A recent survey revealed that dental disease was the most common welfare problem in dogs in the UK (RVC Vet Compass project https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31118035)
But why is it a problem?
Dental disease is painful. We all have experienced dental pain at some point and our pets are no different, they just don’t demonstrate that pain like we do. Dogs and cats teeth have the same nerve pathways that we do but their instinct is to eat no matter what, so by the time a dog or cat has stopped eating because of dental disease, we can assume that they have been painful for some time already.
How do we know if our pet has a sore mouth?
Some dogs and cats will just be a bit quiet, or maybe don’t eat quite as quickly as normal. Others will sleep more, or have a change of behaviour, especially cats. As the pain progresses, they may be particularly sensitive on one side of their mouth, salivate, or drop food. Sometimes they are reluctant to open their mouth when we try to examine them.
It is far better to prevent the dental disease ever reaching the very painful stage through regular examinations and prompt and appropriate dental treatment. There is no excuse to leave your pet with a sore mouth, they can’t choose to just live with it like we might do. As pet owners, we are obliged to provide for their welfare to the best of our ability.