So you've brought home a beautiful fluffy bundle of joy! Puppy teething is one of many things to consider with your new dog. A common concern owners have is whether their pup will chew up any, or many, of their prized possessions. Young teething puppies certainly do love to chew.
Parents of human children may be particularly anxious about the teething process for their puppy, since human babies' teething can be painful and prolonged. The good news is, puppies usually go through teething with a minimum of discomfort to themselves.
Read on for some tips on getting your pup through this especially chewy stage of life with minimum discomfort to your shoes too!
Puppy teeth stages and teething timeline
The first two weeks of life: Newborn baby puppies are born with no teeth through their gums.
Three to four weeks old: Baby teeth start coming through.
Six to eight weeks old: Your puppy now has a full mouth of 28 baby teeth. Often these cute little chompers are needle sharp.
Three to four months old: Baby teeth start to be replaced by adult teeth as deciduous teeth begin to fall out. This might be when your puppy is at its most "chewy".
Five to seven months: The teething process continues as the teeth start to be replaced. Replacement begins with the incisors at the front first, then the canines, then premolars. There are no baby molars, and the adult molars are the last teeth to come in.
Seven months: Your puppy should have a full mouth of 42 adult teeth. Well done, you're through the teething stage!
Signs your puppy is teething
- The major sign of teething in puppies is usually them doing a lot of chewing, and in fact this is most often the only sign observed by owners.
- You might notice that your puppy is a drooling a bit more than usual
- If you're paying really close attention you might find little teeth around the house (although often your puppy will swallow them)
- You may notice drops of blood on their toys or bedding
- Their gums may be inflamed
- Your puppy may be slower to eat their food
- Your puppy could be a bit subdued, although this shouldn't last for long
- You could notice a change to the smell of their breath
Teething puppies should still remain bright and healthy so if you have any concerns make sure you discuss them with your vet.
Puppy teething tips
Puppy teething is a predictable life stage so it is good to be prepared in advance.
- Stock up on soft toys and chew toys to keep your puppy chewing safely and contentedly
- Keep your valued possessions out of your puppy's reach, either by putting your things away, or by putting your puppy in a pen or crate when you can't closely supervise them
- Pay close attention to your puppy's eating habits and consider softening the food if their eating slows down
- Consider offering chilled chew toys if your puppy seems to be in pain
- Be patient with your puppy, this stage will be over before you know it
How to soothe a teething puppy
Providing your puppy with appropriate soft, safe things to chew can help them with the teething stage. If you are concerned their mouth may be sore when eating, you can try offering softer food, and see if they eat this better than their puppy kibble. You can even make the puppy kibble into a soft food by adding warm water and allowing it to cool into a puppy porridge.
You can also try putting your puppy's teething chew in the freezer for a bit, and see if they seems to enjoy chewing it while cold, as this can be soothing for them. Some chews are specifically designed to be used in this way.
Dealing with puppy chewing
Chewing things up is one of the major behavioural concerns owners have with young puppies. Puppies are also prone to eating things they shouldn't after chewing them, which can make them sick, or even necessitate surgery to remove a foreign body.
Puppies have needle sharp teeth, and commonly nip in play. So puppies need some assistance to help them behave appropriately for life with a human family. Training puppies with calm and consistent positive reinforcement will give you a well behaved furry family member.
Chewing is normal puppy behaviour and is important for developing your puppy's jaw muscles. Puppies will chew whatever they can find so it is important to keep everything out of your puppy's reach if you don't want it gnawed on.
Offering your puppy their own safe, soft soothing toys to gnaw on will also make it less likely that they seek out other objects to chew. Be sure to choose an appropriately sized toy, and throw it away if it becomes damaged. Choose a chew toy designed for puppies, for example Puppy Toy Bone or Teething Puppy Chew Keys, so that the toy is soft and flexible and will not damage developing teeth.
Many puppies also like to chew on soft toys, there are a huge range available. Again, just be sure to replace any toys if they become damaged. You can keep your puppy interested in their toys by only putting a few out at a time and rotating them, so that they keep their novelty.
Dealing with puppy nipping
Nipping is normal behaviour for puppies when playing, but it is important to never allow them to nip or chew on parts of people. The best way to deal with nipping behaviour is to immediately stop the game and ignore your puppy until their behaviour becomes calm. Emitting a loud high pitched sound at the moment the puppy nips, prior to ignoring them, can be helpful as yelping is the way puppies tell each other the game has gone too far.
Once the puppy settles you can resume playing. The key is to consistently stop the game and give your puppy a time out any time a nip occurs. They will quickly learn that biting makes their life boring.
Dealing with other bad puppy teething behaviour
The puppy stage is also an excellent time to introduce puzzle feeders to your puppy. Puzzle feeding provides lots of intellectual stimulation for your puppy, and can encourage them to eat more slowly. There are a range of different styles available such as treat balls and dog maze toys.
Dental Care for Puppies
A puppy's critical learning period finishes by about sixteen weeks of age, so it is a really important time to teach them as many things about the world, and their life as you can. Therefore this is a great time to start them being used to gentle handling of their mouths, inspection of their teeth, and brushing of their teeth. The key thing is to be really gentle- for example by choosing a soft silicon toothbrush, and an appropriate tasty toothpaste and stop and try again later if your puppy seems at all upset.
If you've started brushing your puppy's teeth, but think this seems to be painful for them when they begin teething, this is a good time to focus mostly just on keeping your puppy used to gentle handling of its mouth, and not be too concerned about thoroughly brushing. Bad experiences in the puppy stage of life can lead to issues later on, so keeping things positive is key. Your puppy will be seeing your veterinarian several times in the early months for checkups and vaccinations, and you can ask your vet for a toothbrushing demonstration during a consultation if you are unsure.
Getting into a good routine for dental care when your dog is a puppy will make it much easier to maintain good dental health in adult hood. I like to approach dental care in a holistic and multifaceted way. Things that can maximise dental health include toothbrushing, regular veterinary checks, using dental treats and food, and considering dental additives to food.
Just check when offering toys, food, and supplements to puppies that they are age appropriate. The best start you can give your puppy for their general health is to offer them high quality complete and balanced puppy food, and when you have concerns to check with your vet.
Puppy Teething FAQs
My puppy is nipping and biting – what should I do?
Yelping and then ignoring your puppy when they nip is my general advice for mouthy puppies. It is very important that your puppy is not allowed to bite as part of a game. Any biting means the game stops until the puppy has calmed down a bit.
It is super important never to hit a puppy, gentle positive training methods are key. If you're struggling to control mouthy behaviour in a young puppy, talk to your vet or an experienced dog trainer, such as one accredited with Delta.
Is puppy teething painful?
Puppies are individuals and the way they experience teething varies wildly. It is uncommon for puppies to stop eating from teething pain, and if in doubt you should consult your vet. It is likely that for many puppies teething does cause some short term pain and discomfort. You can help them with this by providing safe, soft chew toys.
How many teeth do dogs have?
Puppies have 28 baby teeth and adult dogs have 42 teeth.
Are there any common dental problems in young dogs?
There are various dental problems which commonly occur in young puppies, so make sure your vet checks your pup's mouth when you are there for vaccinations. One of the commonest issues is retained baby teeth- where the adult teeth come through the gums but the baby teeth do not fall out. This most commonly affects the large canine teeth. If your puppy has an adult tooth through the gums but the baby tooth is also still present, the baby tooth will usually require extraction.
Puppyhood is also when we commonly will notice that your dog has a malocclusion- which means an overbite or an underbite. This is especially common in certain breeds, such as brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds. Many dogs will have a malocclusion without clinical issues, but some will have problems such as teeth causing trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth, and these may require advanced veterinary dental interventions. Ask your vet if you think your puppy is showing signs of oral discomfort.
Puppies can have other conformation problems such as base narrow canines, where the lower canines painfully poke into the soft tissues of the top of the mouth. This also requires advanced dental treatment. Other issues may be found in your puppy's mouth such as absent teeth or extra teeth, if you notice anything unusual, check with your vet.
Should I brush my puppy's teeth?
Yes, you should ideally introduce your puppy to toothbrushing from when they first arrive in your home, and ideally you should gently brush their teeth daily. See the above section on dental care for more information.
How long does diarrhoea from teething last?
As a vet, I'm yet to see a puppy with diarrhoea that I have actually connected to teething. If your puppy has diarrhoea but is otherwise bright and well, and eating and drinking normally, it is okay to see if it passes in a day or two before seeking medical advice. If your puppy has diarrhoea and is unwell you should make an appointment and see your vet. Any gastrointestinal upset from teething is likely to be mild and self limiting.