Finding out your dog ate something he or she shouldn’t have is terrifying, especially if it is the first time that you are experiencing this. It can also be expensive. I heard this question a couple of times “ my dog ate my night guard, what should I do?”. My dog has taken multiple trips to the emergency vet after ingesting things he shouldn’t have, so if your dog ate your night guard for bruxism, I know from experience that the last thing you’re worried about is the state of your mouth guard. The question you really want answered right now is “is my dog OK?”
If this is an urgent situation and you’re concerned about your dog, call your vet immediately. If your night guard is just a little chewed up and your dog appears to be OK though, continue reading to learn more about how to check on your dog, how to stop this from happening in the future, and how to get a new night guard.
Why do dogs chew on night guards?
When you’re in an unfortunate situation, it can feel good to know you’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for dogs to chew on and ruin night guards or orthodontic retainers, even dogs who don’t typically chew on things.
But why does your dog seem so attracted to your night guard? You leave other things lying around the house all the time; why is it that expensive piece of dental equipment your dog seems to have a penchant for chewing?
When you take a minute to think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense: your dog is attracted to your night guard because of its smell. To your dog, your night guard smells like you, your saliva, and the food you’ve eaten. It looks and smells like a fun and tasty toy.
Dogs are also attracted to the material your night guard is made out of which, again, makes sense. Your night guard is made to resist clenching and grinding, and while your jaw isn’t as strong as your dog’s, your night guard will still provide some nice resistance to your dog’s teeth as they bite down, making it a fun chew toy.
Of course, with those strong jaws, your night guard isn’t going to come away from the encounter unharmed. Not only will your night guard be ruined, but your dog might also be in danger if he or she swallowed any part of the night guard.
When swallowed, large pieces of your night guard could obstruct your dog’s airway or GI tract. Any sharp pieces that your dog eats could cause internal tears or punctures.
How do I make sure my dog is OK?
Again, if this is an emergency situation, call your veterinarian or take your dog to the nearest emergency vet right away.
Signs to look out for
Thankfully, your night guard is not toxic (which is also good to know since you put it in your mouth every night)! If your dog ingested your night guard though, this could lead to an internal puncture, tear, or obstruction.
To determine whether your dog may have ingested any part of your night guard, inspect the damage. If there are pieces missing, look for them around the floor and see if you can piece the night guard back together.
If your dog did ingest your night guard, keep an eye out for the following warning signs of complications:
- Trouble passing stool (diarrhea or constipation)
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
Dogs that are eating, defecating, and acting normally might pass the pieces of the night guard naturally. If you’re certain your dog ingested the night guard, you can examine his or her stool to be certain that it has passed. Oh the joys of having a dog!
Consult with your vet before trying any of these, but they may be helpful in this situation.
Open your dog’s mouth and check around for any pieces that might be stuck in their cheek, under their tongue, or stuck in the roof of their mouth. If you can, safely remove these pieces.
Feed your dog a “Vaseline sandwich.” Spread a generous layer of Vaseline between two pieces of whole wheat bread. The fiber in the bread and the lubricating property of the Vaseline can help the pieces pass through your dog’s GI tract more easily.
As mentioned above, if your dog only swallowed small pieces and is acting normally, wait and see approach. Keep a close eye on your dog’s symptoms and examine his or her stool until you see the pieces pass.
It’s generally not recommended to induce vomiting when your dog has swallowed a night guard. If the pieces are sharp, they could cause more damage coming up. Because the night guard is not toxic, it is generally considered safer to let it pass and/or to have your dog examined by your vet.
When to see the vet
If your dog exhibits any of the above symptoms, visit your vet ASAP. You should also visit if your dog is acting normal, but you know he or she swallowed the night guard, and you haven’t seen it pass. Complications from swallowing foreign bodies can eventually result in death, so this is a serious matter.
The bottom line is this: if you’re worried about your dog, take him or her in to get checked out. Peace of mind is priceless, and your vet can offer that with an exam and an x-ray.
In extreme cases, your vet might determine your dog needs surgery to remove the pieces of your night guard or he or she might keep your dog for observation until the pieces pass.
How do I stop this from happening in the future?
The most obvious answer here is always keeping your night guard out of your dog’s reach. Consider storing your night guard in its case in a drawer, on a tall dresser, or in a closet.
In the event that you ever forget to store your night guard out of your dog’s reach, regularly clean your night guard and it can help with the scent that draws dogs to night guards. Brush your night guard daily with a toothbrush and give it a deep clean weekly.
- Does Dental Insurance Cover Night Guards?
- How Much Do Different Mouth Guards Cost?
- How to Clean Your Night Guard
How do I get a new dental night guard?
Once you’re sure your dog is OK, your focus will undoubtedly turn to your ruined mouth guard. If you initially purchased your dental night guard from Pro Teeth Guard, there’s good news! We keep your dental impressions on file for one year; if you’re within that time frame, contact us and we can get a new night guard sent your way.
Custom night guards can be pricey, especially in the United States, just like vet bills; that’s why we offer affordable night guards for less than you would pay at the dentist. If you’re new here, we’d love to meet you and start the process of getting you a professionally made custom fit night guard. Remember, we keep your impressions on file for one year, so if your dog gets a hold of your mouth guard again, the replacement process will be quick and easy.
It never hurts to have a back up night guard, either. Even just one night without your night guard can bring back unpleasant symptoms from teeth grinding and clenching like headache, jaw pain, and disrupted sleep. Going for weeks without a night guard while you wait for a replacement could increase the risk of damage to your teeth and TMJ disorders. If you always have a backup on hand, you needn’t worry about these symptoms while waiting to get a replacement night guard.