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Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish? Causes and Solutions

Has the fishy odor coming from your dog’s breath caught your attention? If you’ve noticed this peculiar smell, you’re not alone. Many dog owners have encountered the issue of fishy breath in their furry companions and wondered about its underlying causes. While dogs are not known for their minty-fresh breath, a persistent fishy odor can be a cause for concern.

In this comprehensive article written by the experts at Auburndale Veterinary Clinic in Auburndale, FL, we will dive into the various factors that can contribute to your dog’s breath smelling like fish.

why does my dog’s breath smell like fish in auburndale fl

Poor Oral Hygiene and Dental Issues

One of the most common culprits behind fishy breath in dogs is poor oral hygiene and dental problems. Just like humans, dogs can develop issues such as plaque buildup, tartar accumulation, and gum disease. Bacteria thrive in the mouth, leading to the production of foul-smelling compounds. If your dog’s teeth are not regularly brushed, bacteria and decaying food particles can cause a distinct fishy odor.

Establishing a regular dental care routine is crucial. Begin by introducing toothbrushing with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for pets. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth regularly, and consider providing dental chews or toys that help remove plaque and tartar. Regular professional dental cleanings performed by a veterinarian are also highly recommended.

Anal Gland Issues

While it may seem unrelated, problems with the anal glands can contribute to fishy breath in dogs. Dogs have scent glands located near their anus that release a distinct, musky odor. If these glands become impacted, infected, or produce an excessive amount of secretion, the odor can travel to the mouth, resulting in fishy breath.

If you suspect anal gland issues, it is best to consult your veterinarian. They can examine your dog’s anal glands, express them if necessary, and provide appropriate treatment. Regular grooming, a high-fiber diet, and ensuring proper bowel movements can help prevent anal gland problems.

Dietary Factors

Diet plays a significant role in a dog’s overall health, including their breath. Certain foods can leave a lingering fishy smell in the mouth. Diets that contain fish as a primary ingredient, especially those with strong-smelling fish like salmon, can contribute to fishy breath. Additionally, consuming spoiled or rancid food can also result in an unpleasant odor.

Evaluate your dog’s diet and consider switching to a high-quality, well-balanced dog food that suits their specific needs. Opt for diets with alternative protein sources if fish is causing the odor. If you suspect food allergies or sensitivities, consult your veterinarian for guidance. Remember to introduce any dietary changes gradually to avoid digestive upset.

Underlying Medical Conditions

In some cases, fishy breath may be a symptom of underlying medical conditions. Kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes, and gastrointestinal issues can alter the body’s metabolism, resulting in abnormal breath odors.

If your dog’s breath consistently smells like fish or if you notice other accompanying symptoms such as increased thirst, weight loss, or changes in appetite, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian promptly. They can conduct a thorough examination, perform diagnostic tests, and determine if there are any underlying health issues contributing to the fishy breath. Treating the underlying condition will help alleviate the symptom of fishy breath.

Poor Digestive Health

Digestive problems can also contribute to fishy breath in dogs. Issues such as gastrointestinal infections, malabsorption, or an imbalance of gut bacteria can result in the production of foul-smelling gasses that manifest as fishy breath.

If you suspect digestive issues, it is best to consult your veterinarian. They can recommend appropriate diagnostic tests and create a tailored treatment plan to address the underlying cause. This may involve dietary adjustments, probiotics, or medications to restore digestive health.

Foreign Object Lodged in the Mouth or Teeth

Sometimes, a fishy odor in your dog’s breath may be caused by a foreign object stuck in their mouth or between their teeth. If your dog has chewed on something that has become lodged or stuck, it can lead to bacterial growth and an unpleasant smell.

Carefully examine your dog’s mouth and teeth for any signs of foreign objects or debris. If you notice anything unusual, consult your veterinarian for assistance.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections, such as sinusitis or infections in the throat or lungs, can sometimes contribute to the development of fishy breath in dogs. These infections can produce mucus and create an environment where odor-causing bacteria thrive.

If your dog exhibits signs of a respiratory infection, such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, or difficulty breathing, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention. Your veterinarian can evaluate your dog’s respiratory health, prescribe appropriate medications such as antibiotics or antivirals, and provide guidance on supportive care to alleviate the infection and improve your dog’s breath.

Book an Appointment at Auburndale Veterinary Clinic Today!

Remember, proper diagnosis by a veterinarian is essential to determine the exact cause of your dog’s fishy breath. They can provide tailored advice, recommend necessary treatments, and address any underlying issues contributing to the odor. 

For pet parents in the Auburndale, FL region, Auburndale Veterinary Clinic is here to help. Give us a call or book an appointment online today.


While occasional instances of fishy breath can be normal, persistent or strong odors warrant attention. Maintaining good oral hygiene through regular toothbrushing and professional cleanings, addressing anal gland issues, evaluating the diet for potential allergens or spoiled food, and monitoring for underlying medical conditions are essential steps in managing and preventing fishy breath in dogs. Regular veterinary check-ups, open communication with your veterinarian, and a proactive approach to your dog’s oral health will ensure fresh breath and contribute to their overall well-being. Embrace the joy of close cuddles and fresh kisses with your furry friend!

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Even long after they’re gone, we never forget our beloved pets. They make our families whole and bring so much joy to our lives. Our veterinarians and staff in Auburndale, FL know that the human-animal bond is sacred. To protect that bond, we aim to provide the highest level of medicine and the kindest, most compassionate care we can. Our goal is to help you help your pet stay healthy and happy for as long as possible. With wellness and preventative care, medical care for illnesses and injuries, routine surgery, dentistry and more, you can rest assured that all your pet’s needs are being met.