You love spending time with your pet, snuggling on the couch, giving him hugs, maybe even leaning your cheek against his--until he turns his face toward yours and you get a big whiff of his breath. Whew! Why does his breath smell so bad, and how can you make it smell sweeter?
In almost all cases, bad breath in dogs and cats indicates that something is amiss with the pet's health. Also known as halitosis, bad breath is caused by bacteria that build up in your pet's mouth, stomach or lungs. The bad smell can mean something is wrong with your pet's teeth, kidneys, liver or gastrointestinal tract. For that reason, if your pet has persistent bad breath, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.
Causes of Bad Breath
One of the most common causes of bad breath in pets is dental problems, including gum disease. Just as in humans, regular dental care is important for dogs and cats to help prevent long-term buildup of plaque and tartar on the pet's teeth. Bacteria can lodge in the buildup, causing gum disease--and producing bad breath.
Other causes of bad breath include:
- Diabetes: If you notice sweet or fruity smells in your pet's breath, have your vet check your pet for diabetes. Other symptoms may include more frequent drinking and urination.
- Kidney disease: A symptom of this condition in your dog or cat is breath that smells like urine.
- Liver problems: Foul breath accompanied by vomiting and lack of appetite could signal this condition in your pet.
Treating Bad Breath
Because dental problems typically cause most cases of bad breath, the symptom usually clears up after the animal receives a professional teeth cleaning. You can help your dog or cat keep his fresh smelling breath by regularly brushing your pet's teeth and scheduling annual cleanings (just like you do for yourself!)
Bad breath also can be the result of allergic reactions to certain ingredients in your pet's food, so a switch to a different formula can help sweeten the air. Properly treating a gastrointestinal issue also can lead to sweeter breath.
For the more serious conditions listed above, your vet may recommend different types of treatment. As your pet regains his good health, you likely will notice an improvement in the smell of his breath.
You can take steps at home to make sure your pet's breath continues to smell pleasant. Follow some of these tips:
- Schedule regular checkups with your vet to make sure your pet is in top health.
- Make sure your pet has his teeth cleaned professionally at least once a year.
- Brush your pet's teeth regularly.
- Feed your dog or cat a high-quality, easy-to-digest food, and monitor him for food-related allergy symptoms.
- Provide your dog with safe chew toys.
- As part of a healthy, balanced diet, consider giving your pet high-quality treats formulated to make your pet's breath smell better.
- Some natural remedies can combat bad breath in pets, but check with your vet first before giving them to your pet.