Can Dogs Lose Teeth?

0 Stories
0 Votes

Introduction

When you were younger, losing a tooth was an exciting time because it meant the arrival of the Tooth Fairy and a little extra spending money. Our canine companions also lose their puppy teeth by around 30 weeks of age, with these so-called milk teeth soon replaced by the 42 adult teeth that will see them through to old age.

However, while it's not normal for dogs to lose any of their adult teeth, it can happen for several reasons, most commonly trauma or periodontal disease. Teeth are crucial to your dog's overall health and wellbeing, so read on to find out how you can give your dog's pearly whites the best possible care.

Signs of Dog Dental Problems

You often don't need to be a veterinary dentist to work out when your dog is having issues with their teeth. The most obvious sign to look for is a missing or loose tooth, but bloody saliva or signs of pain can also ring alarm bells. For example, if your pooch is having trouble picking up food or chewing on it, that's usually a reliable indicator that all is not right in the dental department.

In some cases, dogs will seem to have a reduced appetite or may paw at their mouth to try and reduce the pain. They may all of a sudden develop messy eating habits, or suffer from increased (and perhaps bloody) drooling, while some dogs even make little noises while they chew or yawn.

Looking at your dog up close, you may notice a little swelling around the face or discharge from the nose. At this range, you'll also be able to pick up many of the other indicators of dental diseases, such as bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, and receding gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's time to take your pet to the vet or a veterinary dentist for a full dental check-up.

Body Language

Your dog's body language could contain clues that they're struggling with tooth or mouth pain. Signs include:
  • Chewing
  • Yawning
  • Tense jaw
  • Dropped Ears
  • Whimpering

Other Signs

Other signs of doggy dental problems include:
  • Loose or Missing Teeth
  • Bad Breath
  • Red, Swollen or Bleeding Gums
  • Bloody Saliva or Drool
  • Facial Swelling
  • Pawing at Mouth
  • Trouble Chewing and Reluctance to Eat

The Science of Dogs Losing Teeth

When puppies are around three to six weeks of age, they develop 28 puppy teeth (also known as milk teeth). Because pups don't eat a lot of hard food at this age, they don't have any molars for grinding, but those little teeth are still razor sharp — as most dog owners have experienced many times.

When your pooch reaches around four months of age, those puppy teeth are replaced by 42 adult teeth. You may or may not notice those baby teeth as they fall out, but losing them is a natural part of growing up for our four-legged friends.

However, losing an adult tooth is more of a big deal. The most common cause of tooth loss in adult dogs is periodontal disease. When inflamed gums combine with inflammation of your dog's bone and tooth support structures, periodontal disease is the result. It affects 85 percent of dogs over the age of four to some degree, and aside from tooth loss it can also lead to a host of other serious health problems.

The second most common reason for doggy teeth to fall out is due to trauma. If your pooch cops an unexpected blow to the head or is injured in a fight with another dog, this could cause the loss of one or more teeth.

How to Care for Your Dog's Teeth

Your dog's teeth are critical to their overall health. Your dog uses their mouth for much more than just eating — it's a vital tool they use to interact with the world around them. And when your pooch's dental health isn't up to scratch, it can make it painful to eat, cause a whole range of other health problems, and even reduce their life expectancy.

The bacteria associated with dental disease can travel to other parts of the body, like the heart, kidney, or liver, and cause damage there.
With this in mind, staying on top of your dog's oral hygiene needs is extremely important. The key to ensuring good oral health is to make regular dental care a part of your routine. Frequent veterinary check-ups and teeth cleaning will help you pick up any problems as they develop, and hopefully before they have a chance to grow into more serious issues. 

Your vet will also be able to advise you on what you can do at home to keep your pet's pearly whites in the best possible shape. One way to keep canine teeth clean and prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar is to regularly brush their teeth. That's right — just like humans, daily brushing can have huge benefits for a dog's dental health.

There are also special dental chews designed to remove plaque and give your pet a tasty treat at the same time, as well as some dog foods specially designed to improve oral health. An occasional raw bone can also help, in addition to the specially designed dental chews.

By incorporating dental care into your regular list of important doggy duties, you'll be able to give your pooch the best possible protection against dental disease and the threat of losing a tooth — and that should be more than enough to put a big, toothy grin on any dog's face!

How to React If Your Dog Loses a Tooth:

  • Visit your veterinarian. Take your pooch to the vet for a check-up. Your vet will examine your dog's mouth to determine their overall dental health and what has caused the tooth loss.
  • Treat periodontal disease. If your dog is suffering from dental disease, the focus will be on improving your dog's oral health to prevent any future tooth loss. Depending on the severity of the problem, this could involve anything from teeth cleaning to root planing, root canal therapy, and crown restoration.
  • If your dog has lost a tooth due to trauma, for example in a dog fight, you'll need to seek immediate veterinary help. Some of the tooth may still be lodged in your dog's gum, which could lead to infection.