Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dog chew toy dangers: Watch out for cracked teeth!

Sinead the Boston terrier before her dental

Sinead has a very powerful Boston terrier jaw. She likes nothing better than to spend the evening chewing and chewing and chewing on some kind of hard toy. And in the past, I thought this chewing action was pretty darn good for her. I even wrote blog posts about it.

But this week's trip to the dentist changed my mind about hard chews. And I thought I might share what I learned.

It all started when Sinead and I sat down for a little selfie photography session. I thought it might be fun to show my human face in the Sunday Selfies series, so I grabbed the little dog and my phone and we sat down for a few snaps.

Boston terrier and her mother

There are a couple interesting things going on here. First, Sinead is leaning pretty far away from my face (rather than into it, as she often does). For some reason, she didn't want me near her face.

And, I really didn't want to be near her face, either. This dog had some breath that would absolutely kill you.

But after this little photo shoot, I had do to some investigating. And what I saw was a little upsetting.

Sinead's teeth were relatively free of tarter, which isn't surprising due to her nightly dance with the toothbrush. But two of her very back teeth were discolored, and one looked more than a little loose.

My mind immediately flashed to one of Sinead's very favorite dog toys. It's hard, and it's a favorite chew object of hers (as you can see). But again: It's really HARD. And on more than one occasion, Sinead's chew sessions ended with blood.

Sinead has been chewing on this toy

Sinead had a formal, sedated appointment with her veterinarian today. And at the end of this long day, she has three fewer molars (and a whole lot of pain). She's on a soft-food diet for the next several days, and she'll need to take both pain medications and antibiotics for a few days too.

Now, Sinead's mouth has poor tooth-to-tooth alignment, due to her pushed-in face. So it's possible that her rotting teeth and torn roots were due to a condition she had at birth. But it's much more likely that toys like this, which she puts back in her molars to chew, caused this particular problem. So all of these hard toys must go.

This isn't a problem that all dogs face. But dog who do chew hard like this, and who have ever left blood behind on a toy they chew, should be examined by a veterinarian. A doctor can help you understand if the toys are to blame or if there's something else happening. And a doctor can help you make a smart decisions about the toys your dog might (or might not) have access to in the future.

As for Sinead, she'll be healing up with her loving peeps by her side. And while she heals, I'll be tossing all these toys aside!


  1. I hop your little sweetie is back in the pink in no time. Bad breath can be a first sign of periodontal disease and while my own dogs hate it, I try to clean their teeth as often as possible to keep plaque from forming. No one likes having their teeth pulled!

  2. Of course, Dougie is a big Lab, but he does chew hard and long: maybe we need to keep a watch on him ... he "destroys" bones (even nylabones) in a NYminute! Hope sweetie Sinead will do well with whatever lies ahead ...