Although there's no tooth fairy involved, puppies lose their baby teeth just like human infants. Called the milk teeth, these 28 little teeth eventually fall out, replaced by 42 adult teeth. Just like human babies, teething can be a painful experience for puppies. Invest in plenty of good chew toys.
Puppies aren't born with teeth. Your puppy's baby teeth began erupting when he was about 3 or 4 weeks old. That's when he begins eating solid food and weaning himself off mama. By the age of 8 weeks, just about the time he may go home with you, all of the baby teeth are in.
The puppy's milk teeth are longer and thinner than the permanent choppers. During the earliest stages of tooth eruption, the puppy has no molars. The baby molars, known as premolars, arrive about the age of 4 months. These teeth arrive just as other baby teeth begin falling out. You can often see the permanent tooth coming in beside the baby tooth it's replacing.
When your puppy reaches the half-year mark, his baby teeth begin falling out in earnest. His gums will hurt, so chewing is way of relieving the pain. Keep items you don't want chewed -- your shoes, briefcase, pocketbook, computer carryall -- out of his reach, or he'll shred them in no time. Don't give him chew toys that look like things he shouldn't chew, such as rubber shoes. How's a puppy to know the difference between rubber shoes and Manolos?
The first permanent teeth coming in are the incisors, followed by the canines -- also known as fangs -- then the molars. Puppy teeth roots are absorbed by his body, but not all puppy teeth fall out correctly. As he should be going to the vet regularly for his puppy shots, your vet will also check his mouth to make sure teeth erupt correctly and that the baby teeth aren't retained. The vet must remove any retained baby teeth, as they affect your dog's later dentition and ability to chew properly.
When your dog reaches maturity, he'll have 42 teeth in his mouth. Learn to brush his teeth to keep them in the best condition, and provide him with dental treats which aid in teeth cleaning. If your dog is a small breed, the 42 teeth crammed in a tiny mouth may cause problems later on. Your vet will examine your dog's teeth during regular checkups. If your dog has serious dental issues, you can be referred to a veterinary dental specialist.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.