Swollen face, cracked teeth should be checked

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Mort, our crazy 5-year-old Brittany, came in last night and
looked at me


Her face is swollen on the right side. Do we need to have her go
to the vet?
Q: Mort, our crazy 5-year-old Brittany, came in last night and looked at me “crooked.” Her face is swollen on the right side. Do we need to have her go to the vet?


Any swelling can be serious. Brittany may have been injured, but that puffy look could be the sign of an allergic reaction, an infection (perhaps a bad tooth), or a lot of other conditions. Even a tumor (benign or malignant) can cause a slight swelling on the skin.

So if this “crooked” look doesn’t disappear after a day or two, I think Mort ought to see the vet to determine the cause of her disfigurement.


JuJu is a 2-year-old lab. He just cracked one of his canine teeth. It bled a little and he seemed a little sensitive when he went to drink some water. But an hour later, he acted as if nothing happened. Today, there’s no blood and he’s eating and playing ball as usual. I can’t tell if he has any pain or not. Should we worry? My neighbor’s dog has two broken teeth and has never had them treated. Is there something that can happen if we don’t take him in?


I always recommend a vet checkup when a tooth is broken, simply because there’s always a chance that infection can penetrate into the root and cause a dental abscess. Many people will tell you their dog has a broken tooth that never caused any problems. And while this may be true, there’s always that slight possibility that complications could arise. So for peace of mind and a healthier mouth for JuJu, go see the vet and have his tooth examined.       

By the way, here’s another option for you and JuJu. If you want his mouth to look good as new, you could go to a veterinary dental specialist who can restore that broken tooth “smile” to normal. It comes with a cost, but this might be an option for the dog that has everything.


I was out walking our dog, Sam, yesterday when two small dogs ran up and attacked her. Sam tried to fight them off, but they wouldn’t stop attacking. She ended up only with a small cut on her front foot, but I have two bites on my hand from breaking up the scuffle. I had to see my doctor to get a tetanus shot and some antibiotics. What can be done to stop this from happening again?


It seems that we’re hearing more and more about these kinds of incidents. Too many people think it’s all right to let their dogs run free off-leash. Unfortunately, nasty encounters like this one occur when loose dogs are left unattended.

Presumably, you’ve had a chance to talk to the owner of these dogs. He or she is responsible for any injuries you and Sam suffered in this attack. Make sure you find out whether or not these dogs have been properly vaccinated. There is a very real danger of rabies here unless the owner can show proof that these dogs had proper vaccines.

And if the dog’s owner is unwilling to accept responsibility, you can file a claim in small-claims court for your costs and any damages. You should also contact animal control to file a report.

Free-running dogs are dangerous. They represent a huge threat to people and to other animals. If you see loose dogs and can’t locate their owner, or if the owner won’t keep them under leash control, report these dogs to the police or to your local animal control.


Our cat, Ralph, coughed up a furball yesterday. He seems fine otherwise, but this happens at least once a month. What should we do to help him? Does he need some kind of treatment?


As long as Ralph is otherwise healthy, there are at least two different treatments that you can try at home. First, get some kitty laxative and give him some of this once or twice a week. Flavored laxatives that you put in his mouth are available in a tube. Talk to his vet about which one would be best for him.

The other alternative is to use some mineral oil. Give him 1-2cc (about one eyedropper full) in his mouth once weekly when he is shedding heavily. This might help him avoid these moments of indigestion. But be careful! Too much oil and he might have some loose stools and a big mess.         

And remember that chronic vomiting can not only be a sign of a more serious problem, but it can also cause damage to the stomach and esophagus. If Ralph continues to have this problem, he really needs to be examined carefully by his veterinarian.

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