Foreign Body in the Mouth: Observation Skills for Dog Owners—Observe, Analyze, Deduce

Foreign bodies stuck in the mouth is quite a common situation in dogs. Your dog might get all sorts of things stuck in the mouth or between their teeth.

Some of the obvious symptoms include

  • bleeding
  • excessive drooling
  • gagging

Often, however, you might not know about it at all. If the object remains, it can lead to a serious infection.

Foreign Body in the Mouth: Observation Skills for Dog Owners—Observe, Analyze, Deduce

You can’t celebrate things going well without jinxing something, can you? Fortunately, this was a very minor incident. The reason I’m sharing the story has more to do with observation skills than the problem itself.

Just as I published an article marveling at the benefit that chewing on raw meaty bones has for Cookie’s dental health, I was reminded of how important it is to always be vigilant.

Cookie was chewing on her beef neck bone as usual. I always keep an eye on things, but I haven’t noticed anything amiss. All seemed normal.

Sometime after that, I was going to give Cookie her thyroid pill peanut butter “chunkies.” She loves peanuts and peanut butter. The only time she’d refuse it is when her belly is upset. That happens rarely, and almost exclusively in the morning–when her stomach has been empty for too long.

But she was turning away from the peanut butter I was offering.

Could her stomach be upset anyway? Could she have swallowed a piece of bone that was too large and was that bothering her? I was quite positive I would have noticed her doing that.

After a bit of trying, I convinced her to take the peanut butter just for her to spit it back out. Then she got up, walked to the door and looked almost as if she was going to throw up. Now I was getting really concerned.

When I took her outside, she went towards some bushes and acted as if she was trying to bury something. No vomiting. So we came back.

To see what is what I decided to offer her a piece of meat.

She shouldn’t be getting food with her medication, but it was for diagnostic purposes. It should help me figure out what is going on.

She took the piece, but I could see that the problem was not her stomach but her mouth.

Could she have broken a tooth while chewing on that bone?

I try to keep giving her raw bones as safe as humanly possible. But things can happen no matter how hard one tries. Yes, there are many articles about the dangers of raw bones. But it’s not like a dog couldn’t break a tooth on the “safe substitutes.”

When you’re taking what you consider a reasonable risk, you always hope that the odds of something going wrong are really close to zero. Should something happen, you find yourself in a different movie.

I offered Cookie another piece to see if I can gain more information before we go rummaging through her mouth.

Now I could see clearly that whatever the problem was, it was on the left side.

Knowing where to look was a useful piece of knowledge. So we went looking.

First I looked for broken or chipped teeth. They all looked intact. As I was looking further, I noticed a little white “blob” between teeth where should not be any. When I touched it, it was hard.

Cookie had a little piece of bone stuck between two of her molars–the large one and the small one next to it.

Foreign objects stuck in the mouth can do quite a bit of damage.

I didn’t want to rush to a vet immediately, but I didn’t want to poke around Cookie’s mouth with a toothpick or anything like that either. I carefully tried poking the piece out with my fingernail. It came out with medium pressure applied to it, and it looked like I got all of it.

Cookie immediately looked happier and was ready to eat her peanut butter pill pockets.

I kept a close eye on her through the evening and the next day. Everything seemed fine.

What would happen if we didn’t discover the problem?

If nothing else, Cookie would have been quite uncomfortable. If she kept refusing to eat, we’d end up at a vet’s, naturally Otherwise, the chunk might have remained between those teeth.

It wasn’t a location where it would cause a considerable amount of damage, I don’t think, but such things can literally wreak havoc in the mouth, even lead to tissue necrosis. Can you imagine?

It is essential to pay close attention and not dismiss any findings.

Cookie sure was glad I watch her like a hawk.

Related articles:
Excessive Drooling in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Drooling More Than Usual?
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Further reading:
5 Common Canine Mouth Problems – And How to Spot Them

Categories: Dental careDog careDog health advocacyForeign bodies

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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