Like human children, puppies aren't born with their adult teeth. Their mouths simply aren't large enough to accommodate them! Instead, they lose their baby teeth through a process called teething.
Not sure what to expect or how to help your pup through this potentially painful time? This guide will break down everything you should expect when it comes to puppy teething. We’ll also go over some helpful strategies you can use to make teething more comfortable for your dog.
What Is Puppy Teething?
Puppy teething is a completely natural process. It’s very similar to the teething that happens when human infants grow their first set of teeth. However, puppies start off with a small set of teeth, to begin with. Puppy teething involves losing these teeth to make room for their adult teeth.
Puppies first get their baby teeth when they are about two weeks old. They use these to eat their meals and to explore the world. But when the time comes, your puppy will lose these baby teeth. This will lead to a number of unpleasant side effects. Your puppy may be uncomfortable, and you might have to take extra precautions against biting.
However, you and your dog can overcome the puppy teething phase together. You can also make puppy teething a little more comfortable for your furry friend with the right setup.
When Will Your Puppy Lose Their Teeth?
The exact date varies from puppy to puppy. But generally, puppies get their 42 adult teeth starting when they are about three to four months old. It may take several weeks or even up to two months for your puppy to lose all their baby teeth. Regardless, all puppies aged six months should have their full adult teeth by that point.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have to put up with several months of teething constantly, so don’t worry. Instead, puppy teething is punctuated by recurring but brief periods of teething activity. Then their teething might calm down for a little while once again.
Your puppy may lose their baby teeth a little more quickly if they have plenty of things to chew on. This is usually a good thing. The faster your puppy loses their baby teeth, the faster their adult teeth will grow in.
Of course, you should not try to force your puppy to lose their baby teeth. Don’t pull out any loose baby teeth, either. Only a veterinarian is qualified to pull puppy teeth when necessary. If you see a loose tooth in your puppy’s mouth, just let nature take its course.
Symptoms of Puppy Teething
New pet parents should know what to expect when their puppy starts teething. Here are some of the symptoms you might see with your little guy/gal when they start to lose their baby teeth. Note that your puppy may only experience some of these symptoms.
Your puppy might start to chew and/or bite much more frequently than normal. Why? Because it helps to alleviate some of the pain or discomfort inherent in teething.
When your puppy’s teeth start to poke through their gums, it can make the gums sore. To alleviate this, your puppy might want to chew on things. Chewing presses down on the gums and might make them feel better.
Additionally, chewing and biting accelerates the teething process. The more your puppy chews, the faster the baby teeth will be lost.
Your puppy might also start to bleed from the gums occasionally. This more than likely won’t be too bad. You might see a couple of tiny blood spots on the carpet or on their favorite toys. However, if your puppy starts to bleed excessively, contact a veterinarian right away.
Of course, teething is defined as losing baby teeth. So don’t be surprised if you find little puppy teeth stuck in their toys, and your furniture, or elsewhere. It’s a good idea to pick these up if you find them and throw them away. Your puppy may decide to swallow them if they discover them during play or exploration.
When you find a lost puppy tooth, take a look at it and see if it is whole. If the puppy tooth isn’t in one piece, check your dog’s mouth to see if the rest of the tooth is still there. You shouldn’t pull out the tooth if this is the case. But your pup might need to visit a veterinarian.
Some puppies drool excessively when they are teething. This is another side effect of the pain and discomfort they feel around their gums. Their mouths start to salivate to fix the issue.
Don’t worry too much if your dog drools a lot. Just try to clean up after them or provide them with some extra water or treats so they swallow the excess saliva. Drooling sessions shouldn’t last more than a few minutes or up to an hour.
If your pup doesn’t seem to be as interested in their food, don’t fret too much. Lots of puppies have trouble eating when they are teething because it hurts to chew. Or it might be because they feel sick to their stomachs.
You should only be concerned if your puppy doesn’t eat if they stop eating entirely. Even during teething, your pup should become hungry enough to chow down sooner or later.
It’s not uncommon for a puppy to experience a low fever. If they feel a little warm to the touch, keep an eye on them and give them an ice cube to chew on. The fever should only last for a little while. If it lasts for longer than several hours, bring them to a veterinarian.
If your puppy has red or swollen gums, that's a natural response to the teething process. The gums might swell up as adult teeth pierce through and dislodge baby teeth.
How To Help Your Pup Get Through Teething
As you can see, the symptoms of teething are many. But no matter what symptoms your pup displays, you can help your dog in several ways.
Get Teething Toys
First and foremost, get your puppy a few teething toys. Teething toys aren’t specific types of toys. Instead, they are any toys that are sturdy enough to withstand extra chewing. Tug toys, tough balls, and even some stuffed animals can do the trick.
The key is to give your puppy a teething toy whenever they start to bite or chew on things they shouldn’t. This way, you redirect their attention in a wholesome and healthy way instead of reacting negatively.
Teething toys may even help your puppy get through teething more quickly. The more your puppy chews on toys, the faster they will lose their baby teeth. This makes it easier for the adult teeth to breach the gums and settle in.
The Bolt Bite from Wild One is a perfect example of a quality chew toy that’s perfect for when your puppy is teething. It features a reinforced center, so it’s very durable. It also has open ends where you can hide treats. Such a toy is perfect for keeping your pup’s attention.
You can even play tug with this toy to a limited extent. This may help your puppy remove some of their baby teeth during play. Just be careful not to be too rough!
Try Freezing Treats
Numbing the gums can do wonders for your puppy’s discomfort and general mood. Therefore, you can give them frozen treats. Natural, organic baked treats are preferred. Natural treats don’t have artificial hormones or ingredients that can upset your pup’s digestive system.
To freeze them, simply stick a handful of treats in the freezer for a few hours. When your puppy starts to act bothered by teething, give them a handful of the treats. Make them do tricks to earn the treats and make some progress on your training at the same time.
Frozen treats also give your puppy the chance to chew on something hard. This could dislodge a few loose teeth and accelerate the teething process.
Restrict Your Puppy’s Free Space
Even the most careful of pet parents won’t be able to watch their puppies forever. Because of this, you should make heavy use of dog gates and other free space restrictions.
Put up restrictions so your puppy doesn’t wander into your bedroom and chew something they shouldn’t, for example. By restricting your dog’s free space, you can prevent them from chewing or tearing valuable items.
At the same time, you give them enough room to move around so that they don’t feel too enclosed or trapped. No one wants to keep their puppy in a crate all day just because they are chew-crazy!
Check Their Teeth
As teething continues, it’s a good idea to check your dog’s teeth regularly. Call them to your lap and reward them with a treat. Then open up their mouth and reward them with a treat when you are done with your inspection. This trains your dog to accept your hands in their mouths and not to bite you when this happens.
When you open your dog’s mouth, you should check for:
- Broken teeth, which may need to be extracted by a vet
- New adult teeth coming in
- Signs of gum infections or other tooth problems
- Excessive bleeding
If you see any potentially dangerous developments, contact your vet. They’ll be able to provide you with expert advice and help you during teething.
Do You Need to Call a Vet?
We’ve spoken a lot about calling a vet so far. But you don’t need to call a veterinarian all the time.
Instead, you only need to call a vet under specific circumstances:
- If your puppy runs a fever for several hours without end
- If your puppy is bleeding excessively from the mouth
- If your puppy is vomiting, either because they feel sick or because they are swallowing blood
- If your puppy seems to have an impacted tooth. An impacted tooth will be lodged in the gum and might be broken into several pieces.
- If your puppy seems loopy or sick
Note that none of these symptoms necessarily mean that your puppy is in imminent danger. Teething is an uncomfortable process, no matter what. But it's better to be safe rather than sorry. A veterinarian can give your dog a once-over and make sure there aren't any big issues.
Even better, some veterinarians may be able to provide your dog with a painkiller if needed.
What If Your Puppy Nips During Teething?
It’s not uncommon for puppies to nip at their parents’ hands during teething. Even if you have trained your puppy to not bite successfully, they might resume the habit during teething. The urge to press down on the gums might just be too much for your puppy to bear.
If your puppy does this, try to reinforce your training with positive reinforcement, treats, and a clicker. You should also redirect your puppy’s attention to a quality chew toy when they nip at your fingers. Nipping doesn’t mean your puppy is mad. It just means that they want to chew something to alleviate the discomfort.
Treat Your Puppy Right During Teething
No matter your dog breed or size, teething is never that fun. But with your help, your puppy can get through their teething period with as little discomfort as possible. Plus, following the tips above will help you avoid getting nipped throughout the teething process.
Want to make sure you have all the toys and treats you need for teething? Check out Wild One today and contact us if you have any questions!
Teeth, Teething and Chewing in Puppies | VCA Animal Hospital
Puppy Teeth: Everything You Need to Know | PetMD
Persistent Deciduous Teeth (Baby Teeth) in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital