Dogs love to chew but because they don't distinguish between toys that are soft and safe to chew and harder objects like bones or shoes, dogs have a higher risk of fracturing their teeth than other animals. This is why it's critical that you and your veterinarian watch out for common oral health issues.Oral pain can be difficult to pinpoint in pets, particularly if the pain is a gradual change. Just because your dog appears pain free, it doesn't mean she is. In fact, the majority of dogs with fractured teeth don't show signs of discomfort even though they may be in serious pain. If your pet exhibits any of the following behaviors, she could have a tooth fracture:

  • Chewing on one side
  • Dropping food from the mouth when eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Teeth grinding
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Shying away when the face is petted
  • Refusing to eat hard food
  • Refusing to chew on hard treats or toys
  • Tooth discoloration could be the result of pulpitis, which is the inflammation of the tooth pulp

Even if you don't see obvious signs of damage, your dog could still have a fractured tooth. If you suspect your dog has oral pain or a fractured tooth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Before your dog gets to the point of tooth pain or fracture, follow these easy steps to protect her ahead of time:

  • Inspect all toys before giving them to your dog
  • Avoid playing games that may put stress on the teeth or jaw, like tug-of-war
  • Look for treats that easily break or bend in your hands. Avoid treats or chews that may splinter, creating shards.
  • Routinely inspect your dog's toys for damage and discard any toys that could result in swallowing of small pieces.
  • If a pet has separation anxiety issues that manifest in chewing on hard surfaces such as fences or crates, talk to your veterinarian about training or medication options that can help you manage the behavior.

To keep your dog in top shape - and to address his oral issues as they arise - make sure to see the veterinarian for a wellness exam at least twice a year. If your dog’s mouth hurts, don’t hesitate to take him in to the vet.