Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

why does my dog's breath smell like fish

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? When something’s fishy in your home and you pinpoint your dog’s mouth as the culprit, you need to investigate what is causing the problem. There are a few things that could cause this.

Where Does The Fishy Smell Come From?

Your dog’s mouth will never smell like a bed of roses, but as soon as you notice a strange odor hovering in the air after your dog enters the room and yawns, it’s best to try and figure out where it is coming from. This is not just so you don’t have to deal with the stinky smell, it’s to keep your dog’s health in mind.

Excessive Biting and Licking

Dogs might not groom themselves as much as cats do, but they still enjoy a bit of nibbling to deal with itches and issues on their bodies. If your dog’s anus gland is blocked, your dog will try to deal with the problem by licking and biting it. This will transfer the fishy smell from your dog’s bottom, to its mouth.

Your dog will be in great discomfort from a blocked anal gland. What basically happens when your dog uses its teeth to ease the discomfort, is that the anal sac is pierced and some of the liquid is transferred into your dog’s mouth.

Fixing the Issue

If you trace the fishy smell to your dog’s bum, you need to deal with the problem as quickly as possible. Some people prefer treating this problem at home, others prefer going to the vet. Read this article to find out how to express your dog’s anal gland at home and this one on how to prevent the issue from occurring again in the future, by changing your dog’s diet.

Tip: if your dog drags its bum across the floor, it can be a sign of a possible blocked anal gland.

Your Dog’s Diet Can Cause the Fishy Smell

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? It might be because of the food you’re feeding it. Oftentimes dog food brands use fish products to enhance the product. If you find Omega 3 or 6 listed on the label, your dog might acquire a fishy breath after its mealtime.

Many commercial dog food brands use whitefish or salmon as Omega sources, which is very good for your dog’s general health. Other fish-based ingredients include fishmeal, Docosahexaenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid as well as actual fish oil. Depending on the quantities of these ingredients, it can cause a fishy smell.

Related: Can dogs eat tuna?

Fixing the Issue

If the intense fish smell becomes too much for you to bear, switch to a dog food brand that doesn’t contain any fish-related ingredients. But do remember that Omega 3 and 6 are important for healthy cell growth. Plus, in certain cases dogs have shown an allergy to animal protein and a fish-based diet can be more beneficial in this case. Before making any drastic changes to your dog’s diet, first consult with your vet. Read this article to find out how to clean dog teeth without brushing.

why does my dog's breath smell like fish


Sign of Liver and Kidney Issues

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? If you can’t pinpoint the problem to something as simple as your dog’s excessive bum nibbling or its diet, the cause might be more worrisome. Some speculate that bad doggy breath, with a hint of a fishy smell, can be sign of kidney or liver failure.

Fixing the Issue

It’s best to stay on the safe side with pet health issues and rather visit your vet for a general checkup if you suspect there are underlying problems. Read this article for signs of liver disease in dogs and this one for signs of kidney disease in dogs.

Doggy Poop Munching

It’s a horrible habit, but unfortunately some dogs do it. When asking yourself why does my dog’s breath smell like fish, the reason could be as simple as ingesting its own poop. Sometimes the pressure of defecation is strong enough to deal with a blocked anal gland. But with the anal sac bursting the fishy smell will accompany it. Even if your dog doesn’t eat the poop, licking its behind after a pooping session will cause the smell to be transferred.

Fixing the Issue

Dealing with a blocked anal gland before it becomes serious will be the first way to avoid this from occurring. Then there are a variety of health-related reason why dogs indulge in the disgusting habit of munching their own excrement. Read this article to find out why do dogs eat poop.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?
Your Dog Might Be Suffering From Halitosis

This is the medical term to describe the fishy smell coming from your dog’s mouth. The cause for it can come from a few different sources such as periodontal disease, occurring from bacteria in the mouth. It can be linked to plaque and cavities as well. Small dog breeds, especially the flat-faced brachycephalic breeds, suffer from this disease most often. Mostly because their teeth are closer together than bigger breeds.

Symptoms of Halitosis

The foul smell is the biggest indicator of this disease. If the initial bad breath goes over into more severe diseases of the mouth other symptoms can include pawing at the mouth, inability to eat and excessive drooling. If the drooling includes traces of blood, you need to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Causes of Bad Breath

A few different conditions can lead to halitosis such as sugar diabetes, inflammation of the nasal passages or nose, sinusitis as well as gastrointestinal problems. A trauma to the mouth can also cause it. Infections including viral, bacterial or fungal can also play a factor. Dietary problems is another possible reason. Other health issues such an inflammation of the pharynx or throat (pharyngitis) or tonsillitis can also cause halitosis. But the biggest culprit is a plaque bacteria buildup.

why does my dog's breath smell like fish

How to Detect Halitosis

If you suspect the fishy smell coming from your dog’s mouth is caused by this disorder, you need to book an appointment with your vet for a proper examination, which will include X-rays. The tooth mobility will be checked as well to determine whether sulfide concentrations are present.

How to Treat Halitosis

Treatment will be linked to the cause of the problem, whether it be periodontal disease or a foreign object stuck between teeth. Your vet will be able to recommend the best method to deal with the fishy breath issue. Methods include a proper teeth cleaning session or extraction of affected teeth. There are also medication available to control the bacteria.

Conclusion: Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

When you notice your dog’s breath consistently smelling bad, it’s best to not ignore the issue because it can be a sign of bigger underlying health issues. Or for instance in the case of a blocked anal gland, it can cause your dog to experience unnecessary discomfort. In the case of halitosis, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog’s mouth in tiptop shape. By brushing your dog’s teeth every day, you can reduce the likelihood of the issue getting out of control.

Has your dog’s breath ever smelled fishy? What was the cause in your case? Were you able to deal with the problem effectively?