No Balls in the House!

Moms have been yelling this since the beginning of time. If only I listened to myself!


I took a nap last week on the couch. That’s not my normal napping place, but I was reading and dozed off. When I woke up, I found Boone sprawled next to the couch and Woody curled up at my feet. And a ball on top of the blanket that I had pulled over me. Both my dogs are fetch enthusiasts; it could have been either one of them that left me the present.

I picked up the ball, threw the blanket back, and stood up, ball in my hand. Both Woody and Boone had jumped to their feet and were facing me, expectant. Not quite awake and definitely not thinking, I absent-mindedly tossed the ball toward Woody, who is a great catcher. But Boone lunged toward the ball first – and he’s not a good catcher – so the ball bounced past me toward a steel and stone side-table, with Boone in pursuit.

In fact, he pursued so hard, he smashed his face right into the edge of the steel table, and I heard a distinct “Crack!” He handed licking his lips; the contact obviously hurt. “Oh my dog!” I exclaimed and called him to me, lifting his lips to see if he had bitten his tongue or his lip. In fact, it was worse: He hit the table edge with the top teeth, and snapped off the middle two teeth right at the gum line.

This is reason 4,652 of why we don’t play with balls in the house! My poor baby! And it’s all my fault! What was I thinking?!

I’ll tell you what I was not thinking. I was not thinking about injuries that might cost thousands of dollars, but I should have been!

When dogs get break a tooth like this, it exposes the sensitive pulp in the innermost core of the teeth where blood vessels and nerves are located, causing severe pain. I immediately called my veterinarian’s office and asked, “What should I do?!” I still wasn’t awake!

I’m so grateful that my vet loves Boone (he looks very similar to one of her long-gone heart dogs). She shoehorned him into a very early morning appointment the next day to assess the broken teeth. She said immediately that the roots of those teeth will have to come out – that is, be removed surgically. And while she couldn’t schedule this for another 10 days or so, she said that might be a blessing, because it may develop that Boone smacked other teeth hard enough to crack them and/or injure the pulp. If some of the adjacent teeth are badly damaged, they may die and have to be removed also. She suggested that x-rays taken in a week or 10 days will give us more information about how those teeth fared. And in the meantime, I can give Boone medication for pain – and keep him from chewing or playing with anything that might hurt.

Some dogs with broken-off or cracked teeth refuse to play with toys or even eat. Boone has to be on death’s door to refuse food, but he did grab a rope (which was attached to my grandson’s zipline) and try to initiate a game of tug – and almost immediately yelped in pain and dropped the rope.

Our urgent care visit, with a blood test which will ensure his anesthesia will be uneventful and prescriptions for pain medications from now until surgery and more after surgery, was about $270. I have an estimate for $1,400-$2,000 for extracting at least two teeth (and perhaps more). I’ve been warned that the roots of those teeth may be an inch or longer; even though the teeth look small, their roots are long. The incision will be long and it will be painful for Boone for a while.

So, take it from me: Don’t throw – or even just casually toss! – balls in the house!

PS: After I had panicked and called my vet, I thought, “I should have looked on the WDJ site for an article about broken teeth! I know we’ve published some!” If your dog has ever broken a tooth, you may want to look them up yourself; everything I needed to know can be found in “Your Dog’s Chipped or Broken Tooth,” “Tooth Extractions in Dogs,” and “Fractured Teeth in Dogs.”


  1. A few years ago I gave my 14-year old Roxy an antler to gnaw on. She loved it, but one day I heard a crack, thought it was the antler. The vet discovered on the next wellness visit that there was a broken tooth. I felt terrible, this sweet, gentle dog must have been in pain for weeks. I so regret not taking her in to get it checked right away. And no more antlers or hard bones.

  2. Oh my goodness, so sorry to hear about this event. I too have worried about hard bones and cracked teeth – so I stopped giving them those antlers or himalayan cheese chews (or whatever they’re called) a long time ago. I ONLY give Whimzees and/or collagen “bones” or edible Nyla bones. They’re probably not quite as satisfying as antlers etc. (and don’t last as long) but at least I know the dogs won’t break a tooth with them.

  3. Well, not exactly the same as Boone but my Diana pawPrints just had those same two teeth removed two months ago. One was dead and the other cracked off at the gum line and I didn’t even know it. She likes to chew on wood, but thankfully never swallows anything that isn’t actual food.

    Yes, the bill was about $1,000 and thankfully no other teeth were damaged. She got soft food for 10 days and is perfectly find now. She doesn’t fetch but she does love to carry her ball around.

    I hope Boone bounces right back to his normal self after surgery. And just think of the Christmas card photo you can take of him. “All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth.”