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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Tooth Damage View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Dogs and cats commonly experience tooth damage, but pets are so stoic that they rarely show extreme discomfort, and you may not realize that there is a problem until it has gone on for some time. By the age of 3, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental problems.



Tooth damage most often happens when teeth decay and break or loosen and fall out from gum disease. At other times, traumas like falling from a tree or being hit by a car may break or knock teeth loose. Dogs who chew on hard objects like rocks, bones, wire fences, and hard toys may grind down the teeth or break them off.



Pets with broken, split, or worn teeth will probably not need first aid unless the roots become exposed. An abscessed tooth or exposed root is painful, and can make pets drool a lot or refuse to eat. They will need medical attention, but first aid can offer some temporary relief and may even save the tooth.

  1. Save knocked-out teeth - If a tooth has been knocked out by blunt trauma, as long as the root hasn't been damaged and the tooth is healthy, it can be re-implanted in your pet's mouth. Preserve the tooth by dropping it in a class with a small amount of milk to keep the tooth moist and protect the tissues until you can get to the vet.
  2. Offer your pet ice water - Offer ice water or rinse her mouth out with cold water from a hose. The cold helps ease pain and constrict the blood vessels to control any bleeding. Don't offer ice cubes because chewing on them could cause more tooth chipping. Shaved ice like the kind used for now cones is fine.
  3. Try anbesol - Tooth damage can be so painful that your pet will refuse to let you handle her mouth. If she will allow it, an over the counter medicine can help numb the pain until you can reach medical help. Anbesol, a human product for mouth pain, is safe and effective to use for 1 - 2 days on dogs. Apply some on a cotton swab and dab it on the sore spot. Follow the package instructions for how often to use it. DO NOT USE ANBESOL ON CATS.
  4. Give your dog a painkiller - You can give dogs buffered aspirin like Bufferin for 1 - 2 days, but only if your veterinarian recommends it. Aspirin can be dangerous for cats, as well as for dogs who have kidney or liver disease or are dehydrated. It could also cause upset stomachs in dogs if used for too long. The usual dose is 10 - 25mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight 2 or 3 times per day. If your dog's mouth is very sore, you can crush the medicine and mix the powder in a bit of milk for your dog to lap up.
  5. Offer only soft foods - They should be easy for your pet to eat. Meat baby foods are fine for a day or two.


More effectively than anything else, brushing your pet's teeth will stop degenerative tooth damage or prevent it from happening in the first place. Toothpaste for humans is not suitable for pets for a number of reasons. Pets hate the foaming action as well as the taste, and the fluoride in human dental products can damage a pet's liver when it is swallowed.

Veterinarians recommend toothpaste specifically designed for pets. These pastes contain enzymes that help kill the bacteria that damage teeth, and they are safe when swallowed.

Brush your pets teeth once a week.


A mouth rinse that contains the antiseptic chlorhexidine, like Nolvadent, works well to help prevent infection. When a pet's mouth is very sore, a liquid medicine is usually prescribed. Tip you pet's head up, squirt the medicine into her cheek with a needle-less syringe or an eye dropper, and watch until she swallows.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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