May 17th, 2009

Medi Rub

When to Worry About the Mouth


Problems in the mouth can be shown by

– excess salivation – some excess salivation is normal in dogs that see food, male dogs who can smell a bitch in season, and an “ecstatic” cat when he purrs and kneads. Some cats will salivate when they are given a pill or other medication – this usually stops after about 10 minutes. Prolonged excessive salivation can be caused by something stuck in the mouth, or pain in the mouth due to injury, dental disease or ulcers. Small rodents often salivate as a result of tooth problems, and their chest and front paws can also look wet. Occasionally a disease outwith the mouth will cause excess salivation.

– pawing at the mouth or rubbing it – this indicates pain or irritation in the mouth, often due to dental disease, a loose tooth, or something stuck in the mouth

– bleeding from the mouth – this may indicate dental disease, an injury to the mouth, tongue or teeth, or a growth in the mouth

– bad breath – this can be caused by dental disease, something stuck in the mouth, or infections in or around the mouth

– broken teeth or dirty teeth – broken teeth can occur after a fight or after biting something hard like a stone. Dirty, brown teeth indicate dental disease

– inflamed gums – these are often a sign of dental disease

– looking hungry but not eating, or difficulty eating – this can indicate mouth pain, or overgrown teeth in rodents

– cheek or jaw swellings – these can sometimes be caused by abscesses which may occur at the tooth roots

It is always worth looking inside your pet’s mouth, if he will let you. In rodents, try to look at their front teeth to see if they are overlong. Consult your vet if there are any suspected problems in the mouth.

There are occasionally problems with retained milk teeth in dogs and cats – tiny baby teeth can be seen alongside the adult ones (milk teeth usually fall out between 4 and 6 months old). Your vet may advise you that these need removed, or they may fall out on their own.

Another undesirable problem is caused by an undershot or overshot jaw, where the front teeth do not meet because the lower jaw is too short or too long. There is no treatment for this, and it is a normal characteristic in some breeds like Boxers. Your vet may advise you not to breed from affected dogs or cats of breeds where it is not common, as the condition is inherited.

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