If you’ve ever owned a cat or a dog, you’ve probably experienced at least one case of bad breath. The medical term for bad breath is halitosis, and it’s caused by bacteria that have taken up residence in your pet’s mouth, lungs, or gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria produce odor as they break down material in your dog’s or cat’s body. Usually, the presence of bacteria is normal, but other times it can be a sign that something is wrong.
Just like in humans, halitosis is often a symptom of gum or dental disease. Many dogs and cats are very prone to plaque and tartar buildup and are more likely to have bad breath. If your veterinarian determines that gum or dental disease is the issue, then your pet likely needs a professional cleaning.
Halitosis is a symptom of multiple diseases and disorders, and if your vet rules out oral disease, they may order x-rays, bloodwork and a full physical examination to determine the root cause. Once the cause has established, your veterinarian will recommend a course of action best suited for your pet.
Gum disease is the easiest to treat, and also the easiest to prevent. You should always feed your dog or cat high-quality food, ideally one designed to clean their teeth. Also, you should brush your pet’s teeth every day with specially-formulated toothpaste—human toothpaste can upset their stomachs. Your veterinarian has studied pet nutrition and will be able to make an excellent recommendation for a diet.
Most importantly, bring your pet in for regular checkups. Not only can your veterinarian give you advice on how best to care for your pet’s teeth, but they can also make sure a larger problem isn’t causing the halitosis. It is important to catch any medical problem as early as possible, and regular checkups will help make sure that any problem caught before it gets out of control.