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What can I do about my cat's bad breath?

Is your cat's bad breath driving a wedge between you? Today, our Davidson County vets explain common causes of bad breath in cats and provide options for cat bad breath treatment so you and your favorite feline can get cuddling again.

Why does my cat's breath smell?

We all know that stinky breath is common in dogs but it might surprise you to learn that it is also common in our feline family members. In fact,  'Why does my cat's breath smell?" is a question our vets often hear from concerned pet parents.

Of course, as with dogs and people, cats can have bad breath for reasons ranging from eating smelly food to dental concerns and other more serious health conditions. This is why a trip to the vet for diagnosis of the cause is important.

An appointment with your veterinarian could help prevent a dental issue from becoming more severe or diagnose a serious health condition in its earliest stages (when it is more easily treated or managed).

Can dental disease cause cat bad breath?

While most pet parents do all they can to provide their feline family members with the very best care, some aspects of cat care can easily be forgotten, such as the need for regular dental care. Neglected oral healthcare means that the majority of cats experience some form of dental disease by the time they are three years old. 

Each time your cat eats they are exposing their teeth to food particles and bacteria that can cause various dental conditions. This bacteria needs to be cleaned away daily otherwise it will harden into tartar due to the minerals that are present in the cat's saliva.

As if tartar isn't a big enough problem on its own, there are also bacteria on the teeth and in the mouth that can travel throughout the body causing heart and kidney disease. This tartar is also the most common cause of gum recession and can result in your cat's teeth falling out. All of these things can result in your cat not only being in pain but also experiencing some very bad breath.

Some common symptoms of these conditions might include: 

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Redness of the mouth and gums
  • Behavioral changes
  • Inability to eat or lack of appetite

The only way to accurately diagnose and treat these conditions is by bringing your cat to your veterinarian for an oral examination. The treatment that your cat requires will be dependent on the condition that they are experiencing but some of the possible treatment options may include dental cleanings, tooth extractions, antibiotics, and potential dietary changes.

Why does my cat's breath smell?

If your cat has bad breath there is a chance that it is being caused by a more serious condition not directly related to their mouth. Some of the other conditions that can lead to bad breath in cats include:

  • Ulcers and sores
  • Kidney disease
  • Abscess or infection
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Teething
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Diet 
  • Infections
  • Cancer

Due to the wide range of potential conditions that can cause bad breath, it will always be recommended to bring your cat in for a checkup if they are experiencing bad breath, especially if it is ongoing. 

What can I do to get rid of cat bad breath?

Before you can treat your cat's bad breath the underlying cause first needs to be determined. Once your vet has pinpointed the cause of your kitty's bad breath they will be able to explain how to get rid of your cat's bad breath and provide treatment if necessary.

Are there any at-home cat bad breath treatments?

Establishing some key oral healthcare habits while your feline friend is young can help to prevent painful oral health problems that are common in cats such as tooth resorption, while also keeping your kitty's breath fresh. An effective oral hygiene routine for cats includes brushing their teeth regularly, providing them with high-quality dental treats and taking your cat to the vet for annual dental exams and cleanings.

How do I brush my cat's teeth?

You should begin with a regular brushing routine from an early age if possible to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.

This can be done by purchasing a special toothbrush that makes brushing cats' teeth easier and if that doesn't work at first you could try using your finger to brush the teeth until your cat becomes accustomed to the process. At the very least brushing should happen multiple times a week and should become easier the more often you do it.

Does my cat need to see the dentist?

It is also recommended that your cat get a dental checkup and routine cleaning at least once a year to get all of the hard-to-reach plaque and tartar and to help spot potential dental concerns early.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has persistent bad breath, contact our Davidson County vets, to book an urgent exam for your feline family member.

Bengal cat, walking through garden, looking into camera.

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