Bad Breath in Pets

Halitosis, also called bad breath, is described as an offensive odour originating from the mouth of our pets. Bad breath is a very common reason pet owners bring their pets in to see us. Common causes may be related to the mouth or, occasionally, related to other more systemic health problems.

What causes bad breath in pets?

The most common cause of halitosis in our pets is periodontal disease. The unpleasant smell often results from bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria is attracted to the tooth surface within hours of cleaning the teeth. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralised producing calculus. Calculus is hard and needs to be removed under an anaesthetic using an ultrasonic dental scaler to remove it from our pet’s teeth. As plaque progresses, gums can become inflamed (gingivitis) sore and sometimes even bleed. If left unchecked, other undesirable changes can occur such as bone loss from the jaw.

Other causes of halitosis include:

• Endocrine (hormonal) disease such as diabetes (“sweet” smell to the breath)

• Kidney disease

• Gastrointestinal disease (some type of cancers, foreign bodies, motility issues);

• Skin disease (infections in the lip fold in some breeds of dogs)

• Dietary (eating fetid foodstuffs or eating stools);

• Oral disease not involving the teeth and gums (cancerous growths);

• Foreign bodies (bones, sticks, stones, socks, toys) or trauma

What to do if your pet has bad breath?

Periodontal disease is painful. Some dogs and cats will have problems chewing hard food, others will paw at their mouths. Unfortunately, most will not show any signs. Regular check-ups with your vet are a great way to identify if there are any issues with your pet’s teeth or gums. If your pet has overwhelming bad breath, call us on 9720 6877 to book an appointment.

How is halitosis treated?

Halitosis treatment depends on the cause. In most cases it is treatable and, as periodontal disease is the most common cause, professional teeth cleaning can often solve the problem. Occasionally tooth extraction is required.

How to prevent bad breath

Good oral hygiene is the key to healthy teeth and gums, and fresh breath. To prevent this, you can feed your pet a diet that is specially formulated to care for your pet’s dental health, or you could consider a dog or cat toothpaste and brush your pet’s teeth every day. There are also some excellent dental chews available but remember these must be used every day to be effective. Talk to us about the best option for your pet.