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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24471
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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How can you tell if a dogs tooth is hurting? We adopted a little resc

Customer Question

how can you tell if a dogs tooth is hurting? We adopted a little rescue shihtzu. We have had our Vet, check him out and know he has severe allergies which we are addressing, but 3 or 4 times aday he cries out seeming in pain and takes his paw and stratches at his mouth. it only last a few seconds. He seems to have difficulty chewing dry food and never takes more than a few bites. So I mix a little warm water to the dry food and he will eat it a lot better..when he crys out in pain ..I don't know why hes doing it?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
You've nicely identified just what we expect when oral pain is present - vocalizing and pawing at the oral cavity and chewing "tenderly" which abates when softer foods are offered. It's important to note that most of the dental pathology in dogs is subgingival - beneath the gum line where we can't see it until we X-ray our patients.
In fact, the standard of care nowadays is to perform whole mouth X-rays as part of the dental cleaning process. This then allows us to extract teeth at the same time we've cleaned healthy ones or even perform orthodontic work if necessary. Yes, this becomes expensive and it's best to always ask for a written estimate before anything is done. For now, aspirin at a dose of 10 mg/lb with food twice daily is reasonable.
Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.