Is the newest addition to your family a puppy? Have you come home to find shoes, pillows, clothing, or furniture chewed to bits? If your dog is 1-year-old or younger, there’s a good chance they’re chewing because they're a teething puppy and are experiencing pain from teeth that are still growing in.
Yes, puppies lose their baby teeth just like humans do! New puppy owners are often shocked to discover that puppies do in fact lose their teeth, especially if they find a small tooth lying on the ground in their house.
Puppy teeth, also called milk teeth, begin to appear between two and four weeks. Once a puppy's baby teeth come in, they have 28 milk teeth. Around 12 weeks, the adult teeth start to come in and replace the puppy teeth. Your puppy should have 42 adult dog teeth growing in.3
Puppies don’t stop teething until all 42 permanent teeth have fully grown in. They’re usually all in place by the time your puppy is 6 months old.3 Have patience with your puppy over those first six months. The teething process is a painful time for them, with puppy teething symptoms that include a tender mouth and sore jaws.
Teething can be a trying time for many pet parents, particularly when a favorite pair of shoes or expensive furniture becomes a casualty of your pup’s new, sharp teeth. Keep in mind that teething is an essential time for your puppy’s social development.
Chewing and mouthing don't just help your pup relieve teething pain. They’re also how dogs start to explore their environment and interact with the world around them.
During the teething stage, your puppy’s jaw and mouth will be sore. Chewing helps to alleviate the pain and calm them down. The best thing you can do for them at this stage is to provide them with safe items to chew on and a lot of patience.
Teething is painful – there’s no way around it. Forty-two new teeth are pushing their way through your puppy’s gums. While you can’t stop the pain, you can provide your puppy with tools to get through it and help distract them.
Your first tool in preparation for teething is to buy a few good quality chew toys. Most pet stores carry a wide selection of chew toys. While you don’t need to buy out the entire store, it’s best to have a few different textures and shapes, including a hard chew toy, a soft chew toy, and an edible chew toy, such as a safe bone. You can then offer your furry friend different options, keeping in mind that their teething preferences may change.
You may also prevent chewing on inappropriate items by providing your dog with safe, chewable dog toys intended for teething. Make sure you only give toys designed for teething puppies and never give human teething toys to a puppy.
Supervise your puppy whenever they are chewing on anything. Some dogs will go on to eat items they are chewing on. Objects can end up stuck in your dog’s digestive tract, causing a bowel blockage or worse.
Teething and chewing go hand in hand. You’re going to have to see your puppy through this crucial development phase no matter what. So why not use this as an opportunity to begin their training? First, protect furniture, shoes, and other valuables, including your hands, by getting them off the ground and out of paw’s reach. From the beginning, set boundaries when it comes to chewing.
Here’s a simple and effective method to teach appropriate chewing:
- As soon as you catch your dog in the act of chewing something that is not acceptable (an item of yours, furniture, shoes), say “no,” and immediately replace it with an acceptable chewing object.
- Repeat this practice as often and as early as possible.
If you have plenty of safe, appropriate, chew toys around, you lower the chances of your pup sinking their teeth into your favorite Italian leather boots.
Some people opt to enroll their dogs in puppy training classes. You will still need to train and reinforce certain basic concepts at home though, such as soft-mouth.
Soft-mouth training can be done using a treat:
- Show the treat to your pup (but don’t give it to them).
- Close your hand to form a fist around the treat.
- If they come up to lick your closed hand or gently put pressure on your hand, but don’t not bite, reward them by giving them the treat.
- If they bite you or break the skin, walk away for 15 seconds.
- After 15 seconds, come back and re-engage.
With continued practice, your puppy will learn to control their bite. You can also use a signal word like “gentle.”
Most dogs handle this rite of passage without significant difficulty, but teething hurts. There are a few things you can do to help with the teething pain.
- Provide your puppy with wet dog food to help them eat even when their mouth hurts
- Give your puppy ice cubes to chew on to help soothe their irritated gums
- Use a teething gel on their gums to help numb the pain if it becomes unbearable. (Always check with your veterinarian before trying dental gel.)
Additionally, If your pup is having a rough time, try the following “washcloth remedy:”
- Take a washcloth or dish towel.
- Run it under cold tap water, twist it, and stick it in the freezer.
- Once it has frozen, give it to the puppy to chew on.
- Repeat with another washcloth.
Teething is a critical time in your new pup’s growth and development, but it can also lead to accidents, including your puppy swallowing a dangerous foreign object. Consider getting a dog insurance plan to help you offset the costs caused by such accidents.2
At MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award, we’re committed to helping you keep your pets happy and healthy, whether that means learning all there is to know about your pets or protecting them with an insurance policy.1 Get a free quote in minutes to see how dog insurance can work for your new family member.