You Make The Diagnosis: Dental Problem In A Puppy

When I perform an examination on a puppy, I look closely at their mouth because puppies are prone to several painful dental problems.  Some of these are inherited which may get the puppy removed from breeding programs. Pictured below is the right side of a 10 week old large breed puppy. This little guy came in for vaccinations and a fecal check. All of his physical examination findings were ‘within normal limits’ except the mouth. Examine the image below and then answer the following question: What is wrong with this pup’s mouth? How will it affect his future health?

Dead deciduous tooth dog

Diagnosis: 1) Worn deciduous canine teeth with pulp exposure 2) Pulpitis of the lower deciduous canine tooth 3) Malocclusion

This puppy has three dental problems. First, see how the tips of both deciduous canine teeth are worn off? He has been chewing on something that wore away the tip of the crowns.  This exposed the pulp cavity. Second, the lower deciduous canine tooth is discolored. Instead of the normal healthy white color of the other teeth, this one is tan. If you look closely, you can see a pinkish color in the bottom of the tooth that signifies a serious problem with the pulp cavity. I am concerned that bacteria entered the pulp cavity when the tip was worn away and have caused on infection. Third, the lower deciduous canine tooth has indented the gingiva on the upper jaw between the third incisor and canine tooth. His lower jaw was too narrow for the upper jaw causing malocclusion.  Every time he closed his mouth, the lower deciduous canine teeth hit the upper jaw. This poor pup had a really painful mouth. He needed dental work right away to give him a pain-free mouth and to prevent long term dental problems.



Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.