Root Canal Therapy in Pets

Many animal oral care health concerns can be addressed by going to your regular veterinarian, but when your pet has a complex oral problem or issue, a specialist may be required. Tooth complications and oral surgeries are complex and need a pet oral surgeon for care. For severe cases or oral surgery treatment, you need the assistance of specialty dental care or a veterinary oral surgeon, like the professionals of Veterinary Dental Care.

When it comes to pets and oral problems, one regularly treated condition is a tooth fracture. When an animal has a tooth fracture, the tooth must either be treated using root canal therapy or it must be extracted. Extraction is preferable for animals who have a tooth that is not necessary, as long as removing it will not affect their nourishment. But when a tooth is critical to their overall quality of life, root canal therapy is a better option for their long-term health. A root canal can save your animal’s tooth and restore their mouth to full function.

The Anatomy of A Pet’s Tooth

An animal's tooth is comprised of a triad of layers, which include:

The pulp cavity: The root canal or pulp cavity resides in the center of the tooth. In it lies the nerves and blood vessels that make the tooth sensitive to pain

The dentin: Underneath the outer layer, or the enamel, is the “dentin,” which is made up of microscopic tubules, or pores

Enamel: The outermost layer of the tooth is a shiny, white coating called the enamel. It is one of the hardest substances on an animal’s body

The enamel does not have any feeling or sensation. If, however, the damage reaches the pulp cavity layer or exposes the dentin, it can lead to severe pain and discomfort.
Feline Stomatitis

What are the Reasons a Pet Would Need Root Canal Therapy?

If your pet is more than a year old and has a fractured or cracked tooth, it can often be treated using root canal therapy. For pets that are less than a year old, vital pulp therapy or apexification are treatment options, depending on the circumstances.

A fractured tooth might present as

  • A cracked enamel
  • Discoloration
  • A piece that is missing
  • A broken tip

The only way to evaluate the full extent of the tooth damage is via x-ray. There are instances where the pet has damaged the tooth so severely that it may not be a viable candidate for root canal therapy, and tooth extraction is a better choice. The use of anesthesia is mandatory for root canal therapy, so testing will need to be done prior to the procedure to rule out any predisposing health conditions that might put them at risk of adverse effects.

What is the Pet Root Canal Procedure?

It is critical that the pulp cavity be treated using several necessary steps:


The first step is to thoroughly clean the nerves and blood vessels that are often either dying or dead due to exposure or trauma


When the pulp cavity is empty, it requires disinfection to remove any microorganisms that can lead to future complications or infection post-procedure


Rotary drills or files are used to help shape the root canal to ensure that it is filled to cover the nerves and blood vessels


A rubber-like, inert, and sterile material is used to conform to the shape of the canal to ensure that the pulp cavity is filled and covered

Sealing Internally

A sealer is applied to the sides of the pulp cavity