Puppy Breath Smells Like Fish

By Britt Kascjak

If you have recently brought a new puppy into your home, you likely want to spend all your time cuddling.

But, the puppy kisses and cuddle time aren’t as pleasant if your puppy’s breath smells horrible.

You may find yourself wondering, is this stinky breath normal? Is bad breath a sign that there’s something wrong with your little puppy?

Stinky breath is a common struggle for dog owners, but there are steps you can take to remedy it.

Is it Normal for a Dog’s Breath to Smell Like Fish?

Bad breath can be a sign of dental problems or other health concerns. But, it could also be simply the result of your dog’s regular diet.

For example, if your dog is eating fish-based food or loves fishy treats, that often means fishy breath.

It could also be the result of your dog getting something stuck in its mouth. As bacteria builds up, even clumps of hair and pieces of a toy that get stuck in your dog’s teeth or the roof of his mouth can start to smell.

If possible, take a close look in your puppy’s mouth for any potential culprits.

You can also address this problem quickly by brushing your dog’s teeth. Focus on the gum line and the roof of the mouth where food and foreign particles are often trapped.

What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

If you have considered your dog’s diet and checked for foreign materials in the mouth, it’s time to look deeper.

Bad breath can be a sign of oral health problems or a variety of medical concerns. To address the problem, you must first identify the root cause.

Oral Health Problems

The most common medical reason for bad breath is your puppy’s oral health.

Your dog may have trauma to the inside of his mouth. This could be from cuts and scrapes chewing bones and sticks, bite wounds from a fight, or burns from eating something hot.

If these cuts and abrasions become infected, this can create an unpleasant smell.

You may also notice a fishy smell resulting from periodontal disease or an abscessed tooth.

The best way to prevent these problems is through proper dental care. This includes professional cleanings and regular brushing of your dog’s teeth.

Oral Tumors

Tumors can develop in the throat, mouth, lungs, or nose. These could be benign or the result of various types of cancer.

If these tumors become infected or parts of them start to die off, the result is often an unpleasant smell. This smell is often described as “foul” or “fishy”.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections are relatively common among puppies. This is due to the fact that they are easily spread from puppy to puppy.

When your dog coughs, you may notice that there is a fishy smell to his breath.

This is the result of an infection in the respiratory tract. The cough releases the smells that are otherwise contained.

Much like oral infections, a smell from a respiratory infection requires medical care. When you work with your vet to cure the infection, the smell will go with it.

Kidney or Liver Diseases

Often overlooked, changes to your dog’s kidney or liver health could trigger bad breath.

This is often a sign of a serious medical condition that needs immediate veterinary care. The sooner you seek treatment, the higher your puppy’s chance of recovery will be.

Contact your veterinarian to express your concerns as soon as possible.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.