like humans. As they digest food, the breakdown of protein creates a pungent odor that can result in bad breath.

There are different types of breath odors that can indicate different health concerns. For example, a sweet or fruity smell can indicate diabetes, while a rotting smell can suggest oral infections or decay. If your dog’s breath smells like fish, it may be due to several potential health issues, including kidney disease, liver disease, gastrointestinal problems, or other underlying metabolic disorders.

The Diet Connection

A dog’s diet can significantly impact their breath. Feeding your dog low-quality food that is high in carbohydrates can lead to an excess of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth that contribute to bad breath. In contrast, feeding your dog a healthy raw or dry food diet, including vegetables and meat, can aid in digestion and increase overall oral health. Consider offering alternative food options to your dog, such as carrots or green beans, and ensure that your dog’s diet is well-balanced to decrease bad breath.

Dental Health and Hygiene

Regular teeth brushing is crucial for a dog’s dental hygiene and overall health. Poor dental hygiene can lead to plaque buildup and gum disease, which can cause bacterial infections and bad breath. Ensure that you brush your dog’s teeth regularly, provide dental chews or toys, and offer your dog access to clean water. If your dog shows signs of sensitive teeth or difficulty eating, consult with your veterinarian about potential dental treatments.

Dealing with the Smell

There are several ways owners can help reduce bad breath odors for their dogs. Natural remedies such as the use of parsley, mint, or cinnamon in their food can help freshen breath. Commercial products such as dental chews, sprays, and teeth-cleaning solutions can help with oral hygiene. Veterinary treatment options, such as cleaning and scaling teeth, can also alleviate bad breath. Additionally, owners can utilize breath fresheners or masks to cover the smell temporarily.

A Personal Story

I once had a dog that suffered from fishy breath. I noticed that his diet was mostly comprised of low-quality kibble, so I gradually introduced healthier food options. I also regularly brushed his teeth and provided chew toys, but still, his bad breath persisted. After visiting the veterinarian, it was determined that he had an oral infection that required dental care. After a deep cleaning and antibiotics, his breath improved significantly.


It is essential to understand the underlying causes of your dog’s bad breath, especially if it smells fishy. Regular veterinary checkups and proper dental hygiene can help reduce and prevent bad breath. Ensure that your dog’s food is well-balanced, and seek veterinary treatment if necessary. With proper care and attention, you can help your furry friend maintain good oral health and fresh breath.

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