5 Questions to Consider About Your Dog's Oral Health

Wondering if your dog has a cavity? Worried that you need to take him to the vet immediately? Here's what you need to consider about your dog's oral health:

1. Is Your Dog Acting Like He Is in Pain?

If your dog has a painful cavity, he may avoid eating. He may yelp in pain while eating, or he may act a little more subdued than usual. If you see these signs, you should look further into the situation.

2. Do You See Stains on Your Dog's Teeth?

If you suspect a cavity, do an examination of your dog's mouth. If he normally lets you look in your mouth but is resistant, that could be another sign that he is in pain. In these cases, you may want to schedule an appointment with an emergency vet. They can give your dog anesthesia as needed to help him relax. Then, they can look at the teeth and take x-rays as needed.

If your dog lets you look at his mouth, look for dark spots on the teeth. If possible, gently feel these spots. If they feel soft to the touch, that's a sign that it may be decay. Also, look for other dental issues such as gums receding from the teeth or inflamed, bloody gums.

3. Are You Taking Preventative Measures to Prevent Cavities?

If cavities aren't present yet, you may want to take some steps to prevent them. Usually, you don't have to brush your dog's teeth. In the rare cases where the vet recommends brushing, make sure to use toothpaste recommended by the vet. Human toothpaste is usually not the best option as humans have different bacteria in their mouths than dogs.

Instead, give your dog dental treats. As your dog chews on these hard treats, the little bits break off and basically scratch the teeth clean.

4. Can You Reduce the Human Food That You Feed to Your Dog?

Feeding your dog lots of human food can also lead to unwanted cavities. Pasta, breads, rich sauces, and a variety of other foods are more likely to stick to your dog's teeth, coat them and eventually lead to cavities. In contrast, dog food tends to be hard which helps to resist cavities as described above in reference to dental treats.

5. Have You Talked to Your Vet About Dental Care?

Ideally, you should talk with your vet about dental care before an emergency strikes. However, if you believe your dog has a vet emergency right now, you may want to make an appointment immediately.