You didn't notice them when you fell in love with puppy kisses. They were awfully cute during that first game of tug-o'-war. But your Labrador retriever pup's rapidly developing chompers may soon have you mourning over your latest pair of perforated pumps and wondering what you've gotten yourself into.
Labrador Retriever Baby Teeth
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Like most mammals, your Lab puppy was born toothless. The rate at which pups grow their first teeth may vary slightly, but by the time you got your new Lab puppy, he was probably at least 6 weeks old and had his full set of milk teeth (properly called deciduous teeth). These are the needle-like little teeth you've probably felt during play. The first to show up around 3 weeks of age are the aptly named canines. The final premolar comes in around 6 weeks. Puppies do not have molars. Most pups will have about 28 milk teeth.
The Teething Puppy
black labrador puppy chewing image by Scott Slattery from Fotolia.com
Dentists and veterinarians call it "deciduous eruption and exfoliation." You probably call it "teething." It begins with the appearance of your puppy's baby teeth, and continues until his full set of adult teeth is in. Teething means discomfort for your pup, and the irresistible need to chew on things. Unless you are on guard, that means chewed books, shoes and furniture legs. You can help your Lab puppy (and preserve your belongings) by giving him things to chew. Plenty of chew toys are marketed, and nothing beats a good rawhide chew as a project for a teething pup to work on. Be sure to supervise with anything your pup might be able to break into bits that could choke him.
Your Puppy's Grown-up Teeth
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Around 4 months of age, your Lab puppy will begin replacing the milk teeth with adult teeth. At 6 to 7 months, the full set of 42 permanent teeth will be in. As your puppy grows, the roots of his baby teeth are reabsorbed by his body. The adult teeth push up, loosening the baby teeth and eventually causing them to fall out. Don't worry if you can't find any baby teeth lying around on your rug; most are swallowed by the young dog. Rest assured, this is normal. The last teeth to come in are the molars. Because there are no baby molars, growing these is more uncomfortable and causes more teething behavior.
Protecting Your Pup's Teeth
Labrador retriever image by Wojciech Gajda from Fotolia.com
You can protect your puppy's brand-new teeth by introducing weekly brushing with a special doggy toothpaste at an early age. Do not use human toothpaste, which can be seriously harmful to dogs. Pet supply stores offer toothpastes specifically formulated for dogs. Make brushing a fun game, and your pup will value the extra attention from you. As his teeth come in, watch for baby teeth that stay in place after the adult tooth has erupted. A veterinarian may have to remove these.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.