How to Control Bad Breath in Pets: Tips & Tricks

There’s nothing fun about getting a slobbery wet kiss from a dog or a cat with bad breath! Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is generally caused by excessive build-up of odor -producing bacteria inside your pet’s mouth, lungs, or even gut. While most cases of bad breath can be traced back to poor oral hygiene, in some cases, bad breath could be symptomatic of a more serious health problem.

Treating bad breath starts by identifying the cause and taking steps to correct the underlying problem. Other than dental disease, causes of bad breath are oral tumors, tonsillitis, or foreign material in the mouth or voice box area. Even systemic diseases like kidney disease and diabetes can cause a change in the odor of the breath.

However, bad breath in dogs and cats is most commonly linked to the build up of bacteria in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene. In fact, bad breath is the most common warning sign of dental disease. Periodontal disease starts out as plaque. Plaque is a biofilm that contains bacteria which causes gingivitis. Over time, plaque hardens, forming a substance known as tartar. Plaque and tartar lead to swollen, inflamed gums, along with bad breath.

Abscessed teeth are also common in dogs. These can result from bad periodontal disease, or from a fractured or worn tooth that allows bacteria to move up the canal in the middle of the tooth to the tip where it causes an abscess to form. These abscesses can also cause bad breath.

The best cure for bad breath is to prevent it before it happens. In order to best keep your pet’s breath under control, schedule a yearly dental check-up with your pet’s veterinarian. Veterinary organizations recommend annual dental exams and cleanings for pets.

Additionally, veterinary dentists recommend that pet owners brush their pet’s teeth on a daily basis. Brushing teeth is the best way to cut back on tartar buildup and help control bad breath.

Finally, give your pets access to safe chew toys. Chew toys not only help reduce your pet’s stress level and eliminate boredom, but these toys can help to reduce tartar buildup. Be sure to use a chew toy approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Chew toys that are too soft are a danger because pieces may be swallowed causing an obstruction. Chew toys that are too hard, such as nylon, bones, and antlers break teeth. Rope toys can cause threads to get caught between the teeth.

Source:

American Animal Hospital Association, “AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.” 2014.

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  • "The staff are always very good- friendly, caring and efficient and always follow up to see if there are any questions or new developments. I always feel that my pets are both well cared for and cared about. Thank you for all of your help."
    -Scott Farnsworth
  • "For a first time Dog owner, I am extremely grateful that the clinic answers all of our questions and ensures our puppy is growing in a healthy manner. All of the staff are nothing short of Wonderful!"
    -Andy Donovan
  • "North Shore's staff is extremely friendly and knowledeable. They go above and beyond to make their furry patients feel safe and calm. My dog is extremely cooperative and happy while she is in their care. I highly recommend their services."
    -Erica Frazier
  • "We have been coming to North Shore for at least 15 years. Our cats have always been treated with respect and kindness. From the moment we step through the doors, we are treated as guests!"
    -Terry Preischel
  • "As a new pet owner, I had lots of questions. The staff answered all of my questions. The staff was so friendly and kind to myself, dog and children. I was expecting to feel uncomfortable as a new pet owner, but my first visit was beyond my expectations."
    -Erica Pie