An older dog smiling and showing his teeth.
An older dog smiling and showing his teeth. Photography ©contrastaddict | E+ / Getty Images.

Is Your Dog Losing Teeth? Find Out If It’s Normal

What should you do about your dog losing teeth? Is it normal to have a puppy losing teeth? What about an old dog whose teeth are falling out? Learn more.
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What does it mean if you notice your dog losing teeth? Depending on how old your dog is, dog teeth falling out might be normal.

A puppy smiling and showing his teeth.
Is it normal to see puppy teeth falling out? Photography ©exies | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

When Your Dog Losing Teeth Is Normal

Like humans, puppies are born without teeth. At first, puppies survive on their mother’s milk. They don’t need any teeth until they start learning to eat solid food.

A puppy’s deciduous (baby) teeth begin to come in between 4 and 6 weeks of age. These needle-sharp teeth erupt from beneath the gum line. Between 3 and 6 months of age, a puppy’s baby teeth start falling out and the permanent teeth come in. During this time, you might find see a hole in the gums where a tooth was or find tiny teeth lying around the house or in your puppy’s food bowl. Puppies frequently swallow their baby teeth, too, so you might not notice your dog losing teeth. (Note: This is completely normal and poses no danger to your puppy.) You might also notice a small amount of bleeding from the mouth. This is normal as well.

So, what’s not normal about a dog losing teeth when he’s a puppy? Sometimes, your dog’s baby teeth do not fall out like they are supposed to. If you see tiny teeth next to or on top of the larger permanent teeth, let your veterinarian know. This phenomenon can cause damage to the permanent teeth coming in, so your vet might want to pull the retained teeth out during your dog’s spay or neuter surgery.

When Your Dog Losing Teeth Is Not Normal

Sometimes, a dog losing teeth is NOT something normal. Teeth can fall out for a number of reasons. Trauma to the mouth can knock out one or more teeth (for instance, if your dog is struck in the face with an object, if he falls from a significant height or if he is hit by a car). Teeth can also fall out if your dog chews on something too hard and the tooth breaks (for instance, a deer antler or hard chew bone). Broken teeth that don’t fall out on their own either need to be pulled out (called an extraction) or repaired with a root canal. Both of these procedures are usually performed by a veterinary dental specialist.

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is also a culprit for a dog losing teeth. “Tooth loss is caused by bacteria that develops into plaque and tartar,” says Missy Tasky, DVM, owner of Gentle Touch Animal Hospital in Denver, Colorado. When tartar builds up near the gum line, it allows bacteria [to] enter beneath the gum line, damaging the support structures of the teeth. “This leads to loss of bone and mobility of the tooth,” Dr. Tasky explains.

Periodontal disease is highly likely to develop in dogs when you don’t regularly brush the teeth at home and receive annual or bi-annual professional dental cleanings. When this happens, infections may set in. Periodontal disease is a very common cause of tooth loss and can also affect your dog’s overall health.

What Happens Next If Your Dog’s Teeth Fall Out?

If one or more of your dog’s teeth becomes infected and/or loose, your vet will probably recommend tooth extraction.

Surprisingly, most dogs have no problems adapting to tooth loss. “Most dogs and cats can eat fine, even with the loss of several teeth,” Dr. Tasky says. “Some animals have lost all of their teeth and are still able to eat dry food. The goal, however, is to retain as many teeth as possible because the teeth help contribute to the strength of the jaw.”

If you notice loose or missing teeth, bleeding gums or bad dog breath, have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Periodontal disease can be painful and make it difficult for your dog to eat normally. Your vet will likely want to do a thorough dental cleaning under anesthesia, take x-rays of the teeth to look for areas of damage and possibly pull one or more teeth. After the procedure, your dog will be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to guard against infection. If you’re worried that having teeth pulled will be too hard on your dog, don’t stress. Most dogs appear to feel fantastic after having their teeth cleaned and their loose, infected teeth removed, probably because they felt so much worse before the procedure.

Tell us: Have you noticed your dog losing teeth? How old was she? What was the issue at hand?

Thumbnail: Photography ©contrastaddict | E+ / Getty Images. 

This piece was originally published February 22, 2018.

Read more about dog teeth on Dogster.com:

44 thoughts on “Is Your Dog Losing Teeth? Find Out If It’s Normal”

  1. I have a 10 year old pitbull and he has worn down his bottom K-9’s. It doesn’t seem to bother him much but I’m not to sure.

  2. I have an 8 month old sheltie that had her new teeth come in, now she lost an adult canine,. Her teeth seem healthy, I don’t know if her sister knocked it out while playing but now she doesn’t want to eat her dry food. Is it okay to get an implant or will she adapt over time? My heart aches for her.

  3. My three year old chihuahua/pomeranian mix had six teeth extracted today. I admit, I hardly brush his teeth because he becomes aggressive when I try to do so. I provide him with weekly DentaSticks, and at our last vet appointment the vet said his teeth looked great. How could something like this have happened? I’ve been crying nonstop today. Now my baby has no pearly whites to smile with, and it’s all my fault.

    1. Sorry, It’s not your fault Katie, it’s the greedy Vets falt, and insurance companies that prey on us, and pick our pockets while our best friend is suffering.

  4. I have a 14 year old shih-tzu that lost a tooth today and spit it out in front of my feet. Is it normal because she’s old?

  5. I have a 4 1/2 year old Chihuahua. She is 4 lb. I brush her teeth every other day and every week I inspect them and get any type of plaque or tartar that has built up in her mouth which is usually slim to none. She has no bleeding or sensitivity and she is perfectly fine getting her teeth examined. She did have two teeth that started to go bad About 2 years ago up to in the front..and they were removed but now she just has 2 loose teeth on her bottom She has no bleeding no darkening in the teeth it’s just very very loose. I’ve debated on just having them removed but if there’s a deeper problem I don’t want her to lose all of her teeth. But I really can’t afford a bunch of dental work so I’m not too sure how to move forward she eats fine she has no mouth pains that She shows

  6. Pingback: Is Your Dog Losing Teeth? Find Out If It's Normal – dogcaz.com

  7. Jennifer Miguel

    I have an 11 year old female spayed Chihuahua mix who has lost 4 teeth in the past year. I actually stepped on one of her front teeth which was laying on the floor this morning. Her breath isn’t bad – smells like typical dog breath – as she loves to groom several times during the day! She doesn’t like to have her teeth brushed and it looks like she has some tartar or plaque on her teeth. She eats dry food, wet food, and soft treats every day and always seems to have a healthy appetite. Should I be worried or attribute her teeth loss to old age?

  8. We have a 3yr old toy poodle noticed nasty breath didn’t know much but got to investigating and he’s got bad teeth one was so loose I touched it and it fell rt out he has never been good at chewing biscuits, I always have to break in little pieces now I know making an appointment in the morning! Thanks for the info on gum disease I’ve had all big dogs most my life never brushed teeth? Didn’t realize I was a bad doggie dad!

  9. I have a rescue dog that is about 4. No idea the breed but he is similar to a long haired dachshund, just a little taller and a little shorter. He has annual vet visits and the last groomer visit was about 4 months ago. Today I found a tooth. I checked his mouth and there are missing teeth and the gums don’t look healthy. He has a vet visit early next week. I’m just concerned about how rapidly his teeth have deteriorated. Is it unusual for this to happen so quickly?

    1. Hi Cheri,

      Sorry to hear you’re experiencing this! We suggest calling your vet if you have questions before next week’s appointment.

  10. My dog is a Yorkie about 10-12 human years old and his teeth are getting loose and falling out. He sometimes has trouble eating food, what should I do?

  11. 7 1/2 year old poodle mix. 12 teeth pulled. 6 more infected and likely on their way out soon. I have never been able to brush his teeth myself successfully, but I have his teeth cleaned professional once every two years and feed him dental chews and dry food only. He has never shown any outward signs of pain.

  12. My seven year old dog (a shi tzu, yorkie, teacup, poodle mix) lost one of his front teeth while his teeth were getting brushed. We just started brushing his teeth this year. Most of his teeth are yellower in top.

  13. Hi my name is Carolina & I have a puppy I’m not sure what kinda of dog breed she is, but I do know that she is puppy I believe she is a year to two years old & she had a tooth fallout earlier tonight. & I was just wondering if that was normal

  14. I have a 3 year old Shih-tzu, he lost a front tooth when just 2 yrs old , now he is seven and has 4 teeth missing including a K-9 tooth. I bought him from a pet store in the mall, he came home with Guardia , has bad teeth, skin disease and seems to always be something with his health. Do you think he could of been one of those dogs that were overbreed and kept in kennels their whole life? I forget what they are called

    1. They are called puppy mill dogs and yes, unfortunately, if you bought from a pet store in a mall, your dog will almost certainly have come from one of those cruel and awful “factory farms”. The only way to avoid this cruelty is to buy from a registered breeder or a reputable shelter, never, ever, from a pet store in the mall. Best wishes for your dog’s health to improve; I’m glad he has you to care for him.

  15. I have an 11 year old Maltese who has lost 3 of her lower teeth, front toward back. She has recently started trembling as well. Could the tooth loss be causing her pain, hence the trembling??

  16. My 12 year old Yorkie had oral melanoma and went through radiation and thankfully two years post diagnosis is still in remission. I joke all the time now and say I paid a lot of money for his teeth to look that bad but he hasn’t lost one and three more will fall out any day. Unfortunately he also has a heart murmur so our vet won’t put him under anesthesia to pull his teeth and we will have to wait for them to fall out. We have switched him to wet food but any other suggestions to relieve his pain is appreciated

  17. My 5yo toy schnauzer has lost a few bottom teeth and I just found where she has 3 loose (2 top 1bottom) and she has major green plaque. Her breathe has had issues for a year and I’ve had her checked but no problem was seen then I just happened to check her last night and found these issues. I was devistated.
    Mandi

  18. My 13 year old akita mix who I rescued when she was four has now lost 2 molars, and I think she’s going to lose her canine. But I’m terrified of putting her under anesthesia at her age. She has no problem eating, and doesn’t seem in distress. She’s an old dog. No, I don’t brush her teeth, but her teeth were great until about a year ago. If she’s not in pain, has no problem eating, drinking or her normal body functions, should I risk putting her under?

    1. Hi Heather,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry to hear your dog isn’t feeling well! We suggest reaching out to your vet to discuss your options.

  19. 3 year old jack Russell dachshund mix lost two teeth right in front no bleeding no bad breathe I never seen her lose her puppy teeth can this be what is going on.

  20. Dorkie (Dachshund/Yorkie) rescue dog, we’ve had her for just over a week. They say she is 2 years old. We were playing and wrestling and one of her upper rear molars fell out. I noticed it was dark when we brought her home. There is no blood, no pain, she did not yelp or show any sign of discomfort. I have kept the tooth in saline solution and am waiting for the humane society to get back to me about what to do because she is technically still a foster. The one tooth is very dark but her gums are not swollen and none of the other teeth appear to be dark or diseased.

    1. Thanks for reaching out! You’re definitely doing the right thing by asking the Humane Society re: next steps. Hope your puppy feels better!

  21. Nine year old Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix that has had five teeth pulled in a dental cleaning and has lost three more at home over the past year or so. Two more are loose and will probably go in the next few months. I brush her teeth every day and she does not have signs of periodontal disease – no swollen gums, no bad breath, no plaque build-up.

    1. I have the same age and breed mix as you and she has lost several teeth as well. She had 8 missing prior to just having 3 extracted the other day. The vet said it’s very common for dogs that age to have that many missing teeth and he said she still has a lot left. I thought it was from not having her teeth cleaned enough either by me or a vet but losing teeth seems to be common as they age. Cleanings are suggested yearly at her age but if you keep an eye on tarter build up and bad breath that would suggest an infection then it should be fine.

    2. I have a 3 year old chihuahua with the same situation. No periodontal disease, no plaque build up, healthy gums. I brush her teeth on a regular basis. She has a perfectly healthy mouth. My vet says chihuahuas can have very shallow roots which sometimes end up being resorbed and in turn the tooth gets loose. It is out of my control but I am sad to see her teeth go as I work so hard to keep her mouth in tip top shape!

    3. That is happening to my 9 year old Husky. I’m losing my mind. It’s not due to neglect. He had dental cleaning and two extractions end of January. Two months later 4 more extractions!

    4. Infection (bacterial or fungus), cheap food with grains long term, rope toys where owners think it’s fun to pull dogs off the ground… talk to your vet

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