5 facts about your cat and dog’s teeth

Each tooth in your cat or dog’s mouth has a specific function. Here is all you need to know about your pet’s teeth.

1 – Puppy Dentition

A puppy has 32 deciduous (or baby) teeth, divided equally between the upper and lower jaw. 

Both the upper jaw and the lower jaw present the following: 2 canines, 6 incisors, and 8 premolars.

Puppy canines and incisors are very similar to those of an adult dog, but are much sharper. This helps to initiate weaning because those pointy teeth pinch and the mother avoids having the growing puppies suckle too long.

2 – Kitten Dentition

Kittens have 26 deciduous (or baby) teeth divided between the upper and lower jaw.

The upper jaw presents 2 canines, 6 incisors, and 6 molars, while the lower jaw presents 2 canines, 6 incisors, and 4 molars. Kitten canines and incisors resemble adult teeth, but are very pointy. As a result, the mother cat will begin to wean her kittens as these teeth grow in order to avoid the discomfort she feels when the kittens are feeding.

3 – Adult Dog Dentition

Adult dogs have 42 teeth in total: 2 canines, 6 incisors, 8 premolars, and 4 molars on top; 2 canines, 6 incisors, 8 premolars, and 6 molars on the bottom. In general, the permanent (adult) teeth appear between the age of 16 and 24 weeks.

Adult incisors are very small, with a clover-like shape. It is possible to estimate a dog’s age based on wear patterns on these teeth. Also known as fangs or eye-teeth, the canines are most impressive when a dog bites into something. Molars may vary in number and size depending on the size of the dog. The main function of these teeth is to chew the food effectively.

4 – Adult Cat Dentition

Once they have reached maturity, cats will have 30 teeth, the last of which appear around the age of 20 to 24 weeks: 2 canines, 6 incisors, 6 premolars, and 2 molars on top; 2 canines, 6 incisors, 4 premolars, and 2 molars on the bottom.

Used mainly to tear into food, the canine teeth of cats are very sharp and protrude more than those of dogs. Incisors are very small and they help the cat remove debris from its haircoat during its grooming sessions. The premolars and molars are also called ”carnasial” teeth (meaning they include large three-rooted teeth) and are not flattened as they are in dogs. Contrary to dogs as well, it is not possible to determine a cat’s exact age based on dentition alone.

5 – Maintenance

Your dog and cat’s teeth must receive regular attention in order to prevent cavities, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, as well as gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice in order to benefit your pet’s quality of life.