Care For Your Teething Puppy With These 4 Tips

Mallory Kanwal, DVM, DAVDC
Published: February 7, 2023
Care For Your Teething Puppy With These 4 Tips

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In humans, teething happens when baby teeth erupt, or push through the gums. But when it comes to dogs, teething is associated with the adult teeth growing in.

The process can be painful. Teething babies are known to be fussy, interested in chewing, and can even have a mild fever during this phase. Puppies go through similar discomfort, so it’s important that pet parents keep their fur baby comfortable as their permanent teeth erupt. Here’s what to know about taking care of a teething puppy.

When Do Puppies Start Teething?

Puppies are born toothless, but their baby teeth begin to erupt at 3 weeks old. By 8 weeks, they have their full set of 28 baby (deciduous) teeth. Those teeth fall out when puppies are between 4-7 months old and are replaced by 42 adult teeth.

Teething starts when the adult teeth move within the jaw and begin to put pressure on the roots of the baby teeth. Puppies stop teething when the adult teeth are fully erupted, at 6-7 months old. Large-breed dogs typically erupt adult teeth sooner than small breed dogs, but the process to complete eruption can take longer for big dogs.

4 Tips for Helping a Teething Puppy

Teething in puppies makes the gums painful and inflamed. The process also overlaps with the puppy development stage when they’re exploring the world more with their mouth. This means they might start chewing—a lot—and it’s a pet parent’s job to keep them occupied, safe, and comfortable.

1. Puppy-Proof Your Home

Puppy-proofing your home is about taking away anything you don’t want destroyed and offering plenty of appropriate items your pup can chew on.

Make sure dangerous items like medications, trash, batteries, gum, cleaning supplies, and food are out of your puppy’s reach. If you have indoor or outdoor plants, ensure they aren’t toxic to dogs. Move electric cords away from curious puppies, and use dog gates to block stairs and any other space where you don’t want your puppy to venture.

Inside the puppy’s space, place a crate where they can feel secure. Make sure they have a water bowl, soft bedding, and space inside to sit, lie down, stand, and turn around.

2. Buy Puppy Teething Toys

Toys are a great outlet for keeping a puppy entertained and helping them deal with teething pain. Keep lots of puppy-safe toys around, and rotate what toys are available to your pup to keep them interested.

For teething puppies, offer a mix of rubber toys and soft toys. Stay away from very hard toys or bones (ones that are so hard you can’t indent them with your fingernail), as these can lead to broken teeth. Some of the best puppy teething toys include:

3. Try Frozen Goodies

Frozen toys and treats help soothe a teething puppy’s gums, and they’re a great way to enrich your puppy’s playtime. Try filling a KONG toy with puppy food mixed with water and placing it in the freezer. This is also a helpful tool when crate training, to provide your puppy a yummy distraction when you leave them alone.

Chilled or frozen snacks such as green beans, blueberries, seedless watermelon, or carrots are a good dog-friendly option that can also feel good on sore gums. Ice cubes are very hard on teeth and not recommended for your puppy.

4. Practice Soft-Mouth Training

Puppies can be extra mouthy during teething, and they need their pet parents to teach them what isn’t a chew toy.

If your puppy gets mouthy while playing, immediately offer them a toy or chew item. If this doesn’t work, pull your hands away, separate yourself from your puppy quietly, and avoid eye contact. This teaches them that mouthing or biting doesn’t get them more attention. When they calm down, you can resume playing with a toy.

Use positive reinforcement training—giving your pup attention, praise, and food when they do the right thing—to teach desired behaviors and help your puppy learn. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train dogs, because it creates a strong bond without fear and anxiety. If your puppy is showing aggression over toys or is persistently mouthy, talk to your veterinarian.

Featured Image: iStock/Sergeeva

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