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My Dog's Teeth Are Loose From Tug O' War - Will They Tighten Up Again?

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Tug O War Dog - image credit: :mrMark: on Flickr

Tug O War Dog

Image credit: :mrMark: on Flickr
Question: My Dog's Teeth Are Loose From Tug O' War - Will They Tighten Up Again?
A viewer noticed that two of her dog's teeth became loose after a vigorous game of tug-o-war.

Here is her question:
Veterinary Forum member MITZIGER asks: "We just had our older female dog's teeth cleaned on Thursday and she has lost some of them. During a tug-of-war tonight, she bit down on my husbands finger and he pulled back; now two teeth are loose. Are they like human teeth that will sometimes tighten up again? I know a young girl whose tooth was dangling and it tightened up. Can that happen with our dog, does anyone know?"

Answer: You mention that your dog is "older," and by that I assume middle-aged or senior. A common area of tooth loss, especially as dogs age, are the small teeth at the very front of the mouth (incisors). Since you noticed this after the game of tug-o-war/biting of the finger, I imagine that these are the teeth you ask about.

Chances are no, they won't tighten up. There is probably some bone loss in the jaw and/or dental disease, and they will probably fall out in time. Usually this isn't painful, but it should be checked out by your veterinarian to rule out infection and determine if antibiotics or additional dental work are necessary to keep your dog healthy.

NOTE: if your dog or cat "chatters" the teeth, experiences a reluctance to eat or excessive drooling, this could indicate a painful tooth or mouth and should be checked out as soon as possible.

In contrast, a dogs 6 months of age or less will lose the "baby," or deciduous, teeth and this is totally normal. (Learn more about kitten and puppy teeth.) Most pets do not experience any pain with this. Sometimes people will notice that a tooth is loose before it actually falls out.

One potential problem with this is failure to lose baby teeth, a condition called retained deciduous teeth. Many times, retained teeth are removed under anesthesia at the time of spay/neuter. If left in, the retained teeth can disrupt adult tooth growth or increased chances of decay.

Since it was so soon (just a few days?) after the dental cleaning, I would recommend calling your vet and seeing if they noted anything on the record regarding the teeth in question, the gums and surrounding teeth. If your dog is already on antibiotics, that will offer protection from secondary infection.

On a related note, how is your husband's finger? If the skin was broken, I would recommend checking in with your human doctor for advice. Read more about Animal Bites, Scratches and Injuries to Humans

Image credit: "Tug-O-War Dog" by :mrMark: on Flickr

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