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How to Know If Your Dog Has Infection in Its Mouth

| Updated September 26, 2017

Infection in your dog’s mouth can pose serious health risks to other organs in his body. The bacteria trapped in his teeth and gums can cause not only infection (called periodontal disease), but also tooth and bone loss and systemic organ failure. Once this disease develops, it becomes irreversible and difficult to control. The goal of veterinary treatment at that point is to remove the plaque and calculus (hard, mineral-like deposits that trap bacteria) from the teeth and prevent further attachment.

Examining the Mouth

Smell your dog’s breath. If your pet has halitosis (bad breath) it could be an early indication that bacteria are being harbored in the mouth.

Raise the lips and check your dog’s teeth. Normal teeth are unblemished and shiny from crown to root. If you see tan or yellowish stains starting to build up around the root of the tooth, calculus is beginning to form and harbors bacteria.

Look at your dog’s gums. Normal gums are wet and shiny and totally pink with no red areas. The gum line at the tooth root should taper into the tooth. If that gum line is rounded and red, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) has developed.

Press on the gum line and teeth with your fingers while wearing latex gloves. If the teeth feel loose or you see pus coming from the gums, your dog has severe periodontal disease and should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.


  • Teach a new dog or puppy to allow you to brush his teeth on a daily basis to prevent periodontal disease later in life. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician can show you how to do this and provide you with the right tools. These cleanings will reduce your dog’s chances of the disease recurring. Administer all antibiotics the veterinarian prescribes after a dental cleaning, as getting rid of infections is necessary for the continued good health of your pet.


  • Bacteria and infections trapped in a dog’s mouth can travel through his body and infect other organs. When bacteria thickens the valves of the heart so that it doesn’t function properly it can cause heart murmurs in older dogs. Kidney and liver diseases can also be attributed to bacteria found in the mouth. Premature organ failure and death might be the fate of the dog that doesn’t get treatment for periodontal disease.