Caring For Your Puppy's Teeth

LAST UPDATED 25 MAY 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Belinda Stancombe

It's never too early to start thinking about your puppy's dental health!

Puppies like human babies, are born without teeth and at 3-4 weeks of age they grow their baby or milk teeth. This first set of teeth fall out during 'teething' when your pup is 4-6 months of age, and are replaced with permanent adult teeth.

Many pet parents might be surprised to learn that around 80% of dogs over the age of three years have some degree of dental disease. Prevention is better then cure when it comes to dental disease, so starting your puppy on effective dental prevention early, will set them up with a happy and healthy mouth for life!

Caring For Your Puppy's Teeth

Teething

Your puppy will start teething from about 12 weeks as their adult teeth start to come through to replace their baby teeth or milk teeth. Most of the time owners don't even notice these baby teeth fall out as they are often swallowed, but don't be worried if you find the occasional little tooth around the house.

Signs of teething in your puppy may include:
• Drooling
• Bad breath
• Red and inflammed gums
• Bleeding gums or blood on toys
• Missing teeth
• Reduced appetite
• Increased chewing behaviour

*While these signs can be normal during teething, if you concerned at all by your puppies behaviour please check with your veterinarian.

While they are teething your pup will probably start to chew on everything, so make sure you give them plenty of appropriate chew toys to save your shoes and furniture. Until your puppy has all their adult teeth avoid giving harder dental chews or bones as baby teeth are a little more delicate and may break if they chew hard objects.

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How To Look After Your Puppy's Teeth

1. Daily Toothbrushing

Dr. Carla demonstrates how to brush teeth, with the help of Bruiser the French Bulldog. Check out other helpful tips on Pet Circle's Youtube Channel.

Once all your puppy's adult teeth are through (usually by about 6 months), it's time to start thinking about how you will care for their dental health throughout their life. Veterinary dentists recommend daily tooth brushing as the gold standard for pet dental care, and the earlier you start the easier it will be for your dog to accept this. Try to get your puppy used to having their mouth examined and handled from an early age.

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2. Chew Toys and Treats

Chewing is a great way to fulfil your pups natural instincts to chew as well as keep their teeth clean. Chewing produces saliva which protects the teeth, while the chewing action scrapes the teeth, reducing plaque buildup.

It is important to ensure that you are giving chews and toys that are appropriate for your pups age and size. Always monitor your puppy when they are chewing on a toy or treat and replace any damaged products to ensure your puppy is not at risk of choking or swallowing objects.

3. Premium Puppy Diet

Puppies need special food to support their increased need for energy, calcium and other nutrients during growth. Feeding your pup a high quality puppy food in their first year of life will set them up for a healthy life. Look for premium diets based on scientific research and development from brands including Hill's Science Diet, Royal Canin and Advance.

Science based puppy foods are rigorously tested to ensure safety, quality, nutritional soundness, palatability and digestibility. The end result is food that tastes great, is gentle on your pup's tummy and delivers everything they need to grow and thrive.

The most convenient and economical means of feeding your dog is with dry food which also has the advantage of helping keep your puppies teeth clean through chewing and reducing the incidence of dental disease. Many owners like to offer a little wet food as a treat or to aid hydration.

Royal Canin and Advance have a range of breed specific puppy foods, with diets formulated specially for the needs of popular breeds including Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Pugs.

4. Regular Vet Visits

Once your puppy's adult teeth have grown in at around 6 months or age, a dental check with your veterinarian is recommended. This is often around the time of desexing. Your veterinarian will check your puppy's teeth to ensure that there are no abnormalities.

Your vet will check for:
• Crowding or Crooked Teeth
• Retained Baby Teeth
• Broken Teeth
• Overbite or Underbite

Any of these findings can lead to dental issues in your puppy later in life so your veterinarian may recommend a treatment plan including removal of teeth or referral to a Veterinary Dental Specialist.

As your puppy grows, 6 monthly veterinary check ups are recommended to ensure your pup and their teeth continue to be in good health.

Further Reading

Pooping, Barking, Biting: The Ultimate Puppy Training Guide

Puppy Food Guide

How To Toilet Train Your Puppy

Choosing The Best Toys For Your Puppy

Your guide to fleas, ticks and worms

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