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So, you have just brought home a new puppy, and before you know it, they have grown rapidly before your eyes. Along the journey, you will experience many “firsts” and probably have some questions, but do not fret. As our puppies are growing, finding their personalities, and adapting to their new space, it is common for our new fur friends to also go through important milestones such as losing their teeth.
In this blog post, we will address how to handle your puppy’s teething process so you can understand exactly what to do when your puppy loses its teeth.
What Is Teething?
When we think of teething, we often correlate this with the painful process of infants’ teeth breaking through their gums. This process is coupled with frequent crying, lots of drool, and frantic parents trying to find methods that will soothe their uncomfortable child. For puppies, the process is very much the same as it is for humans.
Similar to humans, dogs also grow two sets of teeth - their baby teeth (sometimes called “milk” teeth) and their adult teeth. When puppies are growing in their first set of teeth, you may start to notice more drool than usual and occasionally blood. Don’t worry, as this is normal and part of the process.
When Do Puppies Lose Teeth?
When puppies are first born, there are no visible teeth until they reach about six weeks old. Like humans, deciduous (also known as “milk” or baby teeth) teeth are replaced by permanent teeth once they fall out. Pet owners can expect their furry friends to develop their full set of permanent teeth between 4 and 6 months old.1
- 2-4 Weeks Old: At this point, your puppy should still be with its mother when its baby teeth start growing.
- 5-6 Weeks Old: In just double the amount of time it took the baby teeth to begin showing, all of the baby teeth will have grown in.
- 12-16 Weeks Old: Not soon after, the baby teeth will begin falling out as the adult teeth begin to set in.
- 6 Months Old: In the blink of an eye, all of your dog’s baby teeth should be gone, and their new set of adult teeth will be grown.
What To Do When Puppies Lose Their Teeth
As your puppy begins to lose its baby teeth, it is important to pay attention to several factors that may be more telling of your puppy’s overall health and development process.
Quite often, our puppies' response to losing a tooth might be something that they do not even notice. A puppy can lose a tooth when they are playing with a toy, or it could even be swallowed with food. If you see that your puppy is still carrying on with standard behavior patterns and activities, such as being playful or having an interest in toys, go ahead and let the teething process continue.
In some instances, a puppy’s baby tooth may face difficulties in naturally falling out. If you have noticed that your puppy still has a baby tooth or two by eight months, you may need to schedule an appointment with your vet to have the tooth professionally extracted. There are substantial risks when pet owners try to extract a baby tooth themselves, such as breaking the root of the tooth, which could lead to an infection.
When Do Puppies Stop Teething?
Once puppies lose all of their baby teeth around 3 or 4 months old, they will begin to grow in their adult teeth. During the transition between the baby teeth falling out and the adult teeth growing in, puppies will experience slight discomfort, red and inflamed gums, and will produce extra saliva during the teething process. On the plus side, the teething stage should be over once a puppy is around 6 months old, and by then, all 48 adult teeth will be grown in.
Can Puppies Get Dental Problems?
At a young age, puppies are prone to experiencing a variety of dental problems. There is no doubt that we are constantly looking for ways to make sure that our pups are getting what they need to ensure they are growing and thriving. As best as we try to take special care of our young pups, they are still prone to dental problems.
A puppy’s baby teeth are not meant to last, which unfortunately comes with the notion that they are not as strong as adult teeth. Tooth fractures can occur if a puppy attempts to bite a tough or non-chewable item, and the tooth cracks.
It is not as scary as it sounds, but double teeth can occur if an adult tooth fails to push out the baby tooth. When this happens, it is not as simple as just keeping the extra tooth. You might need to visit the vet’s office to have the baby tooth removed.
Delayed or Missing Teeth
Naturally, it is common for puppies to experience a delayed tooth or have a missing tooth entirely. This is not an entire reason to fret, but it is congenital, and the tooth may never grow, or other times it is having trouble breaking through the gum. If this is the case, it can only be diagnosed by x-ray, and surgery will need to be performed in order to release the hidden tooth.
Over time, a dog can develop an abnormal bite, or malocclusion, when there is a misaligned tooth, jaw, or combination of the two. When a dog’s bite is abnormal, it is often uncomfortable for them to chew or swallow. Treatment varies by severity.
How to Care For Your Puppy’s Teeth
From an early age, it is recommended that your pet become familiar with having items other than food in their mouth so that there is less of a risk of them biting you during the teeth brushing process. Practicing good oral hygiene on your pet at an early age can help them get used to you and others when their teeth need to be taken care of. The steps below will help you make the teeth brushing process a bit smoother for you and your pet.
Step 1: Buy dog toothpaste and a dog toothbrush
To ensure your pet has healthy teeth and reduced plaque build-up, brush regularly with dog-friendly toothpaste. There are even such things as dog-friendly bacon-flavored toothpaste that might be helpful if your dog is not enjoying the process. We also recommend a toothbrush with softer and smaller bristles so that it is more gentle on the dog’s gums.
Step 2: Make sure your dog is calm
If you can sense that your dog is riled up or uneasy when caring for its teeth, it may be that your dog has anxiety. Ensure to not be too forceful with your dog if they are showing consistent signs of discomfort.
Step 3: Rub your dog’s gums
Rubbing your dog’s gums can lead to temporary pain relief. The pressure from rubbing can release and soothe your puppy’s gums as they are teething.
Step 4: Let your dog taste the toothpaste
Once your dog has allowed you to soothe its gums with slight rubbing, this is when you can introduce a small amount of dog-specific toothpaste on your finger to your dog. You want to avoid forcing your pet to consume something that they are not a fan of, which is why it is important that your pet approves of dog-friendly toothpaste. If you’re new to buying dog toothpaste, there are a wide variety of flavor options, such as peanut butter or bacon.
Step 5: Start brushing in circular motions
It is not a comfortable feeling to have your hands shoved into your pet’s mouth. That’s why it is important to gain trust with your pet during the teeth brushing process. Brushing your dog’s teeth in circular motions will ensure that you are reaching all areas of the tooth, especially those that are more prone to plaque build up.
Step 6: Target the plaque
By brushing in circular motions, you are essentially reaching a wider surface area of the tooth in a gentler way, including those areas likely to see an abundance of plaque.
Step 7: Provide positive reinforcement
Providing your dog with positive reinforcement while you are brushing their teeth is a surefire way to build trust and ensure your pet that this is a safe action. Over time, the positive reinforcement will be a learned behavior, and brushing your dog’s teeth will become less unpleasant.
It’s a life-changing event when we bring a new puppy into our lives, and especially important to make sure that they are taken care of. While you transition through this new process of having a young pup, make a note of how they are developing and if their dental health is tracking as it should.
That’s where Dutch comes into play. With Dutch, we offer telemedicine for pets in a simple way. You can contact a licensed veterinarian right from the comfort of your own home and get the necessary prescription to treat and protect your dog’s teeth, right to your door.
Staff, AKC. “When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 24 May 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dogs-permanent-teeth/.