As anyone with a large dentist bill can tell you, toothaches often start with intermittent pain that can be easily ignored until the pain becomes chronic. But by then the tooth may abscess or need to be removed. The same thing happens to dogs. But dogs often do not show signs of toothaches during most parts of their day.
Dogs get toothaches for many reasons. They may have gingivitis or a cavity but they may also have a foreign object stuck in their teeth or gums. Other reasons include tumors or strange growths. Some adult dogs may not have shed all of their baby teeth. Or they could be suffering from a broken tooth or an injured jaw. Sometimes a dog suffers from a bruised jaw, which heals by itself.
These things are not easy for the average dog owner to see. The only way we can tell if a dog is suffering from oral pain is by watching them eat or try to rest. Get in the habit of watching your dog every day just to see his normal ways of doing things, such as eating or sleeping. If your dog ever behaves differently from the norm, then it’s time to call the vet.
The usual symptoms are best seen when the dog tries to eat. The dog will try whatever he can to eat without using the hurt tooth. He will tilt his head to one side, eat faster or even swallow food without chewing, will drop food more often than usual and that food may be covered in blood. Dogs with abscessed upper teeth often show a swelling directly underneath one of their eyes.
Other normal symptoms include not letting anyone touch her mouth; blood on chew toys; yipping or vocalizing when yawning; incredibly bad breath and a sudden drop in appetite, even to the point of refusing treats. When not eating, the dog may paw at the mouth, sneeze more often than usual, drool far more often than usual or chatter her teeth as if she was very cold, according to “ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs.”
Tooth pain signs are often ignored aspect of dog health care. Whenever a dog or puppy exhibits these signs, it’s time to call a vet. Without good teeth, dogs cannot chew, which means they digest their food properly or even eat. Dog toothaches get worse over time – not better.
“Dog Owner’s Veterinary Handbook.” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al. Howell Book House; 2007.
“ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs.” Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, VMD. Chronicle Books; 1999.
WebMD. “Your Dog’s Teeth: Toothaches and Other Problems.” Wendy C. Fries. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dogs-teeth-toothaches-problems
Author’s personal experience