Red Gums mean Pain!
Dental disease is an all too common problem in our pets. Up to 85% of dogs and cats over the age of three years old are affected!! Your pet’s mouth is not that different to yours and their dental disease follows a very similar course of events. Bacteria builds up around the teeth, forming plaque. Plaque hardens into tartar and periodontal disease starts to develop. In periodontal disease inflammation and infection between the tooth and the gum starts to affect the tooth’s attachment. Left untreated this can progress to erosion of the gum around the tooth, deep infection, abscesses and all sorts of painful and nasty developments!
Dental disease has the potential to be very, very painful and this raises the question: how do you know if your pet had dental pain?
There are a few tell tail signs to look out for. The easiest test is to ‘flip the lip’ and have a look at your pets teeth. Is there a red line along the gum? If there is then there is dental pain present! RED equals PAIN. That red line is evidence of gingivitis and we know that this is painful.
Some animals may not be willing to let you look in their mouth. If this is unusual for them then this in itself means there is dental pain present. Having said that, some animals are just very private about their choppers and don’t like you to look in their mouth.
You can watch them for some other subtle sings of dental pain. Smell can also give you an indication of what you might not be able to see. Your pet should NOT have ‘doggy breath’. This is probably infection and disease that you can smell!!
They might not eat hard foods as vigorously as they used to. Perhaps the dog will have a bit of a chew on the bone but then bury it in the yard when he used to spend hours gnawing on it. The cat might only eat some of her dry food or chicken necks and leave the rest.
Your pet might start to drool more than normal. Now, if you have a Newfoundland or a St Bernard drool is just a normal part of life living with these breeds. Otherwise if they are on the dribbly side – they could be suffering dental pain.
Cats may stop grooming themselves as meticulously as they normally would and they may stop chewing their claws into neat points. If a kitty doesn’t want to maintain their personal appearance, they may well be in significant discomfort.
But, she is still eating OK…
Owners often comment that despite dental disease their pet is still eating and interpret this to mean that the pain can’t be too bad. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Dogs and cats will only stop eating through their pain when it’s so bad they would rather starve then endure another meal. I’m sure we would all like to intervene before things get this bad! They may also only be chewing on one side of their mouth as the other is too painful to use. Or they may be sneaky and just swallowing their food without chewing. Most kibbles are small enough that a determined animal with dental pain can manage this.
Our pets can’t speak up for themselves and tell you that they are suffering dental pain. We need to watch their behaviours for any subtle signs and have them regularly examined to be sure that all is as it should be in their mouths. We offer COMPLIMENTARY dental checks at the Inner South Veterinary Centre so come in and make sure your pet’s mouth is as healthy and comfortable as possible.