Many new dog owners are surprised and even a bit scared when they start seeing tiny teeth on their floor or in their puppy’s bed. But it is completely natural and normal for puppies to lose their early teeth to make room for the adult teeth they’ll use for the rest of their lives. That raises the question of when do puppies lose their baby teeth and what should their owners do at those times.
Before your puppy came to live with you, he had probably already gotten his first step of teeth. Those initial 28 teeth come in by the sixth week of their lives which, coincidentally, is also when they are often weaned. No mother dog wants to nurse a puppy with a mouth full of teeth!
The early set of teeth won’t stay in place too long. Around four months, puppies will start going through the process of replacing those teeth with adult ones. The whole process goes on for up to three months and can be challenging for the puppy and his owners for several reasons.
First, teething is not easy for the puppy. Parents who’ve already gone through this process with their babies won’t find this much different. Regardless of the species in question, it’s never comfortable to have teeth breaking through the gums. Your dog has to go through the process for as many as 42 teeth, which is the average number for an adult dog although some breeds may have fewer.
Second, puppies want to alleviate the pain so they chew. They don’t care what they chew as long as it feels good on their sore gums. That means if your puppy is left alone in your home during the day while he’s teething you’ll probably come home to plenty of destruction. Additionally, teething puppies will often chew on you, too. While they may not use much force, they can still do some damage and can frighten children so teething puppies should be closely monitored when they are interacting with people.
Finally, puppies who are teething tend to drool more often and can be pretty irritable. That means they can really be difficult companions during that three month period. As a pet owner, you need to be patient and realize that your puppy is going through a challenging time in his life.
Puppies get their new teeth in a fairly specific order. First, their incisors come in. These teeth are the ones used for eating small pieces of meat and are probably the ones used most commonly by puppies during feeding. Later, their fangs or canine teeth will come in. At this point, puppies won’t be able to chew rawhide or most chew toys very effectively because their premolars have not yet come in. These are the last of the baby teeth that need to be replaced.
However, puppies do not get baby versions of their molars which are used for crushing and cracking. These are the last of the adult teeth to come in.
If you haven’t started seeing puppy teeth lying around that doesn’t mean your dog hasn’t started changing over to his newest of teeth. Sometimes the baby teeth are swallowed or end up mixed up with the trash because they are so tiny. You can always check your puppy’s mouth for signs of missing teeth or teeth erupting through the gums.
Dogs aren’t that different from humans when it comes to their teeth. They can face problems when their new teeth are coming in. For example, some dogs won’t lose their baby teeth even while the adult version is growing in right under it. Some dogs also have more adult teeth than their mouths can hold – this is a common problem with toy breeds.
Keep an eye on your puppy and make sure to ask your veterinarian to check out his teeth during appointments, too. If any problem does occur, you want to take care of it as quickly as possible so the dog’s adult teeth can come in normally. Unlike humans, dogs can fix problems with their teeth using braces or dentures so if they need a healthy set of adult teeth in order to be a happy dog.
Helping Your Puppy
During the teething process, you can help your puppy deal with his discomfort. In fact, some of the same methods you might use for a teething baby will also work for a teething puppy. For example, you can rub an ice cube over the puppy’s gums to help reduce the pain temporarily. This might be a good idea if your puppy’s whining is keeping you and him up at night.
If you want to give him something to ease his discomfort during the day, invest in some cheap washcloths, wet them, and place them in the freezer. The coldness makes this the perfect teething toy for puppies. If you’re not convinced your puppy will chew on the cloth, you can soak them in beef or chicken broth instead of water before freezing. The added taste and smell will make them irresistible to your puppy.
You might be tempted to administer some type of human pain reliever to your puppy, such as a gum anesthetic or chewable aspirin. However, you should never give a puppy any type of human medication without discussing the decision with your veterinarian first. Puppies are more sensitive than adult dogs so you don’t want to take any risks with their health.
Future Tooth Health
Dogs rely on their teeth for more than just providing food. They use them for playing, grooming, protection and more. That’s why keeping your puppy’s teeth healthy is so important not just when he is teething but as he continues to age. Dogs can suffer from tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tooth loss.
To prevent these future problems, you should start a dental regimen for your dog. Brush his teeth regularly using canine-approved toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrushes. You should do this at least once per week if not daily. Regular teeth cleanings and healthy dog treats designed to clean away plague can also be useful parts of your dog’s dental health. Now that you know when do puppies lose their baby teeth you can start ensuring that your adult dog keeps his for as long as possible.