Under normal conditions, your dog's teeth should not need much attention until he is a year old. However, it will not be amiss to glance at his teeth whenever you groom him. You might turn up a potentially troublesome condition.


The puppy is born without any teeth and begins to cut his first teeth when he is about three to four weeks of age. When he is 6 or 7 weeks old, he will have a full set of temporary or milk teeth. When they are all in, the pup will have 32 temporary or milk teeth. These temporary teeth are satisfactory for the pup at this stage of his life. He can chew and gnaw objects that are not too hard, but he lacks the tooth strength and jaw power of the older dog. His milk teeth can be broken if subjected to a strain. So resist the temptation to lift him up by letting him grab hold of the leash or a stick. He'll enjoy this roughhousing, but he may end up with a broken tooth.


About the fourth or fifth month, the pup's gums will become swollen and inflamed. His milk teeth loosen and fall out of their own accord, and the second or permanent teeth appear. Now, your puppy may not whine or howl while he is cutting his second teeth, but you can be sure that the process bothers him. He may have a sore mouth, go off his feed, vomit and take on a woeful expression. His swollen gums make him want to chew and gnaw things, and he may forget his training and grab your shoe or other forbidden objects. Give him a shinbone or knucklebone to gnaw on; this will satisfy his craving to gnaw and will also help massage his gums.


Occasionally, a milk tooth fails to yield the right of way to an upsurging permanent tooth. The result is that the new tooth may be shunted aside. When this occurs, the milk tooth should be extracted to allow for the normal growth of the permanent tooth. This is best done by the veterinarian, who has all the tools for the job.


Tartar begins to form on the dog's teeth after a year. The molars are mostly affected. Feeding him hard biscuits or an occasional knucklebone or shinbone will help keep tartar from forming on the teeth. Heavy deposits of tartar cause mouth odors and will have to be scraped off by a veterinarian.

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