Do Dogs Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Many aspiring dog owners and those that have already begun their journey with their new furry friend often wonder, do dogs lose their baby teeth? The simple answer is yes! Dogs are very similar to humans when it comes to dental development. Proper preparation and dental care is essential for a happy pup!
If you have recently adopted a dog, there are a few milestones to look for concerning the dogs developing teeth. Just like humans, dogs develop two sets of teeth, one they lose and one they get to keep…dog breath and all.
When do Dogs grow baby teeth?
Dogs, like humans are born without teeth and for the first 2 weeks of life your dog will be toothless…no not the dragon. The initial weeks after the dog’s birth, the mother is crucial. Not only does the mother provide the newborn dog with important vitamin and mineral rich milk, the mother nurtures and protects the newborn dog. Most dog owners will never meet their pup at this stage of development but if your dog is 0-2 weeks old it is critical that the newborn pup is fed commercial canine milk replacer. It is critical that the milk replacer is formulated for puppies, as other kinds of milk replacer can cause nausea and diarrhea. Newborn pups will need to be bottle or syringe fed every few hours for up to 5 weeks.
In weeks 3 and 4 the dog’s teeth will start growing through the gums. This short period is painful for the little puppy and in many cases the dog will begin to explore chewing household items to ease the discomfort caused by the teething process. Again, most dog breeders will continue to allow the dog to develop at this stage but if your dog is 3-4 weeks old be sure to purchase plenty of chew toys with varying textures, this will ease the dog’s teething process and probably save you money on furniture!
At week 5 and 6 most of the dog’s baby teeth will have formed. The baby teeth grow with the incisors (or the front four teeth) first, followed by the canines (the sharper outer teeth). Your dog will generally have a total of 28 baby teeth! At this stage, it will be time to wean the dog away from solely drinking milk and onto soft dog food. Be sure to begin this process slowly, allow the dog as much milk as is needed while also giving them plenty of soft dog food to scarf down. It is also important to get your puppy familiar with you touching the inside of her mouth as soon as possible. Getting the dog comfortable with your touch early on will make brushing and vet visits much easier in the future. You should periodically monitor how your dog is reacting to chewing and eating, if the dog is eating properly and has no trouble chewing toys, things are moving along smoothly.
When do Dogs lose their baby teeth?
During the 8-16-week period, you may start to find small pebble sized teeth laying loose on your kitchen or bathroom floor, this is normal and it is an indicator that your dog is shedding her baby teeth and allowing her permanent adult set to grow in. Your dog will first lose her incisors, the adult molars and canines will begin to appear soon after. This is an extremely painful period for your pup similar to the pain a baby feels during the teething process. It is highly recommended that the dog is taken to visit the vet to make sure that the teeth are properly forming and there are no infections. If you haven’t already gotten the dog chew toys, this is a must as the dog will need firm and varying textures to chew on to lessen the pain of teething (it’s either the chew toys or your sofa).
When your dog reaches the 4-6 month mark she should have shed all of her baby teeth to make room for her new shiny adult teeth! Instead of the 28 baby teeth, your pup should now have around 42 teeth depending on the breed! Now it is safe for your dog to eat soft and hard foods as well as drink milk. After all the adult teeth have grown it is encouraged to take the dog to the vet to make sure all of the baby teeth have fallen out as allowing them to remain can cause pain and infection.
Preventative and Future Dental Care
The most important part of keeping your dog’s teeth healthy is regular brushing. Brushing once daily is recommended but if your dog is uncomfortable with daily brushing a few days a week can make a huge difference in your dog’s dental health, it can also save you thousands of dollars by helping you avoid unnecessary vet visits.
If you’re wondering: what kind of toothbrush do I use? That’s a fairly common question for new dog owners. A human toothbrush with extremely soft bristles will work just fine, if your dog is a smaller breed, purchase a children’s brush as a large toothbrush can often hurt a dog’s gums. Avoid using toothpastes made for humans, use either warm water or a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Dogs will swallow the toothpaste and the high level of fluoride and dental chemicals can make the dog sick.
If you notice your dog is having trouble eating, refuses to chew and play with toys, or is avoiding using her mouth, take her to the vet as soon as possible as her teeth may have grown improperly or there is an infection. Regular vet visits are highly encouraged but if you have routinely brushed your dog’s teeth and made sure the teeth grew in properly, costly vet visits can be avoided.
Using Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved dog treats is an easy way to prevent cavities and infections. The VOHC is an independent group who verifies claims about dental health safety for dogs, so one can be sure that foods bought with VOHC approval are pet safe and beneficial for good dental health.