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What To Do When Your Dog Has A Loose Tooth

What To Do When Your Dog Has A Loose Tooth

This is part of a series on dental health. Check out the Complete Guide To Caring For Your Dog’s Teeth

The last few weeks, I’ve been trying to improve my dogs’ dental health.

Matilda and Cow both had some hardened, yellow tartar buildup that just wouldn’t budge. Allowing them to chew raw bones helped a little bit, but some of that stubborn tartar still remained.

I didn’t brush their teeth frequently because it seemed pointless. Cow was okay about it if she was sleepy, but Matilda would jerk away from me. In the past, she has had retained baby teeth and may have experienced pain while I tried to clean her teeth. Since she’s so tiny at just over 5 pounds, I’m concerned about getting toothpaste in her eye or causing her to injure herself while struggling if I restrain her.

One morning, I looked inside her mouth and noticed that one of her bottom teeth was brown. Or kind of greyish, blackish… anything but white, or even off-white or yellow. When I touched it, it moved.


Within seconds, my phone was in my hand. I called my vet for an examination later that day.

The vet looked inside her mouth and agreed that the tooth was dead and needed to be extracted. They took a blood sample to make sure it would be safe for her to go under anesthesia for a dental with extraction the next morning.

It was the second time in less than a year that Matilda would have to go under. That was a challenging 12 hours, but before I knew it, I was going back to the vet’s office to pick up my poor baby-child.

The veterinarian explained that the tooth was indeed rotten – and that Matilda was also missing a few teeth, as though they simply never grew in. We went home with medication for pain and inflammation, and a few days later, Matilda is doing well.

What I Wish I Had Done

As a pet blogger, not only for Little Dog Tips but a few of my clients’ blogs, I was incredibly disappointed that I had not noticed this rotten tooth before. But it was so tiny, and I can only get a few moments to look inside Matilda’s mouth before she pulls away.

For about two weeks leading up to the incident, Matilda was licking my sheets every night for about an hour before she would fall asleep. It was gross, and I had to change my sheets frequently. I suspected she was experiencing a bit of acid reflux after not eating for a few hours at night, but bedtime snacks weren’t helping.

She was licking the sheets because her tooth hurt, you guys!!

Leading up to the dental, I was calm and cool about everything. I had to be, because I didn’t want to make Matilda nervous. But now that she’s safe, my heart hurts. I wish I had noticed. I wish I had taken better care of her teeth. I feel like shit. Have I ever cursed on my blog before? Let’s not make that a habit… I feel like a stinky, rotten brown Chihuahua tooth.

But I need to be forgiving of myself and move on and commit to doing better.

Someone on Facebook posted about their dog who had gone through multiple tooth extractions despite doing what they could to take care of those teeth. I felt a little better after I saw that. It’s not just us.

And you guys. Most of you don’t have the opportunities that allow me to constantly research so much information about dog dental health. Others know more than me. But we all make mistakes, and no matter how much we care about our dogs, we can never be perfect dog parents/momagers/guardians.

UPDATE: Since this post was published, Matilda has not needed any more extractions, and she will have another dental sometime this year. In the meantime, here’s my complete guide to caring for your small dog’s teeth.

What To Do If Your Dog’s Tooth Is Loose

If your dog is under 2 years old, that loose tooth is probably just a baby tooth. Is it white, clean and attached to the root? Most of your dog’s baby teeth should be gone by 7 months, but some of Matilda’s fell out by the time she turned 2.

If your adult dog has a loose tooth, it could be due to rotting, like Matilda, or it could have cracked or loosened while they were chewing on something hard.

This is the one thing I do feel good about – I called the vet seconds after I noticed the tooth. But not everyone will know to do the same.

Whether it’s a tooth fracture or decay, it would be very painful if your dog’s loose tooth fell out on its own, or if you.. pulled it. Please don’t do that, no matter how little money you have to go to the vet.

The root of your dog’s tooth is exposed. It can become infected, especially because it’s already swarmed with bacteria. The infection can quickly spread to your dog’s jaw. It can even spread to their eyes and blind them. A dental with extractions is expensive – I put about $800 on my credit card for this, but I do live in an expensive region.

But the complications are much more expensive, painful and life-threatening. Apply for Care Credit. Ask your veterinarian about payment options. Borrow money. Use a credit card. Open a GoFundMe. Sell your nudes. Whatever it takes to get that loose tooth out of your dog’s head… please, please do it.

What’s Next

Now, I’m going to teach Matilda to LOVE brushing her teeth. This is going to take a few weeks, but hopefully we’ll get to a point where I can easily reach each and every tiny tooth with no struggling, no sass.

In the meantime, I already purchased a water additive that can help keep her mouth clean.

Update: I’ve created a complete guide with tips on how to keep your dog’s teeth clean – so far, so good, no more extractions!

Feel free to share your experiences, dental health tips and tribulations in the comments!

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Saturday 27th of August 2022

good article filled with good suggestions. I think most of us get nervous about taking our dog to the vet. It is stressful for them and also for us. They put 100% trust in us and we don't ant to let them down. I'm headed to the vet tomorrow. I will ask him to check my little girls teeth.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

OMG! I'm freaking out and feel like shit too! ? I DO brush my dog's teeth regularly, she's about to turn 1 year old, but I just bought her a new (hard) toy today and within less than an hour I noticed she was licking herself in a funny way and went to check her mouth since I thought she had picked something off the floor and was eating it and I saw a good amount of blood, that stoped soon after I checked a second time, it was already really late at night and just thought she had hurt her gums with the new toy and I decided to bit give her any other toys for the night and just hid the new one from her, but I checked her again a few minutes later and I noticed a LOOSE tooth!!! I feel super duper guilty and I'm crying. Of course I'm taking her to the vet tomorrow first thing in the morning. I hate myself for having bought her that stupid "nylon" hard toy! I just thought she would enjoy it (and she did for less than an hour) but in a way I'm happy I didn't let her alone with it for more than that, also one if my brothers was playing super har tug war with her last night, so IDK if it was a combination of both, anyway I feel SO bad... I truly hope it's a baby tooth that never fell or something or if it's already a permanent one, that it doesn't affect her life when losing it, I'm NEVER buying a hard toy again ir giving her any kind of bones. I was just googling what to do in the meantime and I stumbled upon your blog, I just needed to vent and warn anyone who reads this. DO NOT GIVE YOUR DOG HARD TOYS, PLEASE! ?

Lilly Reynolds

Thursday 5th of March 2020

I had a similar experience with Kobe. He was in pain for a number of weeks, before I eventually discovered it was a loose tooth, just by accident. I felt so guilty for not spotting it sooner.

Once discovered my vet was very helpful and arranged an extraction. Kobe didnt fuss anywhere near as much as I do when I am at the dentist, and he was back to his old self the following day.

Audrey Perry

Friday 13th of September 2019

Thanks for the blog it is gonna help me a lot!! Eva(my dog) is too small for brushing but her teeth are getting yellowish so I am bit confused that how should I brush her teeth without hurting her because she is so aggressive. Would appreciate if you suggest me any idea.


Sunday 11th of August 2019

Hi everyone! I’m dealing with my babies tooth problem too! I took her to the vet because shes not eating hard food or playing with her toys. He did a cleaning said everything looked good but when I asked more questions he said she did have a wiggly tooth. She’s 3 and im heart broken. He said he didn’t think it was a source of pain but she’s not eating hard food or playing with her toys. WTF??? From everything i’ve read he should have extracted it and now im even more upset because the whole reason I took her was to take care of the problem and now she will have to go back again and get anesthetized again if things don’t get better and in the mean time maybe she is in pain!!’ I’m torn and depressed I cry all the time. My poor baby girl. I don’t know what to do!

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