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D2005-12

Dear Daisy Dog

Dogs’ teeth come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Why aren’t they uniform?

Daisy Responds

Each tooth has a specific job to do, and its shape matches its function.

The small teeth at the center front of my mouth are called incisors. My ancestors used them to nibble the last scraps of meat from the bones of their prey.

My friends with fleas use their incisors to chew their itchy skin.

Adjacent to the incisors are the canines, fangs admirably suited for grasping and holding prey because they have long crowns and deep roots.

If you lift your dog’s lip, you’ll see that the teeth behind the canines form a serrated line that looks like pinking shears.

These teeth are the premolars and molars, which cut and crush food.

The largest of these teeth have an additional name: carnassials.

We carnivores have four carnassial teeth, one in each quadrant of the mouth. Multiple roots anchor them firmly in the jaw.

You poor humans have only 32 relatively simple teeth, while we dogs have 42, each perfectly designed to nibble at an itch, grasp a ball, or crunch food.

I think I’ll go exercise mine on a dog biscuit.

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