4 Steps to Examining Your Dog's Teeth & Gums


An important part of a dental care program for your pet is regular at home examinations. Just a few minutes on a regular basis could help keep your dog pain-free and also catch any signs of dental disease before they become a problem.

An at home dental examination should only take 1-2 minutes, and should be done at least once a month.

To start with, make sure your dog is comfortable with you handling his/her face and with placing your fingers around and in their mouth. For some dogs this may take a little patience and time, that's why it is best to start routine dental examinations from a young age.

Choose a well lit area in the house or backyard. Raise your dog off the ground to give you an ideal view point for the examination.

Step 1 - Examine your dog's face

 Before opening your dog's mouth, examine their face for any unusual swelling.

Step 2 - Smell your dog's breath  

If a strong or unusual odour is detected, then attention may be required.

Step 3 - Examine your dog's mouth

Gently pull the lips back to expose the front of your dog's teeth and gums and look for any signs listed below:-

  • Discoloured teeth, plaque and tartar (yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gumline)
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Red gums
  • Bleeding
  • Pain if you touch the gums or mouth

 Gently pull back the lips on the side of your dog's teeth, ensuring you check all the way to the back of the mouth. Check both sides of the mouth for the signs above.

Step 4 - Act on any signs of disease

If you notice any of the signs mentioned above your dog should see their veterinarian for a complete dental check-up. Left untreated, bacteria from gum disease can transfer from the mouth to other areas of the body and cause infections and disorders. Also just like in humans, dental problems can cause excruciating pain and should never be left without treatment.

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