How To Cope With A Fractured Dog Tooth

How To Cope With A Fractured Dog Tooth

Back in early 2015, I had to deal with a fractured dog tooth in my Boxer mix Buzz.

This was a few months before I switched him and his sister Missy from kibble to raw dog food.

Buzz fractured one of his upper molars by chewing on a smoked beef bone. You know, the kind you can buy at your local grocery store.

Had I known what I know after feeding raw dog food for almost a decade, I never would have offered those bones because they’re WAY TOO HARD.

If you don’t take anything else away from this blog post, here’s the most important lesson I learned.

Never feed bones from large hooved ruminants like deer or cows, regardless of whether they’re raw or smoked.

Those bones are much more dense and hard than poultry and rabbit bones.

It makes sense when you think about it.

After all, they have to hold up hundreds of pounds of animals, whereas poultry and rabbit bones support considerably less animal weight.

Here’s the whole story. | How to cope with a fractured dog tooth?

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2024. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

Smoked Beef Bones As A Doggy Christmas Gift

It all started with a Christmas gift.

When my neighbor asked if the pups could have a smoked beef bone from the local grocery store for Christmas, I enthusiastically agreed because the pups love to chew.

As expected, they both loved their Christmas gifts, and chewed on them for about 30-60 minutes every day. 

After that time, I’d take them away.

At that point in time, Missy & Buzz had been chewing on antlers for over 3 years.

They started chewing on them as puppies to relieve their toothing pain.

Additionally, I also offered them their chews as a way of preventing boredom.

For example, in between walks and when I needed some me-time.

However, I will say that I ALWAYS supervised their chew time.

A Broken Dog Tooth: Symptoms

So one week, the pups were busy chewing on their respective beef bones when Buzz stopped chewing all of a sudden.

I thought it was a little strange, but figured that he might just want to take a little break and get some water. 

He started chewing again after a little while, but not as enthusiastically as before.

I still didn’t think too much of it, but figured that now would actually be a good opportunity to brush his teeth. 

As always, I began brushing his teeth on the upper left side of his jaw. However, as soon as I started brushing, he pulled back & yelped.

Now this was a clear indicator that something was just not right.

That’s because usually, the pups would start drooling in anticipation of the flavored toothpaste whenever I pulled out their toothbrush.

I checked Buzz’s mouth, and sure enough!

His upper left molar in the far back of his mouth was fractured.

The pulp & the bright red pulp tissue was clearly showing.


I later learned that the pulp is the nerve and blood supply of each dog tooth.

Enter The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats, by Amy D. Shojai

Since I wasn’t familiar with dog tooth problems, I looked up tooth damage in my go-to pet emergency book. 

The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats, by Amy D. Shojai.

The front of the book First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats by Amy Shojai
The back of the First Aid Companion for dogs and cats by Amy Shojai

The section about damaged dog teeth mentions that damaged dog teeth can happen in dogs who chew:

  • Hard bones
  • Rocks
  • Wires, etc. 

Veterinary Treatment Of Buzz’s Fractured Dog Tooth

After I noticed Buzz’s broken tooth, the next step was to get in touch with our vet and to bring Buzz in for an exam & assessment, that same day.

Our vet Dr. Schaller quickly diagnosed his problem, and scheduled his tooth removal surgery for the next day. 

She had sympathy pain for my big boy and said, I quote, “Seeing his exposed nerve makes my teeth hurt”.

We went back home with Tramadol for Buzz’s tooth pain, and returned early next morning for his surgery.

Dr. Schaller had to postpone someone else’s spaying surgery that next morning, explaining that Buzz’s tooth extraction had priority.

I was very thankful for that decision.

She took a little video of the surgery, so if you’re interested in it, check it out on my YouTube channel K9sOverCoffee.

But be aware that you’ll see blood!

One positive side effect of Buzz’s surgery was that his remaining teeth were able to undergo a thorough assessment, as well as a tooth cleaning and nail trim.

I suppose I was also somewhat “lucky” that Buzz’s dental dilemma happened in February.

It was National Pet Dental Health Month, after all. 

Our veterinary clinic Willowcreek Animal Hospital celebrated this month-long event by offering 20% off all dental treatments.

Fractured Dog Tooth Cost

However, my total vet bill for Buzz’s dental treatment was still $557!

My medical dog insurance PetsBest covered $250 after they deducted my annual deductible of $200.

Buzz all smiles again after his tooth surgery

On The Road To Recovery After The Dental Surgery

My big boy was prescribed a soft food diet for 2 weeks after his surgery.

I ended up soaking his kibble in warm water for about 5 minutes, and then mixed in his usual add ons of wet food, pumpkin purée, and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Poor Buzz had a swollen left side of his face for 2 days.

Which Dr. Schaller had predicted.

She explained that she had to remove an otherwise healthy tooth that didn’t come out as easily as a rotten dog tooth would have.

Buzz still got some Tramadol for the first few days after the surgery for pain relief.

He also ended up needing an antibiotic as Dr. Schaller (& Missy!!) noticed an odor coming from his incision.

In order to prevent an infection, he was put on 10 days of Clindamycin. 

That did the trick.

K9sOverCoffee | How To Cope With A Fractured Dog Tooth - Buzz With A Swollen Left Muzzle After His Tooth Extraction
Buzz with a swollen cheek after his tooth extraction

Safer Chewing Alternatives For Dogs

Since chewing is a natural dog behavior, we absolutely need to let our pups chew.

It’s not only fun for them, it also:

  • Prevents boredom
  • Exercises their jaws
  • Helps keep their teeth clean

The only trick is to offer your dog chews that are softer than dense bones from deer, elk, bison, or cows.

Essentially any dog chews that aren’t overly dense.

Here are my personal favorite chews for dogs:

Missy And Her Dehydrated Bully Stick From Treats Happen
Missy with a dehydrated bully stick from Best Bully Sticks. | Buzz chewing on a dehydrated pig ear
Buzz chewing on a dehydrated pig ear.
K9sOverCoffee | Wally eating a raw duck head
Wally eating a raw duck head from Raw Feeding Miami.
Wally eating a raw turkey neck
Wally eating a raw turkey neck from Raw Paws Pet Food.

How To Cope With A Fractured Dog Tooth: Bottom Line

Always supervise your chewing pup, and immediately check their mouth if you notice odd behavior!

Take your pup in to see his vet if you have the slightest medical concern.

Remember that dogs are very good at disguising any pain they may be experiencing.

I took our vet’s advice of withholding all hard chews to heart and tossed them all, including antlers.

Update 2024: Back in early 2015 when Buzz fractured his tooth, he was still on a kibble & wet food diet.

Since mid 2015, he has been on a raw dog food diet which includes raw meaty bones

He does fantastic on it – it’s important to understand the difference between RAW, meaty, non-weight bearing bones, and SMOKED recreational bones.

Have you experienced a fractured or otherwise damaged dog tooth?

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below this blog post!

Related Reading

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






18 responses to “How To Cope With A Fractured Dog Tooth”

  1. Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady Avatar
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady

    Oh no!!! Ouch!!! My huskies love to chew on antlers! Now i’m a little worried!

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      I had the same reaction when our vet told us how many furr clients she sees with damaged teeth from hard chews. Major bummer.

  2. Talent Hounds Avatar
    Talent Hounds

    Looks so painful 🙁

  3. Hawk aka BrownDog Avatar

    Hi Y’all!
    Oh thank Heaven you were supervising. I had to have a tooth pulled that was infected. Fortunately it was a little tooth that I didn’t really need. It still isn’t fun. But it sure was a relief when they found it and got rid of it.
    Paws crossed you’re quickly well.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Oh man, I am so sorry to hear that, Hawk. Now I have sympathy pain for you retrospectively 🙁 Thanks for the well wishes ~ big boy Buzz is doing a little better every day now. He’s back to playing fetch, so that’s a good sign 😉

  4. Sand Spring Chesapeakes Avatar

    So sorry to hear about buzz tooth and glad he recovered well from his extraction. We see many broken teeth in the clinic too, most of the time the owners don’t know what happened or that the tooth is broken. Even know I know what can happen chewing on hard bones I still let my dogs chew on them and knock on wood I haven’t had any problems and haven’t had to have any dental cleaning yet.

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Thank you 🙂 I’m terrified right now that it could happen again, either to Buzz or his sister, Missy. We’ve had enough vet bills lately with her tumor removal & chemotherapy sessions (although we have Dog Insurance, the $$$ still add up with yearly deductibles & co-pays.) I’m just so over vet visits & bills right now, that I am doing everything in my power to avoid any more!!

  5. Elaine Avatar

    I’m so glad that Buzz is all fixed up and on the mend. Haley had the same thing happen to her from chewing on a Nylabone. She’s always had a variety of bones and antlers, but our vet said he sees this a lot from hard Nylabones. He also thought antlers were fine, but they seem awfully hard, so we also took them away.

    I wish there was a bone that was somewhere between the hard edible bones (which are gone pretty quick) and super hard bones that can damage their teeth.

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Thank you, Elaine, I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was for me to get rid of their antlers & bones. The pups had such a nice collection going…I hear there are varying degrees of hardness in antlers, and that elk & moose antlers are less dense than deer antlers, therefore make for a safer chew. I’ll have to do a little more research on this topic before I dismiss it completely 😉
      Our vet also mentioned Nylabones & Rawhides as tooth breaking culprits…I’m very sorry to hear that Haley damaged one of her pearlies as well..such a shame.

  6. Jan K Avatar

    That’s no fun but I’m glad to hear that Buzz is recovering. It’s been a long time since we gave our dogs real bones, since our vet recommended against it. But I know plenty of people do, especially those that feed raw. But I never wanted to take the risk.

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Thank you, Jan ~ it definitely wasn’t fun 🙁 I know a lot of people whose pups have antlers & bones, yet so far everyone has been lucky. I won’t test our luck a second time, however!!

  7. Gorge k Avatar
    Gorge k

    Hi, my lab broke his upper carnassial tooth. My vet gave me the option of Root canal or extraction. How has buzz recovered from the extraction? Does he only chew on one side? Does plaque build up on the missing tooth side? And what does his mouth look like all healed? Thanks for your help,

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Hi Gorge! Thanks for stopping by – and I am so sorry to hear about your pup’s tooth. Buzz has recovered very nicely from his extraction. He eats and chews just like he did before, without favoring one side. His mouth looks completely normal, except that there’s a gap where the molar used to be.

  8. DZ Dogs Avatar

    What kind of toothpaste do you use for the pups?

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Nowadays raw meaty bones 😉 Back then I got random doggie toothpaste from Petco.

  9. Jan Avatar

    Hi my name is janet. Ive been reading your blog for quite some time. My beautiful gsd kelly broke her carnassial chewing on a rock go figure. Well my vet is sending me to a specialist because she is so young he does not want her to lose the tooth. Went to specialist and they want 2000 for root canal or 900 to remove it. My vet makes me think it will destroy her teeth and will have trouble chewing on that side and could possibly break the one on the other side. Plus more tarter build up on that lower tooth. I really dont have 2000 laying around but i feel like she needs the tooth because she is so young. So my question is would you root canal the tooth being such a young pup or would you remove it. Has buzz had more dental problems since the removal like bone loss plaque build up around the other teeth? Is that molar behind the missing tooth root exposed? Do you have to brush buzz’s teeth now? Would really appreciate the input before i go in next thanks.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Hi Janet, thanks so much for reading my blog! I’m so sorry to hear about your pup Kelly – do you have insurance that would cover some of the cost of a root canal? If so, I would go ahead and save her tooth that way. That being said, Buzz hasn’t had any issues since his molar was removed – he’s totally fine eating raw meaty bones like chicken leg quarters, duck frames etc, even though that molar is missing. There is a tiny little bit of soft tartar build up on the two teeth right below the missing one, but it’s soft enough that I can scrape it off with a fingernail.

      So if you can afford it, I’d say fix the tooth – but if you don’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be too worried about having it removed. At least Buzz doesn’t seem to be missing it 🙂 Let me know what ends up happening to Kelly – I’d love to hear about it!

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