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What is Bad Breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) is only a real problem if it is associated with underlying pathology. Of course, your cat’s breath is most likely to smell like the food that it just ate. Some experts suggest that soft or canned foods might lead to worse breath; dry food can cleanse your cat's teeth. The following smells might signify internal problems - ammonia, citrus or sickeningly sweet feline breath.

Feline halitosis (bad breath in cats) could be caused by food, periodontal disease, a foreign body, infections or something more serious, like diabetes or liver cancer. Chronic cat's bad breath could be due to a serious internal disease.

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Bad Breath Average Cost

From 575 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Bad Breath in Cats

Your family pet might like to rub noses with you or the kids, giving you a great chance to get a whiff of its breath. When a foul-smelling odor startles you, then your cat might have a significant problem. Here are the symptoms that may accompany bad breath in cats:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Appetite loss
  • Bleeding gums
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Excessive urination
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Mouth dysfunction
  • Oral cavity lump
  • Pain
  • Pawing at their mouth
  • Poor coat condition due to reduced grooming
  • Putrid odor
  • Reclusiveness
  • Swelling of the submandibular lymph nodes or of the face itself 
  • Thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Weight Loss
  • Yellow, red or runny eyes

Of course, the difficulty with bad breath is that it also might be a symptom of other maladies. Is your cat more aggressive, irritable or reclusive with its bad breath? Does your cat start to eat, then jump back? This could be due to a painful tooth infection.

Does your cat have difficulties opening or closing its mouth? Mouth dysfunction could be a sign of a more serious ailment.

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Causes of Bad Breath in Cats

Kitty halitosis can be caused by something as simple as smelly food or something as complicated as liver cancer. It could be a foreign body that has lodged between the tooth, such as food or a bit of bone or wood.

 Bloody gums and bad breath can occur due to stomatitis or periodontal disease.

Plaque or tartar can lead to bacterial buildup over time. Tiny polyps,  local infections and gingivitis might develop. 

Gastric acid reflux also stinks.

Your baby cat might be teething. Normally, cats have baby teeth fall out between 3 and 6 months.

Somewhat minor ailments causing bad breath could include endocarditis (inner heart tissue layer infection), esophageal tube enlargement, gingivitis, pharyngitis (inflammation of throat), rhinitis, sepsis (bacterial colonization of blood), sinusitis, stomatitis and tonsillitis (inflammation of tonsils). Coprophagia (eating of feces) could also be the cause.

Serious maladies leading to bad breath could include the following: Bartonella henselae, diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), gastrointestinal upset, immunodeficiency virus renal failure, kidney, liver etc.

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Diagnosis of Bad Breath in Cats

Veterinarians may conduct blood tests and urinalysis to help determine the cause of the halitosis. These might include more specific FeLV or FIV tests. Ultrasound and X-rays display your cat's internal bone structure and it is typically an x-ray that is taken when we examine the mouth.

The veterinarian is likely to complete a physical examination of your cat's tongue, lips, gums, roof and back of the mouth. The vet might need to sedate your pet. The dental vet will also exam tooth mobility and gingival attachement, while your cat is under a general anesthetic.

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Treatment of Bad Breath in Cats

Vets will search for any foreign bodies, injuries or infections. 


Minor gingivitis may respond well to daily brushing with cat toothpaste. While you might want to simply give your cat human toothpaste, this is not advisable, because this is not meant to be swallowed. Also, cats don't like to have their mouths pried open forcibly.

Professional scaling and polishing of your cat's teeth, gums, and mouth, is advised when needed. Veterinarians might offer same-day blood work and as well as blood pressure monitoring and intravenous fluid therapy during the procedure, to minimise risk. If severe oral disease is at fault, then tooth extraction may be necessary.

Corticosteroids and other antibiotics are used to treat stomatitis. Cancer treatment would require surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

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Recovery of Bad Breath in Cats

Of course, the recovery time for your cat will vary dramatically depending on the cause. If the feline halitosis is only due to something stuck under the gums, then your cat should enjoy a full and immediate recovery. On the other hand, liver cancer and others serious diseases could be life-threatening.

After a complete professional dental cleaning, your cat may be required to stay in the hospital for recuperation. Multiple tooth extractions could require assisted feeding, iv fluids, pain medications, and oral antibiotics. The veterinarian will discuss what the owner can do to prevent the cat halitosis from recurring.

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Bad Breath Average Cost

From 575 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850

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Bad Breath Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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balinese

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Symptoms: Smelly breath, redness in gums, plaque, What’s the cause of this and how should I treat it? Brushing his teeth only cause gums to bleed

Feb. 14, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

This is caused by tartar build up and bacteria. Your vet can clean your dogs teeth just like people get done. This will help this go away.

Feb. 15, 2021

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dog-breed-icon

european tuxedo

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Twelve Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

(Sickly) Strong Fruity Breath

Cat eats, drinks, poops, pees normal, seems his normal active self, is not losing or gaining weight. Doesn't puke. Yet his breath is very strong and sickly sweet. I looked into his mouth (he doesn't mind) and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. One BIG problem: he gets a super panic attack when he has to go outside/to the vet, so we always have vets coming to the house, which because of COVID is not really an option at the moment.

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Unfortunately, without being able to examine your cat, it is difficult to say what might be causing the smell that you are describing. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Bad Breath Average Cost

From 575 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
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