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Good oral health care for dogs begins when they are puppies. It’s common knowledge that puppies need several vet appointments and vaccines. However, one thing that can easily get overlooked by a pet parent is the puppy's teeth. It’s important that pet parents provide their puppy with good oral hygiene to ensure their puppy grows up to have a healthy mouth and fresh breath.
Similar to people, dogs have two sets of teeth. The first sets are puppy teeth, which are small and very sharp. Thankfully, the puppy will lose these needle teeth and develop adult teeth. Any pet parent who has roughhoused with their puppy probably experienced just how sharp those puppy teeth are and wondered, “When do puppies lose their teeth?”
Puppies are not born with teeth. Their first set of teeth begins erupting through their gums around three weeks of age. These 28 teeth are known as deciduous teeth — or puppy teeth. This first set of teeth is small and extremely sharp.
Thankfully, puppies begin to lose their first set of teeth around the age of three and a half months. They usually lose the last of their puppy teeth around seven months. Adult teeth are simply called permanent teeth, and dogs have 42 of them.
Even though puppies lose their first set of teeth pretty early, pet parents should still brush their puppy's teeth to ensure the puppy has healthy gums. Also, brushing the puppy's teeth at a young age will make it easier for pet parents to continue brushing the puppy's teeth as they age.
When brushing a dog’s teeth, the pet parent should use reputable dog toothpaste. Human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs and should not be used.
The first time puppies experience teething is when they are very young and still with their mother. Most pet parents won’t notice behavior changes during this time. However, the second time puppies experience the teething process can be a stressful time for pet parents.
Teething can be a painful and annoying process for puppies. While teething, puppies will want to chew on everything to help alleviate the dull pain in their mouth. Unfortunately for the pet parents, the puppy may end up destroying shoes, purses, and furniture during the process.
To prevent puppies from chewing on the wrong items, pet parents should make sure to keep their home picked up and clean. Doors to rooms and closets should be kept closed. Next, pet parents need to provide their puppy with many toys to chew. Pet parents can reward their puppy with a treat for chewing on their toys to help reinforce the behavior of chewing on toys and not household items.
Other behaviors pet parents might notice while their puppy is teething include:
Loss of appetite
These behaviors usually pass quickly and are nothing to be overly concerned about.
There are many dog toys and chews available on the market. However, just because a pet store sells an item doesn’t mean it’s safe for puppies or dogs. In fact, no dog toy is guaranteed to be 100% safe.
The following list contains toys and chews that are considered the safest options for puppies and dogs:
Kong toys and Kong Puppy Binkie
Non-toxic freezable teether
There are several popular dog chew items pet parents should avoid. These items include:
Chews containing artificial preservatives and colors
Most of these items are made from animal parts and have been used as dog chews for decades. Unfortunately, most of these animal parts are too hard for domesticated dogs and can break their teeth. Additionally, these items can cause gastrointestinal blockage and are a choking hazard if swallowed.
The most common complication that can occur when a puppy is teething is a persistent tooth. This condition happens when the permanent tooth is unable to erupt in its correct place because there is a deciduous tooth in the way. Unfortunately, the permanent tooth finds somewhere else to come through and can disrupt the dog’s bite.
Pet parents will need to pay close attention to their puppy's teeth to make sure the permanent teeth are correctly erupting. If the pet parent suspects a problem or has puppy questions they should consult their vet immediately. The vet can extract any persistent deciduous teeth which will help ensure the puppy has a healthy mouth.