Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Metal?

As a dog owner, I can attest to the fact that the breath of most dogs doesn’t smell like a summer breeze. It smells like you are standing in front of a fan that is blowing the smell of raw meat at you.

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my doggie to bits but it isn’t exactly a smell I would like in my nostrils the whole day.

That being said, have you ever gotten a metallic-smelling breath coming from your dog’s mouth?

It faintly smells like iron or steel.

A dog with a metallic-smelling breath signifies an underlying health problem. It could be due to dental disease, a problem with their anal glands or something that isn’t right with a major organ. A dog’s breath should not be smelling like metal and it is something to be concerned about.

Let us take a closer look at the possible reasons that cause a metallic-smelling breath and what you should be doing about it.

Anal Glands Irritation

Dogs are big on smelling and will try and get their noses into everything. Even places where the sun doesn’t shine like our crotches and the butts of other dogs.

This is because there are anal glands situated at the entrance of the dog’s anus and a dog’s anal glands produce a scent which tells the smelling dog a lot of information about another dog.

A dog’s anal sacs will also secrete a brown oily liquid which they use to mark their territory. In healthy dogs, this liquid smells like a fish and metal broth.

However, if your dog has an infection of the anal glands, this liquid can start to smell rather offensive. This can happen if there’s a build-up of this liquid in the anal glands leading to impacted anal glands which will leak.

Impacted anal glands can cause pain and discomfort to your dogs and you can see them trying to relieve the pain by suddenly sitting and dragging their butts on the floor (scooting) together with licking their behinds excessively.

When your dog starts licking its behind due to the discomfort, its breath will start to smell metallic as well.

You will need to bring your dog to the vet to have its anal glands expressed and treated with antibiotics if required.

Do not let the infection fester as it can spread internally to the other organs.

As dog owners, it is important to learn how to express your dog’s anal glands as well. It isn’t the most appealing task to do but its a good one to learn.

As good hygiene practice, use gloves and a face mask before doing it.

Teething Puppies

When I was a kid, I remember being very excited whenever I lost a baby tooth. There was a lot of blood but I wasn’t freaked out by it. That means I will be getting a visit from the ‘tooth fairy’ that night.

Puppies start to grow their ‘baby teeth’ when they are about three weeks old. Once they hit about 3-5 months of age, their ‘baby teeth’ will start to fall out to make way for their adult teeth. During this time, they tend to chew a lot to relieve the discomfort.

It is also possible for their gums to bleed a little while teething. You will find spots of blood in their mouth or chew toys. Some dogs might even vomit when teething due to other health complications.

So if your little pup’s mouth smell of blood, it is probably due to the teething and there’s no need for concern.

This will soon pass once all of their 42 adult teeth are fully grown.

Dental Disease

Let’s be honest now.

Not many of us dog owners actually take the time to inculcate good dental hygiene in our dogs by brushing their teeth.

Giving your dog a chew toy or dry food thinking that it can help remove plague is a myth. And by the way, dry food is bad for dogs and can even add to periodontal diseases.

If you do not brush your dog’s teeth frequently, it can lead to tartar and plaque buildup. This can lead to the erosion of the gum lining and teeth enamel. This can happen if you are feeding your dog too much sweet things like frosting, ice cream, donuts, etc.

When this happens, bacteria will start to grow in these places causing tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis.

Your dog’s breath will start to smell bad, almost like a rotting metallic smell. If your dog’s breath smells bad, it is time to take a look at its teeth and gums first.

I know of some dog owners that like the smell of their dog’s breath. But they might start to think otherwise if the dog has really bad breath.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

As a pet owner of both cats and dogs, I can safely say that it is MUCH easier to brush my dog’s teeth and gums as compared to my cat.

My cat turns into a feline possessed by the depths of hell when he sees me approaching with his finger brush.

I would strongly advise you to get a toothbrush meant for dogs. I prefer using a finger brush as it gives me more control over the brushing.

You don’t have to brush your dog’s mouth every day.

I do it a few times a week to keep his teeth and gums clean.

Most importantly, DO NOT use any human toothpaste for your pets. It contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is highly toxic to pets.

Use a toothpaste that is meant only for pets which usually comes in flavors like chicken and beef.

Kidney Disease

Dogs that are suffering from chronic kidney disease can have a metallic-smelling breath. Our kidneys act as filters in our bodies to remove urea and other impurities.

When your dog’s kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, they won’t be able to fully remove the urea from your dog’s body.

This can cause your dog’s breath to smell like ammonia which has a metallic scent to it.

Go into a dirty toilet and you’ll know what I mean.

Kidney issues in dogs usually result from them ingesting something that is toxic to them like antifreeze, cleaning solutions or even food that has gone bad.

Bad dental hygiene can also lead to kidney failure in dogs.

The bacteria in your dog’s mouth get ingested when it eats or drinks which can then start to infect its internal organs like the liver and kidneys.

Older dogs are also more prone to having kidney issues.

If you start to notice other symptoms in your dog:

  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Excessive urination
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in urine

There’s a strong probability that there is something not right with the kidneys and needs to be checked by the vet immediately.

Internal Bleeding

Before you wonder why would internal bleeding cause your dog’s breath to smell like metal, that is because blood contains minerals like iron and copper.

If you have ever smelt your own dried blood before, it smells strongly of rust. It is a common smell and not one to be concerned about.

However, if your dog smells of metal, it could be due to a case of internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding in your dog could be caused by an impact or trauma to your dog’s body. Your dog could have also eaten something sharp that might have cut its throat or esophagus.

This will give your dog’s breath an iron smell due to internal bleeding.

If your dog likes to chew and eat bones, never give your dog cooked bones as they can easily splinter and cause a lot of damage to your dog internally.

Just feed your dog raw bones and make sure it isn’t too big in relation to your dog’s size. Usually, chicken wings or thighs work well for most dogs.

Ingesting Toxic Substances

For dog owners that keep indoor or outdoor plants, you will need to be more careful if you have plants that are toxic to dogs.

Dogs in general might not have the innate curiosity of a cat, they might still attempt to chew or eat a plant that smells interesting to them.

There are a number of common houseplants that aren’t safe for dogs.

  • Aloe vera
  • Ivy
  • Dumb cane
  • Sago palm
  • Elephant ear

If your dog happens to eat or chew on a plant that is toxic, it might give out a metallic smell in its mouth.

The same thing can happen if the dog licks something toxic like Lidocaine or chlorine.

Conclusion

The next time you notice that your dog’s breath smells of metal, it would be good to give your dog a physical check-up first.

Take a look at your dog’s mouth to see if there are any visible signs of bleeding or bad breath. Lift up its tail to check if there’s any brown liquid leaking from its anus. Run your hands around your dog’ stomach and body to make sure there’s no bloating or swelling.

In the event that you find something not right with your dog or the smell doesn’t go away after a few days, it would be best to bring your doggie to the vet for a thorough examination.

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