One of the most common complaints that animal guardians have, especially as their pets age, is the presence of halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath. Probably the most common cause of terrible breath in dogs and cats is the presence of disease of the teeth and gums, known as periodontal disease. It is estimated that over 80% of adult and senior pets have some significant degree of periodontal disease.
In addition to bad breath, pets may drool, have red or receding gums, difficulty eating or drinking, as well as swelling and sensitivity noted around the muzzle or mouth. Many of these pets will need ultrasonic scaling of their teeth and/or extraction of infected teeth, which is usually performed under general anesthesia. Most pets will also need follow up at-home dental care, including regular brushing and/or using various dental rinse products now available on the market.
Other causes of bad breath may include metabolic disease of the liver and/or kidneys which, because of the buildup of toxins in the body, may be often noted in the breath of affected animals. Bad breath may also result from diseases of the nasal passages/sinuses, as well as digestive tract imbalance, where a buildup of unhealthy bacteria may result in bad breath in affected patients.
It is for all of these potential reasons that any pets with terrible breath have a full veterinary and oral exam, as well as likely a full CBC/chemistry blood workup to assess for the various underlying causes of bad breath, and in order to implement an appropriate treatment plan.