A Breath of Fresh Air: How to Correct Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats and Keep Your Pet's Mouth Smelling Sweet
Unfortunately, too many pets suffer from halitosis and this can often stem from poor dental hygiene. In fact, according to the Veterinary Clinics of North America, periodontal disease (which attacks the gum and bone around the teeth) affects 80% of dogs over the age of two.
Let’s take a look at what causes bad breath in dogs and cats and what can you do about it.
One Cause of Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats: Dental Degradation
Typically bad breath stems from dental problems, so start brushing your pet’s teeth.
Begin doing this when your pet is a puppy or kitten to get them used to it, says Dean Severidt DVM, a veterinarian of 30 years. Start with a tooth or two and gradually build up to the entire mouth.
Concentrate on the outer surfaces of the teeth, because that’s where the plaque and tartar build up is, says Dr. Bert Gaddis, DVM.
If you use a toothbrush, you can use any type (human or pet), but Severidt cautions that if you use a human brush, select a soft one because animals’ gums bleed easily. For the same reason, always be very gentle. And don’t use human toothpaste—the fluoride is too much for an animal's system.
A cloth wrapped around your finger is another good way to wipe food off your pet’s teeth. Also available are rubber finger covers with bristles.
If you simply can’t brush your pet’s teeth, there are dental hygiene toys and treats that are designed to mimic tooth-brushing. Greenies makes a variety to choose from.
Diet is also another factor in pet's oral odor; so you can try changing what you feed them. “Feeding them whole carrots for some reason freshens up a dog’s mouth,” says Severidt.
Also, consider switching to dry food. This is better for pet's teeth because it helps knock off the plaque and tartar buildup.
It’s rare that foods contribute to bad breath although sometimes fishy foods and fish oils can cause an unpleasant odor.
See a Professional
All dogs should have their teeth professionally cleaned by a vet. If they only eat dry food, they probably don’t need their teeth cleaned until they are around five years old, says Severidt.
If they eat wet food their teeth should be cleaned closer to the age of two or three. But, he cautions, “Don’t do it until it’s necessary and it’s necessary when your pet has bad breath. ”
For cats, says Bruce Muller, who works with a healthcare company called SmartPractice, get their teeth cleaned at around 18 months. After the first visit, take your cat for a cleaning about once a year.
But look regularly at your pet’s teeth at home so you know what looks normal and can quickly spot any problems.
Correcting Bad Breath in Your Dog or Cat and Maintaining Oral Health Could Mean a Long Life for Your Pet
Watching pets’ breath and their oral health is not only going to make things easier on your nose, but can also mean their liver, kidneys and heart remain healthier longer. If they have to handle high levels of bacteria from their teeth, their organ function declines prematurely.
So by maintaining oral health, you can actually extend the life of your sweet-smelling pet by at least five years.