Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?
By Chyrle Bonk, DVM May 4, 2021
Just imagine that you’re in the middle of a heated game of tug of war with your new puppy and all of a sudden you spot a tiny, pearly white speck lodged in the tug toy. Did you just pull out one of your puppy’s teeth?! Before you call your vet in a panic, it’s important to know that puppies naturally lose their baby teeth, just like humans. To answer more of your dog’s teething questions, read on.
Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Dogs, just like humans, grow two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The deciduous, or baby teeth, will be lost and replaced by adult teeth. If an adult tooth is lost, it won’t be replaced naturally.
When Do Puppies Start To Grow Their Baby Teeth?
Puppies are born toothless, a small blessing for all the momma dogs out there. At around 2 to 3 weeks of age, they start to get some of their baby teeth. This process is usually completed by 6 to 10 weeks. The incisors, or the tiny teeth in front, and the canine teeth come out first, followed by the premolars. Puppies don’t have deciduous molars. In total, a young puppy will have 28 teeth.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Shortly after, between 2 and 4 months old, puppies will start to lose their baby teeth to make way for permanent adult teeth. Again, the incisors go first, followed by the premolars at around 4 to 6 months of age and the molars come out around 4 to 7 months. The adult canines are last to come out at between 5 to 6 months of age.
Of course, there is always variation between both breeds and individuals. However, by 7 to 8 months old, nearly every puppy should have their full set of 42 adult teeth.
How Can I Tell if My Puppy Is Teething?
Teething in puppies is nearly a continuous process from the time a puppy is 2 weeks old until they’re close to 8 months. So, it may be hard to tell when your pup is actively teething versus what’s considered their normal behavior. However, teething puppies will often show off a few unique traits.
- Excessive chewing
This one may be a little hard to tell since most puppies already chew on things 24/7. But a teething puppy may try chewing on objects of different textures to find relieve for their sore gums. It’s not uncommon for a pup to chew on hard objects like furniture or rocks, then switch to something soft like the carpet, and then followed by a small taste of your arm or toes when they’re teething.
- Finding teeth
Most of the time your puppy is going to harmlessly swallow their baby teeth and you’ll never know the difference. However, you may find their teeny, tiny baby teeth in places like their food or water bowl or in an item that they’ve been aggressively chewing on. You may also notice gaps in your puppy’s smile where baby teeth once were. This is especially true when incisors or canine teeth are lost.
- Minor bleeding
When a baby tooth falls out, it may be accompanied by a little bit of blood. This is simply because teeth are connected to a blood supply and breaking that bond will often result in some very minor bleeding. But don’t expect your teething puppy to look like they just got hit with a baseball in the mouth since it is more likely to not notice bleeding during teething at all. The blood you’re sure to see is a little discoloration of their water or a little staining on a chew toy.
- Bad breath
Forget about the usually welcome odor of puppy breath. Instead, teething can bring about extra bacteria in the mouth that can lead to a smelly situation when they get up close and personal. This odor usually goes away once the adult teeth come out and the bacteria no longer have a cozy pocket to stay in.
- Inflamed gums
When a tooth is about to erupt through the surface of the gum, it can be quite painful and inflamed. The gums may appear red, bloody, and swollen. Your puppy may cry when trying to eat hard kibble or chew on a firm toy. The pain and discomfort will usually subside once the tooth breaks the surface.
How To Help With Teething Discomfort In Puppies
Most of the time your puppy will work to relieve their teething discomfort on their own. That being said, there are still some things that you can do to help them work through it a little more easily.
Always make sure to provide them with safe and durable chew toys. These toys should be firm enough that they won’t instantly be bitten into pieces. Yet they need to be pliable enough to be bent in your hand. If a toy is too hard, it may harm your puppy or if it’s too brittle it will easily break into swallowable pieces. If it’s too soft, it won’t provide the relief that it intended.
You should also offer chew toys with a variety of shapes and textures. Let your puppy choose which toy works best for them at the moment that they need it. Giving your puppy lots of good chew toys will not only help them work through their teething woes, it can also keep them from chewing on things that you don’t want them to, like you and your furniture.
If you notice a loose tooth in your puppy’s mouth, you’re better off letting the tooth fall out naturally. Pulling a baby tooth can result in breaking the roots off, causing bigger problems down the road.
Keep tabs on your pup when you know they’re teething. While it’s not uncommon for their appetite to go down a little bit, it shouldn’t drop dramatically or for more than a couple of days. They also shouldn’t run a noticeable fever or bleed more than a drop or two. If your puppy seems to be acting out of the ordinary than what is expected with normal teething, see your veterinarian.
What Are Some Issues Associated With Teething In Puppies?
More often than not, your puppy is going to go through their teething process without you even noticing. However, there are times when complications arise and it’s important for you to be able to recognize them.
- Retained baby teeth
Retained or persistent baby teeth are actually fairly common, especially in small breeds. A retained baby tooth occurs when the adult tooth comes out beside the baby tooth and fails to push it out. The canine teeth are the most likely offenders. What you end up with is two teeth side by side and often overlapping. This can lead to problems with chewing, crooked teeth, and dental disease. Retained baby teeth should be removed by your veterinarian.
- Broken teeth
Baby teeth can get broken from chewing on hard objects or from dog parents trying to pull them out. The trouble is baby teeth have long roots that anchor them in the jaw. If a tooth is broken off, the roots may remain in the jaw and can cause pain and infection.
- Dental disease
As baby teeth make way for adult teeth, a pup’s mouth can become overcrowded. When teeth are all squished together, it’s hard to get them clean all the way around. This leads to tartar and plaque buildup, inflamed gums, and bad breath.
How Many Teeth Do Adult Dogs Have?
Adult dogs will normally have 42 permanent teeth. These are made up of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars and 10 molars divided between the upper and lower jaws. The lower jaw will have an extra molar on each side compared to the upper jaw.
Adult dogs may lose teeth due to injuries or dental disease. Keeping your pup’s teeth healthy with regular brushings, dental exams, and professional cleanings is the best way to make sure they keep their adult teeth for as long as possible.
Teething in puppies is a normal process that starts with the eruption of their baby teeth at around 2 weeks of age and is completed with a full set of adult teeth between 6 and 8 months of age. Most of the time puppies will go through teething with nothing more than some extra chewing. You can help them through this phase of their life by providing high quality flexible chew toys. Sometimes issues related to teething can also erupt. If you have any questions about your puppy’s teething process, consult your veterinarian.