The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Baby Teeth vs Adult Teeth in Cats and Dogs

By Dr. Jacqueline Brister

Lab Puppy Chewing on Stick

How many teeth do cats and dogs have?

Dogs and cats have two sets of teeth just like humans. Puppies have 28 baby teeth and 42 adult teeth. Kittens have 26 baby teeth and 30 adult teeth. For reference, humans have 20 baby teeth and (usually) 32 adult teeth. Baby teeth, also known as deciduous or primary teeth, come in after the puppy or kitten is born, at around two to four weeks of age for kittens and three to four weeks of age for puppies. These teeth are typically smaller, thinner, and appear more fragile. At around eight weeks of age, all the baby teeth should be visible in the mouth.

When do baby teeth fall out?

It’s hard to say exactly when a puppy or kitten will lose his or her first tooth, but adult teeth start to come in at around 14-16 weeks of age for kittens and 16-20 weeks of age for puppies. By about seven months, all adult teeth should be in, although in some small dog breeds it can take up to a year.

What to Expect When Teeth are Coming In or Falling Out

You may not actually notice any changes in your pet as his or her teeth come in or fall out. Rarely will you even find teeth lying around because most pets, believe it or not, will eat their teeth when they fall out. This is not a cause for concern and should not result in any tummy troubles for your pet.

Some symptoms you might notice during this time are unusual odor to their breath, picky appetite, or blood-tinged saliva or spit. These symptoms are actually quite rare and can also be a sign of other issues. If you are unsure whether your pet is sick or if he or she is just teething, call your veterinarian for a dental checkup. There is no need to give your pet any kind of pain medication for teething – pain medication can often be more harmful than helpful without veterinary supervision.

What to do if Baby Teeth Don’t Fall Out

If you look in your pet’s mouth and it appears that multiple rows of teeth are present or baby teeth are mixed in with or crowding the adult teeth, call your veterinarian for an exam. The baby tooth doesn’t always fall out when the corresponding adult tooth comes in, and this can make proper alignment of the adult teeth difficult.

Sometimes a baby tooth remains behind without ever falling out – this is called a retained tooth. This can prevent the adult tooth from developing in the right place and may prevent healthy tooth root formation (the part of the tooth that attaches into the jaw). It is also a common place for food and chewed material to get stuck, leading to tooth decay. The most common treatment for a retained tooth is to remove it while the pet is under anesthesia. This ensures the entire tooth is removed, including the root, and allows for careful inspection of the surrounding teeth to ensure they are healthy. Usually if the retained tooth is removed relatively quickly, the adult tooth will continue to develop normally and move into position properly without issue.

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