Toothaches are a common and painful problem for both dogs and cats, causing discomfort and affecting their overall well-being. As a veterinarian with BetterVet, I see pets experiencing toothaches due to a number of common dental issues.

It’s important for pet parents to know what to look for so they can seek treatment for the underlying cause of pet dental pain in a timely manner.

Causes of Toothaches in Pets

Most dog and cat toothaches are caused by dental injury or disease. Here is a list of pet dental problems that can lead to tooth pain in your pet.

Tooth Infections

Bacteria can build up around your pet’s teeth and gums, leading to a painful infection. 


Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup. It can be painful, especially when it progresses to the point of periodontal disease. 

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition can damage a pet’s gums and supporting bone, often causing pain. Studies show that 70% of cats and 80-90% of dogs over the age of 3 have some degree of periodontal disease. 

Broken Teeth and Roots

Accidents, chewing on hard objects, or improper jaw development can cause fractured teeth and roots. 


These pus-filled pockets form around infected teeth or roots, causing facial swelling and pain.

Cysts or Tumors

While less common, these growths can put pressure on a nerve and surrounding tissues causing discomfort.


Malocclusion, or abnormal alignment of the teeth and bite, can put uneven pressure on a pet’s teeth, leading to pain and potential fractures.

Broken Jaw

Trauma can cause jaw fractures, often accompanied by significant pain.

Palate Defects

Congenital abnormalities like a cleft palate can cause misalignment of teeth, which can lead to dental problems and pain..

Jaw Bone Infection

Osteomyelitis, an infection of the jaw bone, causes severe pain and usually requires antibiotics and possibly surgery.

Pet Dental Health Quiz

Pet Dental Health Quiz
1. How often do you brush your pet’s teeth at home?
2. What color are your pet’s teeth?
3. When you look at your pet’s gums, which best describes what you see?
4. When you check your pet’s teeth, what do you see?
5. How does your pet respond to having their teeth or mouth touched?
6. When my pet eats, they:
7. When you kiss your pet you notice…

Grading Your Pet’s Dental Health

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Pet Toothache Symptoms

As our pets can’t talk, here are some of the most common silent symptoms of dental pain in your furry friend:

  • Drooling: Excessive drooling, often blood-tinged with an odor, can indicate oral pain.
  • Difficulty eating or eating on one side: Pain makes chewing uncomfortable, leading to decreased appetite and weight loss.
  • Bad breath: Persistent bad breath can indicate infection or dental disease.
  • Pawing at the mouth: Pets may paw at their mouths in response to pain or discomfort.
  • Facial swelling: Swelling around the mouth, jaw, or cheek can indicate an abscess or other dental issue.
  • Lethargy or depression: Pain can lead to changes in behavior, with pets appearing withdrawn or less active.
  • Bleeding from the mouth: Any bleeding from the mouth requires immediate veterinary attention.

Treating Tooth Pain in Pets

Treating a pet’s toothache starts with diagnosing any underlying dental conditions and making a dental care and pain management plan. 

Common treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics: Prescribed to treat tooth infections.
  • Pain medication: For short-term pain relief while addressing the underlying dental issue.
  • Dental cleaning and extractions: A veterinary cleaning to remove tartar buildup with possible extraction of damaged teeth.
  • Extraction and Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be required to address jaw fractures, cysts, or tumors.

How to Prevent Toothaches in Pets

Regular veterinary checkups, including dental examinations and recommended teeth cleanings, are crucial for the early detection and prevention of dental problems and pain in pets.

You can take other steps at home to maintain your pet’s dental health between checkups and cleanings, such as:

  • Brushing your pet's teeth daily: Use pet-safe toothpaste and a soft toothbrush or finger brush.
  • Providing dental chews and toys: Encourage healthy chewing habits to remove plaque and tartar.
  • Feeding a balanced diet: Choose kibble that promotes dental health and avoid sugary treats.
  • Ask your veterinarian about whether your pet can benefit from water additives.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and prevention of pet toothaches,  you can help your furry friend maintain good oral health and avoid discomfort.

If you notice any signs of a toothache or dental issue in your pet, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer convenient in-home dental exams and treatment options to help your pet feel their best again!

Don't Let Pet Dental Disease Sneak Up on Your Furry Friend

Regular checkups are crucial for maintaining your pet’s overall health and well-being. Our stress-free in-home visits make it easy to ensure your pet's oral health is always in top condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs get toothaches?

Yes. Like humans, a dental infection or other oral health condition can lead to dog dental pain.

What can I give my dog for a toothache?

Your veterinarian can prescribe a dog-safe pain reliever for your furry friend to keep them comfortable until the underlying dental issue is resolved. Never give your dog human-grade painkillers unless directed by your veterinarian. Home remedies for dental pain in dogs include feeding soft foods, applying cold compresses, and offering soft chew toys.

How can I tell if my dog has a toothache?

Some of the telltale signs of a dog toothache include drooling, bad breath, and difficulty eating.

What can I give my cat for toothache symptoms?

Pain management for cat toothache symptoms includes giving medication prescribed by your veterinarian, feeding soft foods, and practicing calming techniques to help relieve stress.