Pet Topics

Dental Health for your Pet

by Dr. Ku

Puppies have 28 deciduous (or "baby") teeth, which begin erupting around 3-4 weeks of age. They begin losing these and get their 42 permanent teeth between the ages of 3-6 months of age. The last to erupt are the canines, which emerge at about 5-1/2 to 6 months of age. During this time, they may experience teething behavior such as biting and chewing. Cool objects may help as well as over the counter remedies such as Orajel or Ambosol in moderation. Some puppies may not lose all their deciduous teeth when their permanent teeth come in. These are known as retained deciduous teeth and they should be extracted to avoid compromising the associated permanent teeth and increasing risk of periodontal disease.

Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth, which also begin erupting around 3-4 weeks of age. They begin to lose these and get their 30 permanent teeth between 3-6 months of age as well.

Brushing your pets' teeth with a recommended pet dentifrice and proper instruction can be a life extending and money saving proposition. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats exhibit evidence of dental disease by age 3. Daily brushing is recommended and a minimum of 3x/week is suggested for appreciable results. As this is a lifelong commitment, we recommend starting with puppies and kittens while young, when possible, and always making it a pleasant and rewarding experience. Consult with our staff for reliable and successful tips on how to start brushing whenever you are ready!

Routine dental examinations are performed on your pets at Hatton Veterinary Hospital at the time of your annual visit. If you notice redness or swelling of your pet's gums, or a stronger odor from its mouth, you may be identifying dental problems in between visits. These problems can be signs of dental disease that you may want to bring to our attention between visits as well. Most dental problems are easier to resolve and less expensive for owners to take care of if treated early. Prevention is still the approach of choice!