Is My Dog In Pain With A Loose Tooth?

Rover had always been an energetic and playful dog. But lately, you’ve noticed he seems hesitant to chew on his favorite toys. When you take a closer look at his mouth, you notice one of his teeth looks loose and wobbly. Your poor pup winces when you touch it. Seeing your canine companion in distress, you wonder – is a loose tooth painful for dogs?

Loose teeth are a common occurrence in dogs, especially as they age. However, a loose tooth can cause discomfort and lead to other health issues if left untreated. In this article, we’ll cover the signs of loose teeth in dogs, what causes them, whether loose teeth hurt dogs, potential complications, when you should see the vet, diagnosis, treatment options, aftercare, prevention, and more. Read on to learn all about caring for your dog’s loose tooth.

Signs Your Dog’s Tooth is Loose

There are several signs that may indicate your dog has a loose tooth. The most obvious is visible wobbling of the tooth. According to this article, a loose tooth may wiggle abnormally when you touch it or when your dog eats. Excessive bleeding from the gums around the loose tooth is another telltale sign. The irritated gums may develop redness and inflammation as well.

You may also notice your dog having difficulty eating hard food or toys. Chewing on hard surfaces causes pain and discomfort from the loose tooth. As a result, your dog may exhibit excessive drooling since it hurts to swallow. The pain may cause your dog to only eat soft food or even refuse to eat altogether.

In severe cases, the tooth may eventually fall out on its own if left untreated. Your dog may spit it out or you may find the tooth lodged in a chew toy. But an obviously missing tooth, especially without the tooth present, is a clear indicator of a problem.

Causes of Loose Teeth in Dogs

There are several potential causes of loose teeth in dogs:


Periodontal Disease

One of the most common causes of loose teeth in dogs is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth, including the gums and bone. It is caused by plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, it can lead to receding gums, bone loss, and eventually loose teeth that may fall out. Periodontal disease generally develops over time, so it is most commonly seen in older dogs. However, periodontitis can occur at any age.


Injuries to a dog’s mouth, either from playing roughly, getting hit by a hard object, or biting down too hard on a toy or bone, can sometimes lead to loose teeth. If a tooth gets cracked or the ligaments holding it get damaged, this can cause a tooth to become loose over time.

Congenital Issues

Some dogs may have congenital conditions that make their teeth prone to becoming loose or falling out prematurely. For example, some breeds are prone to having enamel hypoplasia, which is an underdevelopment of tooth enamel that leads to weak teeth. Other dogs may have abnormal bite alignment or missing teeth that put extra pressure on surrounding teeth.

Is a Loose Tooth Painful?

Whether a loose tooth is painful for a dog depends on the underlying cause.

Loose teeth caused by periodontal disease are often associated with inflamed, bleeding gums which can be quite painful for dogs, even if they don’t show obvious signs like whining or pulling away when you touch their mouth (source). Periodontal disease damages the tissues supporting the teeth, leading to increasingly loose teeth over time. As the disease progresses, significant pain can result.

If a tooth is loose due to an infection like an abscess, it is likely to be very painful. Infections put pressure on the tooth and surrounding bone, causing a throbbing pain (source). Dogs with infected teeth may show signs like reduced appetite and lethargy.

However, if a puppy is losing baby teeth to make way for adult teeth, this is a normal process that is not usually painful. Likewise, a tooth loosened due to trauma may not be painful unless the nerves are exposed.

Dangers of Untreated Loose Teeth

Leaving loose teeth untreated can lead to some serious health issues for your dog. One major concern is that bacteria can enter through the loose tooth and spread, causing an infection in the root or jawbone. This infection can then spread throughout your dog’s body. According to, infections that start in the tooth can spread to other organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Another danger is that the loose tooth can damage your dog’s jawbone. As the tooth wiggles around, it can slowly destroy the bony socket that it sits in. This can lead to fractures and deterioration of the jawbone tissue. Your vet may need to remove damaged sections of jawbone when extracting a severely loose tooth.

Lastly, a loose tooth makes it difficult for dogs to eat properly. The wobbly tooth causes pain and discomfort when chewing. Your dog may start avoiding hard foods and only eating soft items. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies over time. According to, difficulty eating from loose teeth can also cause weight loss in dogs.

When to See the Vet

If your dog is showing any signs of pain or discomfort from the loose tooth, it’s important to take them to the vet right away. Persistent bleeding from the tooth socket or rapid progression of tooth loss are also signs that prompt veterinary attention is needed. Additionally, if your dog stops eating or has difficulty eating due to the loose tooth, you should see the vet immediately. Some signs that indicate your dog is in pain or discomfort include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at their mouth
  • reluctance to chew or play with toys
  • Whining or crying
  • Loss of appetite

Allowing a painful loose tooth to go untreated can lead to more serious oral health issues and infections that may spread. It’s always best to have your vet examine any loose tooth right away to determine the proper treatment. Don’t delay in getting veterinary care, as prompt treatment of a loose tooth can prevent unnecessary pain and health risks for your dog.


If you suspect your dog has a loose tooth, the vet will do a thorough physical exam of their mouth to check for any abnormal movement or pain. They may gently wiggle teeth to determine which ones are loose. Dental x-rays allow the vet to evaluate the health of the tooth roots and look for any underlying disease. These specialized x-rays show the whole tooth, including the area below the gumline that can’t be seen during a visual exam. According to Blue Pet, dental x-rays are considered the “gold standard” for assessing dental problems in dogs.

The vet will also do an overall health assessment, reviewing your dog’s medical history and asking about any recent changes in behavior that could indicate pain. They will check for other clinical signs associated with periodontal disease like red, inflamed gums, bad breath, and excessive drooling. These evaluations help the vet determine the cause of the loose tooth and appropriate next steps.


Loose Teeth in Dogs: Why You Need to See a Veterinarian


If your dog is diagnosed with a severely loose or damaged tooth, the vet may recommend tooth extraction as treatment. Tooth extraction involves surgically removing the affected tooth under general anesthesia. This completely removes the loose tooth so it cannot cause any more problems.

Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat any infections. Loose teeth allow bacteria to enter the socket, so antibiotics help clear up infections and prevent new ones from occurring after extraction. Common antibiotics prescribed include clindamycin, amoxicillin, or cephalexin.

Your dog may be prescribed a special soft food diet after extraction to reduce chewing while the area heals. Soft wet foods, broths, and mashed pumpkin or sweet potato are gentle options. Follow your vet’s instructions on returning to normal foods after several days of soft foods.

Providing the recommended treatment for a loose painful tooth will help resolve the issue and prevent complications. Work closely with your veterinarian through the treatment process to ensure your dog’s comfort and recovery.

Caring for Your Dog After Tooth Extraction

Taking proper care of your dog after a tooth extraction procedure is critical for their comfort and healing. Here are some tips for caring for your dog post-operation:

Follow Post-Operative Instructions Closely
After bringing your dog home from their dental procedure, be sure to strictly follow all of the post-op directions from your veterinarian. This usually includes administering any prescribed medications correctly and precisely. Limiting activity and preventing them from chewing on toys or hard foods is also very important.

Soft Food Diet
Your dog should only eat soft, wet foods after a tooth extraction to allow their gums and mouth to heal. Canned dog food or kibble soaked in warm water into a mushy texture is ideal. Avoid any chews, bones, or other hard items during recovery.

Monitor Healing
Check your dog’s extracted tooth site daily for any redness, swelling or discharge which could indicate an infection. If the area doesn’t seem to be healing properly, contact your vet. Also watch for any signs of pain or changes in eating habits.

With proper at-home nursing and follow up vet care as needed, your dog should recover well after a tooth extraction procedure.

Preventing Loose Teeth

There are several steps you can take to help prevent your dog from developing loose teeth:

Regular Dental Cleanings

Having your vet perform regular dental cleanings helps remove built-up tartar and plaque that can lead to gum disease and loose teeth. Cleanings are recommended at least once a year.

Brushing Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth daily or several times a week helps remove food particles and plaque before it builds up and causes dental issues. Use a soft brush and dog-safe toothpaste.

Dental Chews

Giving your dog dental chews helps scrape away plaque and tartar as they chew. Look for vet-approved dental chews made specifically for dogs. Avoid hard chews that could crack teeth.

Addressing Periodontal Disease Early

If you notice signs of periodontal disease like inflamed gums, bad breath, or loose teeth, have your vet examine your dog right away. Treating early can prevent tooth loss.

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