For Dr. High at Morinville Vet Clinic, it is still amazing how often it comes as a surprise to a pet owner that their pet needs dental care. Over the years, he has seen some horrible mouths while examining dogs, yet the owner never suspected that there was a problem. That has even included pets that he could pick out as a problem the moment he walked into the room.
To be honest, the public awareness has gotten much better in the last twenty years. Most vets discuss dental health at annual check-ups, many clients in the Edmonton area look at their dog’s teeth on a regular basis; some even brush them. There are several dog foods that were developed specifically to keep teeth free of tartar. These foods are nutritionally balanced, so dogs can be on them for years.
Even with all of this, the vets at Morinville Vet Clinic still find themselves pointing out bad mouths to unsuspecting owners. In most cases, there were telltale signs that the owner did not pick up on.
The most obvious sign is bad breath. The plaque and tartar that develops in dental disease is a carpet of contaminated waste produced by bacteria that grow in the mouth and break down food. Most people recognize that rotten food stinks, and do something about it. When that same smell comes from their dog’s mouth, they pass it off as “dog breath” and say it is normal. As Dr. High would say, “I can assure you that it is not normal to have a mouth that smells like week old garbage!” After all, puppies do not have bad breath, neither do dogs that have their teeth brushed.
The second sign may be a change of appetite. Anyone who has had a serious cavity and then eaten ice cream or hot soup can attest to the fact that a bad tooth makes it hurt to eat. Every tooth in your dog’s mouth has a nerve in it. When the tooth is damaged by dental problems, that exposes the nerve to damage. The food your dog has loved for eight years suddenly is painful to eat. You may see him eat slower, drop pieces of food while eating, or stop eating entirely. If given a different, softer, food, the dog regains his appetite.
In more severe cases of dental problems, some owners report noticing their dogs rubbing at their faces. Usually, this only occurs when at least one of the teeth has had bacteria get into the roots and form an abscess. The dog is rubbing its face because it hurts, the dog wants the tooth to fall out or at least stop hurting.
If you are seeing any of these signs in your dog, please let the doctors and staff of Morinville Vet Clinic check his mouth, you might be amazed at how much better your dog could feel!
Written by Morinville Veterinary Clinic