Puppy Teething Hurts: Tips to Get Through the Teething Stage

Your puppy’s first baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, come in between six and eight weeks of age.

Since this happens before you bring him home, you won’t have to deal with this. However, those baby teeth only last a few months before his adult teeth break through the gums. This can cause as many problems for your puppy as it does for human children when they’re teething. It’s a tough time for both the puppy and her owners.

Teething Timeline

Puppies will begin losing baby teeth and growing in adult teeth at an individual rate. However, most puppies begin loosing their incisors (those tiny teeth at the front of the mouth) during the puppy’s third month, often towards the end of the third month. These lost incisors will let you know teething has started.

The teething then moves from front to back. The canine teeth (the fangs) usually fall out next, followed by the premolars and then molars. However, it’s not unusual for the fangs to remain as the premolars fall out. Between six to eight months, your puppy should have all 42 adult teeth.

Retained Baby Teeth

When your puppy goes to the veterinarian’s clinic for vaccinations, the veterinarian will check your puppy’s mouth to see how teething is progressing. However, check your puppy’s mouth regularly in between these appointments and if you see a retained baby tooth with an adult tooth growing in beside it, give your vet a call to see if she wants to see your puppy right away. A retained baby tooth can cause damage to the permanent tooth. If the baby tooth isn’t pulled in a timely manner, the adult tooth could grow in crooked, causing it to be in an incorrect position in the puppy’s mouth. This could cause him difficulty eating, pain in his mouth, and a variety of other problems.

Making Him Feel Better

When a puppy is teething, his gums and mouth hurt and he’s going to do something, anything, to make it feel better. Most puppies begin chewing now. He may chew on anything that fits in his mouth, from trash to shoes and socks to sticks in the back yard. Your goal at this time is to channel his chewing to safe things and prevent him from chewing on things that can cause him harm or things that you don’t want him to chew on at any time.

When he seems particularly bothered by his sore mouth, make him some chicken broth ice cubes. Give these to him in his crate, outside, or on a towel so they don’t stain your carpet. The chicken broth will get him interested in the ice cubes and the cold will help soothe his gums.

A frozen food dispensing toy, such as a Kong, will also help. Stuff the Kong with a banana, peanut butter, or some Honest Kitchen food (already rehydrated) and then freeze it. Give it to your puppy when he needs something to chew. There are also commercial teething toys made to be frozen that your puppy can chew on when he needs it.

If your puppy is particularly anxious, bring him up on your lap and with a finger, just rub his gums. A gentle massage can often release some of his discomfort and anxiety.

Teething is Tough on Puppies

Teething hits some puppies harder than others. It’s not unusual for a puppy to lose his appetite, have an upset tummy, soft stools, and even a low grade fever. This usually occurs when the canines, premolars, and molars are growing in but doesn’t last a long time. A week or two is fairly normal.

Feel free to baby him a little right now. Offer him warm, soft foods that are appealing to him and soft on his sore gums. Feed him by hand if he’s reluctant to eat.

However, if he develops diarrhea, vomits, or otherwise acts ill, call your veterinarian.

Replace Your Things with His

At this point in your puppy’s life, it’s important to teach him what he’s allowed to chew and what he’s not to touch. It’s far too easy for a puppy to develop habits now that could last into adulthood.

Prevent your puppy from picking up your personal items now. Pick up things and put them away. Close bedroom doors, use baby gates to restrict the puppy’s freedom, and puppy-proof areas where the puppy is allowed access. Keep in mind your puppy is most attracted to things that smell like you; that’s why puppies often chew on shoes and socks, remote controls, cell phones, glasses, sunglasses, and hats. All of these things need to be out of the puppy’s reach.

When your puppy picks up something that isn’t his, swap it for something he is allowed to chew. Take away your shoe, for example, and give him one of his toys.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to www.kindredspiritsk9.com and www.lizpalika.com.

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