Caitlin UltimoHealth / Wellness

What To Expect With Puppy Teething

Just like human babies, puppies go through teething. Some fly through it with no problem, while others fuss, drool and chew.

Puppies actually go through teething twice by the time they are a year old. Newborn pups do not have teeth. The first teeth to appear are the incisors—the tiny teeth right in front. These show up at around 2 to 3 weeks of age. These are followed by the canine teeth, then the premolars and last of all the molars. Puppies have 28 baby or deciduous teeth total. You may hear these baby teeth referred to as milk teeth, because your pup will still be nursing when these teeth appear.

At about 8 weeks of age, your pup will start to lose his deciduous teeth. The roots resorb and the new adult teeth will push their way up through the gums. It is this set of teeth, resulting in the adult set of 42 teeth, that tend to cause problems as they grow in. Most pups have their full set of teeth by 8 months of age or so.

Telltale Signs Of Puppy Teething

Your first hint that your pup is teething is often finding a little blood on his favorite dog chew toys. Don’t panic! The bleeding is minimal and will stop by itself. If you are lucky, you will find a couple of baby teeth. They may be stuck in a dog toy or left on the floor. Clean the teeth and then you can add them to your puppy’s “baby book.” We have quite the collection, though I did not find baby teeth from all of my dogs.

Other signs that your pup is teething might include drooling, hesitating to eat or eating very slowly, and increased chewing behaviors. Some pups fuss, whine and even run a low fever. You might notice that his gums are red and swollen in places as the new teeth push their way out.

Do not introduce dog tooth brushing at this time. Instead, simply let your pup lick some dog toothpaste (poultry and peanut flavors tend to be my dogs’ favorites) from your finger. You don’t want your pup to associate tooth brushing with any discomfort.

Tips To Ease The Pain Of Puppy Teething

The best way to help your pup at this time is to provide some safe chew items. Soft rubber and plastic dental rings and chews can be excellent. These should only be used under your supervision, however, as sharp puppy teeth can rip off small chunks that your pup may then swallow. Leather toys tend to be a hit, too. Again, watch out for extensive chewing that removes pieces.

One of the best puppy pacifiers I have found is a small washcloth soaked in water and then frozen. The cold temperature helps to reduce the inflammation. The cloth is not as hard as an ice cube, which might crack a tooth. Frozen dog treats like dog ice cream are also a big hit at this time.

If you need to encourage chewing on the frozen material, soak it in low-sodium broth or the juice from a can of tuna packed in water. This will make it tasty, but can also cause a bit of a mess.

Your Puppy Might Make His Pain Your Pain

Your pup may search for his own choices in chew items, and this can sometimes result in damage to unexpected items. Make sure all cords are covered or taped up out of reach. Supervise outings near furniture. I have found bitter tasting sprays work well on things like table legs to discourage chewing.

Destructive puppy chewing can happen in a very short time by a determined pup! Your pup may be well along in his housebreaking so you tend to leave him alone at times. Don’t try that when he is teething. You might be surprised to find just how big a hole your pup can put in a sofa cushion in less than five minutes!

When Puppy Teething Goes Wrong

Most toy breed dogs try to fit a full set of teeth into a very small mouth. You may notice your pup has “double” teeth, especially noticeable if the canine teeth are involved. This can occur in any size pup but toy breeds do seem prone to this. The retained baby teeth can cause problems for the developing adult teeth. They may totally block the eruption of the adult tooth, leading to a very sore and swollen gum area. Retained baby teeth also may force the adult teeth to grow in crooked.

Try to look gently at your pup’s mouth at least once a week. If you notice retained deciduous teeth, a call to your veterinarian is in order. Most baby teeth fall out by themselves but sometimes they need to be pulled.

Brachycephalic breed pups with short faces, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, need some extra observation around teething time. They don’t usually become involved in the wholesale destructive chewing parties that large- and giant-breed pups enjoy, but they are more prone to dental problems.

Monitor the occlusion or how your pup’s jaws grow. With an overbite, the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw. This occurs most often in dogs with long muzzles. With an under bite, the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. This may occur normally in dogs like Boxers and Bulldogs.

Your veterinarian will evaluate your pup’s bite and dental growth at each of his “well puppy” visits. If the bite is truly “off,” some teeth may need to be pulled or some orthodontic work done to prevent teeth from growing into the roof of the mouth.

Some hairless breeds normally have missing teeth, but this is not normal in most dog breeds. Premolars are the most common missing teeth. A dog with missing teeth can enjoy a wonderful life but should not be bred, as this is a genetic defect that can be passed on. In a few cases, a dog may have an extra tooth or two. The upper canines are the most common “extras.”

With some extra attention and a few good chew items, you and your puppy can make it through puppy teething time in good shape.

By: Dr. Deb M. Eldredge