Halitosis FAQ

Does your dog have bad breath?

What is halitosis?
Halitosis, also called bad breath, is as an offensive odor emanating from the oral cavity. Bad breath is a common pet odor complaint. Causes are commonly related to the mouth and rarely related to other health problems.

What causes halitosis?
The most common cause of halitosis is periodontal disease caused by plaque (bacteria). Bacteria is attracted to the tooth surface within hours of teeth cleaning. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralized producing calculus. As plaque ages and gingivitis develops into periodontitis (bone loss), bacteria changes from somewhat irritating strains to bone destroying types which produce hydrogen sulfide causing halitosis.

Other causes include: eating malodorus food, metaboloic disease (diabetes, uremia,), respiratory disease (rhinitis, sinusitis, neoplasia), gastrointestinal (megaesophagus, neoplasia, foreign body), dermatologic (lip fold pyoderma), dietary (fetid foodstuffs, eating stool), non-periodontal oral disease (orthodontic, pharyngitis, tonsilitis, neoplasia, foreign bodies, trauma including electric cord injury, open fractures, caustic agents, infectious agents including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, autoimmune diseases, and eosinophilic granuloma complex.

What are the signs of halitosis?
Periodontal disease is painful. Some dogs and cats will have problems chewing hard food, others will paw at their mouths. Unfortunately most will not show any signs.

Severe periodontal disease causing halitosis

How is halitosis diagnosed?
Halitosis is easily diagnosed by smelling your dog or cats breath. If there is a disagreeable odor, halitosis is present. A veterinarian examination is necessary to diagnose the specific cause of bad breath. If the diagnosis is not obvious after oral examination, blood tests will be taken to check for internal disease.

How is halitosis treated?
Halitosis treatment depends on the cause. There are four recognized stages of periodontal disease. The first two (early gingivitis and advanced gingivitis) are treated by professional teeth cleaning. As the disease advances bone loss occurs causing periodontitis which may require surgery or tooth extraction.

Antibiotics may be used to destroy bacteria causing periodontal disease and halitosis. Often the antibiotics are used in a pulse therapy fashion (given the first five days of each month). Oral rinses containing chlorhexidine are helpful.

Odor neutralization of hydrogen sulfide occurs with the use of zinc citrate.

What is the prognosis for halitosis?
Once the underlying disease has been treated, halitosis will disappear. If due to periodontal disease, daily tooth brushing will help maintain good oral health and sweet breath.


This page last updated on October 31, 2000
Copyright 1997-2000, All Pets Dental Clinic
No portion of this site may be copied without authorization.
If you have any questions about the site, or are referencing it in an article or other website, please notify the webmaster.
Site hosted and maintained by acInternet.

Jan Bellows, DVM
All Pets Dental Clinic
17100 Royal Palm Blvd.
Weston, FL 33326
(954) 349-5800