If you're like most people who share your lives, homes, and hearts with a canine companion, your pet's health and happiness are some of your top priorities. However, until recently, the only dental care most dogs were given was a raw, meaty bone to chew on now and then — and this was actually an excellent dental health strategy for dogs. But these bones have fallen out of favor in some circles because they pose health hazards of their own for furry friends. For instance, the bones may splinter off into small shards with the potential to damage the dog's intestinal tract. Pet dental care is nonetheless important — without proper care, your dog can develop periodontal disease, just like humans.  

Unlike their human counterparts, your dog can't simply tell you when they are experiencing pain or discomfort, which is why pet owners need to be on the lookout for telltale signs of potentially painful conditions such as periodontal disease. The physical signs and symptoms are similar to those experienced by humans, but it can be challenging to inspect the interior of your dog's mouth for swollen, bleeding gums if the animal is in pain. Fortunately, there are behavioral signs that your pet may be suffering from periodontal disease or another type of dental distress. Here's what you need to look out for.

Acting Withdrawn

One of the first things dogs do when they're in physical pain is to withdraw from people and other pets. If your normally active, happy pet is suddenly spending more time in quiet corners, under tables, and other out-of-the-way places, it's time for a visit to the vet.

Pawing at the Mouth

If your pet is pawing at its mouth on a consistent basis, that's a sure sign of dental pain and/or discomfort. It could simply be something stuck in the teeth, or it could be periodontal disease. If it lasts more than 24 hours, that's an indication that it's not something stuck between the teeth or another temporary issue. 

Reluctance to Chew on Bones and Chew Toys

Another sign that your dog is experiencing pain in the mouth is if they start showing a serious reluctance to play with favorite chew toys and bones. They may try to hold these objects gingerly in their mouth and then put them down, for instance. If this happens several times in a row, your dog may have periodontal disease. 

For more information on pet dental care, contact a professional near you.