6 Signs Your Dog May Have a Tooth Infection

Infection around the teeth from periodontal disease is one of the most common oral ailments seen in dogs. Daily oral care, such as brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, can help to control this process, however, this prevention does not completely eliminate the problem, and infection still occurs.

It can be hard to tell that your dog has a tooth infection, as pets don’t outwardly show signs of pain. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a dog tooth infection can keep your dog from unnecessary pain and suffering. 

1. Halitosis (Bad Breath)

This might be the most noticeable sign of a tooth infection for most dog owners. Bad breath that seems worse than usual can be a sign of tooth infection, especially if it seems to last over multiple days or weeks without getting better. Another sign commonly seen is a recurrence of oral malodor shortly after a dental cleaning. Severe oral malodor is commonly associated with the types of bacteria that thrive in deep pockets under the gumline, away from oxygen in the air. These are called anaerobic bacteria, which are the most destructive to normal tissues.

Many dog owners may be reluctant to bring their dog into the vet over a problem as seemingly trivial as bad breath—so try to notice if your dog has any of the following signs in addition to bad breath. A combination of any two possible signs of infection can be reason enough to go to the vet. 

2. Decreased Appetite / Change In Eating Habits

If your dog is experiencing oral pain, she may have a decreased appetite or eat differently than normal. They may also eat slower, eat less, or drop food while eating. Keep an eye out for all of these things, as they may be a sign of tooth infection. Unfortunately, most dogs continue to eat normally, despite having painful problems in the mouth.

3. Facial or Jaw Swelling

This symptom is occasionally seen when dogs have infections in the upper jaw. This should be evaluated and treated as soon as you notice it. Unfortunately, localized swelling does not occur very frequently, even in abscessed teeth.

4. Drooling 

Drooling is a sign of tooth infection that may be seen in dogs, but is more often observed when cats have a tooth infection. Because dogs tend to drool regularly, it can be hard to notice when drool is caused by infection rather than just general dog drooling.

5. Oral Pain or Discomfort

Dogs do not often outwardly show pain, thanks to their natural instincts that mask signs of pain. This doesn’t mean they don’t hurt! But there may be other indicators that your pup is in pain. Other than lack of appetite or a change in eating habits, your dog may be aggressive when you pet or touch their mouth, they may not want to play like they normally do, and they may refuse their favorite chew toys. 

6. Increased calculus on one side of the mouth.

If it hurts to chew on one side of the mouth, your dog may chew mostly on the other side. As a result, they may have more calculus accumulation on the side of their mouth that is painful. Increased calculus on one side of the mouth is almost always indicative of a painful tooth on that side.

Veterinary Dentist in Montana

If you are concerned about your dog’s oral health, give us a call today to schedule a visit to Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery with Dr. Tony Woodward, the only board-certified veterinary dentist in all of Montana—located in Bozeman. We are available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.