Dear Daisy Dog: Oscar, our Yorkshire terrier puppy, seems to be growing a second set of some of his front teeth, including his fangs. Is this a problem?

Daisy responds: Yes. Oscar's mouth has room for only one set of teeth, so any additional teeth can cause problems as he matures.

It sounds like Oscar may have a condition called retained deciduous teeth, which occurs when the baby teeth don't fall out but persist where the permanent adult teeth should sit. The canine teeth (fangs) are most frequently affected, but any deciduous tooth can be retained.

The disorder is very common, especially in toy breeds and other small dogs.

When a deciduous tooth remains in place, the corresponding permanent adult tooth is forced to erupt in an abnormal position, usually to the inside of the deciduous tooth. The exception is the adult canine tooth, which erupts closer to the incisors, the front-most teeth.

Retained deciduous teeth are usually extracted. It's best to have this done as early as possible, so make an appointment with your veterinarian now.

Without treatment, the gums around the crowded teeth trap food and become infected. In addition, the gums and other supporting structures do not fully attach to the adult teeth, so they're less securely anchored in place.

Your vet may refer Oscar to a veterinary dentist, or you can find one through the American Veterinary Dental College ( or the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, a good time for others to follow your lead and check their pets' mouths for abnormal dentition, bad breath, inflamed gums and fractured teeth.


Dear Christopher Cat: Can cats be right- or left-handed like humans? My cat Roxie seems to be right-handed, like me.

Christopher responds: Yes, most of us cats do have a dominant paw, though many of us are ambidextrous for easy maneuvers, such as batting a toy around the floor.

Research that assigns cats more difficult tasks, such as digging food from a jar, shows that most cats do indeed prefer to use either the right or left front paw.

As I've said before, we cats are the most intriguing species, and handedness is yet another example. Almost all female cats are right-handed, while almost all males are left-handed.

If you want to determine Roxie's handedness, try these tests:

Place a morsel of tuna in a jar and watch which paw she uses to dig it out.

Hide some kibble under a bowl and see which paw she uses to push aside the bowl.

Put a bit of sticky Laxatone, canned cat food or meat baby food on her nose and note which paw she uses to remove it.

Repeat each test many times over several days to confirm which of Roxie's front paws is dominant.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at