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Why Does My Cat's Breath Smell Bad?

Why Does My Cat's Breath Smell Bad?

Many pet owners think their cat's breath smelling bad is normal, but this is not the case. Here, our Redmond vets discuss bad breath in cats and how it can be managed and treated.

Reasons for Bad Breath in Cats

When thinking of bad breath in pets most people assume that it's only dogs that have this issue but it happens to cats. There are many reasons why a cat's breath may smell bad ranging from just plain old bad breath from eating to dental concerns and other more serious conditions. 

This makes it all the more important to bring your cat in for a dental cleaning and exam with your veterinarian to get to the bottom of this smelly condition.

Oral Hygiene & Dental Disease in Cats

While we always try to provide the best care possible for our cats we can sometimes forget that this includes taking care of their oral hygiene. Unfortunately, this isn't always something we do well enough and the majority of cats experience some form of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. 

When a cat eats, it exposes its teeth to food particles and bacteria that can cause a variety of dental problems. This bacteria must be removed daily or it will harden into tartar due to the minerals found in the cat's saliva.

While tartar is a significant problem on its own, bacteria found on teeth and in the mouth can travel throughout the body, causing heart and kidney disease. This tartar is also the leading cause of gum recession, which can lead to your cat's teeth falling out. All of these things can cause your cat to not only be in pain but also to have 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 of a cat's bad breath 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.

Other Conditions That May Cause Your Cat's Bad Breath

While bad breath in cats may most frequently be caused by dental conditions, these will not be the cause every time. There is a chance that this condition can be caused by other more serious conditions within your cat's body.

These other conditions will cause symptoms that are very similar to those experienced by oral concerns, which makes it important to ensure that you bring your cat in for an examination as soon as possible.

These other conditions that may cause bad breath in your cat include:

  • Ulcers & 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. 

Feline Bad Breath Treatment

When you have a cat that is experiencing bad breath the main goal will be to treat the cause or have the potential cause diagnosed.

If possible, you should begin a regular brushing routine at a young age to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. This can be accomplished by purchasing a special toothbrush designed to make brushing cats' teeth easier, and if that doesn't work at first, you could try brushing the teeth with your finger until your cat becomes accustomed to the process. Brushing should be done at least twice a week and should become easier the more frequently you do it.

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.

Does your cat have consistently bad breath? Contact our Redmond vets to book an appointment.

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