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5 Reasons for Why My Dog’s Breath Smell like fish

Are you a dog lover and find your dog’s breath smell like fish? Licking your face is a sign that your dog loves you like nothing and as a pet parent, you definitely love it. But, wait – it can become a horrible experience if your dog’s breath stinks. The bad breath in a dog can be a sign of a bad health of your dog. So, ever wondered why the breath of your dog smell fishy and how can you solve it?

Quick Answer –

Wondering why my dog’s breath smells like fish? Here is your answer –

It can largely be due to the  cavities and abscesses in the gums that can lead to the fishy odor in dog’s mouth. If you find the dog’s breath smell fishy, check for the possibility of any dental disease. The plaque and tartar can also be a concern in this context. Food stuck in the teeth is also known to cause the issues.

Why does my dog’s breath smell fishy?

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? What can cause a fishy smell in my dog’s breath? There can be several reasons that can result in it. One of the most major and common reasons is the dental issues that your dog may be facing. A fish stuck in the teeth, the plaque build-up or tartar in the teeth, and halitosis are a few reasons that can result in a bad breath in dog’s breath. 

dogs breath smell fishy
my dog’s breath smells like fish

Let us analyse a few specific reasons that can cause fishy smell in dog’s breath –

1. Fish or other food items stuck in dog’s teeth

Fish, food debris and other things that are stuck inside the teeth can be the primary cause of the smell in your dog’s breath. You dog can have the habit of chewing the bones and the splinters may remain in the teeth. This can even lead to oral infections and ultimately cause your dog’s breath to smell too fishy.

2. An improper Diet

An improper diet can result in issues related to the gut and thus cause bad breath. Deficiencies such as those of vitamin A, Vitamin B (2,3 and 5)  can result in bad breath and it can also make it prone to periodontal disease.

While fish is a great food for your dog and provide it with the much needed omega acids, but it can result in fishy breath.

3. Anal Sac Disease

The anal sac disease can be yet another issue that can result in a severe issue of breath that smells like fish. The anala sacs of dogs have sweat glands. These sacs secrete a unique smell that can smell like fish. It can also be specific to special dog breeds. The bad breath in dogs can also be due to these anal glands.

These sacs give the dogs their own unique scent. The smell here can be a little fishy. Your dog may have the habit of licking their anal sacs. this results in leaving a fishy smell in dogs. It can even make your dog’s breath smell like dead fish.

You may also be interested in – Are Boxer Dogs Dangerous? (Understanding Boxer Dog Behavior)

 4. Your dog may be eating something gross

Your dogs may be eating some gross items other than food. If you find the dog eating from trash, it can result in bad breath in dogs. It should be noticed that the fishy smelling breath in dogs is not the gross  item that they might have eaten, but it is more likely due to the formation of bad bacteria that can cause the issue. It may also be a good idea to check if your dog food has no issues.

Takeaway- Do worms cause bad breath in dogs?

Yes, worms can cause bad breath in dogs. It can result in making dog breath smell like fish. Hookworms are known to cause a very bad odor. However, roundworms may not cause any noticeable bad breath issues in dogs (or even in humans). If your dog has bad breath due to worms, deworming medications prescribed by your vet should solve the problem. However, do note that it may take a few weeks for the bad breath to go away completely. 

5. Your dog may have tooth issues

The bad dog breath may largely be due to the tooth issues. Build-up of plaque ad tartar can be the major concern that causes of fishy smelling breath. Plaque is likely to build up within 12 hours of brushing the teeth, and that is why it is extremely important to brush their teeth for a better degree of cleanliness. Halitosis is one of the most common teeth issues that have been observed to be the most common causes of fishy breath in dogs.

Those are just a few reasons to explain why does your dog’s mouth smell like fish. Check out the reasons and find the best options to fix the issues.

Also check out –

The Secret Unearthed – 5 Tips on How to Remove Cat Pee Smell from Couch

How do you get rid of a dog’s smelly mouth?

Wondering how to fix fishy dog breath? The best way to to do is to improve the oral hygiene of your doggy. Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis  is the best way to help you fix the fisy dog breath. This helps in reducing the plaque and promoting a better oral hygiene. Brushing is always the best home remedy for bad dog breath. 

You can apply several methods to help you get rid of fishy breath in dogs. Depending on what is the cause of the bad breath in your dog, you can apply the corrective actions.

1. Check anal glands

If you have a small breed of a dog, the causes of bad breath may be due to the  anal glands. It would be a good idea to consult your dog groomer for an assistance in this context. It may be practical to visit the groomer than the veterinarian. Once the anal sacs have been cleaned, your dog should no longer smell bad.

What are the other signs of anal sac disease in dogs?

Apart from the fishy breath in dogs, a few other signs of anal sac disease in dogs can include

  • A strong fishy smell at the bottom
  • Scootong behaviour on the floor
  • Appearance of blood or pus in stool
  • Issues with going to toilet
  • Biting or licking at the anus
  • They show signs of pain when they sit

Also check out From Tap to Aquarium: How to Make Tap Water Safe for Fish in 6 Simple ways

2. Take care of oral hygine

my dog's breath smells like fish

If the bad breath is due to oral hygiene, you can take a few pro-active measures. The fishy dog breath may be a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week. WebMD states that cleaning or brushing can clean up plaque and tartar (which might have hardened) by around 70%. In addition, it may also be a good option to take care of gum issues if any. Once again, you can entrust the task to the dog groomers rather than a vet.

Key Takeaway - Why do dogs smell fishy when they are scared?

The anal sacss of the dog produce  unique scent that gets released when they poo. This is used as the  scent marker and is used to mark their territories or to communicate with other dogs. But, when your dog is scared or stressed, they naturally empty their anal sacs. This produces the unpleasant fishy smell.

If your dog has naturally released fishy smell when it is scared, there is nothing you need to be worried about. If it does so, without any apparent reasons, it may be high time you have consulted a vet.

3. Medical issues

The medical issues can be another concern and that can be a reason for dog’s mouth stinking. This is an area that your veterinarian can take care of. It may be necessary to make a few lifestyle changes to your doggy if your dog has fishy breath. It is more likely due to the gastrointestinal abnormalities  or any other serious concern with the organ failure. Diabetic dogs have been known to have fishy smell. Kidney disease or gingivitis can be another reason that can result in canine teeth issues. That should perhaps answer your frequent query – my dog’s breath smells like fish?

4. Regular professional cleaning

The regular dental checkups would be an added option for dog’s bad breath. People believe that dogs have cleaner mouths, but that is not a fact. Your dogs do need an optimum care against the foul smell in the mouth. Give your dog a complete oral care. You can pay a visit to the pet specialists for the regular checkups and preventive measures.

5. Provide them with Dental Chews And Chew Toys

Chewing is a great asset for cleaning your teeth. That can ideally help get rid of fishy dog breath. It can be an excellent means to provide dental chews and toys for cleaning their teeth. It can also be a good option to help scrape off the bacteria. Dental chews can be a great pick than the bones. Bones can cause intestinal issues and it can be one of the reasons why your dog has fishy breath.

Still wondering why does my dog’s breath smells like fish? The video here should give you a better idea into what makes dog breath smell fishy and how to prevent it –

Home Remedies for Combating a Fishy Smell in Dog Breath

Some good home remedies for fishy dog breath are the ones that can help against the stinky breath in dogs can be to crunchy fruits such as apples and carrots. Coconut oil can be yet another practical option to help fight dog bad breath. Other few good options can include feeding probiotics and apple cider vinegar. Brushing the teeeth of your beloved dog should be the best option to get your dog smell fresh. 

Trying to find answers to the query – how to stop my dog’s breath from smelling like fish? Some good options that can prove to be handy would include

1. Feeding carrot sticks and apple slices

The crunchiness of the apples and carrots can help drive away the plaque build up effectively and treat a dog with fish breath. It can also be a good treat for the teething pups if you have any.

2. Use coconut oil

Using coconut oil as food or toothpaste can be yet another option great for dog with fish breath and can be a good home remedy if your dog’s breath smells like fish . Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungus and antibacterial. This would help you take care of bacteria in the mouth. But make sure that your dog does not swallow or drink the coconut oil. That can be harmful for your dog.

<strong>Warning</strong> -


70% of coconut oil is saturated fat, including lauric acid and only 8% is medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT oil. Saturated oil can create issues with the stomach lining of your dog. This can even result in a leaky gut syndrome in your furry friend. Even when your dog has fish breath, avoid making him consume coconut oil.



3. Give your dog probiotics or yogurt

Probiotics can help take care of the intestinal system, and thus address the potential causes of fishy breath. Consult your vet for the right varieities of probiotics that are specifically useful for the dogs. They can help kill the bacteria that cause the bad odor.

4. Homemade treats for the dog

The homemade DIY dog treats can be what would make a great pick for taking an absolute care of the rotting fish smell in dog breath. You can create your own treats, but make sure to add the items such as blended oats, eggs, water, coconut oil, parsley, and mint.

5. Freshening herbs

The freshening herbs have been known for a great effect on the foul breath in your dog. A few good examples here would include dried mint, parsley, and thyme to treat dog’s breath smells of fish. If your dog is on medication, it may be a good idea to consult your vet. Avoid feeding the herbs such as garlic, onions, cocoa powder, and nutmeg as they can tend to be dangerous to the dog.  

Can diet cure stinky breath in dogs?

Switching diet or introducing new food habits can help you if you are wondering why my dogs breath smells like fish. A few good foods you can try to fix the fishy breath in dogs would include Apple slices, Carrots, Cucumber slices, & Celery. Commercially available mint and apple biscuits can also be useful. They can help keep stinky dog breath at bay.

Yes, switching to a diet that consists of products that are digestible can be the right way to fix the issues if the bad breath is accompanied by digestive symptoms. Your vet should be able to guide you on this issue. Check with your vet to fix the issues if your dog’s mouth smells like fish

Your dog may be experiencing runny stools while showing the signs of fishy dog breath. Maybe your dog is sensitive to certain types of foods. It may also have a protein allergy in some cases. You can also consider giving probiotics to your dog. It is advisable to go with a probiotic that has 80 million colony-forming units (CFU) per pound.

What foods can improve dog’s breath? Well, feeding sliced apples with no seeds, carrots, celery and other crunchy items can be a good idea to treat the dogs with fishy breath. They are full of nutrients but offer a crunchiness which renounces the plaque and tartar layers and helps improve dog’s breath.

Why does my Dog Breath Smells Like Dead Fish?

If your dog has its anal glands impacted due to infection or any other reason, it will smell like dead fish or foul fish. Dogs, in this condition tend to lick their buttocks and the smell will get transferred to its mouth. This makes their breath smell like dead fish. Get your dog’s anal glands checked and emptied to fix this problem. 

Another reason that can make the breath of your dog smell like dead fish or at times, a dead animal is the liver failure. Since it is the  liver that expels the toxins from the body, your dog ends up with fishy small in its breath.

The Parting Thoughts

The stinky breath in dogs is a huge concern and it can be due to several reasons. If your dog has recently developed the bad breath issues, and you are trying to find ways on how to fix fishy dog breath,  there are several ways that it can be fixed. Bad breath is a sign of several inherent reasons and causes. But fixing that may not be that difficult. The tips shared in the above discussion should have helped you arrive at the best solutions.

A few FAQs

Why does my dog’s breath smell fishy?

There are multiple reasons that make your dog have smelly mouth and cause concerns of fishy smell. A few of the reasons why your dog’s breath stinks like fish include bad oral hygiene, build up of plaque and tartar. It can also be caused due to the anal sac disease, and other diseases such as  periodontal disease. if your dog has fish breath, it may be a good idea to check for the exact causes before taking up the remedial actions.

Can I prevent my dog from having fishy breath?

Make sure that you have maintained a good oral hygiene for your dog. Understanding the reasons for fishy smell can help you apply the right fixes. Regular brushing and providing dental chews and toys can further help in improving the conditions and help the dog get fresher breath.

Are certain breeds more prone to having fishy smelling breath?

A few small dog breeds like Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, and Pugs are known to have frequent dental issues and that can result in fish breath in dogs. You can employ the means to help prevent periodontal disease by consulting the experts and of course, your vet.

Can I give my dog human breath fresheners?

No, we do not recommend giving human breath fresheners to dogs to treat fish breath in dogs. They can be harmful for your dog. Instead, we recommend using the products that have specifically been created for the dogs. You can consult your vet to find information on the right products.

About the author

Timmappa Kamat

Timmappa Kamat is a pet lover and a dedicated writer specializing in the captivating world of pets. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to DreamyMammals. He grew up surrounded by pets since his childhood and this made him develop a connection with animals. This has sparked a lifelong curiosity for understanding and communicating with pets.
Writing style of Timmappa Kamat is characterised by a warm and friendly tone, making complex pet-related topics accessible to readers of all backgrounds. He loves sharing the animal behaviour with a persoanl touch. He creates articles that resonate with pet owners, thanks to their relatable and informative nature.

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About Author

Timmappa Kamat

Timmappa Kamat is a pet lover and a dedicated writer specializing in the captivating world of pets. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to DreamyMammals. He grew up surrounded by pets since his childhood and this made him develop a connection with animals. This has sparked a lifelong curiosity for understanding and communicating with pets.
Writing style of Timmappa Kamat is characterised by a warm and friendly tone, making complex pet-related topics accessible to readers of all backgrounds. He loves sharing the animal behaviour with a persoanl touch. He creates articles that resonate with pet owners, thanks to their relatable and informative nature.