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Pee-yoo! Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Pet’s Bad Breath


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Yikes! Is your dog’s or cat’s bad breath sending you for the hills? Research shows that over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by 3 years of age. Pet dental hygiene is a big issue – and bad breath shouldn’t be ignored.

In this article, we pinch our noses and leap into the causes of bad breath, why it’s so important to find out why it’s happening as soon as possible, and how to treat it. No going back now!

A cat yawning on top of a wicker basket, showcasing good pet dental hygiene.

Why does my dog/cat have bad breath?

Your dog or cat might have bad breath if they’ve eaten something yucky, but if it’s a persistent problem you need to get it checked out. Here are some possible causes:

Dental/gum disease

Bad breath in your dog or cat, medically known as halitosis, could mean that there’s something not quite right with their health.

The most common culprit is dental or gum disease. Just like in humans, plaque and tartar can build up on your pet’s teeth, leading to bad breath. If the plaque isn’t regularly removed, it can harden into tartar, potentially causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), tooth decay, or a tooth abscess.

Underlying health issues

But it’s not just dental issues that can lead to bad breath. Sometimes, persistent bad breath can signal more serious health problems elsewhere in the body, such as infections in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, or organs like the liver or kidneys. Diabetes in dogs and cats is another disease that can cause bad breath.

Their food

In some cases, the food your pet eats can also contribute to unpleasant breath. For example, certain diets or food items might not digest well, leading to bad breath as a side effect. That’s why good cat and dog gut health is so important.

A dog standing next to a swimming pool with fresh breath.

How to get rid of bad dog and cat breath fast

Getting rid of your cat or dog’s bad breath is all dependent on what caused it. If you’ve confirmed what’s causing the yucky smell, you can treat the issue with a few simple steps:

Brush, brush, brush!

First off, give their teeth a good clean. Brushing their pearly whites can significantly reduce cat/dog bad breath. Use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste – never use human toothpaste as it’s harmful to animals

We’ve got two handy guides for more on this:

Change their food

Next, consider their diet. Sometimes, what they eat is the culprit. Giving your pet healthy food should be helping them live healthier, longer lives.

We have a great article on choosing individualised science-backed cat and dog food. In it we also discuss the fifth vital sign – a nutrition assessment developed as part of a routine veterinary pet health check. Check it out, here: Why the Fifth Vital Sign is Key to Pet Nutrition.

Consider water additives

Water additives are another quick fix. They’re like mouthwash for dogs and can be added to your dog’s water bowl to freshen breath. Just make sure you choose a product specifically designed for dogs or cats.

Keep them out of the garbage!

Lastly, keep an eye on what they’re snacking on outside. It’s a stinky truth that dogs and cats can have a habit of eating things we wish they wouldn’t, which can lead to yucky breath.

Banish bad cat/dog bad breath with chews

Chewing is a natural way for pets to clean their teeth. Offer your pet chew toys or dental chews. These not only keep them busy but also help scrape away plaque and tartar build-up.

Speaking of chews, check out the below video from Dr Cath Watson, Kiwi vet, Healthy Pets New Zealand Chair, and a proud PD contributor, on rawhide chews for dogs:

Cat and dog bad breath – pet dental hygiene to help

As mentioned, it’s important to not ignore cat/dog bad breath, as it’s often a sign that they need a checkup from the vet.

Pet dental hygiene is all about taking care of your furry friend’s teeth and gums, just like how we look after our own dental health. You know how it’s super important for us to brush our teeth, floss, and visit the dentist regularly? Well, it’s pretty much the same for pets! In fact, it should be a part of your routine pet care – just like vaccinations and worming.

When we talk about pet dental hygiene, we’re mainly focusing on keeping their teeth clean and free from yucky stuff like plaque and tartar.

But it’s not just about the teeth. Good pet dental hygiene also means keeping an eye on their gums. Healthy gums should be nice and pink, not red or swollen. And let’s not forget about regular check-ups with the vet, who can spot any dental issues early on and give your pet the best care.

A cat yawns while sitting on a wooden table, showcasing pet dental hygiene.

Pet insurance with dental benefits

Treating serious dental conditions linked to cat/dog bad breath can be costly – which is why it’s so important to have a good pet insurance plan to offer you a soft landing. Does your pet insurance cover dental? It’s worth checking out our piece “Pet Dental Insurance: What’s Covered and What’s Not?” for more on this.

PD Insurance’s Deluxe dog insurance and cat insurance policy includes cover (up to the defined benefit limit) for:

  • Abscesses
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth removal where medically required, for:

– Cavities
– Tooth fracture
– Dental disease as a result of infection
– Retained deciduous teeth

Why not get a quick quote today? We’re pretty sure our rates will leave you with a toothy grin.

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