Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common problem in cats. While it may seem like bad breath is to be expected in pets, it could actually be a sign of a serious problem. Halitosis is one of the most common symptoms associated with periodontal disease and, if left untreated, it can become very severe. To preserve your cat’s dental health, take the time to learn the basics about the causes of bad breath in cats, as well as some tips for treatment and prevention.
Causes of Halitosis
Your cat’s breath should not necessarily be minty fresh, but bad breath could be a sign of a dental problem. Bad breath can be caused by a number of different things but, in many cases, it is the result of a buildup of bacteria in the cat’s mouth. Halitosis may also be an indication of gum or dental disease caused by a buildup of plaque or tartar on your cat’s teeth and under his gums.
Serious chronic (or long-lasting) bad breath may even be an indication of a medical problem involving the respiratory system, the liver, kidneys, or the gastrointestinal tract.
In order to determine the cause of your cat’s bad breath, your veterinarian will need to perform a routine exam.
Your vet will check your cat’s mouth for signs of plaque and tartar buildup, and he may even run some blood tests to rule out medical causes of bad breath. In cases of severe halitosis that are linked to dental disease, your vet may need to take x-rays of your cat’s mouth to see if there is any damage below the gum line. When you take your cat in, be prepared to answer questions about his diet, activity levels, and behavior.
If your cat has exhibited any unusual symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or pawing at the mouth, be sure to tell your vet.
Tips for Treatment and Prevention
The treatment options for bad breath in cats vary according to the cause. If your cat has dental disease due to the buildup of plaque and tartar, a dental cleaning may be necessary – you will also likely need to brush your cat’s teeth on occasion after the cleaning to prevent the problem from happening again.
If your veterinarian discovers any damage to the teeth from the x-rays, treatment may also involve extraction of the damaged teeth.
If your cat’s bad breath is caused by some kind of medical issue, treatment will be specific to that particular condition.
To help protect your cat against dental disease, and to prevent bad breath, you should make sure you take your cat in for regular check-ups and dental cleanings. Brushing your cat’s teeth at home is also a great way to preserve his dental health – it only takes a few minutes and your cat should get used to it after you do it a few times. This short video is a good introduction to brushing your cats teeth:
Switching your cat's food to a dental health diet may help to prevent bad breath and there are also certain treats that promote oral hygiene and dental health. If you have questions about your cat’s diet, talk to your veterinarian.
Preventing dental disease in your cat is much easier than treating it, so take the time to make a few changes to your cat's routine to help preserve his dental health. A few minutes of your time each day could make the difference between your cat developing a serious health problem or remaining healthy and happy.