When buying a puppy, it’s important to be prepared for the range of issues and habits they’ll be exhibiting.
No doubt your favorite pair of sneakers have already suffered under a puppy’s most common habit: teething.
Are there ways to help their process along? What is puppy teething really, and how does it differ from other animals? Are there points in the transition where you should be concerned?
To make those puppy years easier, we’ve compiled all you need to know right here.
How Puppy Teething Works
As with many animals, puppies have two sets of teeth. Baby teeth or milk teeth are the first set to appear, totalling at 28 in the average jaw.
You had a similar set not long after you were born, and puppies get theirs within the first two to four weeks of their life. They use these teeth to chew the bits of soft food they are experimenting with now, and puppies do not grow molars.
When their adult teeth, those with permanent roots, begin to make their way through the gums to dislodge the baby teeth, puppies will enter their second set – at eight weeks or so.
Dogs have more adult teeth than cats and humans, with 42 comprising the full set, and unlike humans once more, it’s at this point that teething begins.
What is Puppy Teething?
Teething is an umbrella term that covers the entire process of dogs (or other creatures) growing their second set of teeth.
However, in conversational terms, it applies more specifically to the discomfort the transition causes and the habits that develop as a byproduct. Namely, since their gums will be sore and their teeth loose, puppies will be chewing more than ever – on whatever they can access.
Typically, puppies will get their incisors first, followed by all four canines, but there’s variation in breeds and individuals. Most veterinarians agree that if your puppy is doing all the things they’ve always done, such as eating, drinking, and playing, then there is no reason to worry.
It is often suggested, however, to let puppies gnaw on toys that are softer and more flexible during this time. If you can’t bend it with your hands, it’s probably too tough for both the loosening baby teeth and the new adult teeth settling into place.
Puppies typically stop teething around eight months of age. They should have all their adult teeth and none of the small baby ones by the ten-month mark.
If you’re worried that your puppy isn’t losing their teeth as fast as they should be, or it appears that some are refusing to move, you can schedule a visit with your veterinarian.
You don’t have to worry about pulling any loose teeth on your own; they have very long roots and pulling them risks breaking the root off in the gum. This will lead to infection, so it is better to simply let nature run its course.
You should also try and get your puppy used to having their mouth handled during this time, especially if they are a smaller-sized breed.
How to Care for Your Puppy’s Teeth
Now that you know what teething is and when to expect it, how can you make sure you’re doing everything possible to keep the new teeth healthy?
Since your puppy is young and you’ve been playing around in their mouth as you investigate, many vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth as a regular part of your schedule. Unsure of how to do that? It’s a simple process, once your dog is used to it.
Use a soft bristled brush (a kid-sized one tends to be the easiest to handle), warm water (unless you get toothpaste made for dogs), and run the toothbrush back and forth for a few seconds. It’s as simple as that.
Different Breeds, Different Teeth
While most puppies begin to teethe at eight weeks and stop around eight months, the breed of your dog might make that process shorter or longer.
Dog breeds with short muzzles, like the Pug or Bulldog, might teethe for a shorter period of time, because there is less room in their mouths for a full set of adult teeth.
Big dog breeds, such as a St. Bernard or Great Dane, tend to age at a much slower rate, meaning they might be waiting on a few teeth to erupt after that eight-month mark.
If you’re unsure about your dog’s progress, then a visit to the vet can’t hurt.
The video below shows to help a puppy who’s teething.
Growing Pains of Puppy Teething
Teething is a natural occurrence, a rite of passage. Dogs are no different than other animals and must deal with it. But it’s a relatively short time in their lives and commonly passes by without problems.
With their new adult teeth in place, dogs are ready to take on the world around them, one good chomp at a time.