Much like humans, canines can experience toothaches and tooth infections. A major cause for a canine tooth infection is a tooth abscess. An abscess is an enclosed pocket of infection that can become very painful, uncomfortable and dangerous for our furry pals. They take place when harmful bacteria get caught in the root of a tooth. Abscesses can stem from gum disease (periodontal disease) or even if your dog breaks or chips a tooth.
A broken tooth can happen without you even knowing it. Broken teeth are commonly caused by chewing an object that may be too rough or hard on your dog’s teeth. Whether it is an overly hard bone, toy, ball or rock- some objects can cause serious damage. Be sure to check with your veterinarian for recommendations on safe chew toys or bones.
Signs of a Dog Tooth Infection
It is a known fact that dogs can hide their pain. Even though a canine tooth infection can be extremely painful, instinctually- they will ignore the pain and attempt to muscle through it. Animals know that a weaker animal is a target for predators. Therefore, they tend to mask any signs of injury, illness or pain. Even if your dog is safe and happy at home, it is difficult for them to ignore their deep running instincts. As a result, tooth infection or abscess could be taking place without you even knowing it.
Unfortunately, dogs don’t have the ability to tell us what they are feeling. Even in pain, they can still eat, drink and play normally. Their drive and desire to eat far outweighs the pain they may be experiencing. It is not uncommon for owners to have no idea what is actually taking place- until it gets really serious.
Even with their ability to block out their pain, there are subtle signs to look for. You may notice your dog having a more difficult time chewing, taking longer to eat, dropping food while attempting to chew, bad breath, rubbing their face on the floor or pawing at their mouth. More serious or advanced signs of tooth infections include drooling, swelling around the mouth or eyes or even a drainage wound near the eyes or muzzle.
Can you treat a dog tooth infection at home?
Once an infection has reached a certain point, all the brushing or cleaning cannot correct the infection. It is important to visit the veterinarian as soon as possible. Once the vet determines that your dog has a tooth infection, you will have a couple different options depending on the severity and recommendations for treatment. The simplest and most cost effective method would be to pull the infected tooth. This is known as an extraction. It is performed under anesthesia and is usually followed up with an oral rinse and/or antibiotics to ensure the full removal of bacteria or harmful debris.
Depending on the damage, another option is a root canal. Whereas root canals can save the tooth, they are more expensive than an extraction and require special skills and equipment to perform. Root canals can be beneficial if your goal is to keep all of canine’s teeth intact. Your veterinarian can help you to determine which method will be most effective, safe and beneficial for your canine pal.
Remember, if you start to see the subtle signs of infection, be sure to visit your veterinarian immediately! The sooner your dog receives diagnosis or treatment, the quicker they will get back to feeling happy and healthy. Also, check out our tips for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy here!