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Why Does My Pet's Breath Smell?

Bad breath in pets is not uncommon, but have you ever wondered why it happens and what you can do about it? The answer lies in the often overlooked aspect of their healthcare—dental care.

Just like humans, cats and dogs require regular dental treatments to maintain optimal oral health. While it may be easy to dismiss bad breath as a minor inconvenience, the truth is that it can be a sign of underlying dental problems that can significantly impact their overall well-being.

Causes of Bad Breath

Just like humans, pets should have clean and odourless breath when their oral health is in good condition. A healthy mouth consists of clean teeth, pink gums and minimal plaque or tartar buildup.

1. Plaque and tartar buildup. Over time, bacteria in the mouth combine with food particles, saliva and dead cells, forming a sticky film called plaque. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar, which can lead to bad breath. The buildup of plaque and tartar provides a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in foul odours.

2. Gum disease (gingivitis). When plaque and tartar accumulate along the gumline, it irritates the gums, leading to inflammation and gingivitis. Inflamed gums can be red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. The bacteria present in gingivitis can produce unpleasant odours, causing persistent bad breath.

3. Tooth decay or infection. Cavities or infected teeth can emit foul odours as bacteria thrive within the decayed or infected areas. This can contribute to persistent bad breath that cannot be resolved without professional dental care.

4. Other underlying health issues. In some cases, bad breath may be an indication of an underlying health problem beyond dental issues. Conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, or even certain cancers can manifest as foul breath. It's crucial to consult with our vets to determine the root cause of persistent bad breath.

Potential Risks of Ignoring Bad Breath

While bad breath may seem like a minor inconvenience, ignoring your pet’s dental care can lead to significant risks and consequences, including:

1. Chronic pain and discomfort. Dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay or oral infections can cause persistent pain and discomfort for your pet. They may experience difficulty eating, chewing, or even playing.

2. Tooth loss and difficulty eating. Untreated dental problems can lead to tooth loss. Missing teeth can make it challenging for them to chew their food properly, leading to nutritional deficiencies or even malnutrition. They may also develop aversions to certain foods due to pain or discomfort, further complicating their dietary intake.

3. Increased risk of infections and other health problems. Oral infections, when left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body, affecting vital organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and potentially lead to systemic infections. Additionally, poor oral health has been associated with an increased risk of other health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

4. Higher veterinary expenses in the long run. Neglecting dental care may result in more extensive and costly treatments down the line. When dental issues are left untreated, they often worsen over time, requiring more invasive procedures, such as tooth extractions or oral surgeries. By investing in regular dental treatments, you can prevent the progression of dental problems and potentially save on future veterinary expenses.

Home Care

In addition to regular dental treatments from a veterinarian, there are several proactive steps you can take to promote good oral hygiene for your pet, including:

1. Brushing their teeth regularly. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a finger brush specifically designed for pets, along with toothpaste formulated for animals. Introduce toothbrushing gradually, starting with gentle touches to get them accustomed to the process. Aim to brush your pet's teeth at least two to three times per week.

2. Dental diets, treats and toys. These products are designed to remove plaque and tartar, providing a form of mechanical cleaning for their teeth. Choose treats and toys that are appropriate for your pet's size and chewing habits.

3. Dental rinses or water additives. Dental rinses and water additives can help reduce bacteria in your pet's mouth and freshen their breath. These products can be added to their drinking water or used directly as a rinse.

It’s important to recognise that dental care is not just about freshening your pet's breath, but about ensuring their long-term health and well-being. Regular dental treatments from a veterinarian are crucial to preventing and addressing dental issues promptly.

To launch Dental Month, for the months of August & September we will be providing FREE dental checks for your pets by our nurses.

At this FREE check your pet will:

  • have a dental assessment and be provided with an assessment form

  • receive tailored advice to keep their mouths and thus health in tip-top shape

  • receive a FREE dental sample

To book, please call us on 9568 2211.


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