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Cat and Dog Bad Breath

Poor Oral Care Leads to Dog Breath...and Worse

Just as in people, good oral health care is also extremely important for dogs and cats. It helps to not only preserve teeth, but it also can have a dramatic impact on their overall health. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, roughly 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of three start to show signs of some sort of oral disease such as cat or dog bad breath, periodontal disease and oral pain.

Why is this? One reason is that pet owners have not been properly educated on the benefits of good oral health care and how to manage their pets oral hygiene. Ever since cats and dogs have become domesticated, their oral health has changed dramatically. They no longer receive the benefits of the flossing action of the meat of their prey. Current diets of soft canned food and dry food have forever altered the natural benefits of consuming their prey in the wild.

Marketing by pet food companies has also changed pet owner's perception on oral health. People have come to the unfortunate conclusion that dry pet food will take care of removing the plaque from dog's and cat's teeth. Dry food does help, but the scrapping action does not always reach into the areas susceptible to periodontal disease. Animals also have a tendency to 'gulp' down their food and not always chew it completely.


How bad can these diseases be?

If left untreated, oral diseases in pets can lead to further health problems. These types of diseases can also affect your pet's immune system which in turn lowers their resistance and their ability to fight other diseases and infections.

Cat Teeth CleaningIt all starts with a build up of plaque. Saliva and food particles start the formation of plaque on teeth which attracts bacteria, food particles and other oral debris. Calcium in the saliva and minerals in drinking water soon turn the plaque into tarter, a yellow and/or brownish colored build up on teeth. This hardened tarter can form quickly in the natural small pockets where an animal's gums meet their teeth (called the gingival sulcus). This is the most important area to keep clean. If this tarter is not removed from the tooth it can eventually build up and cause the gums to separate from the tooth which in turn allows more bacteria and food to accumulate.

This build up can quickly cause periodontal disease which is a disease that affects the gums and tissue that supports the tooth to the jaw (known as the periodontal ligament). This disease causes red, swollen and receding gums. Pain, bleeding gums, bad breath and eventual tooth loss accompany periodontal disease.

Bacteria can now enter the bloodstream through these infected areas as well as the periodontal ligament. This bacteria can cause problems and serious infections in the kidneys, liver and heart.

Routine brushing can remove the softer plaque, but once plaque hardens into tartar, or calculus, it must be scrapped off the tooth. Acidic conditions in the mouth can help to soften the tarter, but it can only be removed by scraping. Dry food, therefore, can only do so much to help reduce plaque and tarter


Warning Signs

Rex with toothacheHere are a few of the warning signs to look out for:

  • signs of oral pain, especially when eating
  • bad breath
  • not eating properly
  • pawing at their jaw or mouth
  • depression
  • yellow and/or brown colored build up on teeth
  • inflamed, reddened, puffy or bleeding gums

The good thing is that oral health problems can easily be controlled and prevented. By starting a good oral health routine for your dog and cat you can begin a life-long program that will keep them healthy, happy and possibly around for a few more years.


See our products page for solutions to your pet's oral health needs.