07 Jul 2022

Dental Health in Dogs Factsheet

Catching a whiff of your dog’s bad breath is never nice and that unforgettable ‘dog breath’ smell isn’t normal.

Often an indication of dental disease, bad breath is just one sign that we should be looking out for, but the good news is so much can be done to help prevent and treat oral health problems.


Dental disease – a big problem

In short, good dental care is as important for the overall health of your dog as it is for us humans and yet 85% of dogs have dental problems by the age of just three years1,2.

Dental disease is not just an old dog problem; some dogs have periodontal disease, (a serious, often irreversible, bacterial infection of the gums), as young as just 22 months3. Imagine how awful it would be if 85% of young children had the same problem!

Lift the Lip!

Part of the problem for our beloved dogs is that dental disease is an unseen disease; this is because we seldom look inside their mouths. It can mean dental issues go unnoticed and undiagnosed simply because we don’t know what we’re not seeing.

Getting into the habit of looking inside your dog’s mouth or ‘lifting the lip’ every day, can help you identify the dental issues which develop slowly but steadily inside your dog’s mouth. And although some dogs might not like having their mouth handled at first, doing this positively with a healthy treat and a kind soothing voice is much kinder than waiting for obvious signs of discomfort such as mouth pawing and not eating.

Signs of dental disease

Talking of signs - it’s surprising how well dogs can mask the painful signs of dental disease. Many dogs even learn how to eat dry food with the non-painful part of their mouth, (another reason why many owners miss the early signs of dental disease), however here are some signs to look for:

• Bad breath
• Sore mouth
• Difficulty eating
• Loose teeth or tooth loss
• Dribbling
• Bleeding gums
• Pawing or rubbing the mouth
• Yellow or brown tartar on the teeth

Some dogs will express their pain in certain ways too;

• Out of character aggression
• Objection to their mouth being handled
• Lethargy
• Becoming less social

What to do if you spot a problem

Dental disease can be helped, take your dog to your vet for a complete oral health check-up and they will advise on the best treatment. If a problem needs medication and/or surgery try not to worry. After treatment many dogs become “different, happier dogs” because they no longer have pain.

Even if your dog isn't showing signs of oral health problems, it’s worth asking your vet for a dental check-up anyway. Prevention is always better than cure.

After your vet has completed any dental treatment it’s surprisingly easy to keep your dog's teeth and gums clean and healthy by following the 3D’s of Dental Care.