When a dog’s breath smells like fish, it’s only natural dog owners might wonder why. It would be understandable if you lived near a pond or a lake. A dog could easily get a hold of a dead fish and take a few bites. But what if you live miles from the nearest body of water, and your pet still has fishy smelling breath?

There are a few reasons why the breath of a dog can smell this way. It can happen whether you have a puppy or an adult dog. Let’s look at a few of the potential reasons behind issues involving a dog’s foul breath.



Potential Dental Issues

A dog’s mouth can sometimes emit a fishy odor due to dental issues. Plaque build-up is one of the more common culprits. A dog’s mouth contains a lot of bacteria. So does the average human’s mouth, for that matter. These bacteria can buildup to the point where they turn into plaque.

When there’s too much plaque in the mouth, that can lead to other dental issues. These include gingivitis, tartar, and conditions affecting the gums. A fish odor coming from your dog’s mouth could be a sign of a problem involving your pet’s dental health.1

What Dog Owners Should Know About Dental Care For Your Pet

dog's breath smells like fish | Ultimate Pet NutritionYour pet’s oral health should never be ignored. Your veterinarian can clean your dog’s mouth on a regular basis to make sure that problems don’t arise.

Dental problems can lead to major issues that may damage the bones and tissues around a tooth. This can weaken a tooth to the point to where it falls out.

Even worse, a dog’s oral issues can affect the rest of their body, including major organs.2

Oral Hygiene Is Important: Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Clean

Many veterinarians encounter oral issues on a regular basis. If your pet has bad breath, it’s worth taking it up with your vet.

It’s important to address any oral issues, including fishy breath odor, as soon as possible. Toxins from a dog’s mouth can easily enter the bloodstream, leading to health issues.

But once oral issues are cleared up, related health problems may clear up as well. Many dog owners go to their vet every few months to have their dog’s mouth checked and cleaned.3

Veterinarians can educate owners on the proper way to clean a dog’s teeth. Using special toothpaste for dogs and following proper brushing practices can help improve a dog’s dental hygiene. Chews can also help cleanse a dog’s mouth.

Other Possible Reasons Your Dog Has Stinky Breath

There could be other reasons that a dog’s breath can smell fishy – or just plain bad. If your dog’s breath has a foul smell, it could have something to do with grooming. It could also be related to your pet’s diet.

Here’s a look at both possibilities.

Grooming Issues

Some people don’t have the time or the money to get their pet groomed as often as they should. This can lead to a dog’s anal glands becoming filled with a liquid that can smell like fish.

When the anal glands aren’t “expressed,” or cleared out regularly, they can become clogged. If this happens, a dog will find it annoying and uncomfortable. They might lick – or even bite – the area in order to empty the glands. This will transfer the stinky smell from the glands to the dog’s mouth.4

A veterinarian or groomer can quickly and easily express the anal glands of a pet and get rid of the problem.

dog's breath smells like fish | Ultimate Pet Nutrition


A dog’s diet can sometimes lead to breath that has a foul smell. Foods that contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids usually have a fish oil base.5 Other foods that might be part of your dog’s diet, like salmon or other fish products, may contribute to smelly dog breath.

Whether you feed your pup a special urinary tract diet or one to help promote strong bones, some of the ingredients could result in fishy dog breath. Should you make a switch? If you suspect dog food might be behind your pooch’s pungent breath, your vet can investigate.

See Your Veterinarian If Your Dog’s Breath Smells Like Fish

If your dog has bad breath, it’s time to pay a visit to your veterinarian. More than likely, the reason doesn’t have anything to do with any major health issues. Your pet might just need a good dental cleaning.

Learn More:
General Health Information For Your Husky Dog
A Quick Guide To The Golden Shepherd
When Can Puppies Leave Their Mother – Do They Miss Their Mom?

1 https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-health/dog-health/why-does-my-dogs-breath-smell-like-fish
2 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-myths-debunked-dog-dental-care/
3 https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/evr_dg_oral_hygiene_and_your_dogs_health
4 https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Why-Does-Your-Dogs-Breath-Stink-Common-Causes-of-Dog-Halitosis
5 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/fish-oil