Halitosis or Bad Breath
Bad Breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth) - An Overview
- Offensive odor coming from the mouth; bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth).
- Both dogs and cats can have bad breath
- Small breeds and short-nosed, flat-faced breeds (known as “brachycephalic breeds”) are more prone to disease involving the mouth, because their teeth are closer together, and their owners tend to feed softer foods.
- Older pets are more likely to have bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth) than are young pets.
Signs/Observed Changes in the Pet
- Bad breath or Brushing Your Pet's Teeth is a sign itself.
- If due to oral disease, excessive salivation (known as “ptyalism”), with or without blood, may be seen; the pet may paw at the mouth; and lack of appetite (anorexia) may occur.
- In most cases, no clinical signs other than actual odor are observed.
- Disease of the mouth—infection of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth (known as “periodontal disease”) and/or ulceration of the tissues of the mouth; inflammation of the throat or pharynx (known as “pharyngitis”); inflammation of the tonsils (known as “tonsillitis”); cancer; foreign bodies.
- Metabolic—diabetes mellitus (“sugar diabetes”), uremia (excess levels of urea and other nitrogenous waste products in the blood).
- Respiratory—inflammation of the nose or nasal passages (known as “rhinitis”); inflammation of the sinuses (known as “sinusitis”); cancer.
- Gastrointestinal—enlargement of the esophagus (the tube going from the throat to the stomach; condition known as “megaesophagus”); cancer; foreign body.
- Dermatologic—infection of the skin folds of the lips (known as “lip-fold pyoderma”)
- Dietary—eating malodorous or offensive-smelling foodstuffs; eating feces or bowel movement (known as “coprophagy”).
- Trauma—electric-cord injury, open fractures, caustic agents.
- Infectious—bacterial, fungal, viral.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Diseases characterized by one or more masses or nodular lesions in the mouth containing a type of white-blood cell, called an eosinophil (known as “eosinophilic granuloma complex”).
- Usually outpatient treatment.
- Once the specific cause of the bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth) is known, direct therapy at correcting the cause; it is possible that multiple causes may be involved (for example, the pet may have infection of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth [periodontal disease] and have a foreign body or cancer present in the mouth).
- Dental disease—assessment of the mouth, performed under general anesthesia, with x-rays of the mouth (known as “intraoral radiographs”) and treatment, including cleaning and polishing the teeth and extraction of teeth with greater than 50% loss of supporting tissues (gum and bone) around the teeth (often multiple teeth are extracted when advanced periodontal disease is the cause of the bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth).
- Cancer of the mouth—surgical debulking (removing as much of the tumor as possible) or removal; radiation therapy; other cancer therapies, based on type of cancer.
- Foreign body—removal of foreign body (may require anesthesia).
- Dermatologic causes—treatment for infection of the folds of the lips may include antibiotics, antibacterial shampoos, and possible surgery to remove some of the folded tissue.
- Dietary causes—prevent pet from eating malodorous foodstuffs (for example, keep pet away from garbage); prevent pet from eating bowel movement (for example, block off litter box so dog cannot get to cat feces; clean yard frequently).
Medications presented in this section are intended to provide general information about possible treatment. The treatment for a particular condition may evolve as medical advances are made; therefore, the medications should not be considered as all inclusive:
- Medication is determined by the underlying cause of the bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth).
- Topical treatment with zinc-ascorbate cysteine gel usually reduces bad breath within 30 minutes of application, because of the effect of cysteine on sulfur compounds in the mouth.
- Antibiotics are not indicated to treat bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth); antibiotics are indicated in the treatment of infection of the lip folds and for cases of rhinitis and/or sinusitis, if bacterial infection is involved.
- Controlling the bacteria that cause infection of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth (periodontal disease) helps control dental infections and accompanying bad breath; Doxirobe Gel (Pfizer) may be used in dogs with periodontal disease.
- Weekly application of OraVet (Merial), a plaque prevention gel has been shown to decrease plaque (the thin, “sticky” film that builds up on the teeth; composed of bacteria, white-blood cells, food particles, and components of saliva).
- The use of oral home-care products that contain metal ions, especially zinc, inhibits odor formation due to the affinity of the metal (zinc) ion to sulfur; zinc complexes with hydrogen sulfide to form insoluble zinc sulfide, decreasing the odor.
- Zinc ascorbate plus amino acid (Maxi/Guard Oral Cleansing Gel, Addison Biological Laboratory).
- Chlorhexidine used as a rinse or paste also helps control plaque (the thin, “sticky” film that builds up on the teeth), decreasing eventual odor; many dental home-care products containing chlorhexidine are available commercially.
- Periodic examinations to monitor results of dental professional and home care
Preventions and Avoidance
- Varies with underlying cause
- Daily brushing or friction wipes to remove plaque (the thin, “sticky” film that builds up on the teeth) and control dental disease and odor
- Prevent pet from eating malodorous foodstuffs (for example, keep pet away from garbage); prevent pet from eating bowel movement (for example, block off litter box so dog cannot get to cat feces; clean yard frequently)
- Varies with underlying cause
- Immature teeth stop developing.
Expected Course and Prognosis
- Varies with underlying cause
- Bad breath or Brushing Your Pet's Teeth is a sign; it is an offensive odor coming from the mouth.
- Bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth) generally indicates an unhealthy mouth.
- Once the specific cause of the bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth) is known, direct therapy at correcting the underlying cause.
- Ensure good oral health by professional and home dental care (such as brushing teeth) to decrease bad breath (Brushing Your Pet's Teeth).
PET HEALTH LIBRARY
- The Pet Health Library contains information on some of the most common medical problems of dogs and cats. This information is designed to assist pet owners in better understanding their pets' health problems.
Cat Friendly Practice
- In the United States, there are millions more owned cats than owned dogs, yet cats visit veterinarians less frequently than dogs. A major reason is that it is very stressful to take cats to the veterinary practice and often owners believe their cat doesn't need routine check-ups for wellness and preventive care. The Cat Friendly Practice® (CFP) program, created by expert feline practitioners, provides a solution to this trend and provides an opportunity for veterinary practices to elevate care for cats and reduce the stress during the visit.