and George from Goleta, Ca., have written in concerning
their dog, Mica. Mica is a 6-year-old Labrador retriever
that has been with them since puppyhood. Over the last
few weeks, Mica has developed a swelling just in front
of her left eye.
it initially showed up, George thought it was a result
of some roughhousing he and Mica were engaged in, which
included some tug-o-war with a rope toy. George took
Mica to his veterinarian and was prescribed a
non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication to be given
to Mica for 10 days, assuming Mica indeed was injured
during his "battle" with George.
swelling initially seemed to subside some with the
treatment, but it has not gone away entirely. Most
recently, he has begun to eat less and takes more time
to eat. George states that normally Mica finishes his
meal in less than 30 seconds and lately it has been
taking him several minutes.
think we have enough information here to tell us that
something more needs to be done for Mica. Certainly it
is possible that Mica has an injury that has caused the
swelling in front of his left eye, but because the
swelling has not resolved and he has an appetite change,
more detective work is needed.
Mica back in to see his veterinarian. Have his teeth
thoroughly examined, and, what likely needs to happen
then, is an imaging study to examine the area of the
is my suspicion that Mica is actually dealing with a
dental issue and it was likely coincidental that George
noted the swelling on Mica’s face after their
roughhousing episode. To quote a Randy Newman line from
the theme song to the TV show "Monk", "I
could be wrong now, but I don’t think so ..."
order to get to the root of the problem (pun intended),
a set of dental radiographs needs to be taken. In dogs,
this is done with the benefit of anesthesia, as these
patients simply will not hold still enough to allow
these finely detailed image studies.
I believe will be revealed from these radiographs is
that Mica has one or more tooth root abscesses in the
area of premolar No. 4 on the left side of his upper
I bet he has some visible damage to that tooth —
perhaps a cracked crown that has allowed exposure to the
root cavity and thus the development of an abscess.
Premolar No. 4 in dogs is a three-root tooth and when
one or more of the roots becomes abscessed, it can cause
a facial swelling in the exact location described in
a tooth root abscess is uncovered by the dental images,
the next step is either a root canal procedure to allow
the tooth to be salvaged or an extraction of the tooth.
caretakers op for extraction as it is a far less
involved procedure for the dog. That said, premolar No.
4 in the dog is the largest tooth they posses and the
roots are quite extensive. Even in small dogs, these
roots are far larger than any you have in your mouth.
find the best method for extracting premolar No. 4 to be
by splitting the tooth into three sections, each with
its own root below, and then simply extracting each
section one at a time. This provides the least trauma to
the patient and is a faster method, as well.
I am correct, Mica can go home the same day as his
radiographs and subsequent dental procedure. He will be
on pain relief medication and antibiotics and should
look forward to complete resolution of his problem.