According to an article in the September (2011) issue of Prevention magazine, dental disease affects 78% of dogs (and 68% of cats) over 3 years of age. In addition to the risk of losing teeth, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and lead to cardiac, kidney or liver disease. Keeping their teeth clean can extend their lives by three to five years.

You can take your dog to the vet for a professional cleaning, but if you regularly brush your dog’s teeth, you can spread those visits to the vet farther apart. Here are some signs that your pet could be having dental trouble:

  • Your dog becomes shy/sensitive about anyone touching her head/mouth.
  • Your dog starts picking kibble out of the bowl and dropping it on the floor. This or other changes in your dog’s eating habits could be a sign of not feeling well.
  • Your dog’s gums are red instead of pink. This could mean your dog has an infection.
  • Your dog shows less interest in chew toys. This could mean your dog’s gums are aching.
  • Your dog spends less time with you or is less active. If your dog is not feeling well, s/he will want to spend less time with you and less time having fun.
  • Your dog’s breath drives you away. Granted most dogs don’t have the greatest breath anyway, but if it’s really nasty, then it could mean there is trouble. Get it checked out sooner rather than later.

Long live your dog!