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Baby Teeth of Dog May Need Extraction

June 16, 1988|Dr. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: "Streaker" is my 1-year-old terrier who seems completely healthy. During his last vaccination shot, the vet said that Streaker still had his upper baby canine teeth and advised me to have them removed. They don't seem to be causing any problems, so I was wondering if this is necessary. Why didn't these teeth come out when his permanent teeth came in? Should I wait to see if they fall out?

Lesley Wilks, Orange

A: Retained "baby" or deciduous teeth can ruin the alignment of the permanent teeth. Normally a dog will lose its primary teeth between 3 and 6 months of age, being replaced by the erupting permanent teeth. In most cases, the deciduous canines or "fang" teeth may remain behind the permanent canine teeth, forcing them forward. This will cause uneven wearing of the surface of the affected teeth and possibly take the upper jaw out of alignment with the lower jaw. The retained teeth also tend to trap hair and food particles and become a source of infection or gum disease. I recommend that you have these extra teeth extracted instead of waiting for them to fall out.

Q: My female cat, Mittens, was born with two extra toes on each front foot. She has no problem with running or catching things. Is this rare? Should I have these extra toes removed.?

Sheri Haines, Yorba Linda

A: Having extra toes is uncommon but not rare in cat populations. The condition is called polydactyl and is not serious unless the nails are allowed to grow so long as to extend back into the pad. Keeping the nails trimmed regularly will prevent this problem. It is not necessary to have the extra toes removed unless they are frequently torn or become infected.

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