Let’s face it: Your dog or cat’s breath is never going to smell like roses. But unusual or bad breath could be a sign of something serious. Read on to learn about common causes for bad breath, how to treat it, and how to prevent it. What Causes Bad Breath? Dental and gum disease are the most common reasons for bad breath and usually the result of poor dental hygiene. This causes odor-producing bacteria to build up in your pet’s mouth, lungs, or gut, leading to bad breath and serious health issues. Bad breath can also be caused by something your pet ate, like feces or a dead animal, or be signs of a more serious condition, such as kidney or liver problems. Chronic bad breath or noticeable changes in your pet’s breath can be the first indicator that something is wrong. Regardless, it’s a good idea to see a veterinarian about your pet’s bad breath. Your vet can then diagnose the cause and recommend treatment to help. Before your visit, be sure to note if there have been changes in your pet’s diet, oral hygiene, exercise habits, or general behavior. Your veterinarian may ask about these things, and preparation always helps! How Is Bad Breath Treated? There are several treatments your veterinarian may suggest, depending on the severity of the situation. If your pet simply has some tartar buildup, your vet might recommend regular tooth brushing. She might even be able to remove most of the tartar right there in the exam room and then advise you to keep up with regular brushing at home. With a more serious case of plaque or rotten teeth, your vet will likely suggest a professional cleaning or extraction. Professional cleanings let your veterinarian fully examine your pet’s mouth, cleaning and extracting as necessary without causing pain or stress. When it’s done, your furry friend will have a clean set of pearly whites, making prevention much easier. If your pet’s teeth and gums look good but his breath is awful, there might be something else going on, such as oral tumors or kidney or liver problems. For oral tumors, there are several treatment options. Depending on whether the tumor is malignant or benign, recommendations may include surgery for removal, radiation, or chemotherapy. In the case of kidney or liver problems, your veterinarian will likely prescribe a special diet designed to help manage his condition. How Do I Prevent Bad Breath? Good oral hygiene can prevent plaque and tartar buildup, periodontal disease, and other issues, as well as save on costly procedures. • Schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian. Be sure to bring up any concerns or questions you have about your pet’s oral health during your visits. • Brush your pet’s teeth. Maintaining a good oral care routine with the proper tools helps keep periodontal disease at bay. • Give your pet dental chews, rinses, and toys to promote good oral health. Your veterinarian likely carries all sorts of dental health products for your pet, so check your practice’s online store or ask your vet at your next visit. • Schedule a professional cleaning. Veterinarians almost always perform these cleanings under anesthesia. This allows them to clean beneath the gum line and perform extractions if necessary. It also allows your pet to have a pain-free experience. You’ll be able to keep unpleasant odors at bay with regular checkups, routine brushing, and preventative care. However, if odors persist, it might be a sign of more serious issues and you should contact a veterinarian.