Whether you are a long term dog owner or new to the game, the fact remains that there is a lot to keep track of when it comes to caring for your best friend. There are vet visits, feeding, walks to take, housebreaking, and even scheduled playtimes to consider. It’s no wonder that sometimes we forget about their teeth altogether.
The important truth is, however, that in the first eight months of your puppy’s life, he/she will go through two different sets of teeth and if you don’t pay close attention to this process and take good care of these teeth, your dog might end up with a slew of avoidable health complications. So, how many teeth do dogs have and how can you make sure to take excellent care of them?
How Many Teeth Does Your Dog Have?
Depending on the age of your dog, he/she could have 28 teeth as a puppy and then end up with 42 teeth as an adult dog. In the beginning, however, just like us, dogs have no teeth at all. They are born toothless.
At What Stage Will Your Dog Get Teeth?
Your dog will not magically end up with 42 teeth one day. This is a gradual process that sees him/her grow out of their “baby teeth” into a full jaw of teeth in their adulthood. Typically, your toothless puppy will begin getting teeth around the age of 2 weeks.
These teeth will keep coming in and get to a complete set of 28 teeth by the time the puppy is about 8-10 weeks old. While there are some variations, the typical pattern followed involves:
- Incisors (these come in first)
- Canine teeth
The first set of teeth that come in are often referred to as “baby” or “milk” teeth. These, however, are not the teeth that your puppy will have throughout their lives. Like humans, your puppy will gradually lose these teeth and make way for adult teeth.
When Will Your Puppy’s Adult Teeth Come in?
At full maturity, your dog will have 48 permanent teeth. These teeth tend to start erupting once your puppy’s baby teeth start to fall off, which occurs at around the age of 4 months. This process will continue until the puppy is about 6 months old when his/her canine teeth will fall off to make way for the permanent teeth. These permanent teeth come in the same order as the baby teeth:
- Incisors (these start coming in at around 2-5 months)
- Canines (these start erupting at around 4-6 months)
- Premolars (these start to show at around 4-7 months)
There is another set of teeth, the molars, that only come in as permanent teeth in adult dogs and start to erupt at around 5-7 months. It’s safe to say that by the time your dog is about 8 months, he/she should have a full set of permanent teeth on their jaw.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy?
Just like humans, dogs can lose their teeth. It is therefore extremely important that you include dental hygiene and care as part of your repertoire when it comes to caring for your dog. There are several things that you can do to ensure that your dog keeps all of his/her 42 teeth as they get older:
1. Take care of your puppy’s teeth
Vets recommend that you should start taking care of your dog’s teeth as soon as they come in as a puppy. The thing about gum disease is that it builds up quickly and insidiously. You are advised to brush your dog’s teeth using the right kind of dog toothpaste and toothbrush as often as daily or at the very least, once every two days.
However, when it comes to caring for your puppy’s teeth, brushing on the daily will not be the only thing you have to worry about. At about 4 months, these baby teeth start falling off. Typically, they will fall off on their own, and you are advised not to pull them out as you might damage the roots and cause an infection.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. The single most outstanding exception is when a permanent tooth starts erupting in the same spot as a baby tooth that hasn’t fallen off yet. In this case, it’s always best to visit your vet’s office, and he/she will pull out the offending tooth or teeth.
2. Feed Your Dog Good Food
Apart from brushing and taking care of your dog’s teeth using the right kind of products, you are also advised to feed him/her good food. The best kind of food would be preferably dog food made using whole foods. This means that your dog will get a healthy diet while developing stronger teeth.
Try to avoid foods made out of by-products and cereal grains as much as possible. This is because these foods tend to stick to your dog’s teeth and without proper regular brushing might form into plaque and then tartar.
3. Use Raw Bones to Scrape Your Dog’s Teeth
One of the best ways to ensure that your dog has healthy teeth and a strong jaw is to give him/her chew toys. You can use dried meat treats for this purpose. However, when it comes to finding the right kind of foods that not only help your dog develop a strong jaw and healthy teeth, there are very few things quite as good as raw bones.
The best type of bones is preferably those from cows; large and uncooked. This is mostly because small bones or cooked bones tend to splinter or break, and these may get stuck in your dog’s teeth or mouth. Worse yet, they could get swallowed whole.
The process of taking care of your dog’s teeth is best started or maintained by establishing a routine. Just like you walk your dog every day, you can choose to brush your dog’s teeth every two days. Use doggy toothpaste and toothbrush to get the job done. The doggy toothpaste is best mostly because it is made with chicken or meat flavors that dog’s love and are less likely to reject.