Bad breath, medically termed "halitosis," is a common problem reported by pet owners. The most common cause of halitosis is
dental problems. Bacteria, saliva, and food particles can accumulate on the teeth and form plaque, which causes bad breath.
The plaque mineralizes and develops into
tartar, which contributes to inflammation of
the gums, called gingivitis. Gingivitis can progress
to periodontal disease, which causes irreparable
injury to the teeth and will make the breath even
more unpleasant. Remember, even though your
pet's mouth may look healthy, there still may be
problems. The visible portion of a tooth can look
normal even if the root is abscessed and causing
a foul odor. Although dental problems are the
chief culprit when it comes to bad breath, other
diseases can cause this condition, as well.
In addition to dental problems, other
causes of bad breath include:
||Diabetes mellitus or "sugar" diabetes - the breath
may have a "fruity" odor caused by breakdown
products of fat called ketones.
||Kidney disease - the bad breath is caused by an
accumulation of toxic substances normally filtered
out and eliminated by the kidneys.
||Gastrointestinal (digestive tract) disease including
cancers, obstructions, gastric reflux, inflammation
of the esophagus (esophagitis), inflammatory
bowel disease, and certain infections - the bad
breath may be a result of digestive contents,
unhealthy tissue, or a change in the bacteria
present in the intestinal tract causing abnormal
amounts of smelly gas.
||Infections of areas around the mouth, such as the
folds of the lips, can harbor bacteria and cause
tissue injury resulting in odor.
||Respiratory disease, for example, some sinus
infections or cancer involving the nasal passages
can contribute to an abnormal smell around
||Dietary "indiscretions," such as eating stool or
spoiled garbage can cause very bad breath.
||Other oral disease, such as tonsillitis, cancer,
trauma, and some autoimmune diseases result in
inflamed tissue, which can cause a disagreeable
odor. We've even seen a stick stuck crosswise
on the roof of the mouth between the premolars
(big back teeth) cause horrendous bad breath.
Any pet with bad breath should be examined by
a veterinarian, unless you know the bad breath
is caused by something the pet ate. Some
causes of bad breath can cause severe and even
fatal complications if not treated promptly.