Why does my cat have bad breath?

This is a very common issue.  Many cats have bad breath.  Your cats breath should smell like the last thing he or she ate.  So, if your cat just ate a bowl of cat food, your cat’s breath should smell like cat food.  If there are other foul odors coming from your cats mouth, he could be suffering from dental issues.

What causes bad breath in cats?

Cats can have bad breath if they suffer from periodontal complications or disease.  This is similar to the reason why humans may have bad breath if they suffer from gingivitis.  Gingivitis is very common among cats.  Gingivitis can contribute to your cat’s breath problem.  However, your cat’s breath will probably always smell like cat food immediately after he eats cat food!

There are a few things that you can do to reduce the smell of your cats breath:

  • feed your cat a dental food
  • brushing your cats teeth
  • have your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned

What is dental food?

There are numerous cat foods that can prevent or slow down the impact of various periodontal diseases and complications.  The foods generally work by cleaning the teeth and massaging the gums while your cat eats.  There are both foods and treats that you can feed to your cat to improve his oral hygiene.  These foods and treats are great because it is easy.  And let’s face it — not every cat will let you brush his teeth!  You can now let the food do the brushing for you!

What do I need to brush my cat’s teeth?

Before you can brush your cat’s teeth, you will need the following tools

  • a toothbrush for your cat
  • toothpaste that is suitable for cats (do not use human toothpaste or baking soda)

How do I brush my cat’s teeth?

You must start very slow, because teeth brushing is not a natural thing for your cat.  It is best to start this process when your cat is young, but adult cats can learn to accept the process as well.  You must have time and patience — don’t give up.  Teeth brushing will improve your cat’s health and reduce trips to the veterinarian.

To brush your cats teeth follow the steps below.

  1. First of all, pick of a time of the day for teeth brushing so it becomes a part of your pet’s routine. You should try to brush once/day, or a few times each week if you are not able to do it every day.
  2. Treat your cat to some tasty food after teeth brushing so your cat looks forward to the brushing.
  3. To get started, offer your cat a taste of the toothpaste.  It is important to find a toothpaste that your cat likes, or he may never want you to brush his teeth.  Teeth brushing should be a somewhat enjoyable experience for your cat.
  4. Before using the toothbrush, first try gently rubbing the toothpaste on the gums and upper teeth of your cat, using your finger.  Your cat must get used to this feeling before you try to use a toothbrush in his mouth.  Slowly increase the amount of time that you do this.  After a couple weeks, you may be ready to attempt the next step.
  5. Now try brushing very gently with the soft bristled toothbrush. Be very very gentle.
  6. After you cat has accepted the step above, you are ready to continue with your teeth brushing routine.  Great job!

Teeth brushing should take no more than 30 seconds. The upper teeth are more important for preventing periodontal disease. Teeth brushing can prevent disease, but sometimes professional cleaning is still required. However, teeth brushing can reduce the frequency, and possibly severity, of professional teeth brushing.

What’s involved in professional teeth cleaning?

Professional teeth brushing of cats is quite intense (i.e. usually requires general anesthesia), and often involves the following steps:

  1. Oral examination (awake, and then under general anesthesia)
  2. Remove plaque and tartar above the gumline
  3. Remove plaque and tartar below the gumline
  4. Polishing
  5. Irrigation
  6. Floride treatment
  7. Post operation examination
  8. Recovery at home
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