When puppies are born, they’re put into this world in quite a vulnerable state. Indeed, they are born blind, deaf, barely able to crawl, and most of all, without teeth. Fortunately, Mother Nature has equipped these youngsters with a mom who will stand guard by their side ensuring they’re constantly kept warm, nourished and well protected. Then, just a few weeks later, the first set of puppy teeth will start erupting, initiating the teething process.
No worries about missing the train when it comes to the puppy teething process; if you’re raising puppies, you surely won’t miss it at all as this is the time when puppies start hurting mom with their little sharp teeth when they nurse and start taking turns in turning their playmates into yelping machines when they play too rough. If instead you adopted an 8-week old puppy, you’ll likely to also feel those sharp teeth when the pup decides to inconspicuously nip on your fingers and hands. From vulnerable pups to land sharks, learning more about the teething process of puppies will help you ensure that your puppy is developing correctly.
The Eruption of Puppy Milk Teeth
These needle-sharp teeth won’t be around for long; indeed, puppy milk teeth are deciduous, meaning that just as those in human children, they’re temporary and will eventually fall off. These teeth start erupting in puppies around two to three weeks of age. The very first teeth to erupt are the top and bottom incisors, the teeth found in the middle. To be precise, puppies should have six incisors on the top jaw and six incisors on the bottom jaw for a total of 12. Then, at around four weeks, the pups will get their first set of canines, those big, long fangs that sit right next to the incisors. Finally, between 3 and 6 weeks of age, pups will get premolars which sit right next to the canine teeth. At this point, the puppy is gifted with a promising set of 28 teeth.
Don’t be fooled by this first set of baby teeth; they are quite needle-sharp and can hurt quite a lot. Just ask mother dog about them as she becomes more and more reluctant to nurse as those teeth sure irritate her nipples. This phase though is there for a good reason; indeed, as mother dog starts resenting nursing, the pups grow more and more interested in exploring new food sources, which paves the path towards the weaning process. Indeed, soon the pups will grow more interested in the gruel the breeder offers them than mom’s milk.
The Falling of the Baby Teeth
As mentioned, milk teeth won’t be around for long. Indeed, they’ll soon start falling out so they can make room for the adult permanent teeth. The first milk teeth to leave are the same ones that erupted first: that is, the incisors. Expect the incisors to start falling out at around 12 to 16 weeks. The canines will be next, with most of them falling out by the time the puppy has reached 16 weeks. Finally, the last teeth to come in will be the last ones to come out. The premolars indeed will be coming out once the puppy is 6-months old. By this age, ideally all 28 milk teeth should have fallen out.
Milk teeth though don’t just fall out leaving the puppy with no pearly whites. Rather, the adult teeth often push the milk teeth out of the way, so they’re rapidly replaced. This is a good time to have the vet check out the puppy’s mouth to ensure that no milk teeth are being retained which can lead to problems. Sometimes permanent adult teeth start growing right next to the milk teeth, which can cause overcrowding and a malocclusion (improper bite).
The Eruption of Permanent Teeth
By the age of 6 months, a puppy should have lost all his 28 baby teeth, but by the age of 8 months, the puppy should already have a set of 42 permanent adult teeth. Just as milk teeth don’t fall overnight, permanent teeth don’t grow all at once. Generally, by 5 months of age, the puppy should have all of his incisors. By the age of 4 and 7 months, the canines and premolars should have erupted as well. On top of that, puppies at this age will also have gained some extra premolars and molars. This means that from owning a set of 28 teeth, now the puppy will be gifted with a set of 42 teeth by the time he is about 7 months old.
Providing Relief to Teething Puppies
Babies aren’t the only ones to get cranky when they are teething. Expect your puppy to drool, be reluctant to eat at times and to look for objects to mouth in hopes of getting some relief. The poor puppy can’t be blamed; after all, those new teeth erupting put pressure on the gums as they pierce through causing an uncomfortable sensation. This is a good time to provide your puppy with age-appropriate chew toys. Look for toys labeled safe for puppies under 6 months as adult chew toys may be too hard and risk damaging your puppy’s teeth.
Some toys are purposely made with teething puppies is mind. You may find some chew toys that can be frozen so to provide some relief. Alternatively, puppies may enjoy chomping on a bit of crushed ice which soothes those gums by numbing the pain and irritation, suggests Vet Info. Another option is wetting a wash cloth, twisting it up and then putting it in the freezer. Once ready, the frozen rope will provide several minutes of entertainment and relief. Once the cloth has melted, it is ready then to be wet again and re-frozen.
As seen, it’s quite important to keep an eye on the puppy’s teething process. Early intervention in the case of retained baby teeth is important as they may interfere with the correct positioning of the adult teeth with the result of overcrowding complications or even a malocclusion. If too much time elapses, specialized orthodontic treatment may be needed which requires the intervention of veterinary dental specialist and can turn up being pretty costly. Routine dental care should also be a regular part of your pet’s overall health and maintenance.