By in Animals

What Should I Do When My Pet has a Dental Issue?

Pets can't tell their owners when they have a dental issue. That leaves it up to us to recognize when there is a problem and take appropriate action .

As a dog owner, you understand that when your pet is hurting, you hurt too. Taking steps to ensure your pet is happy and healthy means addressing every aspect of the animal's health. One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to be on the lookout for some sort of developing dental problem.

Signs that Something is Wrong

Dogs cannot tell their owners when their teeth hurt. This means that you must be sensitive to any signs that your pet is experiencing some sort of discomfort with the teeth or gums. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a brief list of the more common signs that dog owners should recognize:

  • Bad breath. Dogs don't tend to have minty fresh breath under the best of circumstances, but a sudden change for the worse could mean the presence of some type of problem with the gums or the teeth.
  • Avoiding hard foods. If your pet suddenly develops stops getting excited at the sight of a favorite hard treat, this could mean that one or more of the pet's teeth are causing pain.
  • Changes in the appearance of the gums or teeth. Gums that change to a darker red and seem slightly swollen indicate the presence of an infection. In like manner, teeth that begin to take on a brown hue the possibility of inflammation or a serious erosion of tooth enamel.
  • Pawing and rubbing the muzzle.When your dog begins to paw one side of the muzzle or rubs the face against the carpeting, something is causing irritation to the gums.

What Can I Do?

When your pet exhibits any of these signs, contact your veterinarian and make an appointment for the earliest possible date. The vet can examine your dog's teeth and gums and determine what is causing the problem. In many cases, a thorough cleaning by a dog dentist will help remove any elements that may be irritating the gums. At the same time, plaque and other buildup will be removed from the teeth. Capping and veneers can also be used to help protect teeth with weakening enamel.

If an infection is present, the vet will administer a shot of antibiotics to expedite the healing. Expect to receive some sort of prescription medication that you must give to your pet for the next several days. The vet will also advise you of any side effects that may occur, and what to do if an adverse reaction does take place.

Keep in mind that some form of treatments will require sedation. The vet will choose the best approach based on the age and general health of your dog. In some cases, the vet may want to keep your pet overnight for observation. If an overnight stay is in order, ask the vet to take care of any other treatments your pet needs, up to and including a seasonal flea treatment.

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DWDavisRSL wrote on January 4, 2016, 6:04 PM

Our vet always checks our dogs dental health during their regular visits. If necessary, we've had them in to have their teeth cleaned. Ace, the mini-Schnauzer we rescued/adopted nearly a year ago had several teeth pulled when he was younger but we never found out why.

LeaPea2417 wrote on January 4, 2016, 7:26 PM

Yes, I was thinking immediately take the dog to the Vet.

lookatdesktop wrote on January 4, 2016, 7:48 PM

This is a very good article. It is both informative and focused.

RuthCox wrote on January 5, 2016, 10:09 AM

Thanks for a great reminder to dog lovers that dental care is important for our furry friends.