Companion Animal

What Causes Bad Breath in Cats and Dogs?

Aug 25 • 2 minute read

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a common problem in cats and dogs. Persistent bad breath in your pets is more than just unpleasant; it can also be a symptom of more severe health problems. If you notice your cat or dog has lingering bad breath, get them checked out by a veterinarian right away. The visit will help determine what could be causing it and how to treat it. Below you will find some possible reasons for your pet’s bad breath:

Your Pet’s Mouth May Be Harboring Bacteria

If your pet has bad breath, it’s commonly because of bacteria. Tartar and plaque buildup on your pet’s teeth can lead to bacterial infections that result in halitosis. When the bacteria in your pet’s mouth grow out of control, it can also cause gum disease, which leads to bad breath. Other dental complications include inflammation and tooth decay. These problems are especially prevalent in older pets who have not been receiving regular dental cleanings.

If left untreated for long enough, these problems could continue to worsen and cause severe dental complications for your pet. Depending on the severity of the issue, your pet may require specialized treatment from a veterinarian.

Fortunately, brushing your pet’s teeth can help prevent or reduce the severity of the dental disease, lowering the likelihood of foul-smelling breath. While this may seem like an extra hassle for busy pet owners, it isn’t hard. You can do this at home or have your veterinarian or groomer do it for you.

Kidney Disease

Bad breath can also be a symptom of kidney disease in cats and dogs. In addition, kidney disease can cause your pet to have a metallic or fishy smell coming from their mouths. This is because when the kidneys aren’t functioning correctly, they can’t remove the waste products that come out of your pet’s body.

These waste products end up in their urine and saliva, which gives off a strong odor when breathed through the mouth or nose. It’s vital that you take your pet to the vet immediately after discovering any of these symptoms.

Respiratory Infections

Another possible cause of foul-smelling breath in cats and dogs is respiratory disease. Caused by bacteria, tumors, or viruses, it can lead to inflammation and mucus buildup in your pet’s throat. The buildup causes them to cough out of their nostrils and breathe through their mouth instead of the nose.

If your pet is coughing or sneezing without symptoms such as lethargy, this may indicate a problem.


Your pet’s persistent bad breath could be a sign of a severe problem, so it’s essential to get them checked by a vet as soon as possible. With minor cases, your vet may recommend home remedies or medication to help alleviate your furry friend’s symptoms. In severe cases, they may recommend more invasive procedures to help your pet. Unfortunately, it may take time for these treatments to work. But if you follow instructions and monitor your pet’s condition, their condition should improve.

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