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It’s More Than Just Bad Breath

It’s just Dog and Cat Breath. What’s all the Fuss About?

Do you ever turn your nose up to your pet’s breath? Is it hard to sit next to them with the odor of their breath? Bad breath or halitosis is certainly not limited to humans and can affect dogs and cats. While humans are typically aware of bad breath, our pets are oblivious when their breath smells atrocious. This poses a big problem as halitosis can be due to some major dental disease and we as owners are responsible for the oral health care of our pets.

What causes halitosis?Halitosis is the result of odor-producing bacteria that build up in your pet’s mouth, lungs or gut. While we may think that the root of bad breath is always in the mouth, it could be a sign of a more major problem with the liver, kidneys or gastrointestinal tract. Regardless, halitosis is the result of bacteria build-up, saliva and food that have contributed to plaque. If left untreated, this build-up over time can result in an infection affecting the gums and surrounding tissues of the teeth and cause the breath to worsen.

What do I do if my pet has halitosis?First, don’t panic! There are lots of remedies and help available. The best thing you can do is make an appointment with our office for a physical exam and comprehensive oral exam.  Our patients’ dental health is regularly discussed each time we see them at our office, regardless of what they come in for.  Because we advocate dental care as a preventative for your pet’s continued good health, we have attempted to make the cost of our canine and feline dental packages affordable all year round, not just in February, which is “Pet Dental Health Month”.  Dental procedures should be routinely done on all cats and dogs as a preventative, yet many owners only consider doing them when it is required as a treatment for a particular problem.  By reducing the cost on our dental cleanings, we hope we can help you manage your pet’s oral health before serious treatment for high-grade periodontal disease becomes an issue.

What treatment will be done for my cat and dog with halitosis?If a complete dental cleaning is warranted, and there are no problems on the initial exam or pre-anesthetic blood work, then a cleaning under anesthesia will be scheduled. A dental cleaning under anesthesia begins with a thorough oral exam, dental radiographs, and routine scaling/polishing of all the teeth. The examination and radiographs may reveal more significant concerns that may require further treatment. If abnormalities are found, such as fractured teeth, tooth root abscesses, etc., then extraction of those teeth may be recommended. Rinses, antibiotics, and pain medication may also be sent home to reduce discomfort, help clear infection, and allow for proper healing.

What can I do at home to help prevent/treat halitosis?There are many easy things you can do at home to help prevent halitosis. There are lots of choices of toothpaste and toothbrushes designed specifically for pet use; we recommend enzymatic toothpastes that help kill bacteria while they freshen breath and clean teeth. Pets need their teeth brushed just like humans and it is recommended to brush them once a day, no less often than at least 3 times a week.  Antibacterial rinses can help with bacterial load and in turn with halitosis (and they are easier to use than they sound!).  Chews can also be given daily to help with the mechanical removal of plaque. Some chews even contain antibacterial ingredients that can combat the bacterial load. Finally, some dental diets offer another option for removing plaque mechanically.  Our office is happy to let you know what we recommend for our patients and work with you to find the home-care method(s) that suit your lifestyle & pet best.

We recommend having a complete oral health exam performed every 6 months, but at least annually, as part of a general physical exam. Combining regular monitoring with proper dental care as recommended by our office will help prevent halitosis and severe dental disease from occurring.  Call us to schedule an appointment for your pet today!

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