8 Common Signs of Tooth Pain in Dogs

Dental health is an essential component of overall health in dogs. Poor dental hygiene can lead to various dental issues, including both tooth pain and infections. Unfortunately, many pet owners overlook the importance of dental care for their furry friends, leading to preventable dental problems. Recognizing the signs of tooth pain in dogs is crucial for early intervention and treatment. This article will discuss 8 common signs of tooth pain in dogs, 6 possible causes of tooth pain in dogs, and 4 ways to prevent tooth pain in dogs.

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cute dog with toothbrush in sink

8  signs of tooth pain in dogs

1. Loss of Appetite

A decreased appetite is one of the dogs’ most common signs of tooth pain. If your dog is no longer interested in their breakfast, dinner, or treats it may be from tooth pain. Pet parents can consider giving their dogs soft food to help with their painful teeth vs dry food. For your dog’s health, it’s important that you look for other signs of tooth pain combined with a decreased appetite.

2. Difficulty Chewing 

Another common sign of tooth pain in dogs is difficulty chewing. If your dog is avoiding hard foods, such as bones or dry kibble, or if they are only eating on one side of their mouth, it could be a sign that they are experiencing pain in their teeth or gums. If your dog is having difficulty eating, be sure to look for other signs such as facial swelling to help determine if your dog needs to be seen by their vet.

3. Bad Breath

While not always a sign of tooth pain, bad breath is a common symptom of dental problems in dogs. If your dog’s breath smells unusually bad, it could be a sign of tooth decay infection or gum disease. Many dogs just have bad breath but if you notice a change in their smelly breath or it’s more potent, you should look into it being from tooth pain.

4. Changes in Behavior

Dogs in pain may exhibit changes in their behavior, such as becoming more aggressive, irritable, or withdrawn. They may also whine or cry when touched or handled, particularly around their mouth. This symptom could be from many different things, so pay close attention and see if other symptoms like bad breath or difficulty chewing are also present with your dog’s behavior change.

5. Swollen or Bleeding Gums

If your dog’s gums are swollen or bleeding, it could be a sign that something is wrong with their teeth or mouth. Gum disease is a common problem in dogs and can cause pain and discomfort, particularly if left untreated.

6. Loose Teeth (or missing)

If your dog’s teeth are loose or missing, it could be a sign of tooth decay, infection, or gum disease. Dogs that have lost teeth may also have difficulty chewing or eating. Keep in mind that puppies do lose their baby teeth in order for their adult teeth to come in (just like us!). I remember when Wes was about 16 weeks, he started to bleed from his mouth and I would find his teeth everywhere. I started to freak out and called our vet. The vet explained that Wes would be okay and it was very common for all puppies to lose their teeth just like little kids and a little bleeding was okay.

7. Excessive Drooling

Dogs that are experiencing tooth pain may drool excessively. While some drooling is normal, excessive drooling could indicate a dental problem. There are some breeds of dogs that drool more than others so if you have one of these breeds, look for other tooth pain symptoms in your dog. You could just have a dog that drools a lot!

8. Pawing at the Mouth

Dogs experiencing tooth pain may paw at their mouth or rub their face against furniture or other objects. They may also avoid being touched around their mouth or flinch when touched. Notice if it is pawing or scratching. Scratching at their mouth could just be from allergies too. So look out for other subtle signs. that they are experiencing tooth pain.

golden lab with pink tooth brush

6 Possible Causes of Tooth Pain in Dogs

Now that we have discussed the signs and symptoms to look for when your dog may be having tooth pain, let’s look at the potential causes of tooth pain.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common problem in dogs, particularly those that eat many sweet or starchy foods. It can cause pain and discomfort and may eventually lead to tooth loss. Probably a good idea to not let your dog eat all your human food. Although the pup cups at Starbucks are great, might not be great for teeth if you get one every day with your latte for them.

2. Gum Disease

Like in humans, gum disease is another common dental problem. It can cause inflammation of the gum line, oral pain, and discomfort. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

3. Tooth Infection (abscessed tooth)

A tooth infection can occur as a result of tooth decay or gum disease. They can cause dental pain, swelling, and discomfort and may require antibiotics or other treatments to resolve.  If you suspect an oral infection, please reach out to your vet to have it treated with an antibiotic if necessary. Your dog is likely in severe pain if they have an abscessed tooth and need to be treated.

4. Trauma

Trauma to the mouth or face, such as a fall or accident, can cause tooth pain in dogs. A broken tooth or fractured tooth can be very painful and may require veterinary intervention to address. Be mindful when you take your dog to the dog park or how rough they play with other dogs in the neighborhood.

5. Orthodontic Problems

Dogs can also experience orthodontic problems, such as misaligned teeth or a misaligned bite. These issues can cause pain and discomfort, particularly if they are severe. I know you are probably thinking, great my dog needs braces along with my child too! No, that’s not usually the case and I can’t say I have ever seen a dog with braces! But, it’s important to note that they have teeth and jaws and bites just like us humans. So when their bite is off, like with a human, it could cause our dogs discomfort. 

6. Tumors

Tumors or other mouth or jaw growths can also cause tooth pain in dogs. These growths in your dog’s mouth may be benign or cancerous and require prompt veterinary attention. If you notice a growth on, in, or near your dog’s mouth please have them seen for a full dental check-up to be sure nothing serious is occurring.

funny dog with tongue out

4  Ways to Prevent Tooth Pain in Dogs

Now that we know the symptoms to look for in our dogs if they have tooth pain along with the reasons why. It’s important to understand how we can prevent tooth pain and disease from even occurring with our pups.

Below are 4 ways to help prevent dental problems in your furry friend as a dog owner

1. Daily Tooth Brushing

Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Use a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush, and make sure to brush all of their teeth thoroughly. I did not enjoy brushing Wes’s teeth all the time but I know how my mouth felt if I didn’t brush my teeth daily. I didn’t want that feeling for my precious pup. You can find a great toothbrush and toothpaste set for your dog here.

2. Give your Dog Dental Treats and Chews

Dental treats and dental chews can also help prevent dental problems in dogs. These treats are designed to clean teeth and massage gums, helping to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. I often gave Wes dental treats when I forgot to brush his teeth! Just be mindful of how often you give your dog the treats since they are still treats and you don’t want an overweight dog. Also, some might not work well on your dog’s stomach so watch how they react after eating one for the first time. You can find some great dental dog treats here.

3. Regular Vet Check-Ups (Seeing Veterinary Dentist if needed)

Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help detect dental problems early and prevent them from becoming more severe. Your vet can also guide dental care and recommend professional dental cleaning or treatments. Please be sure to take your dog to their vet each year for their check-up and have their teeth and gums examined. 

4. Healthy Diet

Feeding your dog a healthy, balanced diet can also help prevent dental problems. Avoid giving your dog too many sweet or starchy foods, as these can contribute to tooth decay. We love to give our dogs peanut butter, but be mindful of the sugar content of the peanut butter you use. Some dogs may need to eat soft foods vs kibble because of their teeth. A great canned food to help with tooth pain that’s easier to chew for dogs in tooth pain can be found here.

Common Dental Treatments for dogs

The best way to prevent tooth pain in dogs is by having a dental exam completed by your vet or a dental vet. This can help prevent tooth issues. Although it’s important to keep in mind, just like in humans, dental issues can sometimes just pop up. In these cases, veterinarians have the ability to have dental x-rays completed for your dog, perform a root canal, treat oral disease or gum infection with pain medications and antibiotics, and even remove a tooth if necessary.


Tooth pain in dogs can be a painful and debilitating problem affecting their health and well-being. As dog owners, we can recognize the signs of tooth pain in dogs to help ensure their pain does not become too severe. If you notice any signs of tooth pain in your dog, see a veterinarian as soon as possible to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Has your dog experienced dental pain before? What were the first signs you saw as a pet owner that made you think it was a toothache?! Comment below.