Bad breath, or in medical terms “chronic halitosis”, happens to humans and pets alike. It’s a stinky problem, but don’t fret- in most cases, there’s a lot you can do to minimize bad breath. However, it’s important to understand what can cause bad breath and when you should become concerned. That way, you can work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to banish your cat or dog’s bad breath and prevent further issues from developing.
So what causes bad breath in pets? A variety of issues could cause your furry friend’s less-than-perfect breath, and below are some culprits. In our next post, you’ll learn how to help prevent bad breath with regular teeth cleaning and veterinary visits.
- Teething- For our younger furry friends, teething can often cause bad breath in puppies and especially kittens. During teething, bacteria collects at the gum line as incoming adult teeth replace baby teeth. This typically lasts only a couple months, so keep a nose on their breath as their adult teeth come in.
- Food- Did you know that some foods and treats can cause less-than-fresh breath? There are pros and cons for both wet and dry food when it comes to your pet’s breath. If you think your pet’s food is the culprit, talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s best nutritional options.
- Periodontal Disease- Bad breath can often occur due to periodontal disease or a dental issue—it’s the most common cause of bad breath in pets. Inflamed & red gums, tooth decay, loose teeth and tartar build-up on the teeth are visible signs of a dental issue, but periodontal disease can also develop under the gum line where you can’t see.
- Foreign Objects, Toxic Substances & Other Icky Stuff- It’s true- our pets can get into some pretty nasty stuff, including non-food items like bones, household garbage, feces, animal carcasses and even toxins, which can cause some seriously bad breath. Unfortunately, animals can ingest a number of things that are bad for their breath and/or bodies, so make sure to keep a good eye on your pets whenever possible. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potential toxin, make sure to contact your vet immediately.
- Oral Tumors- Oral tumors are another potential cause of bad breath. Quickly-growing oral tumors are overcome with bacteria which can cause bad breath odor. Make sure to contact your veterinarian if you notice any discoloration or masses of any size/shape in the mouth and have them checked out as soon as possible.
- Diabetes- Does your pet’s breath smell unusually sweet and almost fruity? Surprisingly, diabetes might be the culprit for that bad breath. Diabetes, if unchecked and uncontrolled, can suppress the immune system and allow bacteria to grow in the mouth. There are many other signs involved with diabetes such as weight loss, drinking more water and increased urination, so please contact your veterinarian if any of these symptoms accompany bad breath.
- Kidney & Liver Disease
Metabolic diseases are the most serious of issues which can cause bad breath. Kidney disease is the most well-known of these diseases, and this and end-stage kidney disease can cause a pet’s breath to have a chemical or sour-smelling odor. In addition to bad breath, if you notice your pet has a combination of any of the following, it’s best to contact your vet ASAP:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
In Part 2 of our post, we will be discussing prevention and care methods to help combat bad breath and keep your pet’s oral health at it’s best.
(Information sources: Vetstreet.com, AKC.org & PetMD.com)