Feb 12 2015

Is a human breath mint healthy for your dog or cat? | Winslow Animal Hospital

Bad Breath in Dog or Cat


Is bad breath normal or is a sign of dental disease?

We encourage Pet-Parents to brush their pets teeth at least twice a week and have regular dental check up with their veterinarians. That way, all 42 of your dog’s teeth or all 30 of your cat’s teeth, are healthy. Your pets are examined from the tips of their noses to end of their tails by our doctors each wellness visit.

Question: Is giving a human breath mint safe for pet’s health? Answer: It is not best for your pet’s health.

Many breath-fresheners, including gum, contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. We often talk about this chemical during holidays when the candy comes out, such as Halloween. It appears to be safe for people, but in dogs, xylitol can cause a dangerously sharp drop in blood sugar. Petpoisonhelpline.com warns of these symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Malaise
  • Black-tarry stool
  • Coma
  • Death

Dogs are more at risk than cats. Cats generally do not like gum, and do not experience the harsh reaction to xylitol that dogs do. (see this Catster article) There are other chemicals in breath-freshening products that may cause irritation of the mouth or gastrointestinal tract as well, such as menthol. To be safe, avoid giving your dog or cat any products that are intended for human consumption. In stead, consider pet-friendly products, like CET Oral Hygiene Chews. 

Steps of a Professional Pet Dental Cleaning

 Emergency Numbers

Program emergency poison numbers into your cell phone AND write them down someplace noticeable, like a calendar or on the refrigerator. For animal poisoning, contact

  • Winslow Animal Hospital at 856-875-1323
  • ASPCA Poison Control at (888) 426-4435   ($65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card)
  • Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661  ($39 per incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.)

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