Tuesday, July 21, 2009 1:06 PM

Ooh-That Smell!

We all love to nuzzle our pets and give and get smooches--well, most of us do, anyway. Stinky cat/dog breath can really put a damper on this type of bonding activity, however. If your pet's breath smells like something the cat dragged in, read on to see if there is, perhaps, something that you can do about it.

First of all, stinky food will cause stinky breath. If have to hold your breath as you prepare your pet's meals, think about how that very "food" is settling in inside your pet's gut. Not a good thought, is it? There are some cheapie brands out there that are just god-awful smelly. No matter if your pet seems to like this stuff or not, you must wean him off of it and onto a premium or homemade diet. Your nose will thank you, and you'll know that Tigger or Buster is getting better nutrition in the bargain.

If your pet suddenly develops bad breath when previously it was not present, then you need to look at an organic cause. First stop: The mouth. Take a look at your pet's teeth. Do they look gross? Are the gums red and inflamed? If so, it may be time to make an appointment at your vet's for a thorough teeth cleaning. This is an involved procedure, requiring your pet to be under anesthesia for some length of time, depending on how bad the problem is. It is also expensive. If things have gotten this bad, though, it probably should be done. Rotting teeth and gingivitis are the number one causes of bad breath (for anybody), so professional help is needed before you try any home-based preventative measures such as tooth brushing or gum massage.

If you don't see any obvious problems, don't discount tooth and gum problems just yet. An abscessed tooth can present as a recurrent sore under the animal's chin or somewhere on the face, without showing any apparent problem in the mouth itself. It may also cause no real symptoms at all, at least for a while. You will not be able to diagnose this situation yourself; you'll need to have the vet check him out.

Other mouth problems not directly linked with dental health but that can cause foul breath are cancerous lesions of the lips or mouth; inflammation and/or infection of the lips, gums or tongue and, in some case, infected sinuses. In any of these cases, it is important to get the animal checked by a veterinarian before proceeding with any home care. You will need to know what you're dealing with before embarking on that course.

Tomorrow, we'll look at some other health problems that can cause halitosis--as well as what you can do about them.

So Cute: Recently, a pair of tufted titmice made a nest on top of our upstairs bathroom vent fan exhaust pipe. They would flit around from the nest to a tree right outside of the hallway window, driving Goldie crazy for a while. He would spend most of his time in that window, head on a swivel, watching those birds! I snapped the above photo one afternoon while he was concentrating on all that activity. What a nut.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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