How To Care For An Older Dog With No Teeth

blind-deaf-toothless-dog.jpgIf you’re very lucky, your faithful furry companion will live to a ripe old age.

I’ve been this lucky as my little dog Rascal, a Pomeranian/Yorkie mix has celebrated his 18th birthday. This means in human years this good old boy is 126 yrs old!

He has definitely earned the rank of Senior Citizen in our household.

As dogs age, a variety of health issues may come up. The most prevalent issue is the condition of their teeth.

Here’s what you need to know about caring for a dog with no teeth…

Dog Tooth Care Starts Early

Of course your best bet is to start a preventative maintenance program early, in order to help your dog keep his teeth as long as possible.

Here’s how to care for your dog’s teeth.

For my dog Rascal, once he passed middle age (about 8 or 9 years old) his teeth started going downhill.


When A Dog’s Teeth Start Falling Out…

At first (for about a year or two), he had the occasional loose tooth. Eventually, he lost most of his smaller teeth.

By the time our dog reached about 13 or 14 years of age, his teeth problems became more significant. Over a period of about a year, he lost most of his remaining teeth.

During this time, I continually monitored his mouth, making sure that a tooth infection didn’t arise.



Feeding A Dog With No Teeth

Through our dog’s puppy stages and young adult life, his nourishment came in the form of dry dog food in one bowl and fresh water in a separate bowl. This was convenient for both him and I because he could eat whenever he felt the need, and as long as there was food in the bowl my duties were covered.

When his dental condition started to deteriorate, his ability to crunch the dry kernel’s of dog food diminished as well. When you’re dealing with a 7-pound dog, it doesn’t take long to realize he isn’t getting enough food. Any slight weight loss becomes quite noticeable.

To accommodate his failing teeth, we switched over to a soft but still dry (or semi-moist) dog food that comes sealed in plastic pouches. This worked out well throughout the period that he still had some viable teeth left with which to chew.

After a period of about 2 years, the last of his teeth finally fell out. By this time, even the softer dog food had become difficult for him to eat. To ease the burden, we switched to canned dog food which we further chopped up into even smaller particles.

At this point, our toothless dog is forced to lap up his food, rather than chew it. So breaking it up in the smallest pieces possible has made it easier for him to swallow the food.

No Teeth May Be Better Than Rotten Teeth

dog-teeth-by-antiparticle.jpg The most amazing part of this ongoing series of events is once he lost the last of his teeth his overall health improved noticeably!

Sadly dogs have no way of telling you they are in pain, though we all know how annoying a sore mouth or painful tooth can be. Once his teeth were gone, any residual infection or soreness quickly cleared up and the young spunky little dog that loved attention immediately returned.

Don’t assume that just because your dog has slowed down, seems out of sorts, or is always sleeping that it’s just a sign of getting old. Having a mouth full of bad teeth can really take the starch out of their sails. Dogs just don’t know how to tell you about it.

Finding The Right Food For Your Toothless Dog

Our toothless little dog continues to thrive.

It was a simple switch to canned dog food that made a measurable improvement in his life. I would encourage you to avoid canned dog foods that advertise “chunks in gravy.” The gravy part is good, but the chunks will be more than a toothless dog can handle and you will need to chop them to a finer consistency.

The brand of canned dog food you buy isn’t as critical as you may think. There are federal regulations in place which state the minimum nutritional requirements that all pet food products must meet. I think it’s more important to find a dog food that your pet enjoys and is able to eat easily.

In our case, little interference was needed on our part. Mother nature allowed the teeth to fall out without excessive inflammation or complications. Keep in mind, there is great risk of infection that can spread into the dog’s sinus cavities. In extreme cases, the infection can even spread into the brain when their teeth become abscessed. So, be sure to monitor your toothless dog’s mouth for this condition and have them checked by a veterinarian if you suspect pain or complications.

With luck, you may be as fortunate as I’ve been. My faithful dog seems more like the Energizer bunny these days. I think he’s going to keep on keeping on forever!

Curtis Carper

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Anonymous

    Is there any way to keep a dogs tongue moisturized after she lost all of her teeth. It won’t stay in her mouth and it is drying out. Any suggestions?

  • Steph
  • Feeling Lucky

    Great advice thank you. My friend has a 12 year old labrador with almost no teeth and the dog is getting really skinny probably because of that. I’m going to forward this to her.

  • Gail

    dog lost teeth, how can i care for her tongue, it hangs out all the time
    will she be in pain

  • kim

    My 14 year old jack Russell is having her teeth removed today due to infection and bad breath at the cost of 500 ish pounds, I am not really bothered about the money just about the pain she will be in after the op. I will post how she does later.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Thanks for sharing, Kim. We look forward to your update soon…

  • Kelly

    Do you know what brand the semi hard/soft food was? Our dog is twelve and recently had 5 teeth pulled … prior, she’d lost a couple on her own. Really all she has left is one canine and her front teeth. She does okay with hard food, but you can tell it’s a bit hard for her to chew, so we’ve put her on a soft food diet, but she seems hungry all the time, her stool is very runny and she has really bad … and stinky … gas. We’re looking for a happy medium as an alternative. Preferably something gluten free, but at the very least something that won’t make her fat. A lot of foods out there today tend to do that. Soft food is just not agreeing with her.

    • Curtis

      Kelly, I buy all my pet food at Walmart. I’ve found their Old Roy brand to be as good as most. This is an example of the type of dog food I used: It’s soft segments shaped like small noodles. They carry name brand varieties as well but the key is the food is packaged in smaller pouches so the food doesn’t dry out. Later on, when I found my dog having problems with this softer dry food, I switched to the small tins of pate. That took him to the point where I switched to oatmeal when the end came near.

  • Grace

    It is amazing how people still insist of feeding processed dry food even when their pets have little to no teeth! People who think it’s a hassle to feed their pets and opt for kibbles shouldn’t have pets in the first place!!! Dogs need and deserve natural and fresh meat, vegetable and fruit like we do. One of the oldest dog in the world, Bramble, lived vibrantly without lost of teeth, sight and hearing at 27 years old eating organic vegetables, lentils and rice! And the brand of canned food to buy IS critical considering what is used liked disease animals.

  • mary

    My rescue has only 4 teeth and I use Rachel Ray no grain dry food but I soak it in hot water until it’s absorbed, then mush it and sometimes add a soft food to increase the flavor for her, but I’m trying to figure out how to deal with her bad breath

    • FunTimesGuide

      Mary – Sounds like you’ve got her meals under control, and those are good ideas you’ve shared!

      For the bad breath, you might try sprinkling some fresh parsley into her food, or fresh mint. Both are also available in liquid form as an extract.

      There are also some dog water additives in stores. I’ve tried a few with good results at first, but then the results fade over time.

      Here’s my latest post on breath-freshening homemade dog treats:
      Many will be too hard for your dog, but you may be able to soak them, or get your own ideas from seeing some of the recipes. You’ll see the link to my experience using the doggie mouthwash in there as well.

      Hope that helps a little bit!…

  • mary

    Thanks for the ideas I had thought of the parsley but not of the mint I’ll let you know how it works

    • FunTimesGuide

      Oh good! Yes, please do keep us posted 😀

  • reneeruin

    This made me so happy to read. My lil pal is close to 12 years old and his teeth have been falling out much more often which has really been worrying me.

  • sleazypmartini85

    We have a pomeranian with almost the exact same situation. He has no teeth and is forced to lap up his food also. About how much per meal are you feeding Rascal?

  • Courtney

    I rescued a 9 year old dog recently. He had all his top teeth removed and some bottoms missing. Any toys that you found were fun for your dog without being painful or stressful?

  • gr689

    idk….actually i do know! and the brand of dog food MATTERS!! Some dog food can kill a little dog very quickly, especially an old little dog with no teeth, as mine is…..I know this first hand, as I noticed very quickly that if I kept feeding my dog the soft food i switched him to, it would soon kill him…his weight got radically out of control in less than 3 weeks after the switch…..I threw out the remaining food today and have switched his brand…..not because I’m brand happy but because some are waaaaay less healthy for your pup

  • Jaime Clark

    I chose a dog food using dog food advisor (great site). I use a coffee grinder (small, inexpensive to replace, packs for travel easily) to pulverize my senior dogs food to powder, then I add water (or homemade meat broth). I also add pulverized chicken or other whole foods she likes (apple, melon, banana, etc).

    Someone suggested organic, raw food. That’s not an option for most people. That doesn’t make us bad owners or undeserving owners. I chose the best dog food I could afford. Yes, it’s dry kibble. It’s very high-rated, has a protein percentage I like, and my dogs have thrived. It’s grain-free. Any skin allergies my two bullie breeds had, is gone. They have lovely coats, more energy and no scratching.

    I agree, food that you choose does matter. However, elitist animal ownership is something that people could do without. People do the best they can, with what they have. It doesn’t mean they love an animal more or less because they can’t feed raw or organic or raw organic vegan.

  • Rick

    Our Pomeranian has no teeth. He appears to be about 9 years old now. We found him 2.5 years ago in the street – dirty, thin, with fleas. He had only 3 teeth left when we found him, and within a year, he lost those remaining 3 teeth. After he lost the teeth, his breath really improved! We prepare all of his food into small sizes that he can lap up – not a problem.

    Our problem is: he’s been focusing on ITCHING one area on his face. Recently, it’s become a daily occurrence several times throughout the day. Top side of his mouth, below his right eye. He’s always tries to find some way to itch it.

    It’s become so constant, and he puts so much effort into it. I’m worried, and would like to help him.

    There’s no blood, no pus, no bad odors. It’s only this one spot. He’s itched this one area for as long as we’ve had him – it’s just recently that it’s become TOO often. It used to be occasional, every few days or so. Now, it’s every few hours.

    My guess was his itching of that area always had something to do with his tooth loss. I surmised that his damaged mouth area was just itchy…but it’s getting worse. Does anyone have any leads or suggestions?

    • FunTimesGuide

      Rick – Itching can also be a sign of pain in a specific location. I’d ask the vet.

    • GREY E CAT

      Why would he itch (irritate) his own eye? Don’t you mean he scratched?

      • Rick

        Yes, scratched.

        He still does this activity – but it doesn’t seem so serious now. He’s still looks for ways to wipe (or scratch) his face. Usually twice a day, it’s on my leg, or on a chair, or he tries his own paw. Some days, it’s not so frequent. It hasn’t gotten worse, and there’s no other signs of infection, irritation, or anything else happening.

        We’re in China, and I’m reluctant to bring this issue up with a Chinese veterinarian, because of our language miscommunication, and then the possibility that the Chinese vet will suggest some serious unnecessary procedures. That’s why I was trying to gather info here, and continued observing his behavior.