I have a 4- or 5-year-old Yorkshire Terrier who was mistreated as a puppy by the original owner. He has recently lost two of his top front teeth, three at the bottom are loose and his breath is very bad. He has taken to just sitting for long periods licking his fur, mostly on his feet. He is still eating his regular dog food, mostly dry dog food, although I mix it with moist food for the evening meal, but he also seems to have an upset stomach most of the time. I am concerned that he is losing his teeth due to either health issues or due to age. He did jump over a dog playpen onto a tile floor when he was at the dog groomer. I noticed the teeth issue three days later. Do you have any ideas for me? I am currently unable to afford a large vet bill, but I am concerned because I love him very much.
It sounds like your Yorkie has advanced dental disease. If you smell bad breath, he most likely has a gum infection.
Once teeth become loose, there are few options except scheduling a dentistry procedure for your dog. It will involve general anesthesia, and will be fairly expensive, but the results may amaze you.
Your veterinarian will most likely extract the loose teeth, and thoroughly clean the others by scraping them below the gumline (root planing) and polishing them. Your vet may want to implant some delayed-release antibiotic medication if the gums are infected.
Can you imagine having a toothache from three or four rotten, infected teeth, and all of a sudden waking up and the pain is gone? This is what it will be like for your little dog. Your veterinarian will put him on antibiotics and a pain medication after the procedure, and you should notice an increase in appetite, energy and attitude.
Although you are trying to avoid a major expense, this is one that will be worth it, because your dog will feel much better. Once the procedure is over, your veterinarian can talk about strategies to prevent future dental disease.
Best of all, the doggie breath will be gone.
Jon Geller, DVM