When Do Puppies and Kittens Lose Baby Teeth?

Kitten Teeth
Kitten Teeth. Tetra Images/Getty

Just like human children, puppies and kittens lose their baby teeth. These teeth are also called "milk teeth" or in medical terms, deciduous teeth. Whatever the name, the process is the same.

Puppies and kittens have sharp, needle-like teeth, as some of you know first hand. The teeth erupt at 3-4 weeks of age. By age 6 weeks or so, these emerging teeth often irritate the nursing mother, and the weaning process begins.

The baby teeth are a bit translucent, and not very big. These teeth are sometimes called "milk teeth." The start time and duration of the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth vary with each individual animal, but in general, the loss of baby teeth usually starts about 3 months of age and ends by 6 to 9 months of age.

How to Tell Baby Teeth Are Loosening

During this time, you may notice increased chewing activity, especially in puppies. Shoes, sticks, play toys, and whatever they can get their mouths on. This may be part exploration and in part an effort to reduce any discomfort they feel during the teething process.

Animals that do not lose their baby teeth have a condition called retained deciduous teeth. It is often the canine teeth (the "fangs" in both dogs and cats) that are retained. Retained teeth should be removed, usually at the time of spay or neuter, to prevent other problems from developing.

Removal of these retained teeth allows the adult teeth to grow in properly and prevents breakage or infection of the more fragile baby teeth.

What to Expect When Baby Teeth Fall Out

You may find the baby teeth on the carpet, stuck in a play toy, or in your pet's fur. Most often, the lost teeth are hard to find.

Many animals swallow them, which is considered part of the normal process.

The gums should heal quickly after the baby tooth loss. The adult teeth are more dense, bright white and much larger than the outgoing baby teeth.

Now is the time to take care of those teeth! Getting your pet used to a dental care routine while young is the best way to ensure dental health later on. It is also much easier to start with a "clean slate" of nice white teeth and healthy gums.

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Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.