How To Tell If Your Dog Needs Dental Work
And what it means if he has dragon breath 🐉
You probably think that if your dog needs dental work, you’ll be able to tell by looking at his teeth — right?
Turns out, that’s not always the case.
The Dodo spoke with Allyne Moon, a registered vet technician with Free Animal Doctor in California, who explained what you need to know about dental work for dogs — and why it’s so important to get regular check-ups.
How to tell if your dog needs dental work
Your dog’s dental health is super important, so you need to be able to identify when your pup’s pearly whites might need some work.
“Pet parents should check their dogs’ teeth regularly,” Moon told The Dodo.
During those check-ins on his chompers, you should know what to do and what to look for.
“Look all the way at the back teeth by gently pulling the corner of the lip back,” Moon explained. “If the teeth appear discolored, [if the] gums are very red [or ‘angry’], [if] any blood or [pus or] discharge is present or if teeth are loose, they should seek a consultation with their veterinarian.”
If your pup’s breath is so bad that it almost makes you wish you didn’t have a sense of smell, that’s also a pretty solid indication that your dog needs dental work.
“If your dog’s breath smells bad, even if the teeth look OK, it is also an indication to have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian,” Moon said.
Signs your dog needs dental work
Some general symptoms that might mean your pup needs dental work include:
- Having bad breath
- Experiencing excessive drooling
- Pawing or rubbing his mouth (more than usual)
- Getting lumps on his face under his eyes
- Dropping food when eating
- Eating less
- Appearing like his mouth is in pain
- Refusing to let you look in his mouth
If you’re noticing any of these signs, you should give your vet a call.
Common dog dental problems
According to Moon, your dog can be at higher risk for certain dental problems based on his size.
“In my experience, the most common dental problems in ... small breed dogs [are] heavy dental tartar, calculus and crowded [or] diseased teeth,” Moon said. “Large breed dogs [can have] broken teeth, requiring ... root canal, endodontic therapy or extraction.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that tartar buildup only happens in small dog breeds, or that big dogs are the only pups who have broken teeth.
These problems can happen in any dog, no matter his size or breed.
If your pup is experiencing any of these things, or any of the symptoms above, it’s crucial to bring him directly to the vet ASAP.
“I would absolutely NEVER take your pet to a ‘nonanesthetic pet dentist’ [or] run out [to] a grooming shop,” Moon said. “At best, these people only provide a cosmetic service. At [worst], you’ll be spending a lot of money for something that gives you a false sense of confidence and can ruin your pet’s health … If your pet is lucky, the only thing they will waste is your money.”
How to stay on top of your dog’s dental care
“Unfortunately, once your dog’s teeth have reached the stage of significant tartar buildup, foul breath or loose [or] broken teeth, there’s nothing a pet parent can do at home to help beyond scheduling an appointment with their veterinarian,” Moon said.
However, there are things you can do to try to prevent things from getting to that point.
The best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean at home
According to Moon, it’s key to use an appropriate dog toothpaste.
“The onset of many dental problems can be delayed by having pet parents brush their dogs’ teeth with a pet-approved enzymatic toothpaste,” Moon explained. “The beauty of an enzymatic toothpaste is it works without scrubbing.”
This is great if your pup can’t stand it when you try to get in there with a toothbrush.
“If all you can do is get the enzymatic paste on the gums and teeth, that is fine,” Moon said. “People have gotten good results by just smearing the paste onto their dog’s gums and teeth.”
It’s also important to know what should — and shouldn’t — be in your dog’s toothpaste.
“Whatever product people use, it should be labeled for dogs, work by using enzymes, NOT have fluoride in it and come in a flavor your pet enjoys,” Moon explained.
Between regular at-home dental care and cleanings at your vet’s office, there’s so much you can do to keep your pup’s teeth pearly white — and smelling good.
What You Need To Fight Bad Dog Breath
What You Need To Fight Bad Dog Breath
We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.