Puppy teething: A guide to the teething process

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Puppy teething: A guide to the teething process - A husky puppy playing with their toy on a couch

The teething process, or when puppies lose their baby teeth and grow adult teeth, can be difficult for both puppies and their owners. As their permanent teeth grow in, some puppies are uncomfortable and occasionally destructive. Read on if you have a teething puppy and have ever wondered:

  • What is the puppy teething timeline?
  • When will my puppy have their permanent teeth?
  • Can I help my puppy while they are teething?
  • How can I get my puppy to stop biting?
  • What is abnormal in puppy teething?

From six to twenty-four weeks of age, puppies lose their baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, as adult teeth grow in. Teething can be uncomfortable for puppies, causing them to bite and chew excessively, which can be frustrating for owners. Knowing what to expect when it comes to puppy teething and how to navigate the process is an excellent tool for pet parents to have when they bring home a new puppy.

What is puppy teething?

Puppies teethe twice in their lives: first when their baby teeth grow in, and again when they lose their baby teeth to grow new, adult teeth. Puppy owners are more likely to experience the second teething phase, as adult teeth grow around 12 to 16 weeks of age when puppies are in their new homes.

The teething process in puppies is similar to a baby’s first time growing teeth. While most puppies have no issues during teething, it can be uncomfortable for some and cause them to bite and chew on items to soothe their sore gums. Other puppies may appear to be in pain or have problems such as unerupted teeth, congenital oral deformities, or retained baby teeth.

How old are puppies when they start teething?

Puppies have two sets of teeth that grow in at different ages. It’s important for new dog owners to be aware of their puppy’s dental development, including the teething process, so they know what behavior to expect and how to handle it.

Under 2 weeks old

A puppy does not have teeth when they are first born. In addition, their eyes have not yet opened before two weeks of age, and they rely on nursing or bottle feeding for their nourishment.

2 to 4 weeks old

The first teething stage, when deciduous teeth (also called baby or milk teeth) come in, begins around two to four weeks of age. A puppy is still nursing at this stage, but their eyes have opened and they may begin to explore more. This first teething phase is similar to the second, but most puppy owners do not experience it because the puppy is too young to be adopted.

5 to 8 weeks old

By eight weeks of age, all of a puppy’s baby teeth should have grown in. Most puppies have 28 baby teeth in total. Puppies are often weaned from milk to puppy food at this age to get ready for adoption.

12 to 16 weeks old

At three to four months of age, puppies go through a second phase of teething as they begin losing their deciduous teeth and their permanent teeth start to come in. Puppies are also often adopted and brought to their new homes at this age. Excessive chewing and other puppy behaviors associated with teething are some of the most common challenges new puppy parents face.

Over 16 to 24 weeks old

By six months of age, most or all of a puppy’s baby teeth are lost and permanent adult teeth should be in place. Most adult dogs have 42 adult teeth, while a puppy has 28. If baby teeth are still present in the mouth or if the adult teeth haven’t grown in by the time the puppy is six months old, talk to a veterinarian and check for developmental abnormalities such as retained baby teeth, stacked teeth, or teeth that have not emerged.

When will my puppy have their adult teeth?

A puppy usually has most or all of their 42 adult teeth by the age of six months. Their small, sharp baby teeth are not permanent and are replaced by larger, strong, adult teeth. The amount of time it takes for your puppy’s adult teeth to come in can vary between breeds, so it’s best to talk to a vet about your individual dog’s teething timeline.

Should I give my teething puppy soft food?

It is not usually necessary to give a puppy soft food just because they are teething. Most puppies have no issues eating hard puppy food throughout teething. However, if your puppy appears to be in pain or shows a loss of appetite, talk to a vet. This may be due to teething pain, but it may also be the result of a different health issue.

What are the signs of a teething puppy?

Some puppies show no obvious signs that they are teething. Others may have symptoms similar to those associated with teething in human babies. These signs can include:

  • Chewing on items more than usual
  • Spots of blood on chew toys
  • Excessive drooling
  • Irritability

Some puppy owners may find small puppy teeth around the home, especially near areas where their puppy likes to chew. Just like when a human child loses a baby tooth, the root dissolves first, so only the crown falls out. However, many puppies end up swallowing most of their baby teeth, so the only sign they have lost a tooth may be a gap in your puppy’s smile. This is completely normal and safe. In addition, puppies may bleed a small amount when losing a tooth and leave some blood behind on their toys. While finding blood around the home may be frightening to some pet owners, a small amount is completely normal when your puppy is teething.

How can I help my puppy through the entire teething process?

Most puppies get through the process of growing in their adult teeth with no problems, but many dog owners want to ease their teething puppy’s discomfort and provide enrichment while also saving their furniture, shoes, and other belongings. There are many ways to help a teething puppy.

Puppy chew toys

One of the best ways to help a teething puppy is to provide them plenty of supervised time with safe items to chew on. Chewing may help soothe sore gums while a puppy is teething. In addition, puppies, like human toddlers, like to explore the world around them by putting items in their mouths and chewing. Providing an abundance of toys can help a puppy explore as well as safely satisfy their urge to chew.

Look for chew toys that can be indented with a thumbnail to confirm they are soft enough for a puppy’s teeth. Rubber toys are often used for teething puppies. Avoid very hard toys and treats such as nylon bones, antlers, real bones, and toys that are labeled “indestructible,” because these are hard enough to break teeth in adult dogs as well as puppies. Toys and chews also need to be larger than a puppy’s mouth to avoid choking hazards. Take away any toys that have broken, become stringy, or have had stuffing ripped out.

Frozen treats

Frozen pieces of safe fruit, such as apples and bananas, can help soothe sore gums and provide a new item to chew on. Never give foods such as grapes and avocados, which are toxic. Safe baby foods and xylitol-free peanut butter can also be frozen inside a rubber treat toy for excellent enrichment and to soothe sore gums. Avoid giving ice or toys that freeze solid, as they can cause broken teeth.

Redirect unwanted chewing to appropriate items

A puppy’s teething phase is the perfect time to practice positive training techniques. When a puppy begins chewing on something other than their provided toys, redirect them rather than yelling or punishing them. A puppy does not always know what is appropriate to chew on — only what feels good on their teeth. Consistently interrupt them, then distract them with a toy or treat that has a similar texture to their chosen item. Reward them with praise and treats when they choose the proper items to chew on. This type of training takes time and consistency but provides a positive experience for both the puppy and their owner, allowing them to build mutual trust. During times when you can’t be there to redirect unwanted chewing, close doors or use a crate or baby gates to keep your puppy confined to an area free of things they’re not allowed to chew on.

Pause the toothbrushing routine

It’s a good idea to establish a toothbrushing routine at home when your puppy is young. However, it may be best to pause the brushing while a puppy is teething. Brushing on sore gums can create a negative experience and your puppy may become averse to the process. If you want to create a positive association with brushing while your puppy is teething, allow them to lick dog toothpaste off of the brush and begin brushing again when the majority of their adult teeth have come in.

Keep dangerous items out of reach

Puppies are likely to chew on anything around the home they can get to. Keeping wires and other items out of reach helps keep curious puppies safe. Baby gates can also be used to keep puppies away from furniture or dangerous areas of the house, such as the kitchen or garage. Leashes can also be used indoors to keep your puppy nearby and make it easier to supervise them, so you can prevent them from wandering, chewing on inappropriate items, and hurting themselves.

How can I stop my puppy from nipping and biting people?

Many puppies nip and bite at the hands and clothing of people around them, not understanding that they are biting too hard when trying to play. The best way to avoid being nipped by sharp puppy teeth is to avoid common situations that incite your puppy to nips. If a puppy begins playing too rough or becomes worked up, calmly stop playing and walk away. You can also communicate like a dog by yelping to let your puppy know the bite hurts.

Redirect biting behaviors to appropriate toys. Continuing to play when a puppy begins biting sends the wrong message by rewarding the behavior. Training bite inhibition when a puppy is young is a fundamental part of responsible puppy rearing. “Be consistent so your puppy can learn faster,” states Dr. Jo Myers, a veterinarian at Vetster. “That means that biting is never okay, even when it doesn’t hurt or you want to use your hands to play with your puppy because there aren’t any toys in reach. You might think playing this way doesn’t do any harm because it doesn’t hurt, but in reality you’re teaching your puppy that it’s okay to bite people.” While it might seem messy, let your puppy leave toys all over the parts of the house they’re allowed in so there’s always something appropriate to bite in reach.

When should I see a vet for my puppy’s teeth?

Puppies need frequent vet visits to check their development and receive routine preventive care such as vaccinations, deworming, flea and tick control, and heartworm prevention. Veterinarians perform physical exams at each visit, which includes examining the teeth. This helps catch dental issues. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your puppy’s mouth at home. When at home, call a vet if you notice:

Bad breath and a lack of appetite in young puppies can also be a sign that something is wrong. Puppy breath may smell bad to some owners but goes away by the time a puppy is a few months old. Ask a vet if your puppy’s breath is normal if it changes or smells foul to you. Retained baby teeth, unerupted adult teeth, and developmental abnormalities, including dental characteristics of flat-faced or toy breeds, can all negatively affect a dog’s dental health as they grow older. If you have questions about your puppy’s teething process, or you are worried about their dental health, you can talk to a licensed veterinarian from home in a virtual vet appointment.

FAQ - Puppy teething: A guide to the teething process

How long does teething last?

Puppies begin growing in their adult teeth around three to four months of age, which is the second teething stage puppies go through. Owners often only see their dog experience the second teething stage, since their dog’s baby teeth grew in before they were adopted. Most puppies have most to all of their adult teeth by six months of age, so the teething process usually lasts for two to three months. A puppy’s size and breed can affect the length of the teething process.

When do puppies lose their baby teeth?

Puppies begin losing their baby teeth around the age of three to four months. The teething process can take two to three months until their adult teeth have finished growing in. This timeline varies from puppy to puppy.

How can I help my teething dog?

Though teething is a nonevent for most puppies, owners commonly want to help their puppies get through it comfortably. Teething puppies have the urge to chew, so providing appropriate toys is one of the best ways to help. Redirect your puppy away from furniture, shoes, and other items they may chew on toward their toys, and keep objects they shouldn’t chew on out of reach when you’re unable to supervise them. Appropriately sized pieces of frozen, dog-safe fruits can also provide unique chewing experiences and may soothe sore gums.

Do puppies stop biting after teething?

Biting and chewing are normal behaviors that dogs exhibit throughout their lives but are especially intense during the first several months that they are teething. Regardless of what’s causing your puppy to bite, redirect them with soft, cool, pliable objects they are allowed to chew on. Don’t continue playing with a puppy who is biting you, even if it doesn’t hurt.

Should I brush my teething puppy’s teeth?

A teething puppy may have sore gums that make toothbrushing a painful process. While it is a great idea to start a dental care routine while your puppy is young, it’s best to wait until the worst of their teething is done. Allowing them to lick pet toothpaste off their toothbrush or gently massaging their gums can help them create a good association while you wait.