How To Tell If Your Dog Has Dental Problems

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is essential to not only having fresh breath but also a healthy body, as we’ll discover. You vet will tell you about the importance of oral hygiene because tooth and gum problems are common medical conditions seen in pets. If left unchecked, an unhealthy mouth can affect the liver, kidneys, heart and even the brain. Let’s dive in and find out how we can spot dental problems in dogs.

Bad breath in dogs not only means that your pet’s mouth may be littered unhealthy bacteria, tartar and plaque, but can also point to unhealthy intestines. If you’ve ever noticed that your dog’s breath is really bad, or if they are continually scratching at their mouth they may have dental problems. Simple brushing may not solve the problem, you’ll need to visit with your veterinarian. Studies show that 98% of pets with bad breath are suffering from severe plaque build up. In addition, the quality of your pet’s food can contribute to the status of your pet’s breath. Low quality food can cause digestive problems, thus promoting bad breath.

Can I Share My Toothpaste With My Pet?

You should never give your dog human toothpaste. Human toothpaste can give your pet some serious stomach problems because they swallow whatever you use to clean their teeth. Human toothpaste simply isn’t edible, if you wouldn’t eat it, why let your dog?

While some factors of dog dental problems include viruses, bacteria and not enough abrasive foods, some dog breeds simply have bad teeth and gums. Did you know that certain breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed to unhealthy teeth and gums? For example, the Maltese is the number one dog breed with tooth and gum problems. Beautiful as they are, have serious tooth problems and often get some of their teeth pulled when they’re pups. Other dog breeds with tooth problems are:

  • Pugs
  • Collie
  • Yorkies
  • Chihuahuas
  • Dachshunds
  • Boxers, as well as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bulldogs

It all starts with your pets gums looking almost red, and some of the teeth coated with yellow or brown tartar. When it comes to your pet’s mouth, don’t take anything for granted. Examine your dog, slowly open his mouth with your fingers and ask yourself if any of the following can be determined:

  • Does his breath smell like he just raided a rotten fish market?
  • Are any of his canines or molars discolored (gray, brown or green)? (Keep in mind that a pet’s teeth may be yellow due to early antibiotics like tetracycline—totally normal.)
  • Are their gums swollen and bright pink, or red like a sunburn?
  • Do you see any sores on the gums?
  • Are his bottom teeth worn down?
  • Do you see any swelling or sores on his face around the lips, under the eyes or nose?
  • Does your puppy have double teeth?
  • Some dogs drool, but if your pet is experiencing excessive drooling but doesn’t usually, it could indicate dental problems.
  • Has your dog lost weight recently as a result of not eating enough?
  • Does your dog shy away from some dry foods, or chew hard foods slowly?

NOTE: When checking your dog’s gums, normal colored gums should be light to medium pink. Dark colored dogs gums may be gray.

Watching for unusual behavior

It’s also important to observe your pet’s behavior as far as food is concerned. Has your pet been approaching his food bowl reluctantly? Has he been eating slower than usual and has he exhibited trouble biting hard things? Does your dog or cat cry during or after eating? Does your cat have the tendency to pick up food, spit it out, pick it up again and finally throw it to the back with his tongue?

If you’ve nodded your head to two or more of any of the questions above, then it’s clear that your pet has some dental health issues! You must take your pet to your veterinarian right away for an oral examination.