Can Dogs Get Cavities? Yes! (These Home Remedies May Help)

Although it is relatively uncommon, dogs can develop cavities in their mouths. Vets usually recommend antibiotics or dental surgery for canine cavities. Try these home remedies to ease your dog's discomfort and prevent symptoms from worsening while your pet awaits veterinary treatment.

Can Dogs Get Cavities? Yes! (These Home Remedies May Help)

Although it is relatively uncommon, dogs can develop cavities in their mouths. Vets usually recommend antibiotics or dental surgery for canine cavities. Try these home remedies to ease your dog's discomfort and prevent symptoms from worsening while your pet awaits veterinary treatment.

Can Dogs Get Cavities?

Photo by Ivan Babydov

Dogs can get cavities in much the same way as humans can. Cavities in your dog's mouth, also known as "caries," are regions where the teeth have been harmed by prolonged exposure to bacteria and food particles. When bacteria accumulate on the teeth, acid builds up and erodes the tooth's outer layers, causing decay.

For cavity treatment, you must take your dog to the vet. An infection can only be eliminated with antibiotics, dental surgery or other medications provided by a veterinary professional. Until then, try these natural remedies to relieve your dog's discomfort and help prevent the symptoms from worsening.

Signs of a Tooth Cavity in Dogs

Dogs often try to hide their discomfort. In the wild, weak or vulnerable dogs are the first to be attacked by prey or left behind by the rest of the pack. This suggests that your dog will probably make every effort to hide any indication that his mouth is hurting. Dogs, however, may show these signs of a tooth cavity:

  • Refusing to eat crunchy kibble or treats
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth region
  • Not chewing toys
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dropping food on the floor
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tooth discoloration
  • A dark spot on a tooth

How to Care for a Dog’s Cavity at Home (4 Ways)

Home remedies for canine cavities are known to be successful in reducing symptoms in mild cases. It's crucial to understand, though, that home remedies don't work to treat cavities. You should still visit the vet for complete care if your dog has signs of a cavity or any other dental problems.

1. Doggy Mouthwash

If your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead to care for your dog's cavity symptoms at home, a doggy mouthwash using chlorhexidine may be a very effective option.

Chlorhexidine is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is frequently applied to dogs' oral cavities as an anti-bacterial cleaning solution. It has 12-hour-long antibacterial effects when used as an oral rinse.

On each side of the mouth, a small amount of the rinse is squirted inside the cheek. The chlorhexidine slowly diffuses into the oral cavity after binding to the oral tissues, tooth surfaces, and pre-existing plaque.

The product's flavor may be unpleasant to some dogs, but aside from that, giving your dog this oral rinse at home should pose very few risks or difficulties. Keep in mind that you should never administer medication without first talking to your veterinarian.

2. Coconut Oil

Try rubbing coconut oil on the infected area as well. The use of coconut oil in "oil pulling" to prevent dental caries is supported by limited but consistent research.

Coconut oil has natural antibacterial properties. In addition, it helps soothe the infected area and reduce swelling. It is perfectly safe for dogs to ingest in small quantities. You may want to keep your dog from eating or drinking anything else for about 15 minutes after applying the oil to the cavity area, to give it time to work its magic.

Coconut oil may aid in reducing gum disease inflammation and plaque buildup on teeth and is safe for dogs in small amounts.

Photo by Dana Tentis

3. Pet Cone

Your dog will likely try to scratch the area where his cavity hurts or rub his face on the floor and furniture to relieve the discomfort. You should prevent your dog from rubbing his mouth as much as possible because doing so could make his cavity symptoms worse and cause even more discomfort.

Watch your dog's activity or, even better, encourage him to wear a pet cone until the vet can properly treat the cavity.

4. Warm Compress

To alleviate your dog's tooth cavity symptoms, you can also apply a warm compress. Warm compresses help to increase blood flow and cleanse an inflamed, painful area of a dog's mouth, according to PetMD.

To make a compress, use a clean cloth and warm water. Apply the warmed compress to the affected area 5–10 times per day. By encouraging blood flow to the injured area, you might be able to speed up the healing process.

If an abscess is present, applying a warm compress may result in some drainage, which should not be a cause for concern unless your dog is in pain. Until the drainage stops, wipe away any discharge with a clean cloth and rinse with water or chlorhexidine solution mentioned above.

How Do You Fix a Cavity in a Dog?

Home remedies can help with pain or discomfort symptoms, but they cannot treat your dog's tooth cavity. Veterinarian dentists employ many of the same methods used by human dentists to fix a canine cavity, including:

  • Taking dental X-rays to determine the extent of tooth damage
  • Drilling and filling the hole to stop further decay
  • Performing a root canal to thoroughly clean out and seal the tooth and root (in some cases).
  • Completely removing the tooth (extracting a severely damaged tooth)

Your veterinarian will likely advise pulling the tooth because it is the least expensive and most straightforward solution to fully resolve the issue. The issue might be resolved by a root canal, but because it's more invasive and expensive, this is typically only done if the owner wants to save the tooth.

Veterinarian examining a dog's teeth

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Is It Common for Dogs to Get Cavities?

Due to the low levels of acids and sugars in the majority of dogs' diets, cavities are quite uncommon in dogs. They account for less than 10% of all dental issues. Periodontal disease and broken teeth are the most frequent dental issues seen in canines.

However, some breeds are more prone to getting cavities than others. For example, dog breeds like Chihuahuas, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Poodles, and Pugs are more vulnerable to tooth decay than other breeds.

How to Prevent Future Cavities in Dogs

Daily tooth brushing, especially on the chewing surfaces in the back of the mouth, is the most efficient at-home remedy for preventing canine cavities. You can also try some dental treats and chew toys that are intended to reduce tartar.

More importantly, create a schedule for yearly professional cleanings and examinations so a veterinary dentist can spot potential problems and address them right away.

Vet Explains How to Keep Your Pet's Teeth Healthy

If you think your dog has a tooth cavity, these home remedies can be used to relieve discomfort and pain if you can't see your veterinarian right away. They could also prevent the symptoms from getting too severe. In either case, you must speak with your veterinarian and get their guidance on what to do.

Sources and Further Reading

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)