DOg Breath's smell like fish

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Tired of fishy smell around your dog? Check the reasons behind why your dog's breath producing a musty and unpleasant smell.
Tired of fishy smell around your dog? Check the reasons behind why your dog's breath producing a musty and unpleasant smell.

Wondering why does your dog’s breath smell like fish? There’s some scientific reason that lies behind this condition when you can’t even bear a second in front of your dog.

So if you’re having the same concern for your dog that why his breath smelling like fish, then here we have this article that will clean all your confusion and make you sure whether your dog is fine or not.

If you’re worried about your dog then it’s always recommended to see your veterinarian even if you feel your dog seems fine didn’t notice any abnormalities. We have shared the common reasons that cause this odor problem. 90% of dogs suffer from this problem at some time in their life. So that’s a common problem and everything will be alright if treated properly.

5 Reasons Why Your Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish

As we told before that the smelling bad could be natural for the dogs but its always good to know about the actual reason behind it. Because sometimes ignoring the small health issue can lead to big health problems for your dog in the future. Thus, precaution is better than cure and if the situation seems even a little bit critical then cure now before its too late.

Bad Breath in Dogs
Bad Breath in Dogs

So, here are some reasons that might be causing a bad smell in dogs or breath smells like fish.

1. Dog Anal Gland Smell

The most common cause behind the odor is the Dog’s Anal Gland. The Anal Gland is the small sacs located on both side of canine’s anus means every dog have two glands around the anus. Generally, these sacs produce an unpleasant smell. These glands are made of sweat gland that results in fish-like smell.

And due to this, your dog doesn’t need to have bad breath. Their anal gland produces this fish-like smell when your dog poops these glands get expressed and their content also passes onto the feces. After all this, your dog cleans himself and the area around his butt and anus with his tongue so the odor transfer to his mouth which causes the fish-like smell coming from his mouth. That’s why it’s not always the problem of bad breath problems internally just because of the odor transfer from the anal glands to mouth while cleaning with the help of tongue.

Some dogs not able to express the glands manually form themselves and you probably have seen your dog is trying to caught or bite their bottom area to express the glands manually. Especially small breeds dog unsuccessful in expressing the gland manually and that creates irritation and discomfort. The dog’s anal gland should be empty when they are expressing naturally.

The veterinarian can empty the anal glands manually to prevent the smell from recurring and dogs can stop scooting in expressing the glands manually. However, do not manually express the anal glands too frequently. as it may cause inflammation tissue scar. It should only be done when your dog is scooting their bottom and it does not get empty naturally.

2. Eating Something Malodorous

Building up Plaque behind the teeth of your dog can lead to many dental issues. The owner makes sure to brush the teeth of Dog regularly. The plaque is produced on the teeth when the normal bacteria combine with the proteins and starch contains in your dog’s saliva.

Lastly, the plaque turns into tartar and this creates a bad breath on dogs.

Just like other body parts of the dog. Oral care is also a crucial part that needs to be inspected to find anything wrong with the mouth, teeth, and tongue of your dog. The Gum disease might create problems for your dogs and can leads to discomfort and pain while eating.

3. Plaque Build-Up Behind Teeth

Eating a wrong thing is the most common cause for bad breath not just smell fish like but the combination of weird unpleasant smell. Such as eating dead animal’s meat, feces, garbage and waste, spoiled food, etc. This can produce the odor on your dog’s mouth which likely recognize as a fishy smell.

And the other reason of bad breath because of eating something could be the supplements. Some dog owners add the fish oil to their dog’s diet which contains omega-3, omega-6, and some brands include omega-9 as well. Giving fish oil capsules to dogs make s them healthier and helps cell growth. It doesn’t harm the dog’s health but the ingredients in the supplements like fish oil contain the salmon and whitefish that are also used in the dry kibble dog food.

So this might also be the reason behind the fishy smell.

4. Gingivitis

Another oral health issue of your dog is linked to plaque build-up. Gingivitis is caused by the plaque develops behind the teeth of canine and it makes his mouth teeming with the bacteria and results in pain and discomfort while eating the food.

Again the dog’s teeth need to be brushed regularly every owner takes proper care of the teeth of their pet. If the plaque is just starting build-up then you should take him to the veterinarian and discuss the issue. If the Plaque is left untreated, it will get harden and the situation becomes worse and leads to gingivitis.

If you’ve noticed that your dog’s breath smell like fish then checks his mouth first. The most common symptoms of Gingivitis are red and swollen gums. If you didn’t notice the bad breath then you can get to know about by his behavior that he’s bothered while eating.

5. Other Dental Problems Causing Odor

As you can see the dental problems are the most common causee of the bad breath in dogs so here’re a few more diseases that might be causing your dog’s breath smell like fish.

  1. Periodontal disease. It is the one te most serious and common oral health problem. According to, 80% of dogs suffer from periodontal diseases at a certain point of time in their life. This point comes when you left the plaque untreated and it gets harden over time and turns into the Gingvitis issue. This results in weakening on their teeth from the roots and also this bacterial infection a fishy odor.
  2. Tooth root abscess. Another common issue that causes bad breath is tooth root abscess. As it is the common dental problem in dogs so it can be treated easily by tooth extraction or a root canal.
  3. Oral tumors. Tumors in the mouth are the serious problem if your dog is suffering from this then you must take it to your veterinarian for proper treatment and this might be a likely source of the odor in breath.

How you can stop it?

To get rid of bad breath from your dog’s mouth first thing you need to identify the cause of the problem. You can see the above the listed reasons behind the smelly breath and there can be other reasons that causing the fishy smell.

So before taking anything into action regarding the issue identifying the reason and the symptoms of the problem is very important.

If you find something critical in your dog’s health the linked with the bad breath then you must take it to your veterinarian. Don’t try to examine yourself it’s always better to consult an expert veterinarian to avoid further health issues.

The most causing reason are the dental problems that can be examined and your dog gets relief in a short time if treated properly in the time. Always make sure to maintain proper oral hygiene and do regular teeth brushing.

If you see the change in behavior of your dog then see your veterinarian. Emptying the Anal Glands manually or extraction of an abscessed tooth or root canal can be very painful.

Always make sure to see your veterinarian examine your dog even if you don’t notice anything that bothering your dog or his behavioral change

Major Concern Regarding Bad Breath in Dogs

There might be some other heal issues that are directly or indirectly linked with the fishy smelly breath of your dog.

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is the major concerning issue linked with the bad breath problem. The Kidney is the most crucial organ of our body and can. If you see the other symptoms like vomiting, dehydration, and lethargy along with the fishy smell coming out of your dog’s mouth then it likely to have a sign of kidney failure. Seek the veterinarian immediately.


Another odor cause is diabetes that can also cause the unpleasant smell from their breath. There can be other symptoms as well then you may notice but its the major health issue that necessarily required the treatment on time.

Liver Disease

Liver disease or liver dysfunction cause the musty smell coming out of their mouth. The liver is also an important organ of the body and plays a major role in the overall health of your dog. If you see the symptoms seek the veterinarian as soon as possible and get examined your dog.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, now you have an idea about the cause of the bad breath in the dogs. Now you can decide what you have to do if you find your dog is being uncomfortable for the several times then you must consult a doctor and get prescribes as per the symptoms. However, all the necessary points have mentioned that show what you should do if your dog’s breath smells like fish.

Why take any risk? We always recommend consulting with the Vet to avoid any big health issues in the future. Hope this post helped you a bit, if yes? then don’t forget to share this article with your friends if their canine having the same problem of bad breath. Till then stay tuned and Subscribe to DogStar Life for the weekly newsletter for the dog car and health tips.