How to Check your Pet’s Dental Health

Every day is the time to keep your pet’s oral and dental health. The eyes may be the mirror to the soul, but the mouth leads to the rest of the body. To be able to keep the mouth happy, healthy and free of halitosis (bad breath), it is important to know how to check your pet’s oral and dental health and what signs to look for.


Dental Health: 1. The Breath Test

When having cuddle time with your pet be sure to sniff your pet’s breath. It can smell like the food you fed, the socks they stole, or even some human food they swiped. That’s okay, normal animal-breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling, it’s not going to smell minty until you use vanilla mint toothpaste. However, if a whiff of their breath has an offensive odour then there is an underlying cause. This cause could be due to digestive problems not just oral disease. A consultation with a veterinarian should be pursued to help you determine the cause.


Dental Health: 2. Lip Service

At least once a week, flip your pet’s lips and take a good look. You want to examine the gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling or bleeding. The teeth should be clean and white, without any brownish tartar. Look for any damage to the teeth or gaps – compare sides. There should also be no signs of discomfort or pain.


Dental Health: 3. Clinical Signs

Even though are pet’s can’t talk to us in words, they do communicate with us in many other ways. If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs it could be due to a dental health issue:

  • excessive or loss of drooling
  • smacking of the lips
  • teeth chattering
  • loss or decreased appetite
  • not playing with toys
  • reluctance to chew their food, or chewing on only one side of the mouth
  • excessive pawing at the mouth
  • pain/ reluctance of the mouth being touched


Dental Health: 4. Signs of Oral Disease

The following are signs that your pet may have a problem in their mouth and should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • bad breath ( halitosis)
  • calculus or tartar (brown/black matter on crown of teeth)
  • swollen, red, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • loose or missing teeth
  • fractured teeth
  • growths, masses on or involving the gums
  • cysts around/under the tongue or lips
  • ulcers on the gums or tongue
  • pus


Dental Health: 5. Health Problems due to Oral Disease

So your pet has bad breath and some dental issues, but are you aware that these can cause further medical issues not only impacting their oral health. Oral disease can contribute to or increase the risk of many serious diseases such as:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • infections of the heart, lungs or kidneys


Dr Lana Conway  DVM, FAVD Dipl AVDC