Spotting Toothache in Pets: What You Need to Know

Pets can suffer from toothache the same as humans, but they may not show the same symptoms. As a pet parent, you should recognize and respond to any pain symptoms in your furry buddy.

Read on to learn more.

What causes toothache in pets?

Tooth pain in pets is generally caused by a broken or decaying tooth, infection, abscessed tooth, gum disease, jaw fractures, or a foreign body in the mouth. Other possible causes include dietary deficiencies and injury to the jaw.

Your cats or dogs can’t tell you when something is wrong in their mouth. In many cases, they even eat and act normally despite persistent pain in their mouth. These oral issues can lead to more severe health conditions like loss of weight and malnutrition when left unaddressed.

That’s why it is essential to prevent toothache in the first place. Ensure that you brush your pet’s teeth at least twice a week, use dental chew toys to help get rid of plaque and tartar, and take them for regular check-ups with the assistance of a veterinary dentistry practitioner.

What are the signs of toothache in pets?

If you think that your pet may have a toothache, look out for the following signs:

  • Bad breath (halitosis) or drooling. It may seem gross but smell your pet’s breath to check for out-of-the-ordinary odors. Typically, pets’ breaths should smell nothing in particular, just like humans.
  • Changes in eating habits. Inspect your pet’s food bowl on a daily basis to see if they’re eating less than usual. They may also chew or swallow their food differently than normal due to discomfort. For instance, your pet might take a few bites of food and stop eating altogether.
  • Lack of energy or irritability. If your pet is typically active but suddenly gets tired, it could be an indication that something’s wrong. They may also become unexpectedly irritated or appear withdrawn in activities they usually enjoy.
  • Excessive pawing at the mouth or face rubbing. If you notice your pet trying to scratch its face or paw at its mouth, it could be trying to relieve pain there.
  • Bleeding gums or discoloration in teeth. Look very closely at your pet’s mouth while eating and check if there are any visible indicators of damage or discoloration in their teeth or gums.
  • Trouble drinking water. If your pet has a problem-consuming water, it could be a sign of discomfort in the mouth. Pay attention to how they drink and whether they’re making any noises or wincing in pain.
  • Swelling around the jaw area or discolored gums. Swelling or stained gums can signify infection or an abscessed tooth. Look at your pet’s mouth for any indications of swelling or discoloration.
  • Uncharacteristic aggression when touched near the face. If your pet usually takes pleasure in affection but becomes aggressive when touched around the face, it could be a sign of pain. Observe your pet’s behavior and look for any signs that it’s uncomfortable with being handled in specific areas. One way to do this is during the course of your dog or cat grooming when taking a bath or brushing its coat.
  • Visible abscesses on gum tissues. Abscesses on gum tissues indicate a serious oral complication in pets. These abscesses are usually caused by an infection or accumulation of pus in the affected area, resulting in swelling and inflammation. Visible abscesses can appear as red bumps around the gums, and they may be accompanied by bad breath, salivating, discoloration of teeth or gums, and difficulty eating or drinking.

Note that they may only show some of these signs at once. Similarly, some of these are also connected with other ailments, so you must get your pet checked by a veterinarian if you notice any of the above signs.


Toothache in pets can be a serious, if not deadly, health condition that needs to be dealt with immediately. If you see any of the indicators discussed above in your pet, contact your vet right away for an examination. Meanwhile, prevention is the most effective way to go. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help maintain your pet’s teeth and gums healthy and reduce their risk of experiencing a toothache or oral pain in the future.