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Why does your dog or cat have bad breath

Bad breath can be a tell sign that there are more serious health problems. Check out these five facts to learn more.

Your pet’s bad breath isn’t just gross: Halitosis is a potential sign of health problems. Check out these five fast facts about bad breath, ranging from when halitosis warrants a visit to the vet to how to keep your cat or dog’s mouth stink-free.


OK: it is hugely unrealistic that your pet will have minty fresh breath. But, contrary to popular belief, doggy (or kitty) breath is not a natural condition. In particular, if your cat or dog’s breath gets drastically stinky, it’s a sign of a problem. Old age shouldn’t cause your pet’s breath to smell bad -- poor breath isn’t a symptom of aging, it’s more likely a symptom of dental issues or an underlying health problem. While your pet’s breath may not smell sweet, it should not smell off-putting.


As with humans, it’s easy for pet’s breath to smell unpleasant. After all, your cat can’t brush their teeth. And your dog can’t use dental floss or gargle. If your pet’s breath is really foul, bring them to the vet immediately, since the problem may be more serious than just a stink. During your cat's or dog’s annual visit with the vet, your pet can be checked for any dental issues -- from fractured teeth to gum disease. Like your own dentist, a vet can clean and descale teeth, as well as generally being able to extract teeth and tackle more serious dental problems. And, if your pet’s halitosis is the result of another health condition, your vet can track down non-dental underlying causes.


Ideally, your pet’s teeth should be brushed on a daily basis. Sounds like an unpleasant chore, right? But you brush your own teeth twice a day, and once you form the habit, you may find that it’s easier than you think. Remember to use pet-friendly toothpaste to avoid your pet having an upset tummy. Try using a toothbrush that fits over your finger to help your pet get accustomed to the routine.


On some days, you may feel almost too tired to brush your own teeth before bed, let alone your pet’s. Try using special treats and foods that your pet will enjoy, while also benefiting from their teeth-cleaning abilities.


It's easy to be tempted to take a wait-and-see approach to your pet's bad breath. Just remember: It's not just a matter of an unpleasant odor. Your pet's bad breath can be an indication of rotting teeth, which can be quite painful for pets (as they are are for people). Follow up with preventative measures and at-home treatments, and make an appointment with a vet if problems persist.

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.