Halitosis - bad breath from the mouth of pets

Are you annoyed of bad breath from your dog or cat? Here’s the solution of your problem. Unpleasant odor from the mouth of pets is called halitosis (bad breath).

Halitosis - bad breath from the mouth of petsPredisposition of Pets

  • Dogs and Cats are highly predisposed for halitosis.
  • “Brachycephalic breeds” which are characterized by their short nose and flat-face are more susceptible for the diseases involving the mouth, because their teeth are closer together and owners mostly offer soft diet to these pets.
  • Halitosis is also associated with age of the animal; older animals are more prone to the disease than younger ones.

Observed Changes in your Pet

  • Common sign of halitosis is bad breath from the mouth of animal.
  • If the animal is suffering already from an oral disease, excessive salivation with or without blood, may be observed; the pet may paw at the mouth; anorexia (lack of appetite) may occur.
  • In most cases, the only clinical sign which is observed is bad odor from the mouth.


  • Metabolic cause includes diabetes mellitus and uremia (high levels of urea and nitrogenous waste products in the blood)
  • Respiratory causes include inflammation of the nasal passages (known as “rhinitis”); inflammation of the sinuses (known as “sinusitis”) and cancer
  • Gastrointestinal causes include enlargement of the esophagus (known as “megaesophagus”); cancer and presence of foreign bodies
  • Dermatologic causes include infection of the skin folds of the lips (known as “lip-fold pyoderma”)
  • Dietary causes include eating fetid or foul-smelling foods and eating feces (known as “coprophagy”)
  • Disease of the mouth
  • Periodontal Disease” inflammation of the gums and the supporting tissues of the teeth
  • Pharyngitis” inflammation of pharynx or throat
  • Tonsillitis” inflammation of the tonsils
  • Stomatitis” inflammation of the oral cavity
  • Trauma also results into this condition and its causes may include open fractures, electric-cord injury and exposure to caustic agents
  • Infectious—bacterial, fungal, viral
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • “Eosinophilic granuloma complex” characterized by nodular lesions in the mouth which are one or more in number and contains eosinophils.

Risk Factors

  • Small, short-nosed, flat-faced breeds are highly susceptible to the diseases of oral cavity, because of the anatomical structure of their teeth which are closer together. Moreover, small pets have a longer life span and most of the owners try to feed them softer food.


Health Care

  • Outpatient
  • Once you identify the specific cause of the bad breath you should go for a direct therapy to correct that cause and there might be a possibility that multiple causes are involved such as periodontal diseases along with the cancerous mass in the mouth
  • Dental disease—after the examination of the mouth which is performed under general anesthesia the treatment includes cleaning and polishing the teeth and if a tooth has lost greater than 50% of its supporting tissues (gum and bone) that should be extracted.
  • Cancer of the mouth—surgical removal of the cancerous mass may be an option along with radiation therapy and other cancer therapies depending upon the type of cancer
  • Foreign body—removal of foreign body
  • Dermatologic causes—treatment include antibiotics, antibacterial shampoos, and surgery to remove the necrotized tissue
  • Dietary causes—prevent your pet from eating fetid foodstuffs, garbage, bowel movement and feces. The best method is to clean the yard frequently.


The article includes general information about possible treatment. The complete treatment for a chronic condition may involve advanced medical facilities; therefore, you must consult your Vet.

  • Medication is in accordance to the cause of the bad breath (halitosis)
  • Antibiotics are not the treatment of bad breath (halitosis); these are indicated for the treatment of bacterial infection involving the oral cavity such as lip-fold pyoderma or rhinitis and sinusitis
  • The hygiene of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth is of prime importance to prevent periodontal disease that is a big cause of bad breath
  • plaque prevention gels should be used on weekly basis to decrease plaque that harbor a large amount of smell producing bacteria
  • oral home-care products containing zinc ions are very valuable to inhibits smell formation as they insoluble zinc sulfide and decrease the odor; zinc hinders the reproduction in microbes and prevent the calcium buildup that makes tartar which stains the teeth; topical application of zinc-ascorbate cysteine gel usually reduces bad breath within 30 minutes.
  • Chlorhexidine is the best anti-plaque agent and can be used as a rinse or paste it also decrease odor

Follow-Up Care

Patient Monitoring

  • Periodic examinations to monitor results of dental professional and home care

Preventions and Avoidance

  • It varies according to the condition and underlying cause
  • Daily brushing is recommended, and you can also use friction wipes to get rid of plaque (the thin, “sticky” film that builds up on the teeth). It would help to control dental disease and bad-odor(halitosis)
  • Prevent your pet from eating fetid foodstuffs (keep your pet away from garbage); avoid the exposure of your pet with bowel movement (block off litter box so dog cannot get access to cat feces), and clean yard frequently to prevent such habits

Possible Complications

  • Varies with underlying cause

Expected Course and Prognosis

  • Varies with underlying cause

Key Points

  • Bad breath or halitosis is not itself a disease it is a sign of underlying cause; it is a bad odor coming from the mouth of your pet
  • Bad breath (halitosis) generally indicates the unhygienic life style and unhealthy mouth but can be due to other causes
  • Once you identify the specific cause of the bad breath you should go for a direct therapy to correct that cause
  • Maintain good oral hygiene by professional and home dental care (such as brushing teeth) it would decrease the risk of dental diseases and final bad breath (Halitosis)

Authors: Arham Manzoor*1, Asadullah Tahir2, Ilham Manzoor3, Saba Mehnaz4

1*Department of veterinary sciences, College of veterinary and animal sciences, Jhang, 2 Department of clinical medicine and surgery, University of veterinary and animal sciences Lahore, 3 Faculty of veterinary sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, 4 Department of parasitology, Faculty of veterinary science, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

Corresponding author e-mail: arhammanzoor47@gmail.com

By Web Team

Technology Times Web team handles all matters relevant to website posting and management.