Ask the Veterinarian/abscessed


QUESTION: Hello, my min pin, 8 years old, showed mouth tenderness for 3 days. Took her to the vet and was told abscessed, 12 teeth need to be removed!! Does this seem extreme, unlikely? thanks

ANSWER: When was the last time she had a dental cleaning? By the age of 3 most dogs, and cats, have fairly advanced dental disease IF their teeth are not brushed at least 3 times a week.

So, no, if she hasn't had a good dental prophylaxis is over a year then it is not unlikely at all that she has bad teeth.

Small dogs are particularly prone to bad teeth and need them cleaned at least twice a year if they are not being brushed. Even with brushing a dog or cat will need a deep cleaning (under the gumline) at least once a year.

So when was the last time she was given a good total dental cleaning?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response!
 She has never had a cleaning. I had dogs as a boy into my early 20's, and none of them ever had a cleaning, nor a problem with teeth. They were all large dogs. I assumed all dogs, being canines, would react similarly. I was so wrong and feel badly for my dog. Luckily, she has had the antibiotics for 1.5 days with pain medicine and she is acting so much better, normal. Her surgery is scheduled for this Friday. Thank you again and I regret my lack on knowledge.


No worries Maurice. Many, many owners do not know that dog's need their teeth cleaned just as we do. Bigger dogs don't tend to get dental disease quite as badly as the little ones do.

They get it, mind you, but most go years without the kind of problems that these smaller dogs endure. Big dogs have more space around their teeth, which helps food not stick quite as badly.

My two larger dogs didn't have as many dental problems as I have seen over the years with smaller dogs but I did brush their teeth off and on.

So don't beat yourself up over it. Once she gets her dental work done and she is like new, then you can start a regular schedule of dental care at home for her. Be sure to ask your vet to show you HOW to brush her teeth and also ask about the T/D diet which is an alternative to tooth brushing every few days.

It REALLY does help keep the dental plaque buildup to a minimum.

She loves you, you love her and now you are taking care of her needs. So don't feel bad. :-)

Just consider yourself enlightened on the subject!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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