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Tips For Recognizing Dental Disease In Dogs And Cats

Dental Disease and Pain Not Always Easy to Recognize

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Open Wide © polandeze on Flickr

Open Wide

© polandeze on Flickr

Dogs and cats may express dental pain and disease in many ways. Below are a list of common signs and behaviors seen with diseases of the teeth and gums.

Dental disease is not simply suffering from "bad breath" -- infections of the gums, teeth, and oral cavity can spread via the bloodstream to the heart and liver, possibly causing additional health problems.

Diseased teeth and gums are also often painful and may limit your pet's appetite because it is too painful to eat. These tips are signs to watch for in your pet.

Please note: any time your pet is not eating, is listless, or just "not himself" (or herself), a visit with your veterinarian is in order.

Your pet may or may not show obvious signs of pain with dental disease. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these possible signs to get your pet the medical attention he or she deserves.

  • Malodorous (bad) breath*
  • Drooling, often with foul-smelling saliva
  • Appearance of dental plaque and tartar
  • Reluctance to eat or reduced appetite
  • Teeth that "chatter," especially in cats
  • Tooth loss (other than normal baby tooth loss of young animals)
  • Lethargy or listlessness
  • Discolored teeth
  • Broken / fractured teeth
  • Swelling and / or draining wound below the eye, often caused by a carnassial tooth abscess, especially in dogs.

Regular examinations by your vet and regular brushing at home will help your pet maintain optimal dental health.

* = Contrary to popular opinion, "doggy breath" is not normal.

Related Reading:
The Importance of Dental Care for Pets
8 Tips and tools for home dental care for pets
Is anesthesia necessary to do a dental cleaning on my pet?

Photo credit: Open Wide © polandeze on Flickr

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