Teething Puppies: A Survival Guide
If you find your puppy whining, drooling or chewing more than usual, there may be an obvious reason: your puppy is teething.
Bringing an eight-week-old puppy home is exciting. They’re so adorable, right? Until you discover you've brought home a cute, doe-eyed chewing machine. Cords, shoes, socks, anything on the floor is in danger of being gnawed by this mini munching monster.
Well, the time you bring your pup home is around the time their milk (baby) teeth begin falling out and their adult teeth start emerging. Just like children, your puppy is teething. And the process is just as painful for your puppy as those adult teeth grow through the gums.
Let's look at how you (and your pup) can survive and even thrive during this period of their growth.
What puppy teething means for you
When you get a puppy, you have to deal with settling them into their new home, toilet train them and develop a workable routine. Then there’s the additional challenge of wrangling a puppy who’s always on the lookout for chomping victims. Watch your fingers and hands as they explore their world: these delightful bundles of fluff have razor-sharp little teeth.
Puppies chew everything they find. Including items that could be dangerous, such as power cords and plants. If you don't get on top of this quickly, you'll soon find an array of half-eaten possessions scattered around the house. Your poor nibbled fingers and hands won’t get a break either.
When are puppies teething?
Dogs have the following types of teeth:
- incisors – front teeth
- premolars – middle teeth
- molars – back teeth
- canines – long front teeth.
To understand what's happening, what to expect and when, let's look at the puppy teething timeline:
- Birth: no teeth
- 2-4 weeks: milk teeth emerge (usually in this order: incisors, premolars, molars, canines)
- 5-8 weeks: all 28 milk teeth have emerged
- 2-3 months: milk teeth start falling out
- 3-4 months: adult teeth start coming through (usually in this order: incisors, canines, premolars, molars)
- 6 months+: all 42 permanent adult teeth should be in place.
Overall, it's not a long period of teething. But it's intense for a little pup.
What happens when puppies teethe?
The roots holding the milk teeth in place are resorbed into the pup's body. This causes the teeth to become loose and fall out, making room for the adult teeth to come through.
Most of the time, the teeth are swallowed along with dinner. This is normal and doesn’t hurt your puppy. But sometimes you'll find the milk teeth in toys after your pup’s been chewing.
When puppies develop adult teeth, their gums are painful, so they find items to chew on to relieve the pressure they feel in their mouths. Anything close to the ground is fair game for teething puppies. Hello, favourite shoes!
Your pup may also mouth your hands and fingers when they're playing with you. This is due to teething and is their normal puppy behaviour of playing and exploring the world.
How to tell if a puppy is teething
Apart from the constant chewing, there are other signs your puppy is teething, such as:
- gaps in their teeth
- frequent drooling
- slow eating, or they stop eating altogether
- bleeding, red or swollen gums
- whining more than usual
- missing teeth
- finding blood on toys, and
- maybe running a low fever.
If you notice any of these signs and your puppy is 2-4 months old, they could be teething. If you have any concerns or the symptoms appear excessive, always consult your vet.
How you can help your teething puppy
Not only do you want to protect your precious household objects and clothing, but you'll also want to keep your puppy safe and provide them with comfort and pain relief during teething. Here are some things you can do:
- Keep items on the floor out of harm's way, such as electrical cords, shoes, plants, etc., and pick up anything that shouldn’t be on the floor
- Provide appropriate toys and treats for your teething puppy
- Avoid playing tugging games during this time
- Discourage your puppy from biting you or anyone they’re playing with. The last thing you want is a dog using its adult teeth on people. Try a firm "No" when they try to bite or mouth and pull back your hand.
- If you discover your puppy chewing on the wrong object, offer them a suitable chew toy instead
- Don’t use any human teething gels unless directed by a vet as the ingredients may not be safe for dogs
- If they’re having difficulty eating, ask your vet to recommend suitable soft foods for your teething puppy, and
- Be patient and be prepared to consistently deflect their attention and chewing back to appropriate toys.
What teething toys are best for puppies?
There are loads of puppy chew toy options available on the market. Whatever you select, make sure the toy is soft enough for puppy baby teeth but strong enough to withstand constant chewing. The best way to do this is to select a toy specially designed for teething pups.
Have a selection of chew toys available for them to play with. This will make playtime fun and interesting. Put the toys in their own special box, which your pup can go to if they're bored or looking for something to chew.
A great toy to start with is the KONG Puppy Teething Stick™. It's a durable rubber "stick" featuring ridges that gently clean teeth and soothe sore gums when chewed. These ridges can be filled with peanut butter or mashed banana for extra delicious chewing. It's suitable for puppies up to 9 months. From that age, they’re ready for adult dog toys.
Should you visit a vet during puppy teething?
It’s a good idea to routinely visit your local vet during teething and ask them to check your pup's teeth and gums. You'll want to make sure your puppy doesn't have any issues with the teeth coming through, which could affect their bite, cause pain or problems eating in the future.
If you see any excessive bleeding from the gums or your puppy appears to be distressed or unwell, always get a vet check-up.
Your care will help your puppy through teething
Life with puppy may feel chaotic for a while, especially when their teething coincides with umpteen other "puppy to-dos", like basic training and socialisation. But rest assured, the teething period doesn't last too long. Just be consistent and patient, and you and your beautiful pup will not only survive but thrive through this trying teething time.
If you’re looking for tips on how to prepare for the arrival of a puppy, you can download our FREE handbook here.