I met a lovely puppy with a terrible problem the other day. This beautiful little English Bull Terrier had just been collected from the breeder, and his excited owners had very sensibly brought him in for a new puppy checkup. It was lucky they did...
As I was examining him, he was bright and waggy-tailed but, for some reason, very head shy. I lifted up his lip, as I do for all pets, to check out his teeth and was shocked by what I saw.
All four canine teeth were broken off half way down! Seriously, I’m not joking, check out the picture. But there was worse news for the pup. The poor pooch had developed four massive abscesses and had pus pouring out of holes in his severely swollen gums. He must have been in agony, but bless him, he still had time to wag his little tail. (Animals never fail to amaze me at how brave they can be.)
Accident or malicious?
The chances of a puppy picking up this kind of injury accidentally are tiny (you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery).
Sadly, this was most likely an intentional injury; the teeth were snapped off by the breeder (using pliers and no pain relief). It is a trick used by bad breeders to reduce the chances of biting between puppies (normal behaviour) and in more malicious cases, to reduce the chances of an owner noticing a severely overshot jaw (a problem where the lower jaw is shorter than the upper).
In this case, the puppy did have an overshot jaw and the teeth were probably clipped to cover this up. Whatever the reason, there is no justification for this kind of barbarism and you should be careful to look out for it if you are searching for a new puppy yourself.
The result for this puppy was a great deal of pain and the infection that developed because of the teeth being snapped and almost certainly severe damage to the developing adult tooth which sits just under the gumline.
A case like this needs x-rays to assess both the baby and the adult teeth, both of which are invisible under the gum line. The surgery to remove the shattered teeth and antibiotics to help remove the infection. Plus strong painkillers of course.
Sadly, in this instance, the owners (who were understandably very upset) did not wish to keep the puppy but instead decided to take the puppy back to the breeder. (He did get a shot of antibiotics and painkillers.) What happened next we did not find out; we only hope that he got the care he needed in the end.
How do you avoid this (and other dental dramas)?
The first thing is that you should always have a new puppy checked as soon as possible and be very careful who you buy from. Not all breeders are equal or have the best interests of the animals in mind.
An important second message is that teeth matter and a healthy set of chompers are essential to your pet having a happy, healthy life. So look after them by brushing regularly and getting them checked by a pet dentist every six months.
Roundwood Vets offer outstanding dental care for all ages pets and provide free puppy check-ups to all new clients. Regardless of your pet's age, please call us on 020 8459 4729 to book a check-up for your puppy or your pet's teeth.