Just as humans do, dogs have baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, that eventually fall out and are replaced by permanent "adult" teeth. A dog's baby teeth sometimes won't fall out on their own and must be surgically removed. If they're not, the dog may end up with crowding of the teeth, abnormal jawbone development or painful contact between the lingering baby teeth and the roof of the mouth. Small breeds, such as the Yorkie, are particularly prone to what is formally known as "retained deciduous teeth." Owners of Yorkies need to check for signs that their dogs aren't hanging onto their baby teeth too long.
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Check your Yorkie's mouth weekly for its first eight months of life to make sure the teeth are forming correctly. Talk to the dog quietly as you gently put one hand on its muzzle and pull up the sides of its mouth, looking specifically for crowding of the teeth. Baby teeth form at about two to three weeks old, and all 28 baby teeth should be in by the time your dog is six weeks old. Make sure the baby teeth are properly aligned so that the permanent teeth will come in straight. Between four and eight months, the baby teeth should fall out or dissolve, making way for your Yorkie's 48 permanent teeth.
Pay particular attention to the incisors or upper canine baby teeth; these are most prone to being "retained." The permanent tooth will usually develop in front of the baby canines.
Consult your veterinarian if you notice or even suspect retained deciduous teeth. He can take an X-ray of your Yorkie's mouth to confirm your suspicions.
Tips and warnings
- Give your Yorkie puppy chew toys to help with proper development of the teeth.
- Do not try to remove any retained deciduous teeth yourself. They must be surgically extracted under anaesthesia. However, teacup Yorkies do not handle anaesthesia well, so discuss your options with a veterinarian.
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