A baby tooth's failure to fall out is the typical cause of double teeth in dogs. Puppies' canines -- their baby fangs -- are most commonly retained. Retained teeth can cause problems including tartar buildup and poor occlusion.
Retained Baby Teeth
The milk tooth -- or deciduous tooth -- should fall out before the adult tooth erupts fully. If not, the baby tooth may cause a malocclusion, especially if a lower canine tooth is involved. The extra teeth may cause crowded teeth to rub at each other, removing enamel. Teeth are retained more commonly in small and brachycephalic or short-nosed dogs. Tooth crowding in these dogs' mouths leads to more tartar and plaque buildup.
Treatment for retained baby teeth is extraction. This process is performed under anesthesia; sometimes at the same time a puppy is spayed or neutered. If you notice that your puppy has multiple teeth in the same space, such as two canines, schedule an exam appointment. Your veterinarian can evaluate your puppy’s teeth to determine if surgery is needed pronto: If your puppy’s baby teeth are preventing her adult teeth from erupting normally, they should come out as soon as possible.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.