Just as it’s important to brush your teeth to prevent dental decay and infection in your mouth, it’s also important to do the same for your furry friend. But, unfortunately, your pet can’t exactly tell you when they have a toothache. If your pet is in need of dental care, it’s important not to put it off, but how will you know? There are many tell-tale signs that pet owners should be aware of and watch out for, including:
When the only tools you have to groom yourself are your own paws and your tongue, your breath probably won’t smell minty fresh. That being said, it’s not normal for your pet’s breath to be overly stinky. In fact, bad breath is often the first and most common sign of periodontal disease (gum disease) in pets. If you’re unsure of whether your pet’s breath is natural or the result of a dental problem, consult with your veterinarian! Left untreated, periodontal disease is only going to get worse, so it’s in neither your best interest nor your pet’s to take a chance.
You brush your teeth every night to get rid of a build-up on your teeth, called plaque. If plaque isn’t removed by brushing or flossing, it will start to harden and form tartar, which gets attached to the teeth, usually, right below the gumline. The same thing happens in our pets, and if you’re not diligent about brushing their teeth or giving them plenty of stuff to chew on, that tartar can lead to yellow or brown stains forming on their teeth. Unfortunately, this staining often goes hand in hand with bacterial infections, but your veterinarian can typically remove it through dental cleanings.
Have you noticed that your pet leaves behind a little bit of blood when they chew on toys or bones? Or, do your pet’s gums look red or inflamed? These kinds of gum problems are often a sign that your dog has a bacterial infection in their gums, and they can cause your pet to experience significant discomfort. Luckily, though, the pain can be treated or reversed with dental care.
Has your usually ravenous pet suddenly stopped caring about eating during mealtimes? Any changes in your pet’s behavior are important to watch out for, but changes in eating patterns are particularly concerning, especially in terms of their dental health. Besides not eating, a couple of other changes in their eating patterns you should be aware of include chewing on one particular side of their mouth or eating slower or more carefully than usual. Eating difficulties like these could be a sign that your pet has inflammation or even an infection, which was likely caused by periodontal disease. If you notice any changes in your pet’s eating patterns, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If your pet has a tooth abscess, it can cause a significant amount of pain. Although your pet can’t come right out and tell you they’re in pain, excessive drooling or a frequent pawing of the mouth are often indicators of oral pain. Abscesses are quite common, and they can be caused by periodontal disease or trauma to the tooth from fighting or chewing a bone or a toy that is too hard. As we mentioned, tooth abscesses are incredibly painful for your pet, and if you suspect that your pet has one, take them to your veterinarian as soon as you can.
If your pet’s teeth are broken or feel loose, it’s a sign that their oral health problems have escalated. If bacteria is left to run rampant in your pet’s mouth, it will start to eat away at the bindings that hold their teeth into place, which can cause the teeth to become loose. Additionally, a tooth that has been broken due to some kind of trauma is highly prone to becoming infected due to the access the break gives bacteria to the tooth’s root. And, bacterial infections aren’t confined to the mouth; they can spread throughout the rest of your pet’s body, leading to more health problems for your pet.
Pets, like people, can develop mouth cancer. If you’ve noticed that your pet has growths of tumors on their gums, don’t wait to get them checked out by your veterinarian. The tumors may be benign or malignant, but you won’t know until they get tested by a professional. If mouth cancer is present, the treatment might involve removing some of your pet’s teeth, as well as part of their jawbone. These growths can only be spotted if you are familiar with your pet’s mouth, which is just another reason to make it a point to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis.
While pets are just as prone to dental problems as people, the good news is that dental problems in pets are also just as preventative as they are in people. Caring for your pet’s teeth properly at home should be a priority, not only so that you can keep their teeth clean and prevent dental problems, but also so that you can catch dental problems when they’re early and still easy to treat.
At The Vet Set, we’re proud to say that our new animal hospital is equipped with everything we need to provide next-level care for your pet, including pet dental care. If you think your pet is in need of dental care, please contact us to schedule your appointment today!