Itchy ears, broken legs, vomiting and diarrhea, these are easily recognized illnesses in our pets and when we see them there is no hesitation in seeking professional care to help are four legged loved ones get better. Dental disease, on the other hand is often not easy to recognize. Disease in the mouth is as serious or sometimes more so than the above maladies of dogs and cats but, since we seldom open our pets’ mouths to examine their teeth and gums, diseased teeth can often slide by under the radar.
To help recognize when your pet is having trouble in the mouth here are three signs to watch for:
1) Halitosis, bad breath, doggy breath worse than normal. All dogs and cats have slight if any odour to their breath. When the odour becomes unbearable or even noticeable it is an indication bacteria is building up on the teeth. This bacteria is eating away at your pet’s gum tissues and causing injury. This bacteria needs to be taken care of.
2) Brown staining on the teeth with or without red gums. The brown staining is called tartar. Tartar forms over top of plaque and plaque is deposited on the teeth every day. The plaque holds bacteria (which cause the smell) and these bacteria allow minerals to deposit on the teeth. It is these mineral deposits that are brown and, as well as being firmly attached to the teeth, they hold millions of bacteria. If the gums over the tartar are red, that means they are inflamed and infected and SORE. This tartar needs to be removed by a veterinarian to ensure your pet’s mouth stays healthy.
3) Change in eating habits. Not wanting to chew on hard food, dropping food from the mouth or chewing on one side of the mouth are all signs of mouth pain. There may a tooth infection, gum infection or abscess that is causing this pain. The source of the pain, once removed will allow your pet to be happier and healthier.
Any one of these signs indicate your pet needs to have his or her teeth professionally examined and treated. All it takes as a quick look on your part by flipping up the lip and seeing if there are any problems. Sometimes all that is needed is removal of the plaque and tartar by a professional, other times removal of teeth is the only option. Once you see any of these signs do not wait. Seek attention for your pet immediately to prevent ongoing dental pain and possibly worse.