Pet Cavities

Pets get cavities too!

While rare in many animals, cavities do occur in dogs. If you see dark staining on your pet’s teeth, or if your veterinarian has diagnosed a “cavity”, an examination by one of our veterinarian dentists is very important. We can determine if it is truly a cavity and recommend the best treatment for your pet.

What and where to look

Bacterial cavities (called caries) are rare in animal patients, but they do occur in dogs. The most common area of the mouth for cavities to occur is on the flat surface of the molar teeth.

A cavity will appear as a dark brown to black discoloration on the pet’s tooth surface. Tooth staining secondary to wear can look like this as well, although it tends to be lighter in color.


Treatment of bacterial cavities in pets is similar to fillings (restorations) performed for humans.

  • We will start by taking a dental radiograph to determine if the tooth is infected.
  • If so, root canal therapy is necessary prior to performing the restorative procedure (filling).
  • If the tooth appears vital, the tooth is prepared for the filling which is done with a dental drill.
  • Next, the filling is placed. Currently, we are using only non-toxic resin-based composite (white) fillings.
  • Finally, we will smooth the tooth to recreate the natural shape.

If the tooth is significantly weakened by the cavity, a crown may be recommended, especially if a root canal is needed.

Finally, if the tooth is severely diseased, extraction should be considered.

At VDS we offer these services to address cavities

Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy involves the removal of the pet's diseased or infected root canal system (nerve). The most common indication for pet root canal therapy is a fractured tooth. Other indications are discolored (dead) teeth or abscessed teeth.
An extraction is the pulling of one or more of your dog or cat's teeth. This is often needed because of complications due to periodontal (gum) disease.
Veterinary dental radiology is a handy tool in diagnosing disease in the pet's nasal/oral region. In cases of facial swelling or chronic nasal discharge, veterinary dental radiographs can greatly assist diagnosis and treatment planning.
A dental crown in veterinary dentistry is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a dog or cat's tooth. It covers the tooth to restore (or at least approximate) its shape, size, strength, and/or to improve its appearance. Most crowns in veterinary patients fully encase the entire visible portion
of a tooth. When properly performed, crowns are permanent.