Cat Breath Diagnosis

Cat breath should not have a foul, offensive odor, although it may still have a distinctive smell. Bad breath or halitosis can indicate an underlying medical condition, either as a dental problem or as medical problem connected to somewhere else in the body. If a cat has unhealthy teeth and gums it can impact other organs, since bacteria from the gums can be transported to the heart, liver and kidneys, causing damage and perhaps even organ failure.

Causes of Bad Breath

Aside from unhealthy gums, the following can also contribute to bad cat breath:

  • Gingivitis, disease of the gums
  • Tooth abscess or gum abscess
  • Tooth decay or cavities
  • Cancers of the mouth and throat
  • Foreign body trapped within the mouth
  • Diabetes, which can be life threatening
  • Stomatitis, inflammation of the mouth
  • Liver disease, diminishing the liver's functionality
  • Kidney disease, diminishing the kidneys' functionality
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as cancer, obstructions or infections
  • Plaque buildup
  • Bacteria within the mouth
  • Oral ulceration
  • Oral infection
  • Lung cancer
  • Bleeding stomach ulcer

Diagnosis Done by Owner and Veterinarian

Observations by either the cat's owner or by a number of tests a veterinarian will perform can determine the cause of bad cat breath. The following is a list a cat owner will observe:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Red, swollen and/or bleeding gums
  • Unwillingness and/or inability to eat
  • Oral discharge, bloody or not
  • Signs of oral pain
  • Nasal discharge
  • Tartar, which is a combination of minerals, bacteria and decomposing foods that clings to the teeth, causing inflammation of the gums
  • Reluctance to groom, resulting in a poor coat condition
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

The following is a list of tests that the veterinarian will conduct to diagnose the cause of the bad cat breath:

  • X-rays to determine the condition of the teeth and facial bones
  • Physical examination of the mouth
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) test
  • FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) test
  • Diagnostic tests determining the functionality of the kidney and liver
  • X-rays to determine if the kidneys or liver are enlarged
  • Blood and serum tests
  • Urinalysis test

Treatment Requires No Medications

Upon determining the cause of the bad breath, the veterinarian will perform the necessary actions to alleviate it. This can include extracting any diseased teeth or removing the tartar buildup under general anesthesia. This is very important since any bacteria in the mouth can be transported to other organs through the bloodstream. If the underlying cause is a disease, such as diabetes or kidney disease, then treating that disease would help alleviate the bad breath problem.

Prevention Is Easy

It is advisable to have a cat's teeth professionally cleaned and then keep up with the dental care by cleaning the teeth daily through brushing. Brushing a cat's teeth is not as difficult as it may sound. By gently pushing back the lips, you can brush the teeth without forcing the cat's mouth open. Do not use human toothpaste, but rather toothpaste made for cats. After a while, this will become routine.

A healthy diet can also contribute to healthy dental care. Mouth drops that prevent such oral disorders, such as dental decay, gingivitis and bacterial infections, can also be used. Usually these drops can be applied to food or dropped directly into the mouth. Regular annual checkups with a veterinarian will also prevent health and dental problems.