How to Deal with your Cat or Dog’s Bad Breath

We all know pet owners love to cuddle with their cat or dog. When we want to be close with our pet, a cat or dog’s bad breath is something that can make any owner certainly gag! Even though your pet may think you appreciate a big wet kiss, if they have a bad odor coming from their mouth, that may be the last thing you want to have.

Causes of Odor from a Pet’s Mouth

Dogs and cats naturally have oral bacteria that lives in their mouths. A cat has different populations and strains of bacteria that inhabit their mouths as compared to a dog. The medical term for a cat or dog’s bad breath is halitosis. Sometimes a pet can develop halitosis if they have periodontal infections along the gumline and infected teeth. Cats and dogs develop plaque buildup, some breeds worse than others. Another reason for cat or dog’s bad breath is that a pet may also be developing a metabolic disease other than just bad dental disease.

Prevention of Your Cat or Dog’s Bad Breath

Here are some ways to help prevent bad breath in your cat or dog:

Teeth Brushing
If your pet can be trained, we advise owners to brush their pet’s teeth on a regular basis with a pet friendly toothpaste. Ideally, the more this is done, it can reduce the bacteria in a pet’s mouth that causes odors and buildup of plaque.

Water Additives
Sometimes pets are not amenable to allowing their teeth to be brushed. Water additives are products that can be added to a pet’s water source to help reduce the amount of bacteria in their mouth. Please seek veterinary recommended water additives, as some may have xylitol or other flavors that may not be healthy for a pet. If you choose to use a water additive, you will also need to leave out an untreated water bowl so your pet always has fresh water available to avoid any dehydration.

Oral Dental Diets
There are prescription based dental health diets that are available to be fed along with a pet’s normal diet. The kibble has antimicrobial properties that when chewed help decrease the bacteria in a pet’s mouth that can be a source of bad odor.

Dental Chews
Dental chews or treats are very similar to the concept of oral health diets. In certain dental chews, there are properties that can help reduce the bacteria in a pet’s mouth to help decrease plaque build up. When used often, it can help lower bad breath in between physical exams and dental cleaning procedures. While there are a ton of options for dental chews, please ask us which ones we recommend and why to help narrow your selection.

Routine Dental Cleanings
By having routine dental cleanings done over the course of your pet’s lifetime, this will dramatically keep them healthier longer. By scaling and polishing their teeth, we can keep oral bacteria down that would otherwise cause bacteria to be able to enter their bloodstream. If bacteria makes it into an animal’s bloodstream, it can affect heart valves or be able to cause a widespread infection called septicemia. We also know a healthy mouth is much more comfortable for a pet. We hope by having routine dental cleanings, a pet can avoid tooth root abscesses or excessive dental extractions.

Signs Your Pet Needs a Teeth Cleaning


By having routine veterinary exams done annually, we can check to see if your pet has periodontal infections present. Sometimes in between exams, you will need to check if your pet develops any of the following:
➔ bad breath
➔ dropping food or an inability to chew their food,
➔ drooling in excess
➔ painful mouth
➔ swollen or bleeding gums
➔ dental calculus along the gumline of teeth
➔ swelling on the outside of their face

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please call us at (513) 506-1030 to make an appointment. Once an exam has been done, we may recommend a dental cleaning procedure. We also may need to do bloodwork to make sure your pet is healthy before we are able to consider anesthesia. We get the best views of their mouth while they are under general anesthesia so we can do a thorough oral health procedure.

Additionally, we may need to take dental x-rays to see what is going on under the gum line. It helps guide us in what teeth are affected and need treated accordingly.