How to examine pets’ teeth and gums

Approximately 85% of dogs and cats aged over four years have issues with their teeth and gums, so it’s good to know what to look for to keep their oral health in order. Dental disease happens quickly so check their mouth, teeth and gums thoroughly at least once a month – it only takes a minute!

It’s a good idea to start check ups when your pet is a pup or a kitten as this helps to establish a routine. If you have an older pet, have patience and be as gentle as possible – provide plenty of reward and praise.

When your pet has healthy gums and teeth, gums are smooth and a nice pink colour, and teeth are pearly white. If your pet has dental disease they’ll have hard plaque, swollen gums, discoloured teeth and maybe even bleeding. Here’s how to examine their mouths so you can make sure they stay healthy as can be.

Check for bad breath

Get up close and smell your pet’s breath. Bad breath (halitosis) can often mean dental disease. You can tell the difference, as bad breath that is caused by bacteria and toxins, due to plaque and gum disease, is more of an unusual sickly-sweet smell.

Check your pet’s teeth

Get your pet in a comfy position and gently pull back their lips to reveal their teeth. If you see plaque around the top of teeth or yellow or brown teeth, this could indicate dental disease. Loose teeth are also a bad sign.

Check your pet’s gums

Are their gums swollen, red or sore? If this is the case, or worse, they have bleeding gums or gums pulling away from their teeth, your pet’s oral health needs to be addressed.

Keep an eye on your pet’s eating habits

Check in on how your furry friend eats; if they have a toothache you might notice them drooling or chewing on one side, even dropping their food could be a sign something is not right. It’s important to note, some pets will continue to eat, even when they are in pain.

Get your pet into a regular oral health routine

If you start brushing your pet’s teeth daily, feed them a good dental diet, give them dental chews and rubber toys, and check their teeth thoroughly every month, you’re doing the best you can to prevent dental disease. It’s still a good idea to get regular oral health checks at your vet, just in case.