Many pet parents think bad breath is just part of being a cat. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Foul-smelling breath isn’t normal or healthy. Find out why your cat’s bad breath can be a sign of a more serious problem.

How Bad Breath Starts: Regular activities like eating meals and chewing on toys can cause plaque to form on your cat’s teeth. This plaque must be removed daily or it will begin to form tartar—filmy deposits containing harmful bacteria that can irritate your pet’s gums and cause bad breath.

The plaque can lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which can eventually lead to periodontitis (inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth) and tooth loss.

Halitosis, or bad breath, is often the first sign of a more serious oral healthcare problem, like the early onset of gingivitis (gum disease) or periodontal disease.

The Effects of Oral Disease: If left untreated, advanced periodontal disease may can cause long-term issues with your cat’s internal organs. This happens when the bacteria that live in the infected gum tissue enter the blood stream and travel through the body, affecting organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.

Don’t overlook signs of an oral problem. Instead, take the right preventative measures to keep your cat happy and healthy for a lifetime.