Do Dogs Swallow Loose Teeth?

Dogs go through a teething process just like human babies. As puppies, they start growing their baby teeth around 3-4 weeks of age. Later, as adult dogs, those baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent adult teeth. But what happens to those baby teeth when they fall out? Do dogs actually swallow them?

This is a common question for dog owners when they notice their puppy is teething. You may find tiny teeth scattered around the house and wonder where they went. While dogs may eat some of their fallen baby teeth, they don’t actually swallow most of them. Understanding the teething process in dogs can help owners know what to expect and what’s normal.

In this article, we’ll explore the teething process in dogs, whether they actually swallow those loose teeth, and what to do if your dog does ingest a fallen tooth. We’ll also provide tips on keeping your puppy comfortable and safe during this transitional stage. Read on to learn the facts about dogs and their teeth.

Anatomy of Dogs’ Teeth

Dogs have four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Each type of tooth serves a specific purpose.

Incisors are the small, chisel-shaped teeth at the front of the mouth. Dogs have six incisors on both the bottom and top jaws. These teeth help dogs grip and bite food. The incisors in the bottom jaw are usually the first primary teeth to fall out when a dog is teething.

Canines, sometimes called cuspids or “fangs,” are located on either side of the incisors. Dogs have four canines on both the top and bottom jaws. These pointed teeth help tear and shred food.

Premolars and molars make up the teeth along the sides of a dog’s mouth behind the canines. Adult dogs have a total of 16 premolars and 10 molars. Premolars grip, hold and tear food, while molars crush and grind food.

References:

[https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/dogs/health/dental/canine-dental-anatomy]

Dogs’ Teething Process

Puppies begin teething around 3-4 weeks of age. Their baby teeth, also called milk teeth or deciduous teeth, start coming in around this time. According to The Dog Line, puppies get their first teeth at around 6-8 weeks old (source).

By 8 weeks old, puppies have around 28 baby teeth. The incisors (at the front of the mouth) and canines (the fangs) come in first. After that, the premolars erupt. By around 12-16 weeks old, all of a puppy’s baby teeth have come in (source).

Puppies begin losing their baby teeth around 12-16 weeks of age. The incisors and canines are usually the first adult teeth to replace the baby teeth. Adult teeth continue replacing baby teeth until the puppy is around 7-9 months old. By this time, all 42 of the permanent adult teeth have come in.

Do Dogs Swallow Their Baby Teeth?

Yes, most puppies do swallow their baby teeth when they fall out during the teething process. According to the veterinarians at VCA Animal Hospitals, “You may find deciduous on the floor, but more likely, your puppy will harmlessly swallow the teeth while he is eating. It is not unusual for some bleeding to occur when the teeth are lost.”

The puppy teething process involves the baby teeth falling out as the permanent adult teeth push through the gums to replace them. As the American Kennel Club explains, this usually begins around 3-4 months of age and continues until the puppy is about 6-7 months old.

Since the teeth are so small and fall out while the puppy is eating or chewing on toys, swallowing them is very common. Zoetis Petcare says “More often than not, puppies end up swallowing most of their baby teeth. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about.”

So in summary, the majority of puppies will swallow their baby teeth as they are naturally replaced by adult teeth during the teething process. This is normal puppy behavior and not a cause for concern in most cases.

Why Dogs Swallow Their Teeth

There are a couple main reasons why dogs tend to swallow their baby teeth when they fall out:

Instinct – Dogs have a natural instinct to chew on things, including their own falling baby teeth. According to PetCoach, their instinct is to chew the tooth until it falls apart or is swallowed [1]. This dates back to their wild ancestry when dogs would chew on bones and other objects to help clean their teeth.

Teeth too small to find – Puppies’ baby teeth are very tiny, usually around 3-4 mm long according to VCA Hospitals [2]. When they become loose and fall out, they can easily go unnoticed by both the puppy and the owner. The puppy ends up swallowing the teeth simply because they are too small to spot and retrieve.

Risks of Swallowed Teeth

Swallowing teeth can pose some health risks to dogs. The two main concerns are choking hazards and gastrointestinal obstructions.

If the tooth is large enough, it could become lodged in the dog’s throat on the way down and cause choking. This is especially dangerous with pointed teeth like canines that could puncture or scratch the esophagus. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if choking occurs.

The other major risk is the tooth causing a blockage or obstruction in the stomach or intestines as it passes through the digestive tract. This is more likely with larger teeth. Signs of obstruction include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Intestinal blockages can be very dangerous if not treated promptly, as they can cut off blood flow and damage the intestines (Source 1).

Overall, while dogs frequently swallow smaller teeth without issue, larger loose teeth pose a potential choking hazard or intestinal obstruction risk. Pet owners should monitor their dog closely after a tooth is swallowed and immediately contact their veterinarian if any signs of distress occur.

Signs of Trouble

If your dog has swallowed a tooth, you may notice some signs of trouble. The most common signs include:

Trouble Eating

Your dog may have difficulty picking up food, chewing properly, or swallowing. You may notice them dropping food from their mouth, hesitating to eat, or making exaggerated chewing motions. This can be a sign that a swallowed tooth is causing pain or difficulty in the mouth or throat. According to PetMD, oral dysphagia in dogs can be caused by dental disease, jaw or tongue paralysis, or muscle wasting in the chewing muscles.

Vomiting

A dog who has swallowed a tooth may vomit, either bringing up the tooth or just fluid. Vomiting can occur from irritation, inflammation, or obstruction caused by the tooth. If your dog is bringing up blood, bile, or their food, contact your vet, as advised by WagWalking.

Diarrhea

Swallowing an object like a tooth can cause gastrointestinal upset, resulting in diarrhea. The irritation, inflammation, or slight obstruction can make it difficult for the body to digest food properly. Monitor your dog’s stools and note any diarrhea after they lose a tooth.

What to Do if Your Dog Swallows a Tooth

If your dog swallows a tooth, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian, especially if you notice any signs of trouble like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain. According to PetMD, if your dog swallowed an object, you should call your vet immediately and bring your dog in as soon as possible. The vet will likely take x-rays to locate the tooth and determine if it is likely to pass through the digestive system or if surgery is required to remove it.

In many cases, your vet may recommend monitoring your dog at home if they are not showing any symptoms of blockage or trouble. According to a post on Summit Online, swallowed adult teeth will usually pass through without issue. However, you should keep an eye out for any vomiting, changes in appetite or bowel movements, or signs of pain. Contact your vet right away if you notice anything abnormal.

It’s a good idea to feed your dog a bland diet like boiled chicken and rice for a few days to allow the tooth to pass through more easily. You can also mix a tablespoon of pumpkin into their food to help keep things moving through the digestive tract. Just be sure to monitor them closely and don’t hesitate to call your vet if you have any concerns.

Preventing Swallowed Teeth Issues

The best way to prevent issues from swallowed teeth is to find and remove any loose teeth before your pup has a chance to swallow them. Here are some tips for preventing swallowed teeth problems:

Check your puppy’s mouth daily during teething and wiggle loose teeth gently with your fingers to remove them. This should be done carefully to avoid breaking the tooth off at the gumline.

Rub a washcloth or piece of gauze over your puppy’s gums after eating to dislodge any loose teeth.

Feed puppies kibble instead of wet food, as the hard kibble can help loosen teeth. You can also purchase specially designed teething foods and treats.

Provide safe chew toys, like frozen washcloths or rubber teething toys, which can help loosen teeth. Supervise chewing to prevent swallowing of toys.

Avoid hard chews and bones that could fracture teeth (VCA).

Regular brushing and tooth exams by your veterinarian can help monitor loose teeth.

Knowing the teething timeline and inspecting your puppy’s mouth routinely can help prevent any swallowed teeth issues.

Conclusion

In summary, dogs do commonly swallow their loose baby teeth during the teething process. This is a natural behavior as their bodies prepare to transition from puppy teeth to adult teeth. While swallowed teeth usually pass through the digestive system without issue, they can pose a choking hazard or lead to tooth-related gastrointestinal obstructions in some cases.

To prevent problems, monitor your dog closely during teething and contact your veterinarian if you notice signs of discomfort, lethargy, or vomiting. You can also provide safe chewing toys to redirect your puppy’s natural urge to chew. Overall, swallowing baby teeth is normal canine behavior, but pet owners should be aware of the potential risks and know when to seek veterinary care.

With attentive monitoring and preventative measures, your puppy’s teething phase and transition to adult teeth can go smoothly. If you have any concerns about your dog swallowing teeth or exhibiting signs of distress, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

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