Veterinary experts fear that pandemic puppies may be more likely to suffer from dental issues

Puppies may have arguably played their part in getting the nation through the pandemic, but veterinary experts have been raising concerns about the number that may potentially have serious dental issues.

Now vets are seeking to find out more about how many puppies may be affected and to identify breed related trends with a Puppy Tooth Census from April through to June and they are asking both puppy owners and vets to take part.

Not only has there been an increase in puppies overall, but some were being bred during lockdown and beyond by inexperienced breeders, to cope with exceptional demand. Popular flat-faced (brachycephalic) puppies, such as the French bulldog have soared to new record highs but while the shape of their face may give them cute looks, the altered anatomy of the flat-faced breeds means they tend to have a higher incidence of overcrowded or retained teeth.

Veterinary practices also struggled to cope with the influx of puppies and often a reduced team and restrictions as a result of social distancing. This means that many of those puppies may have missed out on the dental checks they need as they grow.

Puppies have twenty-eight milk teeth (also known as deciduous teeth), which erupt through the gums between three and six weeks of age. By seven to eight months old, these baby teeth should all have fallen out to make way for the complete set of forty-two permanent adult teeth. In most cases, this happens without any difficulty, but there are reports of an apparent rise in dental problems, such as retained milk teeth, in young puppies. If milk teeth fail to fall out at the right time, a host of problems may result, including interference with the growth of adult teeth, impeded jaw development, mouth pain and possible behavioural issues that arise from pain.

Small animal vet, blogger and TV presenter, Cat The Vet says she is seeing more misaligned teeth, “I am very pleased and excited to be part of the VisioCare Puppy Tooth Census helping to educate puppy owners on how to properly check their new addition’s teeth and what to do if they find a misaligned or retained baby canine!  It is more common than people realise and it can cause our dogs significant amounts of pain and potentially have lifelong consequences, such as tooth loss or permanent abnormalities.  So, let’s all learn to lift those lips, understand what is normal and what is not and set our dogs up for a long life of great dental health and wellness!”

The initiative is being led by veterinary digital services company, VisioCare who makes animations which help vets explain certain procedures to pet owners. The company has made an animation that shows how puppy teeth are lost and replaced with adult teeth.

The data collected as part of the Puppy Tooth Census will be shared with leading veterinary dental experts and used to help improve knowledge and management of puppy dental health issues.

All puppy owners who complete the census will be helping to improve the dental care of young dogs. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and respondents will receive access to a digital copy of ‘Puppy Teeth – Your Ultimate Care Guide’.

To take part on the Puppy Tooth Census visit https://visiocareservices.co.uk/puppy-tooth-census/.