Puppies are baby dogs. As such, their bodies will do certain things that are similar to what we may see in human babies. One of these actions is the loss of baby teeth. But when can you expect them to start falling from your pup’s mouth?
A Look at Puppy’s Baby Teeth
Just like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth: Deciduous (that is, baby) teeth, and permanent teeth. Puppies will have 28 deciduous teeth, which will eventually get replaced by 42 permanent teeth. These are more teeth than their human counterparts, which have 20 deciduous teeth and 32 permanent teeth.
You should expect to see baby teeth starting to poke out a puppy’s gum line at about two to three weeks. The first teeth to emerge will be his incisors, followed by the canines and the premolars. There aren’t any molars that erupt in this particular stage.
The baby teeth, which can sometimes be known as milk teeth, are longer and thinner than the permanent teeth that will eventually fill his mouth. As anyone that has ever owned a puppy can tell you, these milk teeth are extremely sharp. You’ll want to be very gentle when you play with your pup during this stage.
When Do the Baby Teeth Start to Fall Out?
You should expect your puppy’s baby teeth to start falling out between 14 and 30 weeks. You may not get the chance to see it when it happens because pups will oftentimes chew or swallow the teeth when they do become dislodged. If this happens, don’t get alarmed – swallowing baby teeth won’t cause your pup any harm.
Your pup may experience a minuscule amount of bleeding when his teeth fall out. This blood loss is so minimal, you most likely won't see it occur. If you do, you may notice it in the form of mild residual blood stains on his favorite chew toys.
What Does It Look Like When a Pup’s Tooth Falls Out?
You may not ever see your puppy lose his baby teeth because the process can be so stealth. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the baby tooth to dislodge during feeding. However, if you see your teething pup start to shake his head like he’s got something in his mouth, you may get the chance to see the tooth fall out.
Why Are a Puppy’s Baby Teeth So Sharp?
A puppy’s teeth are super sharp, and if you’re expecting otherwise just because your little guy’s a tiny sweet pup, you may be in for a surprising world of hurt the first time he nips at your ankle. But why are they such little daggers?
There are several reasons for this. The most obvious one traces back to dogs’ wild ancestry, back in the day when eating their first meals beyond their mother’s milk didn’t come from a bowl brimming with dog food. The sharp baby teeth allowed the pups to easily chomp and tear through meat into proper bite-sized morsels.
Another reason is that sharp teeth can theoretically help a pup and his mother go through the weaning process. If you think it hurts when your buddy chomps your finger, imagine how it must hurt the poor mother when the pup clamps down on her nipple to nurse. Because of this pain, it’s normal for the mom to start obstructing the nursing process.
When this happens, the pup will learn rather quickly that he must begin seeking out more sources for food. This lesson naturally kicks in the weaning process. Fortunately for today’s pups, this act of food discovery is merely one dog dish away.
The pain that a pup’s sharp teeth can inflict can also play a huge role in the dog learning how to control his bite. Your dog will not be cognizant of how mighty his chompers are when he nips and bites during play time. He'll start realizing this when you or his littermates start withdrawing from play when the biting starts.
Over time, your pup will learn how to control his bite because he’ll start to associate excessive chomping with the sudden halt of play. This revelation may take a little bit of time, so you’ll want to be patient with your pup as this process happens. Fortunately, there’s not a whole lot of jaw power behind the sharp teeth, so you’ll generally be safe.
Puppies and Teething
Just because the result of canine baby tooth loss is relatively easy, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a simple process for your pup. Just like babies, puppies will experience teething, and this process is not necessarily a pleasant thing for them to go through.
When a pup is teething, you may notice your pup eating a little less and chewing a little more. This is largely because teething is a painful experience. Chewing on objects will allow them to alleviate this pain.
As the teeth start to erupt, he may continue to chew on things because it gives him a unique opportunity to experience the world around him. Putting things in his mouth and giving them a gentle gnaw will help him increase his sensory experience, which in turn can help him navigate his environment better.
It is of the utmost of importance that you prepare for your pup’s teething phase as much as possible. While you obviously don’t want your little buddy to suffer too much pain during this time, you probably won’t want him to just start randomly gnawing on your furniture to make him feel better.
Your best defense to helping your pup while protecting your possessions is to purchase high-quality chew toys. Look for soft, rubber toys that have plenty of give to work with his growing teeth and jaws. Ideally, these toys will establish proper chewing habits in a gentle way.
Eventually, as the teething process starts to transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth, you’ll likewise want to transition to a harder rubber to compensate for the growing strength in his jaw. If you don’t, he may grow to the point where he destroys his baby toys. This may cause him to move onto trying out your furniture.
Make Sure Your Dog’s Teeth Come in Normally!
When your pup starts losing his baby teeth, you may treat it as a reason to celebrate. After all, his bite is most likely going to be significantly more subdued because his teeth won’t be as sharp. Yet when starts happening, it would behoove you to ensure his permanent teeth are coming in properly.
One of the things you should be on the lookout for is baby teeth that don’t fall out. When this happens, the stubborn teeth that won’t budge are called retained deciduous teeth. Unfortunately, when a baby tooth refuses to budge, problems can arise.
For instance, the adult tooth that is trying to come down may end up dropping into the mouth abnormally – if they even drop down at all. When this happens, it could cause a host of painful oddities, from mouth ulcers to periodontal disease.
The rule of thumb here is that all baby teeth should be out of your pup’s mouth at around 4 to 6 months. This is the same time frame when dogs are spayed or neutered. If there are still baby teeth in your dog’s mouth at that time, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Working with Your Vet to Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth
It’s important that you schedule a visit with a vet the moment that your puppy’s baby teeth start to erupt. That way, he or she can work with you to put together a solid at-home dental care regiment that will help you maximize your dog’s oral health.
This regiment could include things to help him get through the teething process, such as chew toys or chew sticks. It can also include various items that you can use during your dog’s grooming process. Remember, cleaning your dog’s teeth periodically is every bit as important as trimming his nails or brushing his coat.
If you have to have the last couple baby teeth removed from your puppy, your vet will need to remove them via surgery. If this procedure is happened sooner than later, your pooch will stand a better chance of having his adult teeth coming in normally. Ultimately, this will give him a much better chance at retaining proper oral health.
Remember – It’s Only a Phase!
Dealing with a puppy that has baby teeth can be a pain, both figuratively and literally. However, as your pooch goes through this vital stage of development, there are several ways that you can make it a relatively comfortable experience.
And as all facets of puppy behavior, remember those sharp teeth aren’t going to be an ongoing fixture. His chompers will mature and mellow out along with the rest of his personality. So if your pup’s nipping causes you discomfort, don’t worry - eventually, his bark will indeed be worse than his bite.