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Like babies, puppies are born without teeth, which means that all dogs have to go through the dreaded process known as teething. Unlike human babies, puppies grow baby teeth, lose them, and gain adult teeth within months — not years.
At Spot Pet Insurance, our goal is to help pet parents become the best pet parents they can be. Today, we’re here to take a bite out of the puppy teething process.
Teething can be a tricky stage for anyone, humans, dogs, or even cats, so your new puppy will need all the help they can get. Each teething stage comes with its own challenges and care needs, so let’s take a look.
Puppies are born without teeth. Even though they don’t have teeth when they’re born, it’s not long after that the teething process begins. Most puppies start getting their baby teeth when they’re around two weeks old.
Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth, are only temporary. Puppies only have milk teeth for a few weeks before they begin to fall out to make way for their adult teeth.
If you have kids, you’ll know that, for the most part, when they start growing their adult teeth, it’s not as painful as when their baby teeth emerged. Unfortunately, puppies will experience teething pain throughout this phase, lasting around six months.
Even though this phase can be difficult for your pup, there are a few things you can do to help and a few factors you need to keep an eye on to make sure your furry friend stays healthy.
Although teething goes relatively smoothly for most dogs, you should always watch for anything unusual. When your puppy is teething, you might notice a few small spots of blood on their dog toys. This is normal for puppies, but if you notice more than that, it could mean something is wrong, so you should take your puppy to the vet.
Most puppies will continue to play, sleep, explore, and eat as normal while teething. It is painful, so puppies usually chew on things to help minimize the pain. Chewing is a natural instinct for young and adult dogs alike. However, if your puppy stops interacting with the world like usual, they might be in more pain than normal and should see a vet.
When your puppy starts losing their baby teeth, they will usually lose all of them on their own, but there are times when a few of a puppy’s milk teeth will not fall out, and they need to be removed by a vet. This is more common in small and/or short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, like French bulldogs, as opposed to larger dogs like Tibetan mastiffs.
If there is a baby tooth left in your puppy’s mouth, it can lead to problems like misaligned teeth (malocclusion), which causes a poor bite, irritation, or dental disease, since it’s easier for food to get trapped in between teeth.
Teething puppies will chew on anything from furniture to shoes to toys. Since we don’t want to encourage our pups to chew on table legs, we need to provide them with safe and helpful toys.
A teething puppy needs the Goldilocks of dog toys — not too hard and not too soft. Soft, pillow-like toys don’t help ease the sore gums associated with teething, but a toy that’s too hard (like antlers) can often be dangerous. Hard items like bones and rawhide can splinter and may cause internal bleeding or blockages.
Most vets recommend giving dogs chew toys that can bend, like rubber, instead of toys that are hard like a stick. You should always watch your pup while they chew. Even if a dog chew is deemed safe, some dogs can be pretty determined to shred it to pieces, which can cause intestinal blockages.
One of the biggest issues that people have with teething puppies is that they tend to nip. The puppy stage is also the best time for training, so in order to avoid adults who nip, it’s best to teach them while they’re young.
One of the most helpful things you can do for your pup is to be consistent. That means everyone in your family should respond to being nipped similarly, whether adult or kid, so your puppy doesn’t get confused.
Puppies will nip when they’re playing with other dogs, but they don’t have the self-awareness necessary to tell when they bite too hard. If that happens, the other dog will let out a high-pitched yelp to let them know that it was painful and don’t do it again.
When you teach your pup that nipping is wrong, mimicking that dog-speak warning signal is one of the best ways to teach them. Loudly say “Ow!” in a high-pitched tone and quickly draw back your hand to help them realize that nipping is painful.
Your pup will make the mental association that not biting is good. Puppies learn better with positive reinforcement.
Once you’ve taught them that biting hurts, offer them a puppy chew or similar rubber toy to chew instead. They’ll learn that playtime is for toys, not human fingers. If they keep trying to nip you while you play together, you should stop interacting with them. Puppies will quickly realize that nipping means no reward.
When your puppy is around two weeks of age, their deciduous teeth will start to emerge. Usually, the incisors show up first, and the last teeth to emerge will be the canines. Since puppies are still nursing, breeders and rescues will usually have the puppies during this stage.
When they’re around five weeks old, puppies should have all of their baby teeth. They only have 28 deciduous teeth. These new teeth are all very sharp, so some refer to them as needle teeth.
Once all the baby teeth are in, most breeders will start weaning puppies by giving them soft, wet foods made specifically for puppies. Sometimes breeders will allow you to pick up your new furry family member at around eight weeks, but many will wait at least another month.
Your puppy will probably be living with you by the time this stage starts. It’s around this time that puppies start losing their baby teeth. Their adult, permanent teeth begin to emerge. You might find tiny puppy teeth around the house, but your puppy will probably swallow most of them. This is normal and shouldn’t be a source of concern.
Now is also an excellent time to get your puppy used to people touching their mouths and having their teeth brushed. That way, you and your pup’s vet can clean teeth or check their mouths without any problems.
The best way to help your puppy through this painful process is to offer them safe chew toys to help ease the pain. There are many toys made specifically for teething. Some can go in the freezer for extra-soothing ability.
You should also check that there aren’t any deciduous teeth left in your puppy’s mouth. Never pull out any teeth yourself. Baby teeth have deep roots, so it’s best to wait for them to come out on their own if they are loose. If some teeth won’t come out, you should take your pup to the vet to have them professionally removed.
If you have any uncertainties and aren’t sure if there is a cause for concern, you could call your vet and ask. Policyholders of aSpot Pet Insurance members plan provided by Spotalso have get access to a 24/7 telehealth service powered by VetConnect™whiskerDocs, so you can speak with a specialist have a professional look at your puppy’s teeth to help you determine whether you need to go to the vet or not.
When your puppy reaches six months, they should have all of their adult teeth, and this difficult time is over. Adult dogs actually have 42 adult teeth, which is ten more than we have. The only thing you need to worry about now is making sure those teeth stay clean, so your pup can stay healthy.
Different breeds have different grooming needs, but all dogs need to have their teeth brushed. The best way to avoid any potential canine dental problems is to brush their teeth regularly. If their mouths aren’t cleaned properly, there is a higher chance of periodontal disease.
Use dog-safe toothbrushes and toothpaste. Dog toothpaste can taste like peanut butter or chicken, but most importantly, it doesn’t have any fluoride.
Teething can be an uncomfortable process, whether dog or baby. It may seem like it takes forever for this phase of your puppy’s life to end, but you can make it a lot easier for your pup and yourself with the right information and tools.
A good chew toy can help soothe your puppy’s gums while their teeth are coming in. That’s why puppies try to chew on pretty much anything and everything that they can get their paws on; it’s a form of self-soothing.
The teething period is also a good time to train and socialize your pup. You can help pups get used to having their mouths touched and inspected, and you can teach them that they shouldn’t nip you or any other human they come in contact with.
Teething is only one of the issues that you have to help your furry family member work through in their lifetime, though. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks in dog care, check out some articles on our blog.
The teething process may be challenging, but by helping them through it, teaching them, and cleaning those teeth, you can make sure that they don’t suffer the consequences of poor dental care.
Sign up for our newsletter for more on how to help pets lead happier, healthier lives.
Sign up for our newsletter for more on how to help pets lead happier, healthier lives.