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How to Tell Your Pet's Age From Its Teeth

Do you know your pet's age? If you adopted your furry friend, his or her age may be a mystery. Fortunately, a quick look in your pet's mouth can help you narrow down a general age range.

Puppies and Kittens

Incisors, the pointed teeth used to tear food into bite-size pieces, usually appear at two to four weeks of age for cats and four to six weeks for dogs. These teeth are only temporary and will be replaced with permanent incisors very soon. At three to four weeks, baby canine teeth appear in both dogs and cats. Canines are the fang-like teeth that appear in the top of the mouth. At four to six weeks, baby incisors and premolars will appear in dogs, and baby premolars will appear in cats. Premolars are located at the back of the upper and lower mouth and are used to grind food.

By the time your puppy or kitten is just two months old, all of his or her baby teeth will have erupted. During the next 10 months, the baby teeth will gradually be replaced with permanent incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Don't be surprised if you find some of these baby teeth around your home. At age one, most puppies and kittens have white teeth with no signs of wear.

Adult Dogs and Cats

From age one to two, your cat or dog may begin to look a little yellow, and tartar may appear. Plaque turns into tartar, a hard brown deposit, when it remains on the teeth too long. Daily tooth brushing reduces plaque and prevents it from becoming tartar. Regular dental cleanings at the veterinarian's office will rid your pet's mouth of both plaque and tartar and reduce the risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay.

Tartar may continue to build up during the next several years, and you may notice that your pet's teeth have begun to show a little wear. Wear and gum disease are more common when your dog or cat is between the ages of five and 10. Elderly pets may eventually lose teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease, and their teeth may show considerable wear.

Determining age by the condition of the teeth isn't an exact science. Some breeds - like pugs, Yorkshire terriers, greyhounds, poodles and Maltese dogs - are more likely to experience dental disease or may lose baby teeth later than normal.

Other Ways to Estimate Your Pet's Age

If you're not quite sure of your pet's age, paying attention to a few other signs may improve your estimate, such as:

No matter what your pet's age, regular veterinary examinations are the key to ensuring your furry friend's good health. If it's time for pet's annual visit, or you're concerned about a health issue, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

PetMD: How Old Is My Dog? 5 Tips for Determining Your Dog’s Age

https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/how-old-my-dog-5-tips-determining-your-dogs-age

Animal Sheltering Magazine: How to Determine a Cat’s or Dog’s Age

https://www.animalsheltering.org/magazine/articles/determine-age

VetStreet: How Vets Determine a Puppy or Kitten’s Age, 9/14,16

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-vets-determine-a-puppy-or-kittens-age

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