If you thought that teething started and stopped with your human babies, think again. When puppies and kittens are born, they have a set of teeth called “milk teeth.” These milk teeth break through the pet’s gums at around three to four weeks of age, and are sharp, translucent and small. By about six weeks of age, the teeth have begun to irritate the nursing mother and she starts to wean her young. Over time, the pet’s teeth begin to transition from milk teeth to full-grown adult teeth. This process begins at about three months of age and runs to about six to nine months.
Just like human babies, puppies and kittens experience some discomfort while they go through the process of losing their baby teeth. Because of this, some young pets will display chewing behavior. They may gnaw on furniture, clothing, beds and toys. This is in an effort to place pressure on the gums and decrease the discomfort associated with the teething process.
What Happens if Baby Teeth Aren’t Lost?
The loss of baby teeth often goes off without a hitch, but some puppies and kittens don’t completely lose their baby teeth – a condition known as “retained deciduous teeth.” In most cases, the teeth that are not lost are the long canine teeth in the front of the mouth. If your puppy or kitten has not lost these baby teeth, speak to your veterinarian. Early intervention can prevent your pet from developing further dental problems and can help pave the way for their adult teeth to grow in completely.
Where Do Lost Teeth Go?
If you have a puppy or kitten and all goes well with the their teething process, it is likely that you will begin to notice lost teeth snagged in the carpet, embedded in one of the pet’s toys or caught up in bedding. It's worth mentioning that most pets swallow their baby teeth, which is a normal part of the teething process. If you’re interested in helping facilitate the teething process for your pet, consider offering vet-approved chew toys and treats to discourage inappropriate chewing and help them be more comfortable.
During teething, you may also notice small spots of blood and reddening of your pet’s gums. This is normal, and in most cases, the gums will heal quickly after the baby teeth are lost. While the baby teeth are translucent and small, the adult teeth are hard and bright white. They are also much, much larger than the baby teeth. Once the adult teeth break through, they will need to be taken care of. You can do this by establishing a teeth brushing routine when the pet is young and maintaining it throughout adulthood. Get an appropriately sized toothbrush and some puppy or kitten toothpaste, and ask your vet for a tutorial on how to maintain your pet’s teeth. This will help establish healthy habits and will set both you and your pet up for dental success for years to come.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.