May 20, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Five Signs Of Dental Disease In Your Pet

Lacy Gilmer - DVM - Calvert Veterinary Center
Lacy Gilmer - DVM - Calvert Veterinary Center's picture
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February 22, 2017

Many times, you’ve probably looked at your pets and thought, “I wish they could talk to me!” Well, your animals may not be able to actually talk, but they are probably communicating in other ways.

The No. 1 disease affecting pets is periodontal disease, or in other terms, a mouthful of really bad toothaches! More than 60 percent of animals have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, so chances are that your baby has some level of plaque, tartar, gingivitis or disease below the gum line.

Below are the top five ways your pet may tell you that he or she is in pain. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian to schedule an exam. Don’t let your pets suffer in silence.

Bad breath: Does your dog have breath that could knock you over? That is not normal and is a sign of bacteria growing in the mouth.

Changes in behavior: Have you noticed that your pet is taking longer than normal to eat, chewing on one side of the mouth, not grooming himself or herself, dropping food, hiding, or acting grouchier than normal? These are all possible signs of dental pain. No one knows your pet better than you, so if you think they are “off,” a comprehensive physical and oral assessment by your veterinarian is warranted.

Bleeding: Bleeding from the mouth is never normal and can indicate dental disease, oral masses or tumors, fractured teeth and other causes. You may notice spots of blood on their toys or beds, food dish, or even sneezing with bloody discharge if the dental disease is severe enough.

Loss of appetite or loss of weight: Weight loss can be due to many, many reasons including metabolic disease, cancer or dental disease. If you notice your pet losing weight unexpectedly, it’s time to visit your vet!

No signs at all: Dogs, cats and other companion animals, such as rabbits, rarely show signs of dental pain. This is a survival mechanism, an instinctual behavior that our domesticated animals have in common with their wild ancestors, that prevents showing signs of weakness. For that reason, yearly or biyearly physical exams with your veterinarian are essential to screening for oral and other health concerns. Dental X-rays taken during a dental cleaning are the best way to evaluate for any hidden dental disease.

If you are concerned that your pet could be suffering with dental disease, call 410-360-7297 or visit for an exam and evaluation. Because dental disease is progressive, it is important to stop it before it causes pain and tooth loss. Prevention is the best medicine!

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