Ten Signs of Dental Disease in Pets

February is Dental Health Month and we’re celebrating by giving you ten reasons why your animals need dental cleanings. You want tartar accumulation removed! This process may require general anesthesia for deep cleanings.

Dental cleanings with a vet

Regular dental cleanings are important, so your veterinarian can check for periodontal disease. Dental probing and x-rays are how experts find deeper pathology.

Other dental cleaning options

Remember there are low-cost options in Portland if you’re concerned with the overall cost of a cleaning and digital X-rays. According to Dr. Jacqueline Myers, DVM at Forever Pet Dental, the importance of pet dental health is becoming more and more apparent to dog and cat owners as their pets age and they start to deal with dental issues, which often can be expensive.

“There are many low-cost options that can greatly improve your pet’s oral health including at home daily tooth brushing, dental products endorsed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC seal of approval), or even a specifically formulated dental health diet.  Discouraging rock, stick, antler, and bone chewing can also help to prevent broken teeth.  Also recommended is an annual dental cleaning under gas anesthesia, which can be expensive, but low cost, high-quality options like Forever Pet Dental can help with that too,” added Dr. Myers. With this in mind, how do you know your animal needs a dental cleaning?

Top ten signs of dental disease

Every pet parent should be aware of the top signs of periodontal disease and these include red, swollen gums and loss of appetite or weight. And more signs can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association site.

1. Inflammation

Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have microscopic damage in their kidneys, heart muscle, and liver.

2. Bad breath


Bacteria and tartar lead to bad breath. This is a reason for a vet visit.

3. Drooling

Drooling is a common sign of dental disease in cats.

4. Inflammed gums

Red, swollen gums are major red flags. Your pet is uncomfortable when you notice any inflamed gums.

5. Discolored teeth


Some breeds are predisposed to tartar and discolored teeth may indicate dental disease.

6. Loose teeth

Is your pet missing teeth? Loose teeth may need to be extracted.

7. Inappetance

sad dog

Anytime a dog or cat refuses meals, pet parents need to be concerned about dental disease.

8. Pawing at the mouth

cat dental disease

Cats or dogs with oral pain may roll around the carpet or paw at the mouth.

9. Bleeding gums

Your dog may be ok if you notice bleeding gums when he chews on a bone but if you notice your pet’s gums are bleeding you need to talk to your vet.

10. Difficulty swallowing

Always contact your vet if your pet is having any kind of difficulty swallowing.

It’s more than just the teeth

More than the teeth are examined. Dental exams begin with a comprehensive oral examination to evaluate structures of the face, head, and neck. Then intraoral structures are examined including the teeth and soft tissues.

Try daily brushing

Other ways to prevent this disease? Daily brushing is necessary to decrease calculus formation. Reduction of bacteria in the mouth can be accomplished through not only brushing but also diet and the use of toys.

Start by massaging your dog’s gums as an introduction to brushing their teeth.

Please ask our staff for their recommendation on appropriate chew toys and toothpaste or toothbrushes.

We love this video from Whole Dog Journal’s editor about the importance of oral health and teeth brushing.

Staff picks for Dental Products! Ask our staff about Mad About Organics and their awesome line of dental health products. We also love Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste and Plaque Off.