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Could Your Pet's Bad Breath Be a Sign of a More Serious Health Issue?

Updated: Jul 4

Our furry companions bring endless joy to our lives, but let's face it – cuddling isn't so appealing when your pet's breath could knock over a chair! While occasional bad breath is par for the course, if your pet's breath consistently leaves something to be desired, it might be hinting at more serious issues beneath the surface.

Dog kissing a woman

Picture this: your pet's mouth is home to a plethora of various bacteria, producing those infamous "bad breath" odors. However, chronic bad breath might stem from deeper sources like tooth decay, infections, gum disease, or even poor oral hygiene.

Concerned? Read on for more information on understanding and addressing the issue.

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Get to the Vet

If your four-legged friend's breath is causing you to reconsider close encounters, a trip to the veterinarian is likely in order. A dental exam can work wonders. Your vet will comb through your pet's pearly whites, searching for dental dilemmas such as decay, tartar, and other culprits contributing to the unwelcome odor. Regular check-ups are key – at least once a year is ideal.

Oral Disease

Dr. Jose Arce, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), warns that "Oral disease is one of the most frequently diagnosed health problems for our dogs and cats, and it can have serious consequences for our pets' health."

Person examining a dogs teeth

An often stealthy villain, periodontal disease is a commonly undetected bacterial infection that sneaks up on our pets as early as age three. Advanced periodontal disease can cause serious health problems and pain for your pet! Its reach isn't limited to the mouth; it can affect the kidneys, liver, and heart too. It's like a nosy neighbor overstaying their welcome – you might see a bit of the mess, but the real chaos is hidden.

9 Tips to Help Prevent Periodontal Disease in your Pets

Tackling this foe early is like investing in your pet's future – it saves both health and wealth. Ready to be a prevention pro? Take notes!

Person brushing a dog's teeth

  1. Brush Daily: Make it a routine with approved pet toothpaste (Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste is my go-to). They've got formulations for both cats and dogs. Or check out the low-cost DIY recipe below.

  2. Treat Them Right: Explore vet-approved dental treats.

  3. Chew Champions: Equip your pet with size-appropriate chew toys – they're like workout buddies for their teeth!

  4. Raw Meaty Bones: Controlled, supervised munching on raw meaty bones appropriate for their size i.e. chicken wing tips for cats and chicken wings or necks for dogs can work wonders. Note: never give your pet cooked bones!!

  5. Mouth Magic: Try vet-approved mouthwash or water additives.

  6. Regular Check-ins: Keep an eye out for sneaky tartar buildup.

  7. Vet Visits: At least once a year, make that dental checkup date.

  8. Probiotic Power: A probiotic-rich diet or supplement can keep those teeth in tiptop shape.

  9. Hydration Nation: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – fresh, filtered water is the secret sauce.

small dog eating a dental treat

Imagine if you only visited the dentist twice a year but skipped brushing in between – gross, right? A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry revealed that only two percent of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth daily.

Likewise, a survey of pet owners revealed that only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats receive dental care from the vet. Imagine the state of your teeth without a dentist's touch!

DIY Pet Toothpaste

Try this homemade toothpaste recipe to kickstart your pet's dental journey:

  • 5 tbsp Organic Coconut Oil

  • 2 tsp Baking Soda

  • 4 drops PURE Peppermint essential oil (Optional - Skip for cats!) – Note: be sure to use a high-quality essential oil such as Young Living, not something from the local drug store

  • 2 tsp Dried Parsley (optional)

  • Mix, store in a glass jar, and use within a month.

DIY Dog toothpaste

Brushing Basics

You can check out this video on brushing your dog’s and cat’s teeth. Note: I don’t agree with the use of rawhide as it can be a choking hazard.

Brushing their teeth is a cinch once they're on board. Take it slow, be patient, and adjust to their comfort. You can use pet toothbrushes or even a child's brush. For feline friends, a small piece of gauze with toothpaste is my secret weapon.

Enzymatic toothpaste on guaze

To wrap it up, don't jump to conclusions – bad breath isn't always pointing to an infection. More often than not, it's those sneaky bacteria in the mouth building up plaque and possibly sparking periodontal disease.

Prevention is your ultimate ally! And remember, it's never too late to start. If you suspect your pet may have issues with plaque or tartar, take them in to get a dental exam and cleaning. Then start an at-home regimen to maintain a clean, healthy mouth.

Have you been the toothbrush whisperer for your pet? Let me know in the comments if you're ready to tackle the bad breath challenge!

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