Dental awareness months are back, and healthy teeth and gums are on the forefront of everyone’s minds! While the start of the new year is a popular time of year to think about dental disease, it is something that should be addressed year-round for our furry friends. Part of your pet’s annual physical wellness exam includes an oral evaluation by your veterinarian, but there are several things to look for throughout the year to indicate whether your pet’s teeth may be causing them an issue.
One of the hallmark signs of dental disease is halitosis, or bad breath. Odor in the mouth is a byproduct of the metabolic process of the bacteria in the mouth. When your pet has dental disease, there is more bacteria in the mouth, leading to an increase in smell.
Another sign of dental disease can be behavior changes. Animals with mouth discomfort sometimes will only chew on one side of the mouth, drop food when eating, stop grooming, or show discomfort when opening their mouth fully/yawning. Owners know their pets better than anyone else, so if any of these are seen, a veterinarian should take a peek in the mouth to see what may be going on.
Blood also can be indicative of dental disease in pets. Bleeding in the mouth typically is secondary to teeth issues, but can also be a sign of a tongue/lip ulcer or an oral mass. Blood droplets can be found in a food or water dish, on toys or in bedding. With substantial dental disease, blood can even come out when your pet sneezes!
Finally, one of the trickiest thing about dental disease is our pets may show no issues at all. Evolutionarily, it is a survival mechanism to continue to eat and not show signs of weakness or pain in the mouth. This means even if our pets are eating and drinking normally, there could be some serious issues going on!
An oral examination is part of a pet’s yearly physical check-up, but it is important to keep an eye out for dental issues year-round. Staying on top of dental health helps promote long-term health benefits, improving life for both you and your pet!