It’s hard to resist doggy kisses when you get home from work, or a close-up meow from your kitty just before dawn when she’s ready for breakfast. If your pet has bad breath, though, it could indicate that they have a health issue you need to be concerned about.
Periodontal disease is by far the most common reason why a pet has bad breath. Plaque buildup can cause gingivitis, and if left untreated can turn into periodontal disease. It can cause pets to lose their teeth, develop gum disease, and can cause damage to the kidneys and heart.
Teething puppies will often have a fishy smelling breath. This is not the same thing as puppy breath, however. Teething pets will chew on anything they can find. A piece of food, string, wood or bits of a chewed up toy can get lodged in the mouth or between the teeth and cause an infection of the gums. Teething pups and kittens have a tendency to drool, which can lead to halitosis.
Sometimes a pup or older dog can have breath that smells like they’ve been eating feces, which is very possible, especially if there’s a cat litter box in the home and it’s accessible to the dog. Pets also groom themselves around their anal glands which can produce a fishy or dead smell in their mouth. Intestinal problems or worms can also cause bad breath. In older pets, a bad tooth that needs to be pulled, an obstruction stuck in the throat or mouth can cause an infection and produce an odor. Pawing at the mouth is a good indication something is bothering them.
Like us, dogs and cats have a variety of diseases and conditions we need to be on the lookout for. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) says 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. Proper dental care is as important for our dogs and cats as it is for us. To bring awareness to the importance of dental care for pets, the AVDS has declared February as National Pet Dental Health Month. Periodontal disease is one of the most common for pets, and it can be a serious problem if left untreated.
What is periodontal disease?
It’s a buildup of tartar, also called calculus, and untreated gingivitis which causes damage to the ligaments and other tissue that holds the teeth in place. In the very early stages of the disease, cleaning the teeth and prevention will likely be enough to prevent more damage and save the teeth. By the time the disease has progressed to a moderate condition, however, permanent damage has already been done to the teeth. Periodontal disease isn’t always easy to see or diagnose, and even vets can miss it during regular checkups.
The word “periodontal” means the tissue (peri) around the tooth (dontal) that keeps the tooth in its socket. Periodontal disease can affect the ligaments and cementum (a layer of calcified tissue covering the root of a tooth) that hold the teeth in place, and if they are damaged by disease, then the tooth becomes loose and can fall out.
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