Are you finding yourself holding your nose around your cat or dog because of their breath? Avoiding your usual close contact, cuddles, and petting routine? If you’ve heard the phrases “doggy breath” or “kitty breath” it may seem like bad breath, or halitosis, is unavoidable in pets. Think again! Your pet’s bad breath is not an unavoidable condition and may actually be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Think of your pet’s bad breath as being a symptom of an underlying problem; if left untreated, both breath and the deeper health issue will likely get worse. And, failure to track down the underlying cause of the symptom could prevent you from handling a potentially treatable illness.
How You’ll Know
Like humans, your pet cat or dog can have bad breath after an especially odiferous meal. And with pets, smelly meals can happen fairly often; if your dog was just furtively chewing garbage during your daily walk, or your cat scarfed down a treat of a tuna fish, the resulting bad breath is likely a fleeting matter. The smell becomes a cause for concern when it is persistent, and not associated with mealtime.
The most likely cause of your pet’s bad breath is a periodontal condition -- as plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth, it hardens and combines with saliva and bacteria. Other potential causes for a pet’s halitosis are more severe. Medical concerns such as liver, kidney, and lung diseases are a possible cause for unpleasant breath. Since the range of diseases is so wide, it’s important to follow up on what’s causing a cat or dog’s breath issues with your vet.
The most obvious symptom of halitosis is bad breath. Watch also for secondary symptoms, such as a reluctance to eat food, poor grooming, discharge and bleeding in the mouth, and difficulty swallowing. If your pet will consent, you can open your cat or dog’s mouth and look for visibly broken teeth and swollen gums.
Prevent bad breath through vigilant dental hygiene: aim to brush your pet’s teeth daily, or as often as possible, and provide them with special foods and treats to help prevent plaque buildup. During regular visits to the vet, checks will be done for problematic dental conditions.
The treatment will depend largely on what is causing the smell. The best way to track down the root cause of the foul breath is to visit your veterinarian, who can provide your pet with a thorough physical, and inspect your pet’s mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums carefully for signs of problems. This examination will help determine the next steps -- whether it be treating a periodontal condition or looking for the source of a more serious physical condition.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.