How to Identify Dog Dental Health Problems
"The most common symptoms of a dental problem are bad breath, calculus buildup on the teeth, and gingivitis (red, inflamed or infected gums)." - Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, Bond Vet
Signs & Symptoms
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DENTAL DISEASE IN DOGS?
The most common are probably bad breath, calculus buildup on the teeth, and gingivitis (red, inflamed or infected gums). But dental disease might present differently depending on the dog and the specific dental issue. So watch for any of the above symptoms, or take note of anything else that seems out of the ordinary to you.
WHAT OTHER SIGNS SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN MY DOG TO IDENTIFY A PROBLEM?
Symptoms might include: halitosis (bad breath); teeth that are discolored or have calculus accumulation; red, inflamed, or bleeding gums; excessive drooling; changes in appetite or eating habits; only chewing on one side of the mouth; picking up and dropping food; pawing at the mouth; a painful mouth; or even swelling or discharge in the muzzle area of the face. Broken teeth should also be evaluated.
MY DOG'S BREATH SMELLS PRETTY BAD, IS THIS BECAUSE OF A DENTAL PROBLEM?
That is certainly one possibility, and a very common one. But breath smell can come from several factors, including what the pet is eating, digestive issues, getting something stuck in the mouth, or even serious health conditions like kidney failure or poisonings. The best thing to do is have a veterinary consultation. If your pet is otherwise healthy, this usually isn’t urgent but should be scheduled as soon as possible. If your pet is obviously ill, in pain, losing weight, having difficulty eating, or having other concerning symptoms (or you know they ate something toxic), they might require urgent or emergency care.
When is it Time to Book a Dental Visit?
HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD I GET MY DOG'S TEETH CHECKED BY MY VET?
This varies by breed and individual factors, which affect how quickly dental disease can develop in each dog. Your vet will give you a personalized guideline. Coming in for checkups at the recommended interval (usually every 6-12 months, or more often for seniors or dogs with health problems) is a great step to take.
I HAVE A RESCUE DOG AND I DON'T KNOW THEIR DENTAL HISTORY. HOW DO I KNOW IF THEY NEED DENTAL CARE?
The best place to start is with a veterinary examination. This is a good idea for your dog’s whole body, not just their dental care. Without knowing your rescue dog’s history, it’s possible they could have other health conditions that need to be addressed, too. Your vet can guide you on what’s needed—or possibly report a clean bill of health to give you peace of mind.
IS IT EVER TOO LATE TO START CLEANING YOUR DOG'S TEETH?
Dental disease is more prominent in older pets. And pets with significant dental disease or periodontal disease (a deeper, more serious process affecting the structures that hold teeth in place) can experience pain when someone tries to brush their teeth. Ask your vet for the okay prior to beginning. A veterinary dental cleaning procedure might be required first, but after that it’s often perfectly fine to begin this new, healthy habit.
Looking for more tips on pet safety, health and training? Sign up for our newsletter below and fetch Fable right into your inbox. Click below to learn more about our friends at Bond Vet, or find a Bond Vet clinic location nearest you.