Dog’s Breath Smells Like Death – Why & What to Do Next

Disclaimer: The content on is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.

Have you ever noticed that your dog’s breath smells so rotten and bad it smells like death? This is a very concerning situation for dog owners because it’s a sign that something is very wrong. Here is a list of the biggest reasons behind your dog’s breath smelling like death and what you should do about it.

1. Your Dog Has a Dental Condition

Various dental conditions could cause your dog’s breath to smell like death including tartar buildup and gingivitis. Tartar buildup happens when plaque has been accumulating on the teeth for a long time and it’s very rough. Tartar buildup often times happens underneath the gum line and it will eventually cause bacteria to form, which can be detrimental to your dog.

The longer bacteria stays around the gum line the more chances of it causing gingivitis. Gingivitis is one of the most common dental issues for dogs and it means inflammation of the gums. Just like with people, dogs that have gingivitis will experience bleeding around the gums. When gingivitis progresses, it could eventually lead to their being tooth decay, tooth loss, and severe pain. Both gingivitis and tartar buildup could result in your dog’s breath smelling like death.

2. Your Dog Has a Respiratory Tract Disease

Respiratory tract disease also could explain why your dog’s breath smells like death. Many different respiratory illnesses could cause bad breath, including nasal infections, nasal tumors, and even sinusitis. This is due to there being pus within the nose and this pus will often travel down into the throat.

The pus is made up of blood, bacteria, and dead white blood cells, which is why the smell is so bad. Depending on the particular respiratory tract illness affecting your dog, antibiotics might be given if there’s a bad infection in the nasal cavity. A lot of times tumors will have to be removed via surgery and medications may be given to help relieve sinus pressure and inflammation.

3. Your Dog Has a Bad Unbalanced Diet

An unbalanced diet may cause your dog to have unpleasant breath, especially if there are a lot of grains and carbohydrates in the food. Dog food that contains a lot of grains and sugars will weaken the teeth and cause bad breath since they often times get stuck in between the teeth.

It’s best to feed your dog a food that is grain-free and additive-free if you are trying to keep the bad breath away. You also shouldn’t feed your dog table scraps as this often times lacks the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and contributes to an unbalanced diet.

Is Bad Breath in Dogs a Sign of Illness?

Bad breath is usually a sign of illness in dogs, with gum disease being the most common culprit. The bad breath is happening due to bacteria that is living somewhere inside of the mouth. It usually starts out on the teeth in the form of tartar buildup and plaque. As it gets worse, the bacteria can begin to spread into the bloodstream.

What’s really bad about this is that once it enters the bloodstream it has a likely chance of harming internal organs and causing major damage. This could be a life-threatening situation if not taken care of promptly with the right type of antibiotics and other medications.

The best thing to do if your dog has horribly bad breath is to head to the veterinarian if you’ve noticed it’s not getting any better through dietary changes. You want to figure out what exactly is causing the issue, whether it’s the teeth or a possible respiratory illness.


  • Rebecca A. Rednour | 16/02/2020

    My 14 year old toy poodle has had his teeth cleaned 3 times in the last 9 months and his breath never gets any better, smells like rotten meat. He is on a grain free dry kibble. I brush what few teeth he has left and use a dental spray to no avail. Any suggestions?

  • Kata | 16/02/2021

    My poodle is almost 9 and his breath recently also started smelling of rotten meat. I can’t see any tooth problem there. I’m going to now get a new kibble batch and see if this helps for a few days.

  • Kata | 16/02/2021

    My poodle is almost 9 and his breath recently also started smelling of rotten meat. I can’t see any tooth problem there. I’m going to now get a new kibble batch and see if this helps for a few days.
    Have you ever found what the problem was?

  • Brittani | 24/03/2021

    I have a 6 year old English bulldog who’s breath just smells like rotting meat. He’s on a grain free diet ever since he was about a year old as the grain messes with his skin. This started about a year ago and I’ve taken him to the vets and they don’t see anything wrong. He’s excessively drinking too like he can’t get enough water. I’m worried it’s kidney failure, he has all the symptoms of it when I google them. I’m thinking I need to take him to a different vet! Thoughts??

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