Bad Breath... It's NOT Always Their Teeth

Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas

Published: February 26, 2016

Updated: June 15, 2021

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dog mouth bad breathBad Teeth Aren't The Only Cause of Bad Breath

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so it's the perfect time to shatter a commonly held misconception about bad breath in cats and dogs.

There are lots of potential causes of bad breath in cats and dogs other than dental issues, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Foreign bodies stuck in the mouth (sticks are a very common culprit for dogs!)
  • Tumors within the mouth or throat (squamous cell carcinomas are both a painful and aggressive tumor type that can occur in the mouths of both cats and dogs)
  • Ulcers of the tongue or other tissues within the mouth
  • Out of control diabetes (condition called ketosis)
  • And several others

So, while bad teeth and periodontal disease do cause bad breath — and are, in fact, the most common causes of bad breath in cats and dogs — they are not the ONLY cause of bad breath.

Especially watch out for worsening bad breath – If a change occurs, have it checked out by your veterinarian right awaycat bad breath

Why is this important? Because there’s lots of people who likely don’t take their cat or dog to the vet to have bad breath (or worsening breath) evaluated because they assume it’s their teeth and wouldn’t have their pet put under anesthesia for a “dental” anyway (which is a whole other topic).

Hopefully, by providing the list above and debunking the misconception that “bad breath always = bad teeth” we can all help ensure that fewer pets with bad breath will “fall through the cracks” and that more pets will get the care and attention they need — regardless of the cause.

About the author

Profile picture for Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Nicholas graduated with honors from The Royal Veterinary College in London, England and completed his Internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Nicholas spent many years as an emergency and general practice veterinarian obsessed with keeping pets safe and healthy. He is the author of Preventive Vet’s 101 Essential Tips book series.

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