Arrrghhh! Why Does My Puppy Have Bad Breath?

Why does my puppy have bad breath? Surely you’ve held a cute, cuddly puppy up close to your face and suddenly caught a whiff of raunchy breath, making you wonder: “Why does my puppy have bad breath?”

Why Does My Puppy Have Bad Breath?

Canines aren’t born with mouth odor. For the first few weeks of their life, they thrive on mother’s milk. They have milk breath just like our newborn babies have.

When a puppy begins eating solid foods, his breath will smell according to what he eats. Think about your breath after eating garlic or onions — it isn’t pleasant either, is it? As with wolves, mama dogs may regurgitate food for their babies to eat.


As puppies begin exploring their new world, they tend to chew on anything they can find, including poop. (Yuck!) And let’s not forget about the canine’s natural instinct of grooming, including cleaning the anal sac! (Yuck again!) So, do you still need to wonder, “Why does my puppy have bad breath?”

No. 1 Cause: Teething

Regardless of a puppy’s world of discovery missions, teething is the most common cause of puppy bad breath. Teething smells are sometimes “fishy” or “rotten.” The best way to avoid these nasty odors is… well, to keep your nose away from the puppy’s mouth! At least until the teething process is finished, that is. It usually lasts about four weeks.

By the way, those new little teeth will be very sharp, so be cautious when you do put your face close to your pet’s mouth.


Eliminating bad breath in a puppy is as simple as brushing his teeth once a week — maybe with a little Arm & Hammer baking soda.

In this quick video, James Talbott, DVM, explains how you can get your puppy used to your brushing his teeth:

Dental Chews

Dental chews will also help keep the teeth clean, while also giving him fresher breath.

Spraying inside his mouth with chlorhexidine solution (which is like a doggy mouthwash) will also sweeten the breath. This solution removes tartar and plaque from an adult dog’s teeth as well. Feeding dry dog food will also be of great help.

Chances are, your puppy will outgrow his killer breath. To help protect yourself from BBS (bad breath syndrome) during your pet’s growing stages, keep a watchful eye out, scooping up poop as quickly as possible and removing any “stinky” items lying around, before he discovers them.

Believe it or not, just like children, your puppy will be all grown up in no time!

Additional Resources

Photo: D.Clow/Flickr

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  • Jackie Rive

    Here is a tasty recipe for bad breath cookies for your pooch.

    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup mint leaves, lightly packed
    1/4 cup milk
    4 tbsp butter that’s softened
    1 egg
    1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

    Combine all ingredients, process in a food processor until well mixed and a big ball forms.

    Press or roll on a floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Cut into 1-inch by 2-inch strips.

    Bake in a nonstick cookie pan at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.