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Why does my cat's breath smell bad?

If you recoil in disgust when your cat breathes too close to your face, then they may be experiencing some serious dental issues. Our Orange vets discuss why your cat has bad breath and how their condition can be diagnosed and treated.

Why does my cat's breath smell?

While we often associate bad breath with dogs, it can also affect cats. If a cat has bad breath that is left untreated, the smell can get worse over time. Cat owners often ask vets, 'Why is my cat's breath so bad?' There are many reasons why a cat's breath may smell bad. It could be due to food stuck in the teeth after eating, dental concerns or other more serious conditions. 

It is important to bring your feline friend in for a dental health checkup so their veterinarian can identify the cause of the smell.

The Impact of Oral Hygiene

Taking care of a cat's oral hygiene is part of providing the best care possible for our feline friends. We can sometimes forget that maintaining good oral hygiene in our cats is important for their health and quality of life. Unfortunately, most cats experience some form of dental disease by the time they are three years old.

When cats eat, their teeth come in contact with food particles and bacteria that can cause dental conditions. If this bacteria is not cleaned away daily, it will harden into tartar due to the minerals present in the cat's saliva.

Tartar is a big enough issue on its own, but the bacteria in the mouth can also travel throughout the body, causing heart or kidney disease. Tartar is also the most common cause of gum recession and can result in your cat's teeth falling out. All these things can cause your cat to not only be in pain but also cause bad breath.

Some common symptoms of dental concerns might include: 

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness of the mouth and gums
  • Behavioral changes
  • Dropping food from the mouth when eating
  • Inability to eat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bad breath

The only way to accurately diagnose and treat dental concerns is to bring your cat to your veterinarian for an oral examination. The treatment your cat requires will depend on its condition. Treatment options may include dental cleanings, tooth extractions, antibiotics, and dietary changes.

What causes bad breath in cats?

Your cat's bad breath can be caused by serious conditions within your cat's body. These other conditions will cause symptoms similar to those experienced by oral concerns. This is why it's important to ensure that you bring your feline friend in for an examination as soon as you notice anything off about your cat.

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

  • Oral infections
  • Kidney disease
  • Tooth abscess
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Teething
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Diet 
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers and sores

A wide range of conditions can potentially cause bad breath. Due to this, we always recommend bringing your cat in for a dental checkup if they are experiencing bad breath, especially if it is ongoing. 

How to Get Rid of Your Cat's Bad Breath

If your cat has bad breath, the main treatment goal will be to diagnose the issue that is causing it.

Cat bad breath treatment begins with regular teeth brushing. Start from an early age to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Purchase a special toothbrush that makes brushing cats' teeth easier. If that doesn't work, you can try using your finger to brush the teeth until your cat becomes familiar with the process. If you brush your cats' teeth multiple times a week, it should become easier for them the more often you do it.

It is recommended that your cat get a dental checkup and routine cleaning at least once a year. This will help remove the hard-to-reach plaque and tartar and 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 bad breath, it may indicate a serious oral health concern. Book an oral examination appointment at Vet4HealthyPet today.

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