Puppies, like human infants, start out life toothless.
And then they grow 28 small, sharp teeth, and they just can't resist nibbling on your fingers and toes. Teething pups are quite the challenge, but it's normal and can be resolved through training.
As a responsible pet parent, it is your duty to guide your puppy to ease the discomfort of teething.
Development of puppy teeth
Puppies are born without teeth, but at around 2-3 weeks old, they begin to develop their first set of teeth, known as deciduous or baby teeth. These teeth include 14 upper and 14 lower teeth which consist of incisors, canines, and premolars.
As the puppy grows, their deciduous teeth are replaced by their permanent set of 42 teeth, which includes larger molars and additional premolars.
This process, known as teething, typically begins around 3-4 months of age and can last until around 7-8 months of age. During this time, puppies experience discomfort and may chew on dog toys or puppy grooming items to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Stages of Puppy Teething
Puppies go through the teething process more rapidly and continuously than human babies. The teething process for a puppy occurs in these stages:
- Age 4-6 weeks: primary teeth erupt (28)
- Age 12-20 weeks: permanent or secondary teeth start developing, with incisors first.
- Age 12-16 weeks: a permanent set of canines develop
- Age 16-24 weeks: premolars erupt
- Age 20-28 weeks: molars erupt.
Symptoms of Teething
One of the most common symptoms once your puppy starts teething is increased chewing and biting. As the puppy's teeth start to come in, they may become more interested in chewing on anything they can get their mouths on, including toys, furniture, and even shoes. Or your hands!
They may also become more playful and energetic as they use their new teeth to explore their environment.
Another common behavioural symptom of teething in puppies is increased drooling. As the puppy's teeth start to come in, they may produce more saliva than usual. You pet them and their jaws and cheeks might be wet.
Another symptom of teething in puppies is a loss of appetite. As their gums are sore, it may be difficult for them to eat or drink.
If your puppy is feeling discomfort, they might not be feeling their best. They might have a slight fever and be a bit more tired than usual.
And, you might notice them being more cranky and wanting to be around you more. It's something to keep an eye out for.
They may also become more irritable or fussy as they experience discomfort from the new teeth pushing through their gums. Some puppies may experience changes in their eating habits, such as becoming picky eaters or refusing certain types of food.
These symptoms usually disappear once the puppy's teeth are fully grown.
There are several techniques that can be used to help relieve discomfort for a teething puppy. These include:
Offering chew toys
When your pup is going through the teething process, chewing is a big part of it.
But even after they've grown all their adult teeth, they still have an urge to chew. It's just something that dogs do to keep their minds busy and help them feel calm.
Providing your dog with a safe and healthy chew toy will help ease their discomfort during teething and satisfy their natural urge to chew.
Puppy teething toys typically have softer materials to protect the gums and teeth of teething puppies. Puppies with stronger jaws or adult teeth may benefit from more substantial chew toys.
Freezer puppy chew toys can provide an extra layer of comfort by easing gum pain while being chewed on.
Always keep an eye on your puppy as they play with a chew toy and only give them items that are safe for their size and weight.
Dogs continue to chew even after they obtain their permanent teeth, so when that time comes, you can upgrade your pet to a stronger chew toy.
Dogs benefit greatly from beginning obedience training early on so they can learn the rules of your household. While teething, your puppy may try to chew on anything and everything; it is up to you to show him or her what is safe to chew on and what is not.
To teach your teething puppy that biting is unacceptable, make an abrupt noise like "No!" or "Ah!" when it bites at any part of your body, especially your fingers or toes. Once you notice your dog has stopped nipping, congratulate them and give them a puppy chew treat.
Don't be surprised if your dog needs a few minutes of kennel time to calm down if it's not responding to your commands.
Use the same tactic if you discover your dog has been chewing on someone's shoes, furniture, or another item around the house.
You can also use a spray designed to discourage chewing to prevent your dog from damaging furniture.
Bitter tastes are commonly used in these training repellents to deter chewing.
Puppy-proof the house
The teething period of your dog is a good time to puppy-proof your home.
Lock up dangerous areas, tuck away electrical cords, and put away potentially hazardous items like newspapers and periodicals. You should keep an eye on your dog at all times.
Also, lock up anything that could be poisonous. Dogs should avoid plants including aloe vera, daffodils, lilies, and tulips.
As with humans, dogs shouldn't consume things like caffeine or alcohol, as well as things like raisins, onions, chocolate, grapes, and even some fruits.
Training and positive reinforcement
Teaching your puppy basic commands and rewarding them for good behaviour can help distract them from their discomfort and reinforce positive behaviours.
Always supervise your puppy when providing them with new food, toys and treats, and to never give them anything that could be a choking hazard.
Establish a dog dental care routine
A canine dental routine while teething is ideal.
If you start brushing your dog's teeth from a young age, they will be more receptive to the practice for the rest of his life. Knowing your dog's mouth and teeth inside and out will aid you immensely when brushing those pesky, out-of-reach spots.
Make an appointment with your vet immediately if you see anything out of the ordinary.
Very soon, your puppy will get its adult teeth!
Puppy teething is a normal and inevitable process for a growing puppy.
It can be uncomfortable for the puppy and may cause them to chew on household items, but providing them with appropriate chew toys and supervising them can help alleviate this.
Remember that proper dental care, such as regular teeth brushing, should begin during the teething stage to establish healthy habits for the future.