Bad Breath: What A Stinky Mouth For A Shiba Means (Solved)

Doggy love and kisses are amazing but not when their breath reeks. Bad breath is a common problem for dogs, and Shiba Inus are no exception. Some of the common causes and their remedies are as follows.

A Shiba Inu with bad breath typically has an oral hygiene problem. A buildup of plaque on their teeth leads to both dental issues along with foul breath. Chew toys and dental treats help clean a dog’s teeth but brushing, just like with people, is the best way to remove and prevent any buildup.

The problem is “oral hygiene” isn’t very unspecific and may not be the root cause of your specific dog’s foul breath. Some Shiba Inu may have had a one-off poop snack while others may have an issue with their diet.

Just like how each Shiba Inu is unique, every occurrence of bad breath is unique and should be investigated from square one. Let’s start from the top and kick things off with oral hygiene.

Does Your Shiba Inu Have An Oral Hygiene Routine?

shiba inu with bad breath playing

The most common and straightforward cause of “doggy breath” is a buildup of plaque and eventually tartar on your dog’s teeth. This is usually slowly built up over time, just like in people, and failing to regularly clean their teeth is typically the cause.

The easiest way to tell if your Shiba Inu has any plaque buildup is to check their teeth. If they are pearly white, you are in the clear, if they are yellowed or starting to brown, then you have some work to do.

Do Chew Toys Help Clean A Dog’s Teeth?

If your Shiba Inu loves to constantly chew then you are in luck, they are already one step ahead of you. Dogs that chew actively have less plaque build-up, courtesy of pets.

Chewing is nature’s toothbrush, so take advantage of that if and when possible. Chew toys and dental treats are excellent ways of reducing and preventing the buildup of plaque on your Shiba Inu’s teeth. Just know that, although chew toys and treats are fantastic, they don’t clean everything. You will still have to brush your dog’s teeth if you want to completely prevent and remove any plaque buildup.

Some vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily while others say a few times a week is fine. The best thing you can do is contact your vet and tailor-make an oral hygiene plan for your unique Shiba Inu.  Any kind of teeth cleaning is better than nothing and will help both bad breath and potential medical issues down the road.

Balancing A Shiba Inu’s Diet

Brushing your dog’s teeth is fantastic, but its primary job is to clean up the mess left on your dog’s teeth. Besides toys, the next most likely thing entering your Shiba Inu’s mouth is their food. Feeding your pup, a balanced diet has several health benefits, and yes it will help with bad breath.

Different types of dog food leave different amounts of residue on your Shibas teeth, leading to varying rates of plaque buildup. Remember a buildup of plaque leads to bad breath, just like in people. Colored teeth lead to flavored breath.

A healthy diet also means your Shiba Inu is getting the nutrients they need to grow and stay healthy. This leads to good digestive health and reduces your dog’s risk of getting sick but also helps prevent some diseases. We’ll go into more detail about sickness and diseases later.

Checking your dog’s diet is an amazing way to help with bad breath, but food isn’t the only thing they put in their mouths. Dogs use their mouths for everything, and your Shiba Inus are no exception.

A proper diet is key to your dog’s health, but some dogs have food allergies or intolerances. If you are worried your Shiba is struggling with either take a look at our common health and allergy problems post.

Non-food Items And Substances

My Shiba Inu, Faith, is constantly running around with dirty socks, rocks, mulch, and basically anything else she can get a hold of. Fortunately, I haven’t seen her eat any poop, yet, but I’ve had other pets in the past that did regularly. Cat poop has universally been their favorite.

Not only will all of the above, and much much more, affect their breath but also their gut health. Poop is not sanitary or healthy for them to eat, yet dogs seem to love doing so anyway. The issue here is threefold:

  1. Their breath will definitely stink.
  2. They could get sick.
  3. It could affect their digestive health and could lead to medical issues down the road.

Keeping an eye on your Shiba Inu’s potential poop-eating habits is an excellent way to curve bad breath, but it isn’t the only possible reason their breath stinks.

Other non-food and toxic items and substances can also lead to bad breath. If you see your Shiba Inu eat or suspect them of eating something toxic, contact your vet immediately. Emergency care may be required depending on the severity of the situation.

On a lesser note, how is your dog’s bottom?

Could Their Rear End Be The Cause?

Another potential cause of bad doggy breath could relate to their glands. Dogs have glands on their rear end that sometimes leak a foul-smelling fluid. That gland has caused some rather smelly encounters with my Shiba Inu.

If your Shiba Inu seems to have a constantly itchy behind, it may be time to visit the vet and have said gland checked. It may have to be drained, which is a quick and simple process. Your dog and your nose will definitely thank you.

Inspect More Than Just Your Shiba Snu’s Teeth

When it comes to your Shiba Inu’s oral health you want to check more than just their teeth. 

Healthy gums are also very important for your dog’s oral health, but unfortunately, they are overlooked the vast majority of the time. Poor gum health and cleaning routines can lead to inflammation and possibly gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease. If you’d like to learn more, here is my source.

Gum inflammation and periodontal disease are other possible sources of bad breath.

An excess buildup of tartar and plaque causes your dog’s gums to pull away, leading to inflammation and possibly worse if not caught and treated properly. This also leads to several dental problems such as cavities, infections, tissue destruction, and tooth loss just to name a few.

The best way to prevent any gum issues is to not only give your Shiba Inu plenty of chew toys along with a few high-quality dental treats here and there but to set and follow a tooth brushing routine.


If your Shiba Inu has fruity or sweet breath, then alarm bells should be ringing. These are symptoms of diabetes, which is treatable but still a serious condition. More frequent drinking and urinating than normal is another common sign of diabetes. 

Contact your vet to get their opinion of the matter, if they think it is serious then schedule an appointment to get your dog examined.

Kidney Disease

A dog with poop breath is one thing, but if your Shiba Inu’s breath smells like urine it’s less likely that they drank some. Urine-scented breath is a warning sign of kidney disease and you should contact your vet immediately. Kidney disease is a serious condition that has a chance of being a symptom of an even larger medical issue.

Liver Disease

If you notice your dog has truly horrid breath, take note and begin investigating. While inspecting their mouth you should check their gums, if you notice they have a yellow hue to them, then this could be serious. If your Shiba Inu has also been shying away from food while throwing up it is possible they could have an issue with their liver.

Those four things are common signs of liver disease and it is very serious. Call your vet and explain the situation to them immediately. Just like with kidneys, liver disease has a chance of being a symptom of a larger medical issue. 

Summary: How To Manage Your Shiba’s Bad Breath

The best way to remedy your Shiba’s bad breath is by regularly brushing their teeth, but that isn’t necessarily practical for most Shiba Inu owners. The next best thing would be leaning into their at-times destructive chewing with high-quality hard chew toys. Then supplementing those with a dental chew every few days.

If you notice your Shiba isn’t eating as much as they usually do, and their breath smells, they may be feeling a bit under the weather. Keep a close eye on them throughout the day and check their mouths when possible. Any odd discoloration on their teeth or gums are warning signs of something potentially serious and warrants an immediate call to your vet.

Additionally, if you notice your pet’s breath smells like urine or is particularly foul, then you should contact your vet. Similar to how discolorations, specific scents can be a sign of something more serious.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath All Of A Sudden?

Most bad breath in dogs is caused by something they recently ate, like a piece of trash or a random “food-like” time they found on the ground. If you notice your pet’s breath constantly reeks then you should start looking at their food and checking their gums and teeth for odd discolorations.

Can Dog Food Make Dogs Breath Stink?

Food is a common cause of stinky dog breath. Small bits of food can get stuck between their teeth, resulting in an unpleasant odor. Regularly brushing their teeth will help with that. If you notice your pet isn’t eating as much and has bad breath they may be feeling sick.

Do They Make Dog Breath Mints?

Yes, there are several companies that make “breath mint” like products for dogs. Most of the time they’re sprays, scented dental chews, or in some cases tablets. Be mindful of your dog’s weight, these types of products are specifically formulated for specific weight ranges.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

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