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15 Telltale Signs in Pets to Detect Dental Problems
February 1, 2024

Pet Dental Health Month falls in February, highlighting a vital yet frequently neglected aspect of pet care. Often underestimated, dental issues inflict similar pain and discomfort on pets as they do on humans. Unlike us, pets lack the means to schedule dental appointments or articulate their discomfort. Hence, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and recognize any potential dental problems. This article provides valuable guidance from a California, MD veterinarian, shedding light on key indicators to monitor.

Dental problems frequently afflict our beloved pets, yet even the most attentive owners may miss the subtle indicators of trouble. Common issues encompass gum disease, abscesses, overcrowding, and misalignments. Dogs, especially avid stick fetchers like Fido, often experience cracked or broken teeth. Meanwhile, cats face tooth resorption and feline stomatitis. Identifying these concerns is crucial for proactive pet care.

Regular vet check-ups are crucial for monitoring your pet’s dental health. Stay vigilant for warning signs between appointments.

  1. Accumulation of Tartar

The noticeable accumulation of tartar is closely linked, or paw in hand, with gum disease, mirroring its human counterpart. The initial phase involves mild gum irritation, known as gingivitis, often reversible with proper care. However, pets frequently miss out on this reversal. With progression, tartar forms along the gumline, giving rise to infectious pockets, resulting in the gradual loss of gum tissue and subsequent bone deterioration.

Recognizing this is more than just aesthetics; gum disease poses real dangers. Beyond causing tooth shifting and loss, it’s associated with severe health issues like heart disease, liver, and kidney problems. The infection can traverse from pets’ mouths to vital organs through the bloodstream.

Visible brown or yellow buildup on your pet’s teeth may signal the need for a deep cleaning. This procedure removes tartar, promoting gum healing and reattachment. Consult your vet for further details.

  1. Foul Breath

While pets aren’t famed for minty-fresh breath, their loving nose boops and smooches shouldn’t be unpleasant. Persistent bad breath is worrisome, hinting at potential health problems.

  1. Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums indicate gum disease, mirroring human symptoms. Even if you don’t detect anything unusual directly on your pet’s gums, other signs may manifest. Look for smudges on toys or bowls and dark fur stains around their mouth area. These subtle cues can signal underlying dental issues requiring attention.

  1. Excessive Drool

Some dogs naturally tend to be a bit slobbery. Breeds like the Bloodhound, Boxer, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Mastiff, Retriever, or Basset Hound often exhibit this trait. However, if your pet isn’t typically drooly and starts producing stringy or excessive drool, it could signal an underlying issue that warrants attention.

  • Cats typically don’t drool, so if you notice Fluffy drooling, take notice.
  1. Dropping Food

While pets may not always be the tidiest eaters, they generally manage to get food into their mouths efficiently. However, if your furry friend is suffering from dental issues, chewing may become painful or challenging for them. You might observe them inadvertently dribbling food from the side of their mouth.

  1. Favoring Soft Food/Treats

Experiencing tooth pain while chewing is unpleasant. Hard food exacerbates the discomfort. You may notice Fido or Fluffy preferring softer items and neglecting their dry food. Your pet might also show disinterest in hard treats.

  1. Diminished Enthusiasm for Play

Fido’s playfulness involves using his mouth, making dental problems a potential hindrance to activities like Fetch or Tug O War. Similarly, Fluffy might lose interest in batting a catnip mouse or pursuing the elusive red dot if dental issues affect her enthusiasm for play. Dental health plays a crucial role in maintaining the joy pets derive from their favorite activities.

  1. Swelling

Visible swelling is a significant warning sign. It indicates serious pain for your pet and suggests the presence of a potentially severe infection. Any infection poses risks, but those near the brain are especially concerning due to their proximity to vital organs. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial to address such serious health issues.

  1. Avoiding Physical Contact

Keep an eye out for your pet unexpectedly avoiding head or face contact. This behavior is particularly worrying if your pet typically enjoys forehead rubs or ear scratches. Any sudden aversion to these interactions could indicate underlying discomfort or pain, warranting prompt attention from a veterinarian.

  1. Sullen Disposition

Have you experienced a toothache? It likely didn’t uplift your mood. Pain is unpleasant for everyone. If your furry friend suddenly appears different, withdrawing to a quiet spot and avoiding family interaction, it could indicate discomfort. In severe instances, pets may even growl or snap when their face or mouth is touched. Recognizing these signs is crucial for promptly addressing potential dental issues and ensuring your pet’s well-being.

  1. Mouth-Pawing

This behavior is more frequently observed in cats. You might observe your feline friend pawing at her mouth or face. While it could be a part of Fluffy’s grooming routine, if it appears unrelated to her usual self-care, it could indicate an underlying issue that warrants attention from a veterinarian.

  1. Disheveled Coat (Cats)

Cats are typically adept at self-grooming, with Fluffy dedicating several hours daily to maintaining her soft, clean fur. If your feline companion is experiencing mouth pain, it could disrupt this routine. Ill cats often deviate from their regular beauty habits, mirroring the human tendency to feel unlike themselves when unwell. Recognizing changes in your cat’s grooming behavior can serve as an essential cue to monitor and address potential health issues promptly.

  1. Alterations in Eating Patterns

Another aspect to monitor closely would be any alterations or shifts in your furry friend’s eating behaviors. As previously mentioned, while a preference for softer food can certainly be a notable warning sign, it’s essential to be vigilant for additional indicators. Your furry companion might also exhibit changes such as prolonged meal durations or alterations in their overall appetite.

  1. Decreased Appetite

Severe dental pain in pets can cause a complete loss of appetite, posing significant risks like weight loss and malnutrition. Diminished appetite may signal various health issues. Immediate veterinary consultation is advisable if your pet refuses food. It’s vital to recognize that reduced appetite can be indicative of diverse health problems. Contacting your vet promptly is recommended if your pet stops eating to ensure timely intervention and prevent potential complications.

  1. Sneezing

Dental issues can affect nasal passages or sinuses, resulting in abnormal nasal discharge, which is unusual for pets like Fido or Fluffy. Recognizing such symptoms is crucial for timely veterinary intervention.

  • Additional Indicators of Dental Problems

In addition to separately listing the most common warning signs, there are also some easily identifiable ones. These include:

  • Missing Teeth
  • Extra Teeth
  • Inflammation
  • Visible Abscesses
  • Contact your California, MD veterinary clinic upon observing any of these signs.

Maintaining good dental health in pets is crucial for their overall well-being. Dental issues are widespread among pets but are frequently disregarded. Recognizing warning signs such as tartar buildup, drooling, weight loss, bad breath, changes in eating habits, and visible swelling is vital. These signs indicate potential dental problems that require prompt attention. Neglecting dental health can lead to discomfort, pain, and systemic health issues. Therefore, contacting a veterinarian immediately upon observing any of these signs is essential to prevent further complications and ensure the optimal health and longevity of our beloved pets.

Have you observed any of these symptoms in your pet? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Breton Animal Hospital near California, MD; we’re here to assist!