Drool, Brittannia
August 27, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Several of our dog's incisors were starting to come loose, so our vet recommended pulling between 3-5 of them. Today was surgery day, and they ended up pulling 8 teeth! I'm not so much concerned about the aesthetics, but should we be worried about anything in particular with him having lost almost all of his front teeth?

He's a Westie-Schnauzer mix, and we think he's about 6-7 years old. He's not diabetic or anything, so we were rather shocked when the vet recommended several extractions, but the number of them increases the shock value even more. The vet said that sometimes smaller dogs just don't have their incisors attached properly, so they go pretty quick, and I believe him, but our Westie never had any problems like that growing up.

My concerns are (in addition to worrying that he's going to hate us forever) that it will be difficult getting him to eat dry food, and that he'll have a serious drooling problem. The receptionist said dogs usually have 12 incisors so the ones that are left might be able to keep his tongue in his mouth, but she wasn't really sure.

I know on the grand scale of things that can go wrong with a pet this is very minor, but it's still rather upsetting. We go to pick our boy up this evening, and w're supposed to give him wet food to start, but I want to transition him back to dry eventually. Is that realistic?
posted by tonycpsu to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Best answer: We have a 12yo pug, and he had a lot of his teeth pulled earlier this year.

He ate soft food for a week or so, but transitioned to dry food pretty quickly. The vet said that their gums are different than ours, and so eating dry food isn't an issue once everything heals.

Our pug was out of it for a little while, but definitely didn't hate us, and he seemed to feel much better afterwards (he had some decay, so he was likely in pain).

We didn't have a problem with drool before or after the surgery.

I hope your dog feels better soon!
posted by needlegrrl at 11:02 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

This happened to one of our dogs a few months ago, shortly after we rescued him (no thanks to the not-great rescue group where we got him, who evidently lied about him having been given a clean bill of health from a vet beforehand). He's a terrier mix, so probably a similar size and build as yours, and our vet had to take out the same 8 teeth.

Like needlegrrl, we had him on soft food for about a week, and then he went back on kibble without a problem and is as happy as ever -- probably happier, actually, because he wasn't being bothered by his teeth. He occasionally drools a little bit, but it's not really a problem.

Good luck with your pooch! Post pictures when he's on the mend!
posted by scody at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is cat-related, so take it with as big a grain of salt as you like. My 15-year-old cat has only a couple of teeth left, and she manages dry food just fine. I don't know if she maneuvers it around to the teeth she's got or just gums it, but she absolutely eats as much as she did with a full set.

She DOES drool, though.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2014

Best answer: Cat-related as well - this was necessary with two of my cats due to stomatitis. In both cases they bounced back quickly, eat wet and dry food easily. One drooled more afterwards and was prone to sticking her tongue out more, the other had no such issues. Both were happier and healthier afterwards.

One thing that seemed to make a big difference - the cat who had a stick-on pain patch for a few days post-surgery took the whole thing than the one took oral pain meds (which you couldn't get down her without touching her sore jaw.) If they try to give you oral pain meds, I strongly suggest asking if there's an option for a patch instead. Oral antibiotics will be easier if the pain control is constant and already in place before you start touching the sore mouth.
posted by Stacey at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Something that blew my mind when it got pointed out re: cats is that they don't particularly chew their kibble much. You'd think I'd have realized that on my own after all the vomiting I've cleaned up consisting of mostly stomach soggy whole kibble bits.

From what I remember of my childhood dogs' eating, they are more concerned with hoovering up food as fast as possible and don't spend a lot of time trying to chew it into pieces before swallowing. And when they are crunching food, it's usually with their back molars, not their incisors.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, carnivore teeth aren't really designed for mastication once the prey is torn into swallowable (what we would call 'bite-sized') chunks. Back teeth are for cracking bones and such, not softening up cereal (which is what dry food essentially is).

Also seconding, kibble is already sized for swallowing whole. Having cleaned up both dog and cat vomit, it generally consists of soft, water-logged whole kibble(s).

Anecdata: A friend long ago rescued a three-legged chihuahua who had no teeth at all, upper or lower, on one side for most of his life. Yeah, his tongue stuck out the gap, but he lived to be about 18 and had no trouble eating. Dunno about drool.

The Whole Dog: Dogs are carnivores:
[Dogs] are not equipped with large flat molars for grinding up plant matter. [Their] molars are pointed and situated in a scissors bite . . . Hence, dogs do not chew, they are designed to bite, rip, shred, scissor/crush and swallow. The canine teeth (fangs) are for grabbing and puncturing, incisors for nibbling, premolars for tearing, and molars for crushing (not chewing or masticating) bone . . . . Although [they] no longer hunt for survival [our pet dogs] can still eat in the manner of wolves . . .
posted by Herodios at 12:55 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

My adopted coonhound was missing all of her incisors when I adopted her. She did just find without them, but her tongue would sometimes hang out of her mouth. Then, she ended up cracking one of her canine teeth and needed to have it removed too. I fed her soft food for about 2 weeks. She didn't seem to be in any pain, but I gave her the pain medicine exactly as the vet prescribed. Since the canine tooth was removed, her tongue hangs out all of the time. It's rather adorable actually and she doesn't seem to notice.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:57 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

My dog is now short at least 14 teeth (I've sort of lost track). He has no trouble eating his dry food and does not drool. He has no bottom incisors now and only half of the ones on top.

It feels really sad for the first few days because you know it is painful right after the extractions and then they are coming out of anesthesia and you have to give them soft food and pain meds and probably antibiotics, but honestly after the first couple of weeks, once he was back on hard food, I don't really think about it or notice it, and he seems perfectly happy.
posted by freezer cake at 2:39 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I feel that I should add that my dog is also small (6 lbs).
posted by freezer cake at 2:40 PM on August 27, 2014

You can always soften up dry food by letting it soak in some warm water for a few minutes. I had a dog who had some teeth extracted, and after the first 2 or 3 incidents of diarrhea while on the unusual (for him) canned food, the vet recommended wetting his regular hard kibble to make it mushy. We did this for a couple of weeks until he was back to his normal routine.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:37 PM on August 27, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! He's doing great so far. They want us to give him wet food for the first week (which he's actually pretty happy about) and so far there are no signs of pain or excessive drooling. He was super tired, but today he was back "to work" at his guard post in living room, looking out the window and barking at passersby.

Here are some pictures. First couple are of his new "customized" look, the rest are just random ones from earlier this year.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:20 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

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