A tooth extraction operation for my pet dog, isn't exactly something I typically spend time thinking about. Unfortunately like a lot of things in life, you only start thinking of it when it actually affects you personally. My Shih Tzu is what you might call a little "long in the tooth". As dogs age, problems you were never aware of suddenly appear, like gum disease.

Dogs and cats are both prone to developing periodontal disease, another word for severe gum disease. It occurs more frequently as pets age, particularly among smaller breeds.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

This is inflammation and infection caused by bacteria which results from the buildup of plaque in a pet's gums.

Can It Be Prevented?

Routine checkups and cleanings are the best way to prevent plaque buildup in a pet.

How Do You Tell If It Develops?

  • Consistent bad breath
  • Gums look irritated 
  • Visible buildup of plaque
  • Discolored tooth
  • Salivating heavily
  • Trouble picking up food
  • Chews on one side of the mouth
  • Swallows without chewing
  • Has bumps or lumps in mouth

What Can Periodontal Disease Do?

Periodontal disease can cause chronic pain in a pet. It can also destroy a pet's teeth and gums. If left long enough it can even damage a pet's major organs, including the heart valves, kidneys liver. When you reach this point, you need to act. 

Treatment of Periodontal Disease 

If your pet is suffering from periodontal disease, it is likely teeth will have to be extracted. The cost can be quite prohibitive, depending on the amount of teeth. Also, vets use anaesthesia during the procedure, which can have significant risk with older pets, specifically if they have comorbidities. Still, vets will usually recommend tooth extraction if there is no other health issues in order to ensure a good quality of life for the pet. 

Natural Pain Relief

As mentioned, anaesthesia can be risky for older dogs. Also, aside from the general risk that comes with age, if tests come back showing your dog has underlying conditions, any vet will likely advise against the procedure. Other options you might consider include natural products like Devil’s Claw or kratom. These will relieve your pet's pain, without them undergoing the risk of anaesthesia. Natural remedies can be safer for human and animal consumption, plus, it is easy and affordable to order products like Devil’s Claw or kratom online.

Tooth Extraction Procedure 

Pre-anaesthetic recommended testing typically includes bloodwork, urine analysis and possibly an electrocardiogram to ensure the anaesthesia is safe for the pet. It's important to take extreme precaution when considering anaesthesia, as it can result in cardiac depression, respiratory depression, hypothermia and hypotension. While anesthesia is always risky, the odds of it being fatal shoots up if your pet has underlying health problems. 

Constant monitoring during the procedure is essential to ensure the pet's temperature is kept warm and blood pressure is maintained. Sometimes it's best to preform multiple shorter procedures, to decrease the risk of having the pet under anaesthesia for too long.

Post Operation 

You will probably be very anxious about the operation. If you and your vet decided that's the best course of action, know that you're making the best decision for your pet's quality of life. Once the procedure is done and the anesthesia wears off, your pet will be drowsy for 24-48 hours and probably won't have much of an appetite. After this time period your pet should get back to normal, now with no more pain and a healthy mouth.


You want to do the best thing for your pet. There's no doubt it's a difficult decision to make. Talk to your vet. Find out your pets medical situation. Weigh the benefits of the procedure against the risks. The risks are always present, especially if your pet is older. If your pet is otherwise healthy, the benefits could outweigh the risks, as this is a routine procedure that vets usually carry out successfully. If the risks are too high, given your pet's age or health condition, consider an alternative pain relief treatment. We need to do right by our pet and that means deciding what will give them the best quality of life.


Dog Tooth Extraction: Costs, Recovery Time, and Aftercare | Daily Paws

Periodontal Disease: The Perils of Gum Disease in Dogs (webmd.com)

5 Herbal Pain Relief Medications For Pets | FitBark