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Ask the Vet - Stinky Breath Woes

Dr Lukic, DVM: Have you ever had your dog enthusiastically show their devotion with wet kisses or

has your cat licked your face gently while cuddling on the sofa, only to find that instead of thinking about how sweet and special the moment is, you are completely repulsed by their horrible, stinky

breath? You are not alone. Bad breath, or halitosis as it is medically known, is one of the most common concerns pet owners have.

Dogs and cats can have bad breath for a number of reasons. Certainly, the fact that most don’t brush their teeth everyday can negatively affect the odor of their breath, and some are not the most discerning in their eating and drinking habits. (Ever have a pet who is fond of drinking toilet water or snagging a questionable “snack” they find while outside on a walk?) However, bad breath can also be a sign of a potentially serious underlying medical condition.

If you find that your dog or cat’s kisses are more offensive than cute because of bad breath, you should have it checked out by your veterinarian who can help identify the source of the problem. Poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease are the most common causes of bad breath in dogs and cats. Scheduling a dental examination and professional cleaning by a veterinarian followed by routine oral home care, such as regular teeth brushing, rinses, or dental treats and diets can often quickly improve the odor coming from their mouth as well as address other potential dental problems.


If upon examination, your dog or cat’s teeth and gums are in relatively good condition, your vet may suggest further tests to diagnose potential underlying conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, respiratory illness, oral injury, or viral infections.


Getting to the source of the problem and treating it with the help of your veterinarian will get you on the fast track to fully enjoying all your pet’s displays of affection, including all those wonderful licks and kisses!

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