Moses & the Fractured Tooth

Lorde cuts her teeth on wedding rings in the movies; Moses cuts his on icy stairways and sidewalks. Unfortunately, for Moses it isn’t a metaphor or turn of phrase.

Moses dismayed at the state of neighbourhood sidewalks

Moses dismayed at the state of neighbourhood sidewalks (apologies for the bad phone photo).

It was 3:30am on Wednesday morning last week, when I shot out of bed to an unfamiliar animal sound. You know – the way you’re suddenly wide awake because you think one of the pets is getting ready to barf on the carpet? That kind of awake.

The source of the noise was Moses. He was loudly grinding his teeth and licking his lips and, just like any unusual behaviour would indicate, I knew something must be wrong.

Oh, did I wake you?

Oh, did I wake you?

After ensuring he hadn’t swallowed something he wasn’t supposed to, I sat on the kitchen floor with him and gave him a tail-to-head examination, making sure there were no bumps or cuts or foreign objects. I had a pretty good idea the problem was in the face somewhere, so I left it to last.

My examination eventually revealed he’d somehow chipped off a large part of one of his canines. Poor guy! No wonder his mouth was bugging him.

There was no blood or anything, but he was clearly not exactly comfortable.

Whole tooth vs. fractured tooth

Whole tooth vs. fractured tooth (and a large display of jowl)

So the next order of business was to determine exactly how uncomfortable he was. Was he 24 hour vet uncomfortable? Or did I have some time to figure it out and make him a regular appointment (noting our usual vet finally made good on his threat to retire, so I’d need to get in somewhere new)?

So I re-filled his water dish, which he appreciated and made use of immediately, likely because he was drooling a bit more than usual. Can still drink water without hesitation – check.

Then I wondered if he’d eat, or if he would consider himself in too much pain for that. Got out some treats and no issues there; eating normally – check.

4:00am food test; definitely not a problem

4:00am food test; definitely not a problem

Next I let him outside and he went down in the yard to sniff around and do some business as usual – also check.

Phew! He’d make it through a couple of hours and I could call for a vet appointment during regular business hours.

I began wracking my brain for when Moses would’ve chipped his tooth and why I didn’t notice it before I went to bed. The sidewalks in our neighbourhood are incredibly icy and treacherous these days, and neither Moses nor I are strangers to wiping out this winter. When Moses slips, he’s usually able to catch himself, but there has definitely been at least one face-meets-pavement fall for the big guy.

Still perplexed, I call Moses back inside and he just looks at me from the bottom of the stairs, wagging his tail.

I call him again, and he puts his front feet on the first step, pauses, and then backs off. He does this a couple of times and I begin to contemplate if my slippers are suitable backyard footwear if I have to go get him.

Eventually, he musters up some resolve, decides he can do it after all, and hurries up to the door.

Like the sidewalks, the stairs had some ice on them, so this is my official guess as to where Moses fractured his tooth. He’s not usually insecure about, well, anything really, but I could see him being hesitant if he’d hurt himself on the stairs just a few hours prior – likely during the last bathroom break before bed.

Hard to tell if the nerve is exposed or not - only the x-ray will tell for sure

Hard to tell if the nerve is exposed or not – only the x-ray will tell for sure

By the time my layperson diagnosis was complete, it was just about 4:30am, so I hit the hay for another 30 minutes until the alarm went off.

As far as fractured teeth go, I of course did my share of reading, and found this website to be a good resource on the issue. Basically, if they’re fairly seriously fractured, an x-ray is required to determine if the nerve has been exposed and the tooth needs to come out. To leave a tooth in and hope it just gets better is not a good idea, because you can open your dog up to all sorts of potentially worse issues. And yes, our pampered pets are perfectly fine sans one, or two, or even all of their canine teeth.

If the nerve is exposed, another option is – as ridiculous as it sounds – to send your dog in for a root canal. I chuckled when the vet mentioned this; there is a dog/root canal mental leap I just cannot make (it’s also way more expensive). “What’s next – braces for dogs?!” I joked, and she looked and me, “Actually….”

Moses goes in for his x-rays on Friday, and if they see that the tooth needs to come out, it’ll be removed while he’s under. We’ll probably also throw in a dental cleaning while he’s there.

Until then, it’s no bones for Moses, and he’s on some antibiotics to prevent any potential infection while he waits for his appointment.

How to trick your dog into taking his antibiotics. Yes, those are Kraft cheese slices; works like a charm.

How to trick your dog into taking his antibiotics. Yes, those are Kraft cheese slices; works like a charm.

You’d never know anything was wrong with him, though. Aside from the odd tooth-grind or head shake, the pain from the first day seems to have subsided, and he’s happy to go on walks and as excited as ever for dinner.

This will be the fifth time Moses goes under general anesthetic (bloat, neuter, CT scan, spinal surgery), but arguably the least serious. His blood work came back perfect and he’s otherwise healthy, so we have little to worry about.

In any case, I still feel bad for him – this is certainly one of those times I wish I could explain to him what was going on.

Poor Mo - the million dollar dog

Poor Mo – the million dollar dog

Also, I’d like to leave you with two words: pet insurance.

I know there are two camps on that subject, but we have it and have been thankful for it more than once with Moses. It’s very relieving to be able to make decisions in your pet’s best interests without worrying about the financial aspect.

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

27 Responses to Moses & the Fractured Tooth

  1. Dalton says:

    Bless him, hope it all goes well. keep us informed!!

  2. Abby says:

    Ouch! That does not sound fun. I hope everything goes smoothly and that the procedure will be helpful!

  3. Karen says:

    Ouch! Our dog Tippy (may her sweet soul rest in peace) was hit by a bike in Southland Park many years ago and as a result had a canine broken. We did have a root canal done by a dental specialist (who at that time came in from Vancouver, if you can believe it) but in the end that was unsuccessful and after a year or so the tooth ended up being pulled anyway.

    I hear you about Pet Insurance! We have 3 dogs & 4 cats so pet insurance premiums are out of the question, but we do have a household account for home emergencies which includes unexpected vet bills. And it’s a good thing we do – in November our cat had a badly infected molar that had to be pulled out – all told about $2,500. And just last week one of our dogs needed an endoscopy procedure – about $2,000. Thank goodness for that bank account!

    • ThatJenK says:

      Yikes – yes, a dedicated savings account is just another version of pet insurance, if you ask me, and it’s a great plan! Hope all your animals are doing well!
      The vet’s discussion that root canals were sometimes not great long-term solutions definitely helped us eliminate that option.

  4. Awwww, poor guy! He will have a cuter smile now though. LOL

  5. Kristine says:

    I can only imagine how much that must hurt! Very scary. I take teeth problems so seriously and am constantly worried about this happening with Shiva. As hard as it is, I have been trying to be better about giving her alternatives to chew instead of her favoured bones and antlers. But you are right, though not ideal, dogs can live without a tooth here and there. It isn’t the end of days even if it seems like it at the time.

    I hope Moses feels better and it is something easily repaired. I am so glad pet insurance is able to help you in this instance. The last thing anyone needs is a financial AND veterinary crisis.

    PS. Thank you so much for getting “Royals” back in my head after I finally just shoved it out. I was beginning to miss it.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Yep, a pup friend of ours, Hooch the pit bull, just had his 3rd canine removed – poor guy. But he’s loving life now! Moses might have a goofy smile sans tooth, but it’ll be hard to notice with the jowls anyway.
      We removed antlers from the diet after Alma nearly did some damage with one, but now I might also rethink the bison bones – they’re tougher than beef, so harder on the teeth.

      PS. Anytime 😉

  6. Poor guy! That must drive him crazy because you know his tongue is constantly going to that tooth just like ours would. I hope he gets it fixed up and has no more oopsies!

  7. slimdoggy says:

    Poor Moses…good detective work though and I bet you are right – seems logical anyways. Hope the procedures goes okay. I agree about Pet Insurance. We didn’t have it for a number of years and wished I did – especially since we have seniors which get expensive! We have it now.

  8. lexy3587 says:

    the pictures of him taking treats… that is the most hilariously adorable doggy pose ever – so much focus! I’m glad it’s nothing serious, and that you did your lay-person tests before rushing off to the emerge at 4 in the morning.

  9. Jodi says:

    Poor Mo. I will be sending good thoughts your way on Friday. Very wise of you to take the assessment of him, I’m not sure my head would have been about that at that time of morning!

    There have been many times this past month where I have wished I could communicate what’s going on to Sampson.

    We never did get pet insurance on either of our guys and now it’s far too expensive for us, but many times I wish I had.

    Glad you found something that works to get him to take his pills. 🙂

  10. Clowie says:

    I hope all goes smoothly. I have seen my bipeds leap into action when they hear a strange sound from me, I’m glad you’re well trained in that respect!

  11. Jessica says:

    Poor big guy. I hope all goes as smoothly as possible and he gets to feeling better.

    Silas doesn’t like processed people food. No hotdogs, no Kraft cheese, no squeeze cheese from a can, no lunch meat. I think that goes on his long list of things that make my dog a freak.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Squeeze cheese from a can? Not sure what that is, but it’s either amazing or disgusting. In any case, Mo would be all over it! And we probably wouldn’t have gotten so far with the cart training if not for hot dogs! What can I say – they may be on a particular and strict raw diet, but all bets are off when it comes to snacks.
      Silas just has better taste, that’s all!

  12. jan says:

    This has always been a fear of mine, but it hasn’t happened yet. All the best for doggie dental work.

  13. Oh my gosh!!! Poor thing. Which pet insurance do you have?

    • ThatJenK says:

      We’re with Pet Secure and they’ve been very good to us! I have friends that say good things about TruPanion, too, though. For us, it came down to the fine print regarding giant breed dogs and exclusions when picking a company and a policy.

  14. Poor Moses. He’s certainly had more than his fair share of surgeries! Hope the x-rays/surgery goes well.

  15. That’s good that you have pet insurance! Hope he’s not feeling too bad. We didn’t have pet insurance for our last two dogs (big mistake since they both got cancer – Abby at only 15 mo. old!) so we got it for Rita. Hoping it will the ol’ Murphy’s law where the one time we get it we never need it – which would be a good thing!

    Our Bailey broke a tooth once and we had that same root canal/orthodontia discussion! Luckily she never needed the root canal!

    • ThatJenK says:

      Yep! We didn’t have insurance when Moses bloated, but could’ve used it. Got it right after (and it’s helped). But we got Alma covered right away and – of course – no claims. Hey, if it works that way, no complaints! lol

  16. harrispen says:

    Poor Moses. We will be thinking of him and crossing our paws that all goes well on Friday. Hopefully all he will have is a good cleaning and need nothing else.

  17. tylersat99 says:

    I’m sorry Moses, I hope you are feeling better soon. Lexie slipped on ice with her left leg and has been limping. She’s getting better, the snow and ice this year have been deadly.

  18. Jana Rade says:

    Poor guy! That must have felt really weird at least! We’re always very paranoid about ice and check and sand all questionable areas frequently. By spring our yard looks like a beach! 😉

  19. 2browndawgs says:

    Oh no poor Moses. He has done so well after his spinal surgery. It is too bad he hurt his darn tooth. Those things happen from time to time. I know a dog who chipped a large slice off his canine playing with a sibling. The canine didn’t need to come out and dog still went on to finish his Championship.

    Are you the nervous type, or will you be relaxed on Friday? I am the nervous type…lol. Let us know how he does. 🙂

    • ThatJenK says:

      I’m… an in-the-middle type. I’m reluctant to be optimistic to avoid disappointment, but I do my best not to worry. Mostly, I just try to be as informed as possible, and obsessively google things until I feel I’ve got a good handle on the procedure and risks, etc. Luckily, a tooth extraction is pretty routine. But I still was super relieved when they called to say Moses did well and we could come get him early!

  20. Pingback: Monday Mischief 20: Up – and Down – One Canine | Back Alley Soapbox

  21. Awww poor moses… but glad he was not in so much pain that he couldn’t be tempted to eat!! I don’t think that I could get away with cheese. I hide pills in little balls of wet food and still she manages to spit out the pill sometimes!

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