The Standard Schnauzer Club of America sent me a health survey form to fill out on my pet. One of the areas concerned the "oral cavity" (or mouth, teeth and gums in everyday language). The questions ranged from halitosis (bad breath) to missing teeth to misaligned teeth. I looked at my schnauzer's mouth and decided that he needed some attention, and so might yours. Here's what to look for.
Look inside your pet's mouth, do the teeth need cleaning or just brushing? How about the gums? Are they pink or red? Do they fit tightly against the teeth or seem pulled away? Maybe your pet needs to have his teeth scaled and polished.
Although it is not common for dogs to have cavities, it can happen. One of my dogs developed a hole in one of her large molars which I recognized only as a "dark spot on the side of the tooth." My veterinarian sent me to a canine dentist who gave me a choice of a root canal or pulling the molar since, "See, the hole extends all the way down to the nerve," he said as he poked a dental tool into the hole. If your veterinarian does not know a canine dentist, you can call the American Veterinary Dental Society at 1-800-332-2837 for the name of the nearest one.