Pet First Aid: Toothache and Tooth Damage

How will your pet let you know that something is wrong with his mouth? You may see them drop food from their mouths, or only chew on one side when eating. They may ask for food, but then not eat it! Your pet may paw at his face, or just look miserable.

Dogs and cats do regularly experience tooth damage. A tooth may decay and break, or it may loosen and fall out from gum disease. Accidents can break or knock out a tooth; even chewing extremely hard objects can grind or break teeth. Most pets will be pretty stoic about tooth problems, so it may be hard to tell whether or not something is wrong.

Your pet will need first aid and veterinary attention if the broken tooth becomes infected or the root is exposed.

  1. Give your pet ice water, but not ice cubes. The cold water will help control bleeding and numb painful spots. Shaved ice (like the kind used in snow cones) is okay, too.
  2. Try an over-the-counter mouth pain reliever. Something like Anbesol can give your pet relief from the pain until you can see your veterinarian. Use it only one time for cats; dogs can use Anbesol for up to two days.
  3. Offer soft foods. Try soaking dry kibbles in chicken broth, then chopping them up in a blender or food processor. Your pets can also eat meat baby food for a few days.
  4. If your pet looses a tooth, try to save it in case it can be reimplanted. Put the tooth in a glass with a small amount of milk to help protect the tissues until the vet can take a look at the patient.

The best thing you can do for a tooth problem is prevent it! Regular brushing will help keep gum and tooth disease at bay. Be sure to use toothpaste designed for pets — human toothpaste is unpleasant and potentially dangerous to your pet’s liver. A weekly brushing can go a long way to preventing tooth problems for your pets.