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

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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  • 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

    Have you tried The Honest Kitchen? It’s a soft food that dogs can lap up without teeth.

    http://www.thehonestkitchen.com

  • http://twitter.com/amFeelingLucky 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.

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ 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: http://tiny.cc/vdwjqw 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

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ 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: http://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com/2014/02/dog_breath_treats.php
      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

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Oh good! Yes, please do keep us posted :-D

  • 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.