Q.) We recently had a big tooth- a molar?- removed from our Lab mix after the outside of the tooth broke off. My veterinarian said it was a hard one to remove and she would have to sew some gum tissue over the socket. She sent some pain medication home with that we gave for 2 days but Buddy didn’t act like he needed it so we stopped giving it. It was expensive and we think unnecessary. Do some dogs just have a higher pain tolerance?
A.) Like people, all dogs are a little different in how they handle or perceive pain. Certainly some dogs will hunt or fight or defend their territory no matter the situation or abuse their bodies might have to endure, but they all feel pain and probably to the same level.
Knowing that your dog or cat or pet in pain is always a priority for owners but obviously, their ability to express it can be difficult even with trained eyes to perceive. In your case, a reluctance to eat, drooling or simple not acting right would send signals that something is amiss. The absence of these notable characteristics however does not mean your pet isn’t feeling pain. We can and pets as well, can put on a “happy face” to please others.
Your dog may have fractured the crown of a large 3 rooted tooth known as the carnassial tooth. It can be more difficult to remove because of the 3 roots, its size and the fact it may still be firmly attached to the periodontal ligament and surrounding bone. Even we the best technique, this procedure will have some level of pain associated with it and to not intervene to try to control that would be cruel or worse. Your veterinarian likely anticipated this and would have given pain medication before, during and after the extraction and additionally, used a local anesthetic to deaden the area during the dental surgery.
If in doubt, give the medication next time as directed especially if it’s a procedure that you would anticipate pain if you were the patient.