Puppy Teething: Your Survival Guide
Growing up can be rough on a dog. For all the hugs and treats, there’s plenty of not-so-sweet parts of puppyhood. The weeks-long teething process can be especially unpleasant for both pups and their parents. While there’s nothing you can do to stop your dog’s teeth from painfully pushing through their gums, you have plenty of options for both easing their discomfort and protecting your furniture. Managed effectively, the teething process can make for a stronger bond between pet and owner, while instilling good habits and discouraging bad, destructive ones.
Puppy Teething Timeline
Puppies get their first set of teeth much younger than human babies do. Unless you’re breeding dogs yourself, you probably won’t see the earliest stages of their teething process.
Weeks 2 – 4
Puppies are still nursing when their first temporary (deciduous) teeth begin to come in. The incisors come first at around three weeks of age, followed by canines and premolars.
Weeks 5 – 8
By the end of their eighth week, your puppies full set of 28 “baby teeth” will likely have grown in. In total, they should have 12 incisors, 12 premolars, and four canines. At around this time, some breeders will send puppies to their new homes. Others will wait until around Week 12 when a dog’s permanent, adult teeth start to replace their temporary ones.
Weeks 12 – 16
Here’s when the painful process of teething begins in earnest for most dogs. Watch out for sharp, rice-sized teeth around your house and help your pet through the process with the aid of chew toys and other teething aids. Your veterinarian will be an important ally, checking in to ensure your dog’s teeth are growing in normally. The American Kennel Club notes that teething provides a valuable opportunity to familiarize your dog with routine dental care. By carefully feeling in and around your dog’s mouth on a regular basis, you can teach them “to enjoy (or at least tolerate) getting their teeth brushed.” This process will also make it easier to spot potential red flags like inflamed gums or malocclusion (misalignment of the jaw).
Week 20 and Beyond
As teething continues and more permanent pearly whites grow in, pet owners can discourage nipping with vocal cues and positive reinforcement. Between six to eight months of age, all 42 of your dog’s adult teeth will gradually grow in. These include 12 permanent incisors for ripping and scraping, four fang-like canines, 16 premolars for slicing, and 10 molars for grinding and chewing food. Permanent teeth typically arrive in the same order as temporary teeth, with permanent molars growing in last.
Teething Toys for Puppies
You may notice that your dog drools more often and eats more slowly while they’re teething. You’ll definitely notice their newfound obsession with chewing. Concerned pet owners can save their shoes and furniture with specially-designed teething toys.
There are tons of toys for teething puppies out there, but here are three adjectives to describe an ideal teething aid:
- Durable: Teething puppies do some serious chewing. As such, they need durable toys capable of withstanding wear and tear. Toys that break apart easily could present choking hazards, particularly for small and mid-sized dogs.
- Engaging: Toys with interesting shapes and textures will grab and keep your puppy’s attention for hours on end. Textured toys are especially good for massaging irritated gums and can help introduce tartar-fighting habits early.
- Freezable: Certain toys provide extra, cooling relief thanks to their freezer-safe materials. Toss these into the icebox to soothe your dog’s irritated gums.
Always try to determine whether a toy is appropriate for your dog’s size and activity level before purchasing. Once you’ve introduced them to a new toy, watch them at play to ensure you’ve made a safe choice.
When Is Teething Cause for Concern?
In typical cases, teething is a nuisance that’s painful but predictable. Certain situations, however, demand a veterinarian’s attention. Watch out for the following warning signs at home:
- Excessive drooling or bleeding
- Persistent deciduous teeth (temporary teeth that don’t fall out)
- Crooked, cracked, or broken teeth
- Brown tartar buildup
- Loose permanent teeth
- Inflamed gums
Crowding from persistent or misaligned teeth will likely require emergency extraction. Other symptoms may point to serious oral health concerns like canine periodontal disease.
Providing for Your Dog’s Dental Health
Helping your puppy through the teething process is just the first stage in safeguarding their oral and dental health throughout their life. Learn more about keeping your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy both at home and with the help of your vet:
- Beginner’s Guide to Canine Dental Health
- Cleaning a Dog’s Teeth
- Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath
Never use toothpaste intended for humans to clean your dog’s teeth. Many brands contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be poisonous to pets. Always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s dental routine.