Bad Breath

Many owners complain that their pets have bad breath, or halitosis. Below, we have listed some common causes. This list is not all inclusive so please call our office if you have any questions.

Dental disease: Most of our patients do not get daily teeth brushings or dental care. However, plaque and bacteria build up in the mouth very quickly. Over time, this will cause redness and swelling of the gums. As time goes on, the gums recede and the bones around the teeth become affected. At this point, we can start to see abscesses form around the teeth. Bad breath is evident through all of these stages. When there is enough gum and bone recession, bacteria get into the bloodstream and can have adverse effects on the heart, liver and kidney. Ideally, patients should have a dental cleaning and polishing twice a year, just like us (and we brush and floss daily!). 

Oral ulcers: Some common causes of ulcers are ingesting caustic chemicals, oral trauma from chewing on rough items/surfaces or from kidney disease. We have seen ulcers in patients who have chewed on electric wires and electrocuted themselves. These can be very painful. Treatment is aimed at the underlying cause, pain control and an oral treatment for the ulcers. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Oral foreign body: We have commonly seen grass awns/foxtails in the tonsils, back of the throat or wedged around teeth. We recently had a patient who presented for bad breath and we removed a blade of grass from the nose/back of the throat. We have also seen sticks and/or bones wedged across the hard palate, between the teeth. The longer these stay in the oral cavity, the more likely they are to cause bad breath. Treatment is aimed at removal of the foreign material, antibiotics and pain control. 

Kidney disease: As kidney failure progresses and the kidney is no longer able to filter out "toxins", these will build up in the bloodstream (uremia) and cause a distinct foul odor to the pet's breath. Treatment is aimed at controlling the underlying kidney disease. 

In order to determine the cause of bad breath, a thorough exam and patient history are performed. Please call our office if you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment to have your pet's bad breath evaluated.


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