When my husband and I adopted our first TBR baby, we chose a sweet, senior beagle. We asked if there were any health issues that we needed to be aware of, and the only thing that came up was that he only had five teeth. When he was rescued by TBR, his dental hygiene was in such a poor state that all but five of his teeth had to be removed. Of course this is sad, but it also made his upper lip stick some times and gave him the “Elvis lip curl.” I have to admit that it was terribly adorable.
Fast forward a year and a half. One day I was playing with our sweet boy, and I barely touched his mouth. He yelped like he’d been hit, and I immediately knew something was wrong. We took him to the vet the next day, and the vet examined his teeth. He said one of the five teeth he had was infected and rotting. Our vet then warned us that it might be a possibility that our little guy would need all of his teeth removed eventually. So he asked if he could look at all his teeth while he was in surgery (to have the infected one removed) to see if the other were following in that same direction. It broke my heart to think of him with no teeth, but it hurt my heart more to think of him in pain.
All of his teeth were removed that day. It took a couple of days of pain meds for him to start acting like his normal self again, and then a couple more days went by and the most amazing thing happened. For the first time since we’d owned him, he began to act like a non-skittish, no-mouth-bothering him, puppy dog! He was running through the back yard like a crazy man; he was playing with toys and rawhides (yes that’s right!!). It seemed that for the first time, in probably a VERY long time, his mouth wasn’t bothering him at all. And now, 6 months post teeth removal, he is still our extremely happy and pain free pup. What seemed like an awful thing to have to do to our baby turned out to be the best thing we could do for him and quite the blessing.
One final note to drive home the point of the importance of dental hygiene with all pets: while everything turned out lovely for our sweet boy, he is still toothless with a gap in his upper gum that we have to keep an eye on. Should food get stuck there, there could be another infection. So please brush your baby (or babies’) teeth regularly as well as take them to regular teeth cleanings at your vet.