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Tips From Your Sandstone, Mn Vet: 15 Signs Of Dental Problems In Pets 

February 1, 2024

February is Pet Dental Health Month. This is a very important topic, one that is unfortunately often overlooked. Even the most loving pet owner can easily overlook the signs that something is wrongDental problems are just as painful and problematic for pets as they are for people. In a way, they are even worse for our animal companions: Fido and Fluffy can’t exactly call their dentist to make themselves an appointment, or even tell you what’s wrong. It’s important to keep a close eye out, and watch for signs that something isn’t right. A local Sandstone, MN veterinarian offers some insight on what to watch for in this article.

Dental issues are very common in our furry friends.. Some of the most common ones include gum disease, abscesses, overcrowding, misalignments. Pets can also crack or break their teeth. This is common in dogs. Fido may love fetching sticks, but that could backfire on him. Cats are also prone to tooth resorption and feline stomatitis.

It’s important to have your vet check your pet’s teeth at their regular appointments. In between visits, watch for these warning signs.

What Are The Signs Of Dental Issues In Pets?

1. Tartar Buildup

Visible tartar buildup goes hand in hand—or hand in paw—with gum disease. Gum disease is essentially the same in pets as it is with people. This starts with minor gum irritation. At this stage, gingivitis, the condition can often be reversed with good care. Unfortunately, that doesn’t often happen with pets. As the condition progresses, tartar builds up around the gumline, eventually creating pockets of infection. This leads to loss of first gum tissue and then bone.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t merely a matter of aesthetics. Gum disease is actually very dangerous. Not only will it eventually lead to tooth shifting and loss, it has been linked to some extremely serious health conditions, such as heart disease and problems with the liver and kidneys. This is because the infection can move from pets’ mouths to their vital organs, via their bloodstream.

If your pet has noticeable brown or yellow gunk on their teeth, they may need a deep cleaning. This will remove the tartar, allowing the gums to heal and reattach. Ask your Sandstone, MN vet for more information.

2. Bad Breath

Pets aren’t exactly known for having minty-fresh breath, but their affectionate smooches and nose boops shouldn’t leave you gagging, either. (Note: Bad breath is always a concern, because it can be indicative of several health issues.)

3. Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums is a sign of gum disease in pets, just as it is in humans. You may not notice anything on your pet’s gums, but you might spot this in other ways. For example, you might see smears on your pet’s toys or dishes, or notice dark stains on the fur around their mouth.

4. Excessive/Ropy Drool

We know, some dogs are naturally slobbery. If you have a Bloodhound, Boxer, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Mastiff, Retriever, or Basset Hound, you can probably expect Fido to be, well, a bit sloppy in this regard. That said, stringy, ropy, or excessive drool is often a warning sign … especially if your pet isn’t naturally very slobbery.

Cats don’t usually drool, so if you spot Fluffy dribbling, pay attention.

5. Dribbling Food

Pets may not be the neatest eaters, but they’re usually pretty good at getting food into their mouths. If your animal companion has dental problems, they may find chewing painful or difficult. You might notice them dribbling food out of the side of their mouth.

6. Preferring Soft Food/Treats

Chewing on a sore tooth is definitely no fun. Hard food only makes it more difficult. You might see Fido or Fluffy opting more for soft things, and ignoring their dry food. Your pet may also lose interest in hard snacks.

7. Reduced Interest In Play

Fido uses his mouth to play, so it’s understandable that dental issues may put a damper on his love of playing Fetch or Tug O War. As for Fluffy, she may just not feel much like batting a catnip mouse around or chasing after that mysterious red dot that’s been eluding her for so long.

8. Swelling

Visible swelling is a huge red flag. Not only is this a sign that your pet is in serious pain, it’s also a warning that there could be a serious infection going on. Any infection can be dangerous, but ones that are so close to the brain are particularly worrisome.

9. Shying Away From Being Touched

Another thing to watch out for would be your pet suddenly shying away from having their head or face touched. This is especially concerning with animals that usually enjoy getting their foreheads rubbed or their ears scratched.

10. Grumpiness

Have you ever had a toothache? If so, it probably didn’t do much for your mood. Being in pain is no fun for anyone. You may notice your furry pal suddenly doesn’t seem like their usual self. They may withdraw to a quiet spot, and not engage with the rest of the family. In severe cases, pets may even growl or snap if you touch their face or mouth.

11. Pawing At The Mouth

This one is a bit more common in cats. You may notice your furry little buddy pawing at her mouth or face. This may be normal while Fluffy is grooming herself, but if it doesn’t seem related to your pet’s beauty regime, there could be something going on.

12. Unkempt Fur (Cats)

Kitties are usually pretty good about grooming themselves. Fluffy may spend several hours a day keeping her pretty fur soft and clean. However, just like people, kitties often just don’t feel like their normal selves when they are sick. If your feline pal’s mouth is hurting, it could very well interfere with this. 

13. Changes In Eating Habits

Another thing to watch for would be a change in your furry friend’s eating behaviors. We already mentioned that a preference for softer food can be a warning sign. That isn’t the only one to look for, though. Your furry friend may take longer eating, start preferring soft foods, or chew on one side of their mouth.

14. Reduced Appetite

If your pet’s teeth are really hurting, they may even lose interest in food altogether, which of course can be very dangerous. This can lead to weight loss and even malnutrition. It’s also important to note that reduced appetite can be indicative of many different health problems. We would always recommend contacting your Sandstone, MN veterinary clinic right away if your pet isn’t eating.

15. Sneezing

Dental problems often cause issues with the nasal passages or sinuses. This can in turn lead to nasal discharge, which is not normal for Fido or Fluffy.

Other Signs Of Dental Issues

We’ve listed the most common warning signs separately, but there are also some that are easy to spot with the naked eye. Some of these include:

  • Extra Teeth
  • Missing Teeth
  • Visible Abscesses
  • Inflammation
  • Tooth Movement
  • Misalignments
  • Overcrowding

Contact your Sandstone, MN veterinary clinic right away if you spot any of these.

Have you noticed any of these signs in your pet? Please feel free to contact us anytime. As your Sandstone, MN pet hospital, we are more than happy to help!