Tooth decay is quite common in older dogs. Not only can it cause pain, but it also makes it harder for your dog to eat, which may result in weight loss and malnutrition. As your furry friend gets older, make sure you keep an eye out for these signs that he or she may be developing tooth decay.
Your dog's breath will never be "minty fresh," but it should not smell rancid or overly terrible. If you find yourself crinkling your nose or leaving the room whenever your dog breaths on you, this is a sign of tooth decay. You may also notice a terrible odor after your dog licks something. The bacteria that cause the decay, release smelly toxins; this is what you're smelling.
Red and Bleeding Gums
Tooth decay and gum disease usually go hand-in-hand for dogs. If your dog's gums are red or bleed after he or she chews on something, this is a sign of dental issues. Take a look in your dog's mouth from time to time. You may not be able to actually see any decay on the teeth (sometimes cavities and decay are not visible), but gums that look red or appear to peel away from the base of the teeth should be obvious.
Is your dog suddenly dropping a lot of kibble onto the ground as he or she eats? Maybe he tips his head to the side while eating, or perhaps he avoids dry food altogether and is only interested in eating the canned food. These are all signs of tooth decay. The teeth have probably become painful – or perhaps some have already fallen out – and this makes it tough for your dog to chew.
Nasal discharge can occur for many reasons, including allergies and infection. One common cause is that the bacteria that are causing tooth decay have spread into the sinus, causing a secondary infection. The discharge may be clear, white, yellow, or greenish. Some dogs with tooth decay also experience sneezing.
If your dog is showing one or more of the above symptoms of tooth decay, make an appointment with your vet. He or she can assess the severity of the decay and recommend treatments. In most cases, the decaying teeth will need to be removed, and your dog will need treatment with antibiotics and regular tooth brushing to prevent the decay from continuing.
To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Northside Emergency Pet Clinic.