Bringing home a puppy can be one of the most exciting and enjoyable moments of your life. It also marks a time that brings uncharted territory. Maybe it’s your first time bringing home a new dog, it’s been a while since you had a pup, or you’re diving back into dog ownership with a new breed. Regardless, understanding your dog’s oral health and how to support their dental hygiene can make the process easier.
From the moment you bring a new puppy home, you’ll need to navigate their learning and growing stages. One of the first challenges pet owners deal with is teething. If you’re wondering, “do dogs have baby teeth?” or are confused about how to navigate the teething process, you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’ll show you everything you need to know about teething, plus why dental health is important for your dogs’ overall well-being. We’ll also give you tips and tools you can use to ensure your dog has a healthy mouth from puppyhood to adulthood.
Do Dogs Have Baby Teeth?
So, do dogs have baby teeth? Yes, like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth: their baby teeth and permanent teeth. Dogs begin to develop their first teeth — also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth — at 2-4 weeks of age. While teeth tend to come in slowly for human babies, puppies get most of their baby teeth rather quickly. By 5-6 weeks old, puppies will likely have all of their baby teeth — 28, to be exact. At this point, puppies can start to eat wet dog food and drink less milk from their mothers.
By three to four months of age, dogs begin to lose their puppy teeth and 42 new teeth — known as permanent teeth — start coming in. Like it is for humans, the puppy teething process can be painful. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make the experience more comfortable for your puppy.
Navigating the Teething Process
Your puppy may experience high levels of pain as an adult tooth pushes out a baby tooth. To help ease the pain, try giving your pup frozen fruit like bananas or strawberries or frozen vegetables. Never give your puppy pain medications without first talking to your veterinarian.
Alternatively, you can use safe chew toys like the freezable Chilly Bone or Kong toy. Look for chew toys that are made of durable nylon or rubber. You can also look for toys that can be frozen or filled with cold water to help ease the pain.
As your dog begins to lose baby teeth, it’s important to have regular check-ups with a licensed veterinarian (DVM). The veterinarian can monitor your dog’s adult teeth and make adjustments if any issues arise. They can also perform tooth extractions if your dog doesn’t lose his or her baby teeth in a normal timeframe.
A teething puppy can be a destructive puppy if proper training and obedience aren’t taught. Puppies may chew on furniture, shoes, or other items in a search for relief from teething pain. By soothing your puppy’s teething pain with safe chew toys and frozen foods and implementing training, you can help prevent them from chewing on other items.
During the puppy teething timeline, it’s also important to get your puppy used to dental care. Start by gently placing your fingers in and around your pup’s mouth. This will help them get used to having things in their mouth so they won’t freak out when you try to brush their teeth later.
Once your dog has all of his or her adult canine teeth, start a daily brushing routine by using a finger brush to gently remove food and plaque. Dog toothpaste is formulated with tasty flavors such as turkey so you can try using a tiny bit of toothpaste too to make the experience more enjoyable. If your dog is nervous at first, soothe them and try rewarding him or her with a treat when the process is done. As your dog gets more comfortable, you can switch to a real toothbrush and canine toothpaste for a better clean.
Only use dog toothpaste — never human toothpaste — when brushing your puppy’s teeth. Human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach or worse if swallowed by your pooch.
Dental Care for Dogs
Puppy teething is only the beginning when it comes to your dog’s dental health. While your dog will have less pain when all their adult teeth come in, it’s still important to actively address your adult dog’s dental care. Like humans, dog’s teeth can develop plaque and tartar build-up that can cause dental problems, including decay, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.
Healthy teeth in dogs look much like healthy human teeth. You shouldn’t see any visible signs of tartar or food build-up. A dog’s gums should be pale pink, though some breeds — including Akitas, Pomeranians, rottweilers, retrievers, dalmatians, Australian shepherds, and Airedales — may have normal purple or black discolorations.
Know what your pup’s mouth looks like when it’s healthy so you can identify issues such as discoloration along the gum line. Swelling, sores, and bumps indicate something may be wrong with your dog’s dental health. They can indicate issues such as halitosis — bad breath usually caused by plaque build-up or infection — or cysts and tumors. Swollen gums or bleeding gums may be a sign of gingivitis, while loose teeth and difficulty eating can indicate periodontal disease.
When brushing dog teeth, start by gently raising or lowering their lips. This makes it easier for you to see and reach their teeth as you brush. Brush the front teeth first, and then work your way to the back. Make sure to brush the outside and inside of all teeth, including the incisors. You should brush your dog’s teeth at least three times per week if not daily.
To ensure your dog’s oral health, also schedule a yearly teeth cleaning at your veterinarian’s office. A vet can help identify any dental issues or conditions that may lead to problems down the line. During the visit, the veterinarian may also take X-rays to rule out any dental health issues including periodontal and endodontic diseases that can damage bones, ligaments, and gum tissue.
Other Dental Tools
Aside from regular brushing and keeping an eye out for any problems, know that toys, treats, and foods can help support your dog’s dental and bone health. Look for a puppy food that helps support the formulation of your puppy’s baby teeth, including premolars. Foods formulated specifically for puppies contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth and proper development. Work with your vet to pick the best type of food for your dog, and move up to an adult dog food as your pup grows.
Rawhide chew toys and dental chews can also help clean your pup’s mouth between brushing sessions. Nylon and rubber toys work to gently remove food buildup and plaque as your dog bites and chews on them.
Regardless of how big your floofer is, make sure to supervise when your dog is chewing on a toy. Smaller dogs may be able to chew on ropes or braided toys, but be careful your pet doesn’t choke or swallow any pieces they chew off. While high-quality ones are durable, some can break down with excessive or prolonged chewing, posing a health hazard to your pup.
If your dog swallows a large piece of their toy, make a trip to your veterinarian. The item may cause an obstruction or be life-threatening if it gets stuck in your dog's intestines.
Dental Support Options From PetHonesty
When it comes to your dog’s well-being, PetHonesty is here to help. Your dog may benefit from vitamins and minerals that support bone health — find these in our NutraProbiotic Super Food Topper. It’s a vet-formulated meal topper that contains antioxidants, omega vitamins, and other vitamins and minerals your dog needs for healthy teeth. You’ll also find a wide range of digestive chews plus skin and coat multivitamins and treats to help keep your pup healthy and happy from their early puppy stage through adulthood.