Chihuahuas and Tooth Cleaning/Extraction

jockewingApril 29, 2010

Yesterday, I took my 2 year old Chihuahua, PeeWee, in for a dental cleaining and to remove the upper incisor baby tooth that had never fallen out. Debris was getting stuck in between his baby and permanent tooth, causing a bad breath situation. His back molars were also starting to get some brown tartar buildup. So I brought him in to the vet for a cleaning and for the baby tooth to be removed. When I arrived to pick him up, I was informed that 3 teeth were removed. I thought maybe there were other baby teeth I hadn't noticed, but they had removed 2 of his adult teeth (one of those tiny front lower teeth in the center of his mouth, and the other I'm not quite sure the location of).

Fortunately, the "gap" is not noticeable unless you pull open his mouth and really look for it, but does that sound normal for a 2 year old dog in good health to have permanent teeth removed? I had not noticed any of this teeth other than the baby tooth being loose.

Does this sound normal? Should the vet have informed me before removing the extra teeth?

I also really didn't like the way they just nonchalantly told me about this and looked at me like I was stupid when I showed surprise they had done this.

Most importantly, what can I do to keep his teeth clean as I do NOT plan on making this $200 + procedure a common occurence.

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Chis are notorious for having dental problems. You can get some gauze, wrap it around your finger and rub/brush his teeth with that since most tooth brushes are too big for Chi's - ask your vet to show you how to do it. They would rather you practice routine oral hygiene then have your dog in for more tooth pulling!! Good luck

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Agreed, Chihuahuas do seem to be prone to dental calculus. Some other breeds like my Iggie are too. My folks had a dear one who was a dental nightmare. She had numerous extractions by the time she was a little old lady. I understand why you'd question the vet removing more than what was explained to you and I think my vet would have told me before the fact after inspecting the dog's mouth there'd have been a possibility of multiple teeth being pulled, but........

If the dog is like some of mine have been, it's not always easy for the vet to do a really good oral check-up because of the dogs lack of cooperation. I'd much rather have them do whatever they decided needing done whilst the dog was under and they got a chance to have a really good look AFTER the tartar was removed. Cavities can very well be hidden under the deposits. A good deal of the expense of this procedure is the bloodwork previous (if done), and the cost of putting them under and surgical aftercare. So, you actually may have gotten a price break by getting all of them done without three separate trips around the block. Just like mazer said, ask your vet tech to show you how to do daily oral hygiene for your little fella. Bad teeth can lead to all sorts of general health problems. Taking care of their teeth is money well spent prophylactically.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:26PM
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If the teeth were loose, then they were causing pain and would have eventually fallen out anyway. Also if they were infected it's best to have them out. I don't inform people when I decide the teeth need to go. After all, I'm the vet and I'm the one looking in the mouth while the pet is under anesthesia, so I know what is going on and what can be saved. I save teeth when I can, but many can't.

BTW I just extracted all teeth except the 2 upper canine teeth in a dog yesterday. They were all problems for a variety of reasons. He is already eating just great. Except the owner is out more like $450 because he also needed antibiotics, pain meds, and pathology because I didn't like his jawbone. I've managed some severe dental cases and the bill has gotten close to $1000. And I am *not* a specialist- they cost much more and can do a lot more to save teeth. All I can do is yank bad ones, sometimes a specialist can do a root canal, put on caps, and other things. But they will cost significantly more...

Any toy breed dog is going to have dental problems. Brushing the teeth daily with an enzymatic toothpaste can help. Also using a dental rinse. You can certainly delay the next dental procedure by doing these things, but you'll not be able to avoid it entirely. Toy breeds are just like that.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:13PM
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Just talked to a friend of mine with an old rescue Shih Tzu that was brought in for a tooth removal. He went to pick up the dog and he was SIX teeth lighter! The bad thing is they removed some of his front upper teeth so now he looks like a slack-jawed yokel!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:15PM
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I don't know, it was just really hard for me to believe that a 2 year old dog is already needing permanent teeth pulled. I mean at this rate, he'll be toothless by the time he's 5 years old! Meghane, I appreciate that the vet knows alot more than me, but I'd be pretty upset if I went to pick up my dog and he was totally toothless except for 2 teeth! I think a quick call to the owner should be made in such cases. Something like that really alters the look of the dog completely (can they even eat regular food anymore?), and I would be devastated if someone did that to my dog without even notifying me before hand.

Well I really want to avoid any more teeth pulling with my pup, so please, I would appreciate the names of some specific brands of these dental rinses that are effective. Meghane, do you think the gauze wiping technique I've read about does any good? I just don't think I'm gonna have the patience to brush the dog's teeth every night. I have never heard of such a thing!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:14AM
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whenever my dogs have had their teeth cleaned the vet has always extracted any teeth that needed to go and I appreciate that because I dont want to come back 6 months later for the same procedure when those teeth start causing problems as well. I've never expected the vet to stop during the procedure to ask my permission for it nor would I want them to. I had an old dog that had a number of teeth pulled at once, some of the front ones included and her little mouth used to look lopsided from the missing teeth but I loved her anyway :)

I definitely think it's that kind of situation where the vet has to use their own judgement on the spot, they are saving you money and your dog from further anaesthesia by doing it all at once and once a tooth starts to go bad, they cant really save it anyway so sooner or later it has to come out

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 11:20PM
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jockewing there are special toothpastes for dogs which are meat flavoured and you can get a little 'brush" for dogs teeth that is like a long rubber thimble that slips over your finger and it has rubber bristles on it for cleaning the teeth so it's like sticking your finger in the dogs mouth instead of trying to wrangle a toothbrush in there which is near impossible with a small dog.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 11:30PM
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I guess I can appreciate the vet just doing it, but I would be so upset to get a toothless dog back when I go to pick him up! Especially a dog as young and seemingly healthy as mine. Thank god it was only 3 teeth.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 8:36PM
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It sounds like you were caught off guard by the additional extractions. I probably would be too on an animal so young. I have to agree that you have to just trust that the vet did the right thing for your animal once the animal was anesthetized and easy to examine.

My vet gives an up front estimate and they have a range for extractions, so they are clear that they are unsure how many teeth will need pulling once they start the dental procedure. It doesn't sound like your vet prepared you for the possibilities.

My new little cat is part Siamese and I am now beginning to understand that they are prone to chronic gingivitis. He is just 8 months old and his gums are already problematic. He just got his adult teeth, so it's not tartar build up that's causing the issue- he's got beautiful new white teeth with inflamed gums rimming them. He is obviously going to be a lifetime of vigilant dental care.

I spent a while looking around Amazon and reading reviews on pet tooth care products. Some of the oral rinses can cause yellowing of the teeth over time, and I'm not sure whether that really matters or not- our cat is not going to be a super model, but his teeth are so pretty I hate to discolor them... of course if it's a choice between discoloration and loss, discoloration is preferable. I've started using some products on him that are under the name Biotene. I think they are enzyme based and don't contain the ingredient that causes discoloring, however we've only been using them a short time so I can't say how well they work in long term maintenance. We are also using something else at the moment that's intended to clear up the initial gingivitis.

Good luck with your dental routine. We are still trying to develop ours. Fortunately this little guy is pretty cooperative for a cat (which is surprising because he's so hyper otherwise). I don't think the Biotene has an offensive flavor, he doesn't complain at all when I "brush" his teeth with that and a q-tip.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:39AM
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I just took my chihuahua (4 years old) to the vet for teeth cleaning and was told that she has one(1) tooth in the back that needed to be worked on to to tarter buildup. The cost estimated was $115 for the cleaning and $40 for any tooth extraction. I sign a form that stated to give permission to put the dog under and to extract any tooth. Well after the vet checking my dog mouth and informed me that there was one (1) tooth to be worked on, I left the dog at the office hoping it was the one tooth that was causing her to not able to bite into any treat. When I came back for the dog, the vet causally said he pulled ten (10) teeth out of the young dog!!! I was surprise and too shock to say anything at the time and after I paid over $550.00 and got home; I was so upset how can anyone do such a thing to my sweet dog that was so young without notifying me first. My dog is completely a different dog. She is not as friendly and withdrawn since her procedure. She can't eat or chew on any of her favorite chewies or bones. Her eyes are empty, not as affectionate as before and lost some weight, etc. ..The only thing the vet said after I told him, 10!!!!! was "don't feel bad, I pulled 5 from my dog. He said her teeth were loose and didn't know until he put her under and realized that there were 10 teeth loose!!!! Any comments????What should I do? I definitely don't have to go back to the same vet after 6 years. I need to find another vet...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 6:45PM
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This doesn't surprise me, the common statistic out there that I've read is that by two years of age 80% of adult dogs usually have some dental problems. Makes sense to me when you consider that most dog diets consist of eating dry kibble that can contain processed carbohydrates and sugars that probably can stick to the teeth and enhance build-up of plaque and tartar. Plus the physical act of eating dry kibble or canned food offers very little dental benefits.

Both of my older dogs (one of them is a toy mix) have completely avoided teeth cleanings and have white teeth because they are fed a Prey Model Raw diet. No processed sugars or carbohydrates, just fresh raw meat, certain raw meaty bones, and raw organs.

Raw meaty bones can be very helpful in cleaning the teeth by scraping the tarter off when the dog is trying to tear the raw meat off the bone and chewing on the bone. A full diet change really made a huge difference in my dogs teeth but even giving certain raw meaty bones to a dog who is commercial kibble or canned fed can help clean the teeth.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 10:22PM
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Hi. I have a female chihuahua who is almost two and last night one of her teeth fell out. I'm pretty sure it was one of her adult teeth. When I looked at it I noticed that is was completely rotten and was covered in tartar. It is impossible for me to brush her teeth, I feed her food from the vets that is supposed to help clean her teeth and I give her chews for her teeth so I have no idea why her teeth would be this way. I am very worried because I don't want her to have to have an anesthetic to have her teeth removed. I think a few more of her teeth are rotten and I am so worried because she is so young. Does anybody have any advice?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:13AM
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