Can You Pull A Dog’S Tooth Out Yourself?

Dental health is critical for a dog’s overall wellbeing. Poor dental health can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and loss, and even infections that spread to vital organs. Therefore, it’s important for dog owners to monitor their pet’s teeth and provide proper dental care. Sometimes an unhealthy or damaged tooth may need to be extracted or pulled out. This raises the question – can an owner safely pull out their dog’s tooth themselves or is professional veterinary care required? In this article, we’ll look at the signs a dog’s tooth may need pulling, risks of owners doing extractions, when veterinary assistance is needed, and aftercare if an owner does attempt an extraction.

We’ll also discuss alternatives to pulling teeth and how to prevent dental issues in dogs. Our goal is to provide dog owners with a comprehensive overview of extracting dogs’ teeth – the dos, don’ts, and when to seek a vet’s expertise.

Signs Your Dog May Need a Tooth Pulled

There are several signs that may indicate your dog needs to have a tooth extracted. These include:

Redness or swelling of the gums around a tooth – According to the Callanan Veterinary Group (, inflamed gums are a sign of infection or periodontal disease, and a painful tooth may need removal.

Bleeding from the mouth – Bleeding from the gums or around a tooth could signal an abscess or advanced periodontal disease (

Loose teeth – Teeth that wiggle or move more than normal may have lost bone support and require extraction according to the ToeGrips article (

Difficulty eating – If your dog drops food, chews only on one side, or eats slower, a painful tooth could be the cause.

Bad breath – Persistent bad breath can indicate an infected tooth that needs removal.

Facial swelling – Swelling of your dog’s face, especially around the mouth, may signal an abscessed tooth requiring extraction.

Potential Dangers of Pulling a Dog’s Tooth

While it may seem straightforward to simply pull out a loose or rotten tooth from your dog, there are risks involved when doing it yourself at home without proper training or veterinary supervision. Some potential dangers include:

Infection – A dog’s mouth contains a lot of bacteria. Attempting to extract a tooth without sterilized tools or proper technique risks pushing any existing infection further into the socket or introducing new bacteria. This can lead to abscesses, pain, and serious systemic illness. Using unclean tools also risks spreading infection to other teeth (Source).

Damage to jaw or gums – Improper extraction technique can fracture the jaw bone or tear the gums. This leads to severe pain and complication. Only a veterinarian knows how to properly loosen and extract a tooth without causing additional trauma (Source).

Tooth fragments left behind – Attempting to pull out a tooth yourself often leads to the crown breaking off while leaving the root still lodged in the socket. This not only causes ongoing pain but is prone to infection. Only a vet can fully remove all tooth fragments.

When to Seek Professional Help

There are several situations when it’s best to have a veterinarian perform a dog tooth extraction rather than attempting it yourself:

If the tooth is fractured or has a large cavity, extraction by a vet is recommended. They have the proper tools and training to fully remove all infected tooth fragments and clean the socket thoroughly (source).

For back teeth, especially molars, it’s advised to see a vet. Back teeth have more extensive roots and attempting to extract them without experience risks leaving root fragments behind, leading to infection (source).

If the tooth appears abscessed with significant swelling and pus, veterinary extraction is needed. Abscesses require antibiotic treatment and flushing of the socket to prevent infection spreading (source).

Puppies under 6 months old with retained baby teeth that need removal should see a vet. Their teeth have shallow roots but the surrounding bone is soft, requiring precision extraction technique to avoid bone damage (source).

Extraction of canine teeth, which are critical for biting and chewing, is also best done by a vet. They can assess risks to surrounding structures and minimize damage to ensure the dog retains chewing function (source).

What a Vet Does During Tooth Extraction

When a dog needs a tooth extracted, the vet will take several steps during the procedure to properly remove the tooth and care for the dog. Here is an overview of what happens during a dog tooth extraction:

Pre-Op Exam – The vet will do a full examination of the dog’s mouth to identify which tooth needs removing and take x-rays if needed. They will also do a physical exam to ensure the dog is healthy enough for anesthesia.

Anesthesia – The dog will be put under general anesthesia so they are comfortable and still during the extraction. This involves giving the dog an injection to make them sleep.

Extracting the Tooth – The vet will use dental instruments to loosen and remove the damaged tooth from the gum and socket. This may involve sectioning the tooth if the roots are firmly embedded.

Follow-Up Care – After extracting the tooth, the vet will clean the empty socket and may suture it closed. They will monitor the dog until fully recovered from anesthesia. The owner will be instructed on proper aftercare and recovery for the dog at home.

It’s important to have a professional veterinarian perform tooth extractions to avoid complications and ensure proper healing. More details on aftercare can be found in the next section.


Aftercare if You Try Extracting a Tooth

If you decide to extract your dog’s tooth yourself, proper aftercare is crucial for your dog’s health and recovery. Here are some key things to focus on:

Stopping bleeding – After extracting the tooth, use gauze or a clean cloth to apply gentle pressure on the extraction site for 5-10 minutes to stop bleeding. You can also use styptic powder or cornstarch to help clot the blood if needed. Monitor the site for any excessive bleeding.

Pain management – Your dog will likely be in pain after the extraction. You can give over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to dosage guidelines for your dog’s weight. Never give aspirin to dogs. You may also consider using topical numbing gels or ice packs on the cheek to ease discomfort.

Antibiotics – Get antibiotics prescribed by your vet to prevent any infections of the extraction site as it heals. Give antibiotics exactly as directed for the full course.

Soft food diet – After extractions, feed your dog only soft, moist food like canned dog food or soaked kibble. This reduces strain on the surgical site. Avoid hard chews or crunchy food during initial healing.

Monitor your dog closely in the days after the extraction and contact your vet if you notice signs of complications like excessive bleeding, swelling, or difficulty eating. Extraction by a professional vet is always the safest option.

Alternatives to Extraction

While tooth extraction is sometimes necessary, there are alternatives that can potentially save an infected or damaged tooth. Some of the main alternatives to extraction for dogs include:

Root canal – This procedure removes infected pulp from inside the tooth and seals off the area. According to Save that Tooth!, root canals are a preferred alternative to extraction for important teeth like canines and carnassials. Root canals can save teeth and preserve jawbone.

Crowns – After a root canal, a crown can be placed over the tooth to restore structure and strength. Crowns protect damaged teeth from fracturing.

Cleanings – Regular dental cleanings by a vet can remove tartar and plaque to help prevent infections setting in. Cleanings allow monitoring and early treatment.

Medications – Antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications may help treat dental infections, allowing the tooth to be saved. However medications alone cannot fix severe problems.

According to Alternatives to Extractions – WSAVA2007, salvaging strategic teeth through root canals, crowns and deep cleanings is preferable to extraction if the tooth’s periodontium is still healthy.

Preventing Dental Issues

There are several ways pet owners can help prevent dental disease and issues in dogs. One of the most effective methods is through regular tooth brushing. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily removes plaque and bacteria that can lead to tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Use a soft-bristled brush and dog-safe toothpaste to gently brush along the gumline and surface of the teeth. Take your time and make it a positive experience with praise and treats. Be patient as your dog gets accustomed to having their teeth brushed.[1]

Dental chews can also help combat plaque and tartar as your dog chews. The mechanical action scrapes away bacteria and soft buildup on the teeth. Look for chews made specifically for dental health that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance. These chews have gone through testing to show they are safe and clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar.[2]

Even with home preventative care, it’s important to have your veterinarian do professional dental cleanings and exams. They can spot issues not visible at home and perform a deep cleaning to remove built-up tartar under the gumline. Most dogs need annual dental cleanings after a certain age to stay healthy.[3]

Signs of Complications

Performing tooth extraction on a dog at home carries significant risks of complications. Some signs to watch for after attempting to pull your dog’s tooth that could indicate a serious problem include:

Any of these warrant an immediate vet visit to assess the severity, provide pain management, prescribe antibiotics if needed, and properly treat any dental complications.


In summary, while it may be tempting to try pulling your dog’s tooth yourself at home, this carries significant risks of complications or further injury. Only a veterinarian has the proper training, tools, and techniques to safely perform a tooth extraction on a dog.

Attempting to extract a tooth without medical expertise could result in fracturing the tooth, leaving tooth fragments behind, damaging the gums and jawbone, or causing an infection. The root of the tooth may break off and need surgical extraction later. This can lead to extended pain, dental issues, and medical bills down the line.

For the health and comfort of your canine companion, it is best to schedule a veterinary dental appointment if their tooth appears damaged or loose. The vet will fully remove the tooth and root, monitor your dog during the procedure, provide medication for pain management, and advise you on proper aftercare. While professional extraction costs more upfront, it greatly reduces the chances of complications from an at-home amateur extraction attempt.

With some preventive dental care and prompt treatment when problems arise, you can help your dog maintain healthy teeth and gums for years to come.

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