Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
Your pup might not always have the best smelling breath, but it should never smell metallic either.
If your pup’s breath smells like metal it’s certainly something to pay attention to.
This article highlights six causes of metallic breath and what it means. We’ll also explain if it’s truly something to worry about, and when to consult with your veterinarian.
Why Your Puppy’s Breath Smells Like Metal
Interestingly, a dog’s breath can provide a little window into their general health. It is a good idea to take note of it now and then, to ensure it is nice and normal.
When you pick up on a new odor, you may be wondering what is going on. A metallic smell can have many different causes and below are the most common:
What Should Your Puppy’s Breath Smell Like?
When still nursing, most people describe a puppy’s breath as sweet. This is a recognizable smell in most breastfed puppies and it is mainly caused by the chemicals in their mother’s milk.
Once weaned, their breath will start to take on the smell of the food they are eating.
This is especially true if we sniff their mouths when they have recently eaten. When they have not eaten in a while, their breath should have no strong smell; much like ours when we have healthy mouths.
6 Reasons Your Puppy Has Metallic Breath
The most common reason by far is teething. When a pup is losing their milk teeth and their adult teeth are growing in, their breath can smell quite different for a few weeks.
A new fragrance is not all you’re likely to notice. When teething, other signs can include:
- Bright red gums and a small amount of bleeding; sometimes presenting as a few drops of blood on teething toys
- Drooling which can be excessive and is not associated with vomiting
- Refusal to eat hard food, chews, and dental treats
- Mild lethargy
- A sudden desire for your pup to chew on everything and everyone
- Seeing milk teeth on the floor (this won’t always happen as baby teeth are commonly swallowed)
For most puppies, teething is a mild inconvenience and signs resolve without intervention after a month or two.
We can help our pups cope by offering soft food and teething toys as well as frozen vegetables for them to chew on.
Soaking a cloth in a dog-safe broth or gravy and freezing it can make an excellent teething rag.
A small number of pups may struggle with teething and fail to cope with the oral pain. For these pups, a trip to the vet is best so they can be prescribed some mild pain relief and anti-inflammatories.
2. Impacted Anal Glands
Have you noticed your pup is licking their bum more than usual? Perhaps they have also been scooting and dragging their bottoms along the floor. If this is the case, they might have impacted anal glands or an anal gland infection.
The fluid within the glands produces a fishy, metallic, and very foul smell. If a dog has been licking the bum, this smell can transfer to their mouth. This is the kind of smell that you’ll recognize as soon as you detect it: very unpleasant indeed!
Those with blocked anal glands need to be seen by a vet so they can be expressed promptly. Your vet can teach you how to empty the glands at home if needs be.
It can also help to increase the fiber in your pup’s diet, to ensure their stool is solid and bulky. This means that each time the pup poops, the glands will express themselves.
3. Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection can cause similar signs as impacted anal glands, including bad breath. With UTIs, your dog may experience increased thirst and a sudden desire to pass pee all the time, as well as a sudden step backward in toilet training.
UTIs are not uncommon in young pups and are sometimes seen alongside other medical issues such as bladder stones or congenital disorders (like an ectopic ureter). The first port of call is a vet check to analyze the urine and determine what is going on. Many puppies will require antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and a prescription diet.
4. Intra-Oral Infection
Certain types of intra-oral infections can result in a metallic odor, thanks to the bacteria build-up.
While puppies aren’t going to be suffering from chronic periodontal disease just yet, we can see infections secondary to injuries or foreign bodies within the mouth.
For example, if your pup has been chomping on a stick and a piece has broken off and lodged in the roof of their mouth, the ensuing infection can be severe. Other signs of an oral infection include swelling of the tissue, red gums, drooling, trouble eating and visible pus.
A vet will check the pup over, hopefully locating the source of infection and removing it. Antibiotics will be needed and a medicated mouthwash should also be used if possible.
Offer your pooch soft food that is easy to eat to prevent them from losing weight or becoming dehydrated while their mouth is sore.
5. Toxin Build Up
Toxin build-up can lead to oral ulcers and ‘ammonia breath’ or a metallic, urine-like smell.
While kidney failure is much more common in geriatric dogs, a small number of pups can be born with congenital kidney issues. We can also see acute kidney disease after toxin ingestion from things like raisins and grapes.
Additional signs of kidney failure include:
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Failure to gain weight and thrive
- A reduced appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Kidney disease can be diagnosed with a blood and urine test and the vet may also scan the kidneys to get a look at what is going on.
6. Skin Infections (around the mouth)
If there is an infection of the skin around the mouth and anaerobic bacteria are present, we may detect a metallic smell. In this instance, we would expect to see red skin that is oozing or scabby. You may also notice your pup scratching or rubbing around their mouth.
Skin infections in pup can occur for no obvious reason or can be associated with something else going on, such as mange or allergies. It’s sensible to have the skin assessed and the vet may advise on further tests such as a skin scrape and swab, so we can get a diagnosis.
Could The Metallic Breath Be Due to Something They Ate?
A metallic smell is quite specific and not usually associated with any food. However, if it has come on after eating a certain food, treat or chew then see if tooth brushing helps. If the smell goes away after tooth brushing, it may just be a reaction to what was eaten.
When To See a Veterinarian
So when is it time to be concerned, and when should you contact your veterinarian?
It’s best to consult your veterinarian right away if:
- Their breath has smelt like metal for a long time already (more than week)
- You witness additional symptoms (lethargy, appetite changes, diarrhea, vomiting, unusual behavior, change in peeing and pooping)
- Your puppy is scooting their bum or paying extra attention to their genital area
With puppies we have to be extra careful and act on any discrepancy we may see or notice. The quicker you consult your veterinarian, the quicker a diagnosis can be made.