Your Pet Question:
My five-year-old cat has the nastiest breath ever! What’s up with that?
The Expert Says:
In dogs and cats, bad breath (halitosis), is usually a sign of dental problems. Most pets in North America will have some form of dental disease by the age of three years. The main problems seen are tartar (the yellow/brown material that stains the teeth) and excessive plaque (the bacterial film that coats the teeth).This is partly because of the type of foods we give them and sometimes the things they eat that we don’t want them to or know about! But typically it’s simply a question of poor hygiene. Pets don’t brush their teeth, and most pet owners don’t take the time to brush their pet’s teeth for them. If you didn’t brush your teeth for five years, your breath would be nasty too! Ideally, you should be brush your pet’s teeth daily but if you can’t find the time to do that, or your pet makes it too difficult for you, there are special diets, treats, and chew toys that can help. Have your vet recommend the right ones, don’t be fooled by “dental formula” claims on commercial pet foods. Vets can also perform regular teeth cleaning on your pet, although this will require an anaesthetic to be done properly.
Jay Thrush DVM is the owner of Brandon Hills Veterinary Clinic in Brandon, Manitoba.