Caring for Your Puppy’s Teeth

Regular check-ups are vital for the health of your dog's teeth.

When your puppy was born, he had no teeth. By the time he was 3 weeks old, his baby teeth were already starting to come in. When he’d reached 4 months old, he started to loose his baby teeth to be replaced by his permanent ones, which will be the only teeth he has for the rest of his life.

Your dog’s front teeth are called “incisors”. Right beside them is long, pointed teeth called “canines.” Next come his “premolars” and finally, near the back of his mouth are his “molars.”

Baby teeth

Puppies lose their teeth in a pattern. First, they lose their small, front teeth. Then, the premolars, behind the canine teeth begin to fall out. Next are the molars and then, finally, the canine teeth. Yes, those long pointed teeth are the last to go.

Don't let a teething puppy chew an old shoe--he may chew your brand new Manolos next!

Puppy teething is similar to human baby teething

Just like human babies, puppies can have problems when they’re cutting teeth. They like to chew on things a lot during this period. Do not allow them to chew on shoes, furniture or your fingers or arm. This will set them up for unacceptable behavior later in life. Chewing alleviates the pain of teething, so you can’t blame them for doing it, but you can provide them with alternative things to chew on, such as chew toys, ice cubes made from chicken soup, or an old, clean, rag wet down, wrung out and frozen in the freezer. Puppies that are teething will love to lay and chew on a clean, frozen rag. Make sure he has lots of dog toys to chew on and don’t allow him to chew on any other objects but those that are his. If he does, give a sharp, “No,” and direct him gently to his chewies.

Soft food may be easier on him

Soften your puppy’s dry dog food with a tiny bit of warm tap water. This softens it so he will be able to eat during the time he is teething. But be sure not to leave wet kibble out for too long as it will spoil quickly when wet. Occasionally, you may find one of his teeth, but as they come out, he will swallow most of them.

Good oral hygiene habits

When puppy has cut all of his permanent teeth, he will have 42. It is the dog owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dog’s teeth are clean and healthy. This includes buying him dental bones and toys for him to chew on. When he chews on hard objects, it gets rid of plaque build up. Your dog should have his very own toothbrush, stored separately from the rest of the family’s and it should be used daily.

Brush your dog’s teeth once a day. A good habit to get into is brushing his teeth right after you brush yours. He will come to know this morning ritual and if you happen to be in a rush and forget, he will remind you. Most dogs’ love the taste of toothpaste. When he is quite little, you should just put the toothpaste on your finger and rub it over his teeth. When he takes the toothpaste into his mouth, praise him and give him a pat on the head.

Make tooth-brushing fun

If you decide to buy puppy his own toothbrush, be sure it is either a dog toothbrush that can be bought at pet food stores, or a children’s soft toothbrush. Only use dog toothpaste. This can also be purchased at pet stores in your community.

When you brush your dog’s teeth, turn it into play time. Give him hugs, praise him and have a wrestling match if you have time. This will help your dog to enjoy tooth brushing time.

Gum disease leads to other problems

If your dog has bad breath, this can mean, but doesn’t necessarily mean for sure, that he has gum disease. One way to stop gum disease from starting is to always take care of your dog’s teeth. Milk bone biscuits, hard chew toys are great for your dog’s teeth. There are also many dog kibbles on the market that contain products that clean your dog’s teeth when they eat. Ask your local pet store to recommend one of these foods.

Healthy teeth are important for your dog’s optimum health. If he can’t chew properly because of infection, sore gums or loose teeth, he will not be able to digest his food properly. This can lead to other health problems.

Ask your vet to check your dog’s teeth

When you take your dog to the vet for his annual checkup, be sure to remind the vet to take a look at his teeth. At that time he can find any small problems before they develop into larger ones. If there are no problems, that is great. Dogs, just like people, need to visit their dentist, which is in this case is their vet. Don’t be surprised if the vet cleans your dog’s teeth at this time. Today, many vets clean dog’s teeth just as the dental hygienist cleans yours. This is better than brushing because it not only cleans the teeth, but the gums as well.

I know you love your dog and want him to get the proper nutrients to help him life a long and full life. Taking care of his teeth will help to extend his longevity. It will also keep him content and help him have optimum health for life.

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