Texas Veterinary Dental Center

Golden Retriever

No Bones for Dogs!

Broken dog tooth caused by chewing a bone.

Broken dog tooth caused by chewing a bone.

Bones and other hard objects are the usual cause of tooth fracture (broken tooth) in the dog. Hardly a day goes by that we do not diagnose tooth fracture. Even those dogs presented for other reasons (for example periodontal treatment) are often diagnosed with tooth fracture during examination and charting the teeth. Owners of these dogs are often shocked to learn that their pet has a tooth fracture that has been caused from chewing objects that are too hard for the pet to break with its teeth. Tooth fracture can result in sensitivity, pulp exposure, pain and ultimately infection.Some of the chew products responsible for tooth fracture have been found to be nylon bones, cow hooves, cow bones, bully sticks, pig ears, antlers, and large twisted/compressed rawhide bones. Any hard chew item that is dense and stiff may cause tooth fracture. Bones can even get caught in between the teeth and result in trauma or damage to the palate (roof of the mouth) and periodontal attachment (gingiva, periodontal ligament, alveolar bone). Some chew products are also abrasive and can cause wear to teeth. Tooth wear may cause enamel loss and expose the dentin and pulp.

Dentin is porous; therefore dentinal exposure can cause sensitivity and pulp inflammation with resultant infection. Like tooth fracture, rapid dentinal wear can cause pulp exposure. Not only is pulp exposure painful, it can lead to an abscess (endodontic disease).  Our rule of thumb is that objects used for dogs to chew should be flexible, easily dented with ones fingernail and easily distorted by a dogs chewing behavior. Most rubber or rope toys would fall into this category.

Owner discretion has to be used when giving dogs items to chew because some pets will destroy chew toys and swallow parts of them. Ingesting bones, chew toys and various objects can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as blockage.