Your pet’s mouth may seem like a mysterious cave into which objects disappear and only occasionally come back out. But do you really know what it looks like in there, or what it should look like?
If your pet is cooperative at home (that is, if you’re not in danger of being bitten) gently pry open his mouth and stare into the gaping maw. Check for evidence of poor dental health:
- Are any teeth loose, broken, or missing?
- Are the gums swollen or inflamed?
- Are there any growths on the gums, lips, roof or floor of the mouth?
- Do you see pus or blood in the mouth?
- Are the teeth yellow, brown, or crusted with tartar?
- Is there a foul odor?
- Is there fur wrapped around the teeth? (This happens mainly in pets that lick or chew at themselves often.)
- Has your pet become reluctant to eat, drink cold water, or play with chew toys?
- Is your pet drooling excessively?
- Is there a lump beneath one or both eyes (this can signal a carnassial tooth root abscess.)
If you notice any of those signs in your pet, it’s time for a dental checkup.
Good pet dental health begins at home.
Look for pet-specific toothpaste (human toothpaste is not recommended), gels and liquids meant for cleaning your pet’s mouth after meals.
Also, regularly cleaning your pet’s teeth after meals will allow you to notice any changes in oral health right away.
If your pet is uncooperative at home, schedule a dental exam with the vet, but take note: some pets require sedation for a thorough oral exam.