Pets with painful teeth still eat. Some pets with broken jaws still eat. Pets with painful cancer in their mouths still eat.
How then, can you tell if your pet is having pain in the mouth or teeth?
Any of the following changes may indicate that your pet is having pain in the mouth:
- General malaise, lethargy, acting old
- Won’t chew hard food or treats anymore
- Swallows hard food whole or chews slowly
- Drops food from the mouth while eating
- Odor from the mouth
- Won’t pick up toys anymore
- Red gums instead of pink gums
- Head shy (doesn’t want to be petted on the face or have the face groomed)
- Less active
- Less social (cats)
- Discolored teeth
- Teeth falling out
The most common phone call we receive is from the dog owner that notices a broken tooth and wants to know if this is a concern. We are told, “He’s still eating”. As you know now, this does not exclude pain. Watching and waiting for some “sign” since the dog is still eating, is not in the best interest of the dog. There is often no “sign”. In most cases there will be no swellings or drainage. Antibiotics will not help.
You will not know how much pain your pet is having until that pain is relieved. The pet that “acted old” prior to treatment of dental or oral pain, begins to act young again. Pain is debilitating in many ways, but it does not diminish appetite. If any of the changes listed above occur in your pet, schedule an oral exam with your local veterinary dental specialist. To find the specialist nearest you, visit www.avdc.org.