If you have a puppy who has started biting and chewing more items than usual, you’re probably wondering if they’re teething.
Teething starts really early in a puppy’s life – around the age of three or four weeks! It’s very important to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy as soon as they start to show as well as help your puppy navigate the uncomfortable teething phase.
When do puppies get milk teeth?
When puppies are born they don’t have teeth. Around the age of three weeks, they get temporary teeth called puppy or milk teeth. These will fall out when the puppy is between 14 and 30 weeks old.
When these teeth fall out, they’re replaced with 42 strong, permanent teeth that need to be properly cared for to ensure the overall health of your pooch. Let’s look deeper into the topic of puppy teeth and what you can do to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy and strong from an early age.
- What To Know About Milk Teeth And Adult Teeth
- Is It Painful For Puppies To Lose Their Milk Teeth?
- How Can You Tell Your Puppy’s Teething?
- What Are Those Teeth Used For?
- Why Are Puppy Teeth Sharp?
- How To Care For A Teething Puppy
- How To Care For Your Dog’s Adult Teeth
- Other Tips To Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy
- Why Oral Health Is So Important In Dogs
- The Difference Between Plaque And Tartar
- Can Your Puppy Have Both Milk And Adult Teeth?
- How To Stop Your Puppy From Nipping
- Related Questions
What To Know About Milk Teeth And Adult Teeth
There are some important distinctions to be made between a puppy’s milk teeth and adult teeth. Here’s everything to know about both of these doggie teeth.
These teeth show up a few weeks after a puppy’s born. The incisors will be the first teeth to grow – puppies have six on the bottom and six on the top. Then, the canines will grow.
There are four of these, two on the bottom and two on the top. After that, premolars will grow. These are situated behind the puppy’s canines and there will be six in total: three on the top and three on the bottom.
These are different teeth as compared to milk teeth, not just because they’re permanent while milk teeth are temporary, but also because they appear a bit later in a puppy’s life – adult teeth will start to grow when the puppy is between two and four months old, but they’ll be fully grown when the puppy is around eight months old.
When the puppy is around two months old, his or her milk teeth will start to fall out. This is because the adult teeth will be pushing these to make room for them. The incisors fall first, followed by the canines, and then the premolars.
The process happens slowly so that by the time the puppy is eight months old, he or she will have 42 teeth. These are made up of four canines, 10 molars, 16 premolars, and 12 incisors.
The different types of teeth will grow at different times.
The canines will start to grow at between two and five months, the canines will grow between month five and six, the premolars will grow between months four and six, and the molars will start to grow between month four and seven of the dog’s life.
So, it’s really a tricky and trying process that your puppy has to go through in order to reach the exciting milestone of having a full set of permanent teeth!
Is It Painful For Puppies To Lose Their Milk Teeth?
Since these puppy, or milk, teeth are really small they won’t hurt your pup when they fall out. You might not even notice that they’ve popped out because they’re so tiny.
However, what is noticeable to your puppies and can cause them discomfort is when their permanent teeth start to grow, due to how they have to push through the gums.
When puppies undergo teething, they may make weird mouth movements due to the discomfort. Occasionally, you can hear crunching noises as they rub their existing teeth in an attempt to lessen the pain.
How Can You Tell Your Puppy’s Teething?
Now that you know when your puppy will start to lose his or her milk teeth and start to grow their adult teeth, you’ll be more prepared for when they enter the teething phase.
However, you can also spot that they’re teething by noticing if there are any spots of blood on their toys, blood in their water dish and if they’re drooling a bit when they’re chewing on something.
While these are normal for puppies to experience, you want to ensure that they’re not too excessive. If they are, or you notice that your puppy is lethargic or refusing to eat, then it’s vital to consult with your vet as something could be wrong with your puppy’s teeth.
What Are Those Teeth Used For?
You know your puppy needs all those teeth to grow so that he or she can eat and enjoy tougher food, but the different teeth in a puppy’s mouth will be used for different tasks when eating. Here’s a rundown of the teeth functions.
- Incisors – these are used to scrape meat from bones as well as rip pieces of meat. However, dogs also use their incisor teeth to groom themselves, such as if they have a bit of dirt that’s become trapped in their fur.
- Canines – these are used to stab and slash food. Canines are sort of like daggers.
- Premolars and molars – these teeth are used to crush and process food. Dogs also have carnassial teeth, which are specialized teeth made up of molars and premolars. They work in a similar way to scissors, helping dogs to cut and process meat.
Why Are Puppy Teeth Sharp?
If you’ve ever noticed your puppy’s teeth as being quite sharp, you might’ve wondered why they need to be at such a young age. It makes sense for a dog’s teeth to be sharp but puppies shouldn’t need such sharp teeth, right?
Their teeth are thought to be sharp so that they can be carnivores from a very young age, but there have been other ideas as to why they have such sharp teeth – it’s been said that sharp teeth help to teach puppies about bite inhibition, while also helping them to wean off their mothers.
Let’s look at both of these.
When little pups are growing, being nursed by their mother can be problematic for her because their teeth are starting to grow and this can hurt her. So, she will move away from the pups.
To get food, the puppies will start to look for other food sources, therefore ending the weaning process. In this way, their sharp teeth help to stop them from being nursed by their mother.
When puppies are in a litter, they will bite and play with each other, but this can prove painful because of their sharp teeth.
This is how puppies learn that their biting can cause other puppies to stop playing with them, thus teaching them not to be too rough. We can learn from puppies when teaching our own puppies not to be rough with us, but more on that later!
How To Care For A Teething Puppy
In the same way that human babies will teethe when their teeth start to push through the gums, puppies experience the same thing. You might notice that your teething puppy is eating a bit less food but chewing many more items.
Here’s what you can do to soothe your puppy’s teething and prevent them from chewing on items that you don’t want them to, such as furniture or your favorite sneakers.
- Give your puppy rawhide toys that are made for dogs as this will give your puppy something to chew instead of your shoes! The reason why puppies who are teething want to chew on everything is that it helps their adult teeth to push through their gums and relieves the discomfort in their mouths. However, it’s important to note that rawhide can be dangerous if your dog is a heavy chewer. This is because it can be torn apart and become a choking hazard. If your dog’s chewing a lot, you should give him or her different toys instead of those made from rawhide, such as fish skin sticks and Himalayan dog chews, which are kinder to your dog’s tummy while being filled with nutrients.
- Avoid giving your puppy anything that’s too hard to chew, such as bones or toys that are made out of nylon. Vets actually have a saying in this regard: “Don’t let a dog chew anything that won’t bend.” If the toy is too hard, it’s not suitable for your dog. That said, avoid the temptation to buy soft chew toys as these can be dangerous, providing a choking hazard. If your puppy can chew off pieces of a toy, then it’s not a suitable toy for them to have. This is why it’s so important to ensure that your puppy only plays with toys and chew toys when you’re supervising them.
- You can help to relieve the discomfort with your fingers. You can carefully reach your fingers into your puppy’s mouth and gently rub his or her teeth and gums. This will provide some relief, but it’s also a good way to get your puppy used to you opening their mouth, because soon you’ll have to give them medicine or brush their teeth. If your puppy resists letting you put your fingers in his or her mouth, a good tip is to put a bit of gravy on your finger. Take it slow and let them get used to the idea.
- Once your puppy becomes comfortable with you putting your fingers into his or her mouth, you can also softly rub your puppy’s teeth with a puppy-approved toothbrush or a soft cloth to relieve teething discomfort.
How To Care For Your Dog’s Adult Teeth
You should get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis as this will ensure excellent oral health. Here’s how to brush your dog’s teeth:
- Start when your dog is still a puppy so that they will be able to get used to having a brush and toothpaste in their mouth.
- Before you introduce the toothbrush, gently stroke your dog’s cheek to make them comfortable with you touching their mouth area. This should be done for a few days before you try to brush their teeth.
- Once they’re comfortable with the above, put some dog toothpaste on your finger and let your dog sniff and lick it. Always use canine toothpaste when brushing your puppy’s teeth as human toothpaste can give your dog an upset stomach and could also cause harm to the dog’s internal organs, so it should be avoided at all costs.
Pro tip: Choose a meat-flavored toothpaste to make brushing your dog’s teeth more interesting to him or her.
These are sometimes called enzymatic toothpaste and you can get it in dog-friendly flavors such as beef and chicken. It will make the process so much nicer for your dog! You can find it at pet product stores or online.
- Put your finger inside the dog’s mouth, gently moving along the gum line. If your dog’s okay with you doing this, then you can move on to using the toothbrush. If not, take your time and keep doing this for a few days or until they’re comfortable with it.
- It’s a good idea to start with a finger brush instead of a toothbrush. Put some of that delicious toothpaste on this brush and let your dog lick it.
- The next day, put the toothpaste on the brush and gently put it inside your dog’s mouth. Start with gently brushing the dog’s front teeth by using circular motions. Make sure you stop regularly so that you can let your dog lick the toothbrush again.
- Once you’ve done the front teeth, you can work your way to the others. If your dog starts to resist, then stop. It’s a good idea to get your dog used to having their teeth brushed slowly as this will ensure that soon you’ll be able to brush all their teeth in one go without a hassle.
Using a finger brush instead of a regular dog toothbrush is recommended for puppies as it not only helps them to feel more comfortable because it’s small but it will be easier to use on their teeth.
When your pooch is comfortable with having his or her teeth brushed, you might want to upgrade to a canine toothbrush. Make sure its bristles are soft so that you don’t hurt your dog’s gums.
You don’t want the tooth-brushing process to be uncomfortable or painful as that will make your dog afraid of it in future, which is problematic since you should be brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis.
How often should you brush your puppy’s teeth?
While it’s good to brush your puppy’s teeth after every meal to remove bacteria and prevent plaque, this is not always easy or possible to do, so ensure you brush your dog’s teeth two or three times a week.
When your dog lets you brush your teeth, make sure you praise him afterwards so that the experience feels good to them. They’ll also be more likely to let you brush their teeth again in the future!
Other Tips To Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy
Brushing teeth aside, you should ensure that you give your dog foods and treats that are known to reduce plaque and keep their teeth healthy. An example would be Dentastix, as long as you ensure they don’t eat the whole bag in one sitting.
The best products should be approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Here are some other tips to follow when grocery shopping for Fido.
- Give your dog dry food. This crunchy food helps to reduce dental problems as it doesn’t stick to the dog’s teeth in the way that wet food does. When dog pellets break into smaller pieces, they work to clean the dog’s teeth. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let your dog eat canned food, but ensure that he or she eats dry food after eating wet food to ensure that food particles are removed from the teeth.
- You can give your dog some raw fruit and vegetables sometimes, such as carrot or apple slices. Since these are hard and crunchy, they also help to clean their teeth.
Why Oral Health Is So Important In Dogs
If you don’t look after your dog’s teeth and gums, this can have many negative side effects. An accumulation of plaque can result in gum inflammation that can infect the teeth and cause them to fall out.
Problems in the mouth don’t just stay there, though – they can also cause other problems, such as infections, that can lead to heart, lung, or kidney problems.
Therefore, it’s important to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and keep an eye open for any signs that your dog’s battling with a dental health problem. The sooner you catch the problem, the easier it will be for your vet to treat. Things to look out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
- Blood in the saliva
- Bad breath
- Brown or yellow tartar at the gum line
- Broken or damaged teeth
The Difference Between Plaque And Tartar
It’s good to know that plaque and tartar are not the same thing, even though they’re sometimes used synonymously. Plaque is bacteria that’s mixed with blood cells and saliva.
This is what causes tooth disease and can lead to gum disease. Tartar, on the other hand, is when this plaque hardens on the dog’s teeth. When it does this, it can start to disintegrate the gingival tissue.
Can Your Puppy Have Both Milk And Adult Teeth?
If you’ve looked into your puppy’s mouth and seen that they have some adult teeth but still some of their milk teeth, you might’ve wondered how this was possible.
But, since not all the milk teeth fall out at the same time to make room for the permanent teeth, it makes sense that at some stage your dog will have a few milk teeth and some adult teeth. However, it’s important to check again once your puppy’s reached the age of eight months.
By this time, all of your puppy’s adult teeth should have grown. There shouldn’t be any other milk teeth present. If there are, it’s important to consult with your vet who will be able to remove the milk teeth.
If your puppy has two sets of teeth in his or her mouth, this can cause various problems, such as discomfort and pain, and it can also cause food to get stuck between teeth that can cause tooth decay or even gum disease.
How To Stop Your Puppy From Nipping
If you find that your puppy loves to nip at you even though he or she has chew toys and foods to relieve teething, it’s a sign that you need to teach your puppy not to be too rough. When your puppy nips you, it’s a good idea to release a sharp yelp or say “Ouch!” loudly.
This will have the effect of teaching your puppy not to engage in nipping that can be painful, as it’s how puppies will “teach” each other to avoid rough play.
If you’ve ever seen puppies playing and one being too rough with the other, you’ve probably seen that when one puppy squeals or yelps at the other, it gets them to stop (other household animals such as cats will also hiss and swat at puppies to stop excessively rough play).
It’s good to give your puppy a treat or lots of praise when your puppy stops nipping, as the American Kennel Club advises. This is a good strategy to train your puppy from an early age.
When should you take your dog to the vet for a dental check-up?
Oral exams are recommended for dogs once a year from when they are around the age of six months.
What does a healthy mouth look like for a dog?
Your dog’s tongue should be moist, and not have any cuts or lumps. His or her gums should be a gentle pink color without discoloration.
Some dog breeds will have black spots on their gums, so look into your dog’s mouth from when he or she is a puppy to learn what’s normal for your dog.
Your puppy is growing and starting to teethe. Soon they’ll have all their permanent teeth! It’s an exciting time, but can also be fraught with worry.
After reading this article, you now know everything there is to know about puppy teeth and what you can do to ensure your puppy makes the transition from milk teeth to adult teeth smoothly. You also know the importance of keeping your puppy’s teeth and gums healthy from a young age.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.