Recently, while driving in the car with my friend’s small dog, who was sitting in my lap, I noticed a very pungent odor. My first thoughts were that maybe it was something from outside (as the windows were down) but then as little Fido turned his head, I realized that his mouth was the culprit.
I then asked my friend the same thing I am asking you now….Have you ever smelled your dog’s, or for that matter your cat’s, breath? I realize this is a strange question to ask and the answer could vary from “No” to “It’s hard not to”.
What do we know about bad breath or Halitosis?
- It stinks!
- It can be caused by bacteria and sometimes diet.
- It can be a warning sign for a serious medical problem.
- Typically it’s preventable with routine dental care.
Smells aside, bad pet breath is not something to ignore.
Understanding what causes bad pet breath is the key to preventing it! After a pet eats, bacteria in the mouth bond with food particles forming plaque. In a few days, plaque remaining on the teeth hardens, turning into tartar. Tartar irritates the gums causing pockets where bacteria build up infecting the delicate gum tissue and even rotting teeth. The bad breath you smell is a direct result of the infection.
What most owners don’t know is that halitosis can also be a sign of a serious medical problems, like periodontal disease or oral or systemic infection. These infections, left untreated, can shorten our pet’s lives and diminish their quality of life.
What can you do?
To start, if your pet already has bad breath, take a look inside their mouth. If you see reddened or swollen gums, yellowish-brown tartar build up, or broken or chipped teeth, it’s time for a trip to the vet.