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Have your pet’s sweet kisses started turning sour? Getting in the way of cuddles? If you’d like to know what’s wrong, today we talk about nasty breath in pets and how to tackle this stinky problem.

Common causes of bad breath

Our pet’s breath is not meant to smell of spearmint and roses, we all know that. But if the odour is constantly taking you aback, something’s probably off.

The number one cause of bad breath in pets (or halitosis, the medical term) is gum disease. It’s actually the most common disease in cats and dogs; and about 80% of dogs over three years old in the UK suffer from it.

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, recognised by the buildup of plaque and reddening of the gums. Advance stages of gum disease then result in infection of the gums (periodontitis) and, if ignored too long, can lead to serious health problems. However, it’s easy to prevent, so more on that in a bit.

Other less common causes are bits of food stuck in their teeth or throat (pets will paw at their mouth when this happens), diabetes, digestive issues, kidney disease, liver disease and oral cancer. But again, these are not as frequent.

To get a correct diagnosis, we recommend seeing a vet. Even in cases where it’s clear the culprit is gingivitis, professional teeth cleaning (where they scrape off the tartar with a special tool) can prevent it from escalating into a more serious gum infection.

What to do at home

The most effective way of preventing and managing bad breath is by brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s that simple! Once a day is ideal, but we know this can be hard at first, especially when your pet isn’t used to having their mouth touched. If this is the case, try brushing once a week. We’ve seen pets adopt the habit easily and even look forward to the taste of pet toothpaste. Done gently, it can be like any other routine.

To get started, take a look at our selection of pet toothbrushes and toothpaste. As the single best thing you can do for your pet’s oral health, we promise you’ll be glad to try! Remember though, that human toothpaste shouldn’t be used, as fluoride is toxic for our furry friends.

Dental treats and chew toys are also helpful, but mostly in addition to brushing. Moreover, we can use products such as Vet Aquadent or Plaque Off, which are natural supplements that help dissolve plaque.

Coconut oil is another natural remedy that is all the trend these days. Its antimicrobial properties, together with the ability to support immune and digestive functions, make it a great addition to your cat’s or dog’s health routine. One way to use it is by adding 1 teaspoon of pure, virgin coconut oil to their food every other day. Though safe to use, consult with your vet first, as it may not be suitable in cases of pancreas issues, sensitive tummies or when pets are overweight.

We know what you’re probably thinking: “Did nature intend for pets to have their teeth brushed?”. And the answer is “Probably not”. But you could say the same about humans, and yet we know what lack of brushing does to us. So go on, grab yourself a doggy toothbrush and give those cute, little canines a chance to shine.

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