Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smells Like Metal?

If you are anything like me, your dog is just like one of your kids. When they are not feeling well or when something seems wrong with them, you worry. You wonder if you should take them to the doctor or if whatever it is that is wrong with them will simply pass.

If you have noticed that your dog’s breath smells like metal, the first thing you want to do is make sure their mouth is not bleeding as blood can smell like metal.

dog's breath smells like metal
Why does my dog’s breath smells like metal?

If they are not bleeding, you should know that several different things can cause a dog’s breath to smell of metal. It can be a sign of a serious health problem or it may simply be something they ate.

An Impacted Anal Gland

One common reason that a dog’s breath smells of metal is that they have an impacted anal gland. When a dog’s anal glands are full, it may cause their breath to smell like metal. 

This happens when a dog licks their behind because the impacted glands make their rear end itch. Impacted anal glands can happen in any dog, but they are most common in miniature dogs

two labradoodles in the dog park
Two Labradoodles sniff each other out at a dog park.

How Impacted Anal Glands Are Treated?

You should always ask your vet if they think it is a good idea to have your dog’s anal glands expressed. I had a miniature dog once. My vet told me you should express a miniature dog’s anal glands regularly. 

If you are not up to this rather smelly and unpleasant task, you can always have a veterinary assistant or dog groomer do it for you. This service is well worth the price as there can be serious consequences if you do not have it done. 

If the anal glands become impacted, the veterinarian will have to express the anals and they will have to put the dog under to do it. The dog will have to be on antibiotics for quite a while. They may have to have repeated flushing of the anal glands. 

happy vet and a dog
A happy vet with a dog looking at each other.

Rotting Teeth or Gums

When a puppy’s teeth come in, there may be a metallic odor. There is not much you can do about this. Teething is a long process in dogs.

It starts at two weeks old and can go on until they are nine months old.

Even though a dog’s mouth may well be cleaner than a human’s, their teeth can get rotten when they get old. When teeth and gums get rotten, it can cause breath to smell. You can do a home exam by checking along the gum line. [We are talking about dog gum disease aka dog periodontal disease]

A dog should start getting dental cleanings at around 3 years old

If a dog’s teeth are rotten, a veterinarian will have to perform an extraction. A dog must be put under for both dental cleanings and extractions. Untreated dental problems can lead to heart problems and even death.

pug looks up at camera surrounded by treats
Some dogs seem to have a sweet tooth. There are much better healthy alternatives to sugar for your puppy though!


Stomach ulcers and intestinal ulcers can cause metallic-smelling breath in both dogs and humans. 

There are several likely causes of ulcers in dogs. They may have liver disease. A dog can get different liver diseases through contact with an infected dog’s urine

Urine can get into food, water, or soil. Certain molds grow in corn that can cause a dog to get liver disease. This is why most veterinarians will tell you to avoid feeding your dog a corn-based diet.

A poor diet can lead to diabetes and that can cause ulcers. Heartworm can also cause liver problems, so your dog should always take heartworm prevention medication. 

A dog with ulcers may have a condition called Neoplasia. Neoplasia is a term applied to various growths in the abdomen. In some cases they may be benign, in other cases, they may be cancerous.

They can cause lymphoma in dogs. A dog must have a biopsy in this case. 

Some medications can cause ulcers in a dog’s stomach. A person’s body can become addicted to opioids and so can a dog’s. Extended use of opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers in dogs.

dog sniffing the grass
A dog sniffing the grass.

Kidney Issues

Kidney problems can cause a metallic smell as well. Several things can cause kidney problems in dogs such as:

  • Damage to the kidney filters
  • Heredity 
  • Kidney stones
  • Infection of the kidney tissues
  • Kidney blockage 
  • Damage to kidney tubules 
  • Toxins 
  • Bacterial infections
  • Protein deposits in the kidneys
  • Cancer

In addition to metallic breath, a dog with kidney problems may be lethargic and may not have an appetite. They will drink a lot of water and go to the bathroom often. They may also be nauseous.

If your dog has any of these symptoms, you should take them to the vet right away.

Cute sleepy cavapoo
Cute sleepy Cavapoo lying on bed

They May Be Chewing on Something Metal

Anyone who has ever had a dog can tell you that they put some strange things in their mouth. They may merely have chewed on something that is metal, but they might have eaten something made of metal. 

Not all dog toys are safe and some of them may have metal in them. If your dog is nauseous or has diarrhea in addition to having metallic-smelling breath, you may want to take them to the vet.

Unless you have a teething puppy, it is probably a good idea to take your dog to the vet when their breath smells like metal just to be safe. Diet can help prevent many of the conditions that can cause this metallic smell. 

The American Kennel Club recommends a diet of meat, grains, vegetables, and fruit. You should always make sure that the food you serve your dog has a label that says, “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.” 

This label means that the dog food company is following feed control laws in the United States. Some unscrupulous companies use fillers and animal products from rendering plants that should not be in food.

dog chews shoe
A small dog chews a shoe.

Final Word

You will never have a friend quite like your dog. If you check their breath regularly and take them to the vet when there is a problem, they should live a long and healthy life.