Dogs and cats are notorious for having stinky breath, and owners are used to the distinctive odors emanating from their pet’s mouths. Those of us who have had our pets since they were young may fondly remember the sweet smell of that puppy or kitten breath. However, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that certain things simply change as our pets get older. After all, bad breath in pets is normal, right?
Not So Fast
The reality is, foul breath is not natural for pets. In fact, it’s most commonly-related to periodontal disease (although other health problems can sometimes be to blame).
It’s easy to forget that pets are at risk for many of the same health conditions as humans. By the time most pets are 3 years old, the majority of dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth combine with food particles to form plaque, a sticky substance that coats the teeth. Over time, the plaque hardens into a hard, mineralized buildup known as tartar. Eventually, tartar will lead to inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth.
Without treatment, this can lead to intense pain and tooth loss. As bacteria migrates from the mouth into the bloodstream, damage to the internal organs can also occur.
Open Up and Say “Ahhh!”
Chances are you don’t look inside your pet’s mouth very often – especially if they have bad breath! At Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, our team is here to help. Simply bring your pet in for their regularly scheduled wellness visit, and your veterinarian will perform an oral examination, ensuring your pet doesn’t have any underlying conditions that may be contributing to stinky breath. We will also provide recommendations for at-home and follow-up care.
In addition to icky breath, there are several other signs your pet may be suffering from periodontal disease, including:
- Obvious tartar buildup
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Loose or broken teeth
- Excessive pawing at the mouth
- Swollen jaw
- Change in eating habits
Combating Bad Breath in Pets
Fortunately, bad breath in pets and periodontal disease are entirely preventable. Daily toothbrushing is the single most effective way to ward off dental disease. Although it may take some time and commitment, most pets learn to tolerate or even enjoy this daily attention. Your veterinarian is happy to provide plenty of tips and tricks to get you started.
Most pets also require comprehensive dental exams and cleanings on a regular basis to maintain good oral health, especially those who are middle-aged or older. Remember, in-depth exams and cleanings require anesthesia. This allows us to examine the entire mouth, take digital x-rays (60% of dental disease occurs below the gum line), and thoroughly descale and polish each tooth.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about pet dental care or to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.