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 pet 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 pet is comfortable with you handling their face and with placing your fingers around and in their mouth. For some pets 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 pet off the ground to give you an ideal viewpoint for the examination.

Step 1 – Examine your pet’s face for any unusual swelling.

Before opening your pet’s mouth, examine their face for any unusual swelling.

Step 2 – Smell your pet’s breath.

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

Step 3 – Examine your pet’s mouth

Gently pull the lips back to expose the front of your pet’s teeth and gums as shown in the picture below and look for any signs listed below:

  • Discoloured teeth 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 pet’s teeth, ensuring you check to the back of the gums as indicated here. 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 pet 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.