February 14, 2020

My Cat's Breath Stinks...What Gives?

We've all heard (and smelled) puppy breath, but what about cat breath? What does it mean when your cat's breath is stinky? Should you be worried?

Is Stinky Breath in Cats a Problem?

So, your cat's breath is offensive. Should you be worried? Well...maybe. As a general rule, a healthy cat's breath doesn't have much of a smell, and certainly not something you'd readily describe as an odor.

What's even more important to note is consistency. If your cat's breath has always smelled one way and suddenly you notice it now smells a little different, that's a reason to contact your vet. This is a sign something has changed in your cat's body, and the source needs to be identified.

Why Your Cat's Breath Stinks

There are myriad things that could be behind your cat's funky breath. Let's talk about a few of the most common.

Periodontal Disease: By far the most prevalent cause of bad breath in cats is periodontal disease. It's most likely in cats with poor oral hygiene, with "bad" teeth, or with gum disease.

Infection of the Mouth: Often, a piece of food or hair will get stuck in a cat's gumline and start to decay. That process can lead to infection which in turn smells pretty noxious

Diabetes: If your cat's breath smells fruity or sweet rather than foul, it could be a sign of diabetes.

Kidney Disease: A urine or ammonia-like smell in your cat's mouth could be signs of kidney disease.

Liver Disease: Gradual onset of foul breath in addition to symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, and yellowing of the eyes could be indicative of a liver problem.

Funky Food: Very occasional, specific cases of bad breath can be caused by an icky-smelling meal! If your cat eats a bunch of tuna, their breath is going to smell like, well, tuna.

What to Do About Bad Breath in Cats

If your cat's halitosis is truly offensive and has seemingly come out of nowhere, definitely call your vet. Your feline may need an antibiotic to clear up an infection or some diagnostic testing to check for internal disorders.

Funky breath that's consistent but mild should also be evaluated by a veterinarian. Periodontal disease is likely the cause. You may need to have your cat's teeth professionally cleaned to resolve the issue in the short term.

Brushing your cat's teeth regularly usually prevents minor halitosis in most cats. By keeping periodontal issues in check, you'll not only help keep your cat's mouth feeling (and smelling) fresher, you'll also stave off a litany of health issues such as tissue and bone loss.

Does your cat's breath stink?

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