Noticing your dog has stomach problems is one thing, but finding the signs your dog has dental problems are even harder to diagnose. You have to keep a keen eye on his movements, eating patterns and sleeping patterns.

Nobody wants their dog to be suffering and they often do their best to hide it from you so as not to show weakness. This means you have to be vigilant if you suspect something is wrong.

Take a look at these common signs there is something unsavoury happening in your pooches mouth:

Bad Breath

This is one of the biggest signs your dog has dental problems. Now obviously your dog isn’t using Listerine twice daily so there is always going to be a certain amount of smell that comes from their mouth. We aren’t talking about normal dog smell, we mean something that is unusually off.


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Short of getting your own toothbrush out, there are some things you can do to combat bad breath in dogs:

Loss of Appetite

As you may well know eating when you have a toothache is not an enjoyable experience. Luckily us humans can resort to soup and ice cream while the pain goes away, for dogs it’s not as easy.


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Imagine having to eat dry kibble or even bone parts (if raw feeding) when your teeth are hurting? No thanks.

If your dog starts to leave his food or is taking longer than usual to eat it then it could be a dental problem.

Try to have a look inside its mouth and if they let you give their teeth a clean. Removing the plaque build up will work straight away to help alleviate some of the issues. Its good practice to clean your dog’s teeth daily and if you do it from a young age they will be much better at allowing you in their mouths and not be too grumpy about it.

Difficulty Chewing/Dropping Food

They may still want to eat the food but potentially will have difficulty chewing or swallowing it. If your dog is taking in the food but then frequently dropping it likely one of the signs they have dental problems that may stop them from eating properly.

Again it’s best to check inside their mouth and if it’s not something you can physically notice but it keeps happening to go to the vets for a checkup and they will conduct a more thorough inspection.

Red, Bleeding or Swollen Gums

Take note when looking inside your doggie’s mouth if you see any signs of the above.


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Swollen or bleeding gums are a sure sign of gum disease which should be treated by a vet.

If you see anything that’s out of the ordinary and it doesn’t go away, take them for a checkup just to be sure.

Discoloured Teeth

Dental disease in dogs is just the same as it is in people so don’t think that if their teeth are yellow it’s ‘just what dogs teeth look like’. If your doggies teeth are discoloured or have gone yellow/black this is a sign of gum disease and will need to be treated by the vet.


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Naturally, your brushing is not going to clean every speck of bacteria on your doggies teeth so some yellowing may occur. However, the main portion of your pooches teeth should be white, just like we want ours to be.

Broken Teeth

Broken teeth can be a sign of gum disease, excessive teeth grinding or injury. When you think about what our dogs put in their mouths day to day it’s easy to understand why they may break a tooth.

From carrying sticks and rocks to breaking down hard food or even bones if you feed your dog raw. It’s not only uncomfortable to chew with a loose or broken tooth it can also be dangerous if not treated quickly.

Always take note of how your dog eats, and if anything changes. For example, if he starts eating much slower or seems like he is struggling – take a look inside his mouth to check there isn’t anything obstructing his ability to chow down!

Unwillingness To Be Touched

Most dogs will never say no to a cuddle so if your dog is refusing to let you touch them or yelping/whining when you do it could be a sign there is something wrong.


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Dental disease can become very painful if the tooth becomes inflamed, this will affect your dog’s demeanour and make him less susceptible to touch.


How to Prevent Dental Problems


The best way to prevent dental problems in dogs is to clean their teeth daily – this may sound a bit daunting but if you implement it from a young age your dog will be more than used to you rooting around in his mouth. If you do see signs your dog has dental problems don’t let it go untreated, start brushing straight away and if it gets worse seek the advice of your vet. 


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That being said you still have to be gentle with them, start by using your finger to wipe away any excess plaque from their teeth and once they are used to it move onto a soft dog toothbrush.

You don’t need to use toothpaste straight away, just warm water will be suitable until they get used to the sensation. Then after that move onto toothpaste and keep up regular brushing where you can.

Dental Chews

While not a replacement for actual brushing these can still do wonders for your doggies oral health. How dental chews work is that (providing your dog eats it slowly) it’s abrasive texture rubs against your dog’s teeth and the excess chewing they have to do gets out all the nasty bits of food that have been stuck there.


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Dental chews are often designed to reach the back teeth which are the places there is most tartar build up and that is harder for you to reach when cleaning at home.

Dry Food Over Wet Food

When it comes to dental care there are many benefits to dry compared to wet food. If you think about it like chocolate vs Nutella.

A mouthful of chocolate will disappear after a while whereas Nutella clings to your teeth, fills into the gaps and might stay there longer than chocolate would.


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Dry biscuits are also naturally abrasive in texture, the action of grinding and chewing can be a perfunctory toothbrush. It can help to clear away some of that plaque build up that would otherwise be clung to if the food were wet.

Even raw food can have its issues, as bones can crack teeth. It’s important to take care if you are feeding your dog minced bones or whole ones. If you feed your dog anything with bones in it makes sense to supervise them while they eat, to prevent choking or difficulty chewing. The raw meat is often quite wet in texture which means the chocolate vs Nutella analogy still stands. 

Don’t be hard on yourself

Sometimes as a dog owner it’s easy to feel like you’ve failed if you have to take your pooch to the vet and haven’t been able to resolve the issue yourself.

Never feel like that! Even the most careful dog owners can miss things so don’t feel like a bad parent if your doggy has teething problems and mostly don’t be afraid to seek your vet’s advice.