Bad Breath Can Mean Dental Disease

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If your cat or dog has bad breath, it’s time to take action. 

Halitosis, or bad breath, is the result of tartar buildup on the teeth, which often leaves odor-producing bacteria behind. Small particles of food can remain in your pet’s mouth, even after he has eaten, and these particles break down, creating an environment where oral bacteria flourish.

What does it mean if my cat or dog has bad breath?

Bad breath is typically an indication of some form of dental or gum disease. Certain pets, such as small dogs like poodles or dachshunds, are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque sticks to the base of teeth, causing the gums to become inflamed and recede. If bad breath is chronic without the presence of plaque or gingivitis, it may also indicate other health problems, so it is wise to determine if there’s an underlying cause. A physical and dental examination, as well as lab work should be performed by your veterinarian. Take into consideration what your pet eats, his oral hygiene and exercise routine and overall behavior to be ready to answer your veterinarian’s questions.

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats, affecting 78% of dogs and 68% of cats over the age of 3. Early prevention measures, such as at-home care and annual professional teeth cleanings will help to reduce the frequency and severity of dental disease later in life. Professional cleanings are vital because they include measures you can’t take at home. These measures include a thorough examination of your pet’s teeth and gums, dental radiographs to evaluate the entire tooth and check for bone loss or abscesses, and the use of special tools to remove tartar from the teeth below the gum line. Be sure to read our dental care page for more information on professional cleanings.

What can I do to prevent my pet from getting dental disease?

  • At-home preventive care including brushing your pet’s teeth three times a week. Learn more about how to brush your cat or dog’s teeth at our Home Pet Dental Care page. 
  • Dental chews, water additives and specially formed dry pet food may also be used to help prevent tartar buildup.

Did you know?

Active Prevention and Special Care Optimum Wellness Plans® include annual dental cleanings for dogs and cats.

Learn more about how you can give your pet the preventive care he deserves by choosing a personalized Optimum Wellness Plan today.