During your puppy’s first year of life, they’ll go through the same dental stages that we go through in our first 10 years. Here’s what you can expect in your puppy’s first year, and how you can ensure that their teeth grow in properly.
Are Dogs Born With Teeth?
Just like humans, newborn puppies are born without teeth so they will not hurt their mother as they nurse. By two weeks of age, sharp, needle-like deciduous teeth emerge from their gums. Their mother will begin to feel those teeth on her teats, and she may walk away or nip her puppies when they try to suckle.
At around 8-10 weeks, puppies have a full set of 28 deciduous teeth and will be fully weaned. Now, they are ready to be separated from their mother and litter, and can go home with their new family.
Your Puppy’s New Teeth
Your puppy may begin to lose their deciduous teeth as early as 3 months. Beneath the gumline, their permanent teeth will start to grow in. The growth of the permanent teeth causes the roots of the deciduous teeth to dissolve. That’s why, when the permanent teeth finally push through, the tiny puppy teeth you’ll find around your home and yard do not have a root.
The first puppy teeth to fall out are the incisors, those tiny front teeth on the upper and lower jaw. Next comes the premolars at the back of the mouth, and finally the incisors, those sharp canine teeth. You might not find every tooth, it’s not abnormal for your puppy to swallow them.
Your puppy will also grow molars, giving them a total of about 42 teeth by 8 months.
What’s Normal And What’s Not
When your puppy is losing teeth, their mouth may smell like blood or iron. You may see small amounts of blood on toys after they chew on them. This is completely normal. Any strong, stinky odour could be a sign of infection.
Sometimes, the permanent tooth will not grow in directly under the deciduous tooth. As a result, the roots do not get dissolved, so the puppy tooth might not actually fall out. If you notice that your puppy has a double set of teeth, they need to go to the veterinarian to have their retained puppy teeth removed. If the puppy tooth is not removed, the adult tooth will not grow into a proper position. Retained puppy teeth also tend to sit tightly next to the adult tooth, and plaque may build up between them.
Puppies may be in pain while teething. You may find that your puppy gets mouthy, and may bite or chew at your hands, furniture, shoes, anything they can fit in their mouth to try to relieve the pain.
Provide your puppy with plenty of toys to chew, and simply redirect them whenever they chew an inappropriate object. Keep other objects out of reach.
Some puppies may find relief in chewing on ice cubes, frozen fruit or vegetables (never grapes, which are toxic to dogs) frozen toys, or a towel that has been dipped in water and then frozen. Puppy teething toys from Nylabone are flexible and gentle on your puppy’s sore teeth and gums.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Just because puppy teeth are temporary, does not mean that you should not take care of them. In fact, puppyhood is the best time to begin dental maintenance because it will be easier for your puppy to learn to tolerate it.
Start by lifting your puppy’s lip and touching their teeth a few times per day. You can make the experience more pleasant by petting your puppy as you take care of their teeth and offering them a treat afterwards.
A puppy’s mouth is very small, so you may not be able to use a toothbrush yet. A piece of gauze wrapped around your finger or a finger brush will be easy to fit in your puppy’s mouth.
Never use human toothpaste on your dog. Coconut oil mixed with baking soda can work in a pinch, but it’s best to use an enzymatic toothpaste like Arm & Hammer Beef Flavored Dog Toothpaste.
If your puppy does not tolerate having their teeth brushed, you can also smear a small amount on a toy and play tug with them. This can make it easier to clean back teeth that you may not be able to reach with a toothbrush.