While you may be a whiz at flashlight tag and chin scratches, if you’re like two-thirds of American cat owners, you’re dropping the ball (of yarn) on one of the most essential tasks for keeping your cat healthy and happy: dental care.
This can lead to some serious cat bad breath, and even more alarming, periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease.
We get it, though. Taking care of everyone’s smiles – including our favorite pets – can be pretty tough to handle! Fortunately, it doesn’t take a whole lot of work to care for your cat’s teeth or keep your pup healthy and smiling. Keep reading for 5 simple hacks to fight bad cat breath (dogs too!) and keep their smiles healthy.
Before the Hacks, First You Gotta Know: Why Does My Cat’s Breath Smell Rotten?
The majority of the time, poor oral care is to blame for cat bad breath. Keep in mind, however, that certain diseases can give off a distinct smell.
If your cat has a rotten fruit smell to its breath, this is a sign of diabetes (more common in overweight cats). Breath that smells like urine or ammonia is a sign of kidney disease, which affects over 30 percent of cats over the age of eight. If you notice either of these types of cat bad breath, make an appointment with the vet right away.
For bad breath caused by poor oral care, the key is to control plaque, which is the starting point of gum disease.
Why Pet Periodontal Disease Can Sneak Up on You
If you think periodontal disease can’t happen to your pet, consider this: by the age of 3, 70 percent of cats and 80 percent of dogs already have some form of dental disease. The good news is, in its early stages, you can control and even completely reverse gum disease.
A big reason many owners miss the signs of periodontal disease is that in its beginning stages, there are often no signs other than bad breath.
Many owners chalk bad cat breath up as normal. It isn’t! Anything other than a mild fishy scent should be considered a sign that your cat’s smile needs some attention, STAT. As for dogs, their breath shouldn’t have a scent at all!
As gum disease progresses, it’s very painful, yet an animal’s instinct is to hide its pain. So unless you’re on the lookout for these signs, you may not realize how bad the situation is.
Signs of Periodontal Disease in Cats & Dogs
- Red, recessed or bleeding gums (healthy gums should be light pink)
- Visible tartar on the teeth
- Loss of appetite or trouble chewing
- Sensitivity to being touched around the mouth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Bad breath
5 Easy Cat Breath Solutions
1. Raw Bones = Healthy Smile
The idea of raw anything can gross some people out. But if you’re not one of them, raw bones are an excellent way to remove plaque from your pet’s smile. They contain plaque-fighting enzymes, and the gnawing motion will work much like a toothbrush.
Raw chicken necks are an ideal size for cats. For dogs, knuckle (knee) bones or ribs are a great choice – the meat on the bone even mimics floss. For both dogs and cats, steer clear of cooked bones, as they can splinter and be a choking hazard.
2. Use a Pet Dental Spray
Dental sprays are all the rage these days because of how convenient they are as a supplement to regular dental care. It might seem as simple as just spraying into your pet’s mouth, and voila! Fresher breath and healthier gums.
But it’s vital that consumers look before they leap. Many dental sprays contain alcohol. In fact, two popular manufacturers have 25 percent ethyl alcohol in their products … that’s equal to a 1.25 ounce shot of whiskey!
Not only does alcohol sting delicate gum tissue and dry out the mouth, but it’s straight-up harmful to pets. According to the ASPCA, any amount of alcohol is harmful to cats and dogs, as it affects their blood chemistry and puts their brain function at risk, as they can’t metabolize alcohol like we can.
Instead, choose an alcohol-free dental spray like USA-made Oxyfresh Pet Dental Spray. It’s 100% non-toxic, safe and enthusiastically recommended by veterinarians. No flavors, no dyes, no alcohol. We believe in only the best for pets!
3. Give Your Pet Chew Treats
While chew treats can’t take the place of regular dental care, they can help support a healthy mouth. Chew treats will help clean the teeth and stimulate your pet’s saliva production. Saliva is a natural defense against gum disease and bad breath because it helps wash away bacteria that would otherwise turn into plaque.
Pro Tip: It’s important to be choosy with chew treats. Many are loaded with carbs and artificial junk that can cause weight gain and ironically, even worse breath. Also, some chews are flat-out dangerous for pets. Steer clear of the following:
- Ice cubes, elk antlers and Nylabones: These items are simply too hard for pet teeth to handle and can cause fractures. Powerful chewers can even chew through Nylabones, making them a choking hazard.
- Rawhides: These popular chews are actually super dangerous. Made of leather and cleansed in chemicals (yuck!), if your furry friend were to swallow a chunk of rawhide, it could get stuck in their esophagus or digestive tract.
- Made in China: For over a decade, a smorgasbord of complaints have rolled in about jerky treats from China, including gastrointestinal illness; kidney and urine problems; and convulsions, tremors and skin irritation. Always opt for “made in the USA.”
- BHA/BHT: These common preservatives are known cancer-causing compounds, according to The World Health Organization.
- Artificial Flavors & Dyes: Let’s be clear. No one likes to clean up pet vomit from the carpet. So to protect your dog or cat from tummy troubles, just say “no thanks” to artificial flavors and dyes, which are also linked to allergies, organ damage and even cancer.
So what treats should you choose? Check out these expert picks of the best cat dental treats and 6 best dog treats for bad breath.
4. Don’t Cut Corners on Cat Food
Poor diet is another main cause of bad pet breath in both cats and dogs.
A common myth is that canned cat food causes more plaque buildup. But that’s all it is: a myth. Oftentimes, cats that only eat dry food are not getting the nutrition they need. Additionally, they’re more prone to dehydration. (Canned wet food contains around 78 percent water vs. dry food at 10 percent.) Dehydration is not only dangerous to a cat’s health, it can also cause bad breath.
Whether you go wet or dry, here’s the key takeaway: quality counts. A low-quality wet food will not be better for your cat than a high-quality dry food. Check out these unbiased cat food reviews.
5. Adopt a Regular Dental Routine
Pet dental care doesn’t get any better – or easier – than with the Oxyfresh Pet Dental Kit.
This convenient little kit features everything you need to give your pets dental care right at home … or on the go!
What makes our products special is, unlike most store brands, they don’t merely MASK bad breath with alcohol, harsh chemicals, mints, clove oils, and artificial flavors – ingredients that can irritate and sting already sore gums while doing nothing to stop the plaque attack.
Instead, we use our totally exclusive Oxygene®, a safe, gentle, 100% non-toxic ingredient that completely neutralizes bad breath molecules on contact while fighting plaque and tartar.
What’s Inside the Pet Dental Kit
USA-made, this travel-size kit features 3 proven dental products for fresh pet breath and a healthier smile. You and your pet will love it!
- Oxyfresh Pet Dental Gel (1 oz.): Apply this unique toothpaste gel straight to the gum line and let the Oxygene® inside get right to work at fighting plaque and freshening your pet’s breath. Tasteless and odorless, Oxyfresh Pet Dental Gel is a 2019 Family Choice Award winner. Includes aloe to soothe and strengthen the gums.
- Oxyfresh Pet Dental Spray (3 fl. oz.): The newest product to join the Oxyfresh line has both dogs and cats wagging their tails. A few simple sprays of this patented formula with Oxygene® and zinc will stop even the stinkiest pet breath. Always flavor free, it’s the purr-fect companion to the Pet Dental Gel for fresh breath on the go!
- 3 Finger Brushes: The beauty of our Pet Dental Gel is it’s super versatile. You can use it to brush your pet’s teeth with a toothbrush, or if your stubborn pet won’t allow it, just apply it straight to the gum line with gauze, a Q-tip, or your bare finger. Many owners prefer the ease and effectiveness of a finger brush. As the name suggests, it just slips on right over the finger.
Cats (and Dogs) Give Oxyfresh 2 Paws Up
Regular dental care is one of the best things you can do to ensure your pet’s life is healthy, happy and free of pain. By partnering with Oxyfresh, you can feel good knowing that you’re giving your pets dental products that are free of alcohol, harsh chemicals and artificial junk. Most importantly, they’re proven to work, and pets love them! (Aw, just look at your pet’s face … he’s totally worth it!)