Why Are Small Breed Dogs Susceptible to Tooth Loss?
Just like humans, dogs grow a set of baby teeth before their permanent teeth grow in. Most puppies develop about 28 puppy teeth that fall out and are replaced by adult teeth sometime around five months of age.
Most adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, though some dogs are susceptible to tooth loss which can affect this number – this is most commonly seen in small breed dogs. Keep reading to learn why small breeds are susceptible to tooth loss and what you can do about it.
Is It Normal for a Dog to Lose Teeth?
If you have a puppy, you may occasionally find a baby tooth that has come out. It is completely naturally for puppies to lose their baby teeth, though you most likely won’t notice when it happens. Puppies develop their first set of teeth between 3 and 6 weeks of age and they are sharp.
A dog’s adult teeth usually come in somewhere between five and eight months – these teeth are permanent. It is normal for a puppy to shed its small, sharp baby teeth but the loss of adult teeth could be a sign of a problem and it warrants investigation.
Why Do Small Dogs Lose Teeth?
When an adult dog loses teeth, it is often a sign of some kind of problem. In some cases, it could be the result of injury or trauma to the head. When this happens, you should have your dog’s mouth radiographed to make sure there aren’t any fragments of the tooth lodged in the gums where it could become infected. Certain metabolic disorders can also contribute to tooth loss, especially when accompanied by malnutrition or gum disease.
Speaking of gum disease, this is the most common cause for tooth loss in adult dogs. Poor oral hygiene in dogs can lead to the accumulation of tartar on the surface of the teeth and under the gums which can harden into plaque. In some cases, bacteria can cause an infection or abscess to develop which could, in turn, damage the underlying structure or bone which could cause the tooth to fall out. Small-breed dogs are particularly susceptible to periodontal disease because their mouths are so small and their teeth so crowded together.
It is not uncommon for a small-breed dog to enter middle-age or seniority having already lose half of its teeth. This is why it is important to learn how to identify the signs of gum disease in dogs which may include the following:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Plaque on the teeth
- Pain or discomfort
Because dental disease and tooth loss are such big risks for small-breed dogs, it is essential that you take steps to protect your dog’s dental health from a young age. Make an effort to brush your dog’s teeth after each meal or, at the very least, once a day. Provide him with dental treats and chew toys to help scrape plaque and tartar off his teeth and make sure your dog gets a dental check-up and cleaning at least once a year.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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