Should Loose Dog Teeth Be Pulled?

Like human babies, puppies are born without teeth. Over the first several weeks of a puppy’s life, their baby teeth start to emerge and develop. By around 8 weeks old, puppies have their full set of 28 baby teeth. As puppies grow, their adult teeth start to come in and their baby teeth fall out. The adult teeth replacing process typically starts around 3-4 months old and is usually finished around 6-7 months old. During this teething process, puppies may experiences loose or wiggly teeth as their baby teeth loosen in preparation for their adult teeth.

This article will provide an overview of the stages of dog teeth development, reasons for loose teeth in puppies and adult dogs, risks associated with loose teeth, guidance on when veterinary care is recommended, treatment options, and tips for aftercare and prevention. The goal is to cover key considerations and information for pet owners whose dogs are experiencing loose or wiggly teeth.

Anatomy of Dog Teeth

Dogs have four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. According to the American Kennel Club, adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth in total [1]. The different types of teeth serve different purposes:

  • Incisors – Located in the front of the mouth, incisors are small, chisel-shaped teeth used for cutting and nibbling food.
  • Canines – Often called fangs or cuspids, canine teeth are located on either side of the incisors. They are shaped like spears for gripping and tearing food.
  • Premolars – Behind the canines are 16 premolars that help shred and crush food.
  • Molars – At the very back are 10 molars that grind food into small digestible pieces.

Puppies develop in stages. They have no teeth at birth. The first set of 28 temporary “milk” teeth generally erupt at around 3-4 weeks of age. By 6-7 weeks all of a puppy’s deciduous teeth should be fully erupted. This first set of teeth will be gradually replaced by permanent adult teeth starting around 12-16 weeks of age. Full adult dentition of 42 permanent teeth is usually complete by 7 months old [2].

Causes of Loose Teeth

There are several potential causes of loose teeth in dogs:

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of loose teeth in dogs. Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums and bone. It is caused by plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. The bacteria in the plaque irritates the gums, causing them to become inflamed. As the disease progresses, the gums recede, exposing more of the tooth surface for bacteria to adhere to. Eventually, the inflammation and infection spreads to the bone holding the teeth in place, causing it to break down. This bone loss leads to teeth becoming loose and even falling out (source).


Trauma or injury to the mouth can also cause teeth to become loose. Blunt force trauma, such as being hit by a car or another animal, can fracture the jaw and loosen teeth. Oral injuries while chewing on hard toys or bones can also chip teeth or traumatize the gums and supporting structures. Fractured and injured teeth are more likely to become loose and fall out (source).

Congenital Conditions

Some dogs are born with abnormalities in their teeth or jaws that predispose them to having loose teeth. Examples include small jaws that cannot accommodate all the adult teeth, abnormally shaped teeth, and enamel defects. Puppies may also have retained deciduous (baby) teeth alongside the permanent teeth, leading the deciduous teeth to become loose and fall out as the permanent teeth erupt (source).

Risks of Loose Teeth

Loose teeth can pose several risks and problems for dogs. Some of the main risks include:


A loose tooth that is still partially attached can cause significant pain and discomfort. The weakened root and gum line are sensitive, and any chewing or eating can aggravate the tooth and cause pain for the dog (SOURCE).


Bacteria and debris can easily get lodged in the gap between the loose tooth and gums, leading to infection of the tooth socket. This can cause abscesses and infection of the jaw bone as well (SOURCE).

Damage to Jaw Bone

The infection and inflammation from the loose tooth can spread to the jaw bone surrounding the tooth. This can lead to deterioration and erosion of the jaw bone. In severe cases, it may require surgical treatment to remove infected bone tissue (SOURCE).

When To Seek Veterinary Care

There are several situations when you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a loose tooth:

  • Loose puppy teeth – Puppies begin losing their deciduous teeth around 3-6 months old as their adult teeth come in. However, some puppy teeth may not loosen on their own and require extraction to allow the permanent teeth to erupt properly. Consult your vet if any puppy teeth remain past 6 months.
  • Sudden looseness – A tooth that was previously stable but suddenly became loose may indicate an underlying issue like periodontal disease, infection, or trauma. Sudden looseness warrants an exam.
  • Bleeding/discharge – Any bleeding, pus, or foul odor from around the tooth points to an infection or abscess that needs veterinary attention.
  • Loss of multiple teeth – If your dog is losing several teeth at once, especially without blood or obvious trauma, there may be a systemic reason for the tooth loss. Schedule an appointment with your vet.

In addition to the above situations, take your dog to the vet promptly if the loose tooth appears painful, causes noticeable discomfort when eating, or interferes with daily activities. Leaving a problematic loose tooth untreated allows infections to worsen over time.


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Diagnosing Loose Teeth

To properly diagnose loose teeth in dogs, the veterinarian will take a full medical history and perform an oral exam. They will ask about any recent trauma to the mouth, changes in eating habits, and overall dental care routine. The vet will look for swollen gums, gum recession, plaque buildup, and signs of infection. They will check each tooth for abnormalities like fractures, mobility, and discoloration (Source).

One of the most important diagnostic tools is dental x-rays. Radiographs allow the veterinarian to evaluate the tooth roots below the gumline. This helps determine the cause of looseness like periodontal disease, fractures, or bone loss. X-rays also reveal abscesses, cysts, and other issues not visible from the surface. With a thorough oral exam and dental radiographs, the vet can fully assess the health of the teeth and surrounding structures (Source).

Treatment Options

If your dog has loose or damaged teeth, a veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. This usually involves some combination of the following:


In minor cases of loose teeth, the vet may recommend monitoring the tooth and your dog’s symptoms. This involves reevaluating at regular checkups to see if the tooth tightened up on its own or if any complications arise that require intervention. If the tooth remains loose for an extended period, extraction may be recommended.

Tooth Extraction

Extracting loose or damaged teeth is often necessary to prevent infection and allow healing. This involves surgically removing the tooth and root under anesthesia. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection. Your dog can live a normal, healthy life after recovering from the dental surgery.


Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat or prevent an infection around a loose tooth. However, antibiotics alone cannot fix the underlying problem. Extraction is usually still required once infection is under control.

Other Medical Care

Other treatments may aim to address the cause of the loose teeth, if a specific medical issue contributed to it. For example, antibiotics for gum disease or steroids for an immune disorder. Your vet will ensure appropriate medical care to support your dog’s dental health.


After a tooth extraction, proper aftercare is crucial for your dog’s recovery. This involves caring for the extraction site, following feeding guidelines, and managing pain. According to Cuteness, you’ll need to keep the extraction site clean by gently wiping with a warm, wet cloth. Avoid touching the area with fingers or letting your dog lick it. Soft foods like canned dog food, scrambled eggs, or mashed potatoes are recommended for 7-10 days post-extraction.

Pain management is also important. Your vet may prescribe medication to control pain and inflammation. Be sure to give all medication as directed. Restrict activity for 7-10 days until the extraction site begins to heal. Walks should be short and gentle. Follow up with your vet in a few days to ensure proper healing. With the right aftercare, your dog can recover comfortably from a tooth extraction.


There are several ways dog owners can help prevent loose teeth in their pets:

Regular dental cleanings are important. Veterinarians recommend professional dental cleanings at least once a year to remove plaque and tartar from a dog’s teeth. Left untreated, plaque and tartar can lead to periodontal disease, which causes tooth loss (Source)

Allowing dogs to chew on safe, durable chew toys helps scrape plaque and tartar off teeth. Hard rubber or nylon chew toys are ideal options. Avoid chews that are too hard, which can fracture teeth (Source)

Feeding a high-quality diet promotes good dental health. Dry kibble helps scrub teeth. Some dental diet foods are formulated to reduce plaque. Avoid sugary treats and table scraps that can lead to decay.


Loose teeth are a common issue for dogs that requires monitoring and veterinary care. The anatomy of dogs’ teeth makes them prone to issues like periodontal disease, trauma, and other abnormalities that lead to tooth loosening or loss. While some loose teeth may heal on their own, most require extraction or treatment to prevent worsening infection or damage. It’s critical to schedule regular veterinary dental cleanings and exams to catch problems early. Loose teeth left untreated pose many risks like bone loss, tooth abscesses, chewing difficulty, and tooth migration. If you notice any loose teeth in your dog, take action right away by calling your vet for an exam. They can determine the cause through x-rays and develop the best treatment plan which may involve antibiotics, extractions, or dental surgery. With prompt veterinary care for any loose or damaged teeth, you can help your dog avoid potentially serious complications and dental disease.

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