How To Cope With Teething
Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or seasoned pet companion, there are few things as exciting as bringing home a new puppy. Watching your new friend explore your home, try new foods, and learn to wag their tail can be incredibly adorable. It is a great time for you and your family to bond with your new doggo and begin establishing a connection to last a lifetime.
After the first few weeks have passed, however, you may begin to ask yourself: When will teething begin? Chances are, you have heard the rumors about puppies and teething: it can be the worst. Images of mangled shoes, shredded couches, or gnarled clothes may cross your mind. The daunting idea of a puppy teething is enough to make even expert dog owners shudder.
If you have found yourself wondering about teething, you may be asking, what exactly can I expect? Additionally, what can I do about it? If you feel a bit overwhelmed on how to cope with teething, don’t worry—we’ve all been there.
The good news is that while teething can be an uncomfortable time for you and your dog, there are many tricks and tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Stick with us to learn how to identify when your puppy has begun teething as well as how to deal with teething.
Is My Puppy Teething?
The first—and sometimes most daunting—question you are probably asking yourself is usually, “is my puppy teething?”. Thankfully, signs of teething are not difficult to identify. While each breed may be somewhat different, in general all puppies follow the same timeline.
When asking yourself “is my puppy teething?”, the first thing to know is the general timeline. The majority of dogs will fall within this range of development. By checking where your puppy is on the timeline, you can begin to estimate when teething will begin. If your puppy is too young or too old for teething, then you can most likely rule teething out as an explanation for their behavior.
Timeline of Teething
Understanding the value of the timeline, here is the general path of development for puppies and their dental health:
- 2 – 4 Weeks: Puppies develop their baby teeth within their first month. This will usually happen while still in the care of the breeder, so it won’t make an impact on life at home with you.
- 5 – 6 Weeks: Before the end of their second month, puppies should have all of their baby teeth. There will be about 28 baby teeth in total.
- 12 – 16 Weeks: This is the sweet spot for teething to begin. Around 3 months of age, most puppies will begin the teething process. If your puppy is three or four months old, then expect teething to start. It should last anywhere from one to three months.
- 24 Weeks and beyond: By 6 months old, most puppies will have finished teething. They should have 42 adult teeth in their mouth; if there are significantly less teeth than that, your dog is still going through teething. Although uncommon, some dogs do take up to 9 months of age to finish teething.
Signs Your Pup is Teething
Familiarizing yourself with the timeline above is a great way to prepare for the inevitable teething phase. Although helpful, it still does leave a window of uncertainty—even if your puppy is in the right time frame for teething, how can you know for sure?
In addition to the timeline, there are a myriad of signs you can watch for to answer the question of whether your puppy is teething. Thankfully, they are all fairly straightforward to identify—and most are universal among all dogs—so if you think it is a sign of teething, chances are it is.
The first and most obvious sign is chewing. As your dog enters the teething stage, they will want to chew on just about anything. On a physical level, this is because chewing can bring about relief from the discomfort of baby teeth detaching and adult teeth breaking through the gums. Try to remember that your puppy is not trying to be mischievous by chewing up your shoes or gnawing on your furniture, but rather is simply trying to relieve some pain.
If you notice an uptick in chewing behavior or start to see more things chewed up or gnawed on around your house, this should be a giant flag indicating that your puppy has started teething.
In addition to chewing, you can know if your puppy is teething by looking for these following signs:
- Increased drooling
- Small spots of blood on your dog’s toys
- Red or swollen gums
- Increased whining or crying
- Finding baby teeth around the house
- Running a low-grade fever
- Change in eating pace (usually slowing down)
- Soft stool
Each of these indicators point to teething, though it is important to note that not all of them will manifest in every dog. If you can check off one or two—in addition to proper timing and increased chewing—then congratulations, your puppy has begun teething.
How to Deal With Teething
If knowing when your puppy is teething marks half the battle, then the other half is knowing how to deal with it. Luckily, there are many options available to help your doggo through this uncomfortable time. There are three main points to remember when learning how to deal with teething:
- Chewing & Toys,
- Soothing Gums, and
- Positive Reinforcement.
Chewing & Toys
The most important way to deal with teething is by providing ample chewing toys. When teething, your dog is going through a very uncomfortable process, and chewing provides some of the only relief. This is why your dog may start to chew on just about anything (including yourself!) to help alleviate some of the pain.
If you do not provide appropriate things for your puppy to chew on, then chances are they will find something. This is where most of the horror stories about teething come in—people did not know how to deal with their dog’s teething, and so their furry friend got into something they shouldn’t have.
Thankfully, you can avoid this by giving your dog appropriate toys to chew. There are many options of chewing toys to offer, including:
- Plush toys (like stuffed animals)
- Rubber toys
- Plastic toys
- Chew sticks
- Rawhide bones
When buying these chew toys, remember: variety is key. Your dog will need different texture, firmness, and strength depending on the pain they are experiencing. If you do not have a toy that can satisfy their teething pains, they will usually go and find something that does.
We recommend that you buy several types of toys to have on hand. In general, make sure you always have something:
- Soft, and
By covering these three bases, you will usually have exactly what you need to deal with your dog’s chewing.
Another important part of dealing with teething is helping soothe your dog’s gums. The gums are where your dog will be feeling the most pain; after all, there are literally bones breaking through the gum walls.
While chew toys are a great way to mitigate pain, they are not always enough to soothe your dog. As such, it is important to also have items prepared that are specifically designed to help soothe gums. Just as ice helps our bodies deal with swelling and pain, cold toys and treats are perfect to help deal with teething.
Most pet stores will have toys and treats that are designed to be frozen. Consider picking up some of these to have at-the-ready. Alternatively, healthy frozen foods are also appropriate for teething dogs. You may want to freeze a carrot or some blueberries to offer a healthy, relieving snack to your puppy.
If all else fails, ice cubes are always a fail-safe option. Your dog can chew them, suck on them, or simply place their gums onto the ice. Do not be fooled by thinking this is too simple—many owners report ice cubes being one of the most effective tools to help soothe gums.
During this entire process, remember to be patient and kind to your puppy. While it may be frustrating to deal with teething, try not to forget what it must be like for your furry friend. Just as human babies experience discomfort with teething, so do dog babies; do your best to soothe and comfort your puppy whenever possible.
The third tip on how to deal with teething is practicing positive reinforcement.
As your puppy is still in the early stages of development, teething marks the perfect time to begin establishing habits and continuing your training. You can use teething as a chance to teach what is and is not appropriate for your puppy to do.
For example, if you find your puppy gnawing on furniture, you can teach them not to chew furniture by giving them a chew toy instead. Your puppy will quickly learn what should and should not be chewed on—and chances are, they will like the toy better anyways.
You may be tempted during this time to begin using negative reinforcement when they are doing something wrong. This looks like punishing your puppy when they chew a shoe or grabbing their mouth when they nip. While it may be understandable why you would get upset, doing so can set an unhealthy precedent around behavior. Your puppy may grow up to fear or resent hands around its mouth, for example, which can cause more behavioral problems in the future.
Instead, consider focusing on positive reinforcement as a tool to help deal with teething. Reward your puppy for chewing on the correct things, and gently encourage them to gnaw on something else when they are misbehaving. Dogs are wired to respond well to positive reinforcement, and using it will not only train your dog but also strengthen your bond.
Some Warnings With Teething
As your puppy starts teething, it is important to prepare for a few possible issues. Knowing some of the warnings that accompany teething can help you better deal with them if (and when) they arise.
Blood: A Little Is Normal
The first warning to be prepared for is blood. While it may be upsetting at first, a little bit of blood during teething is completely normal. You are likely to see small spots of blood on your dogs toys, as well as drips of blood around the house.
While we are programmed to associate blood with serious issues, a little bit is still normal. There can be a lot of reasons for the blood; some of the gum might tear when a baby tooth detaches or when an adult tooth pushes through. If seeing the blood spots makes you upset, try to remember that is a natural and healthy part of teething.
Of course, if you are seeing more than just a few drops of blood, then it may be an indicator that something more serious is going on. In a situation like this, call or visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to get a professional opinion and ensure that your dog is developing properly.
Protect Your Possessions!
The next warning should be self-explanatory: protect your possessions that you do not want to risk getting destroyed.
Even when you have a myriad of chewing toys ready for your puppy, sometimes you simply cannot stop your dog from getting into something they shouldn’t. If you cannot bear to have a family armoire or expensive couch gnawed on, then make sure to move them away from your teething dog. Likewise, clothing and shoes should be removed from the floor and kept far out of reach from your puppy.
Some people find success in using baby gates to section off parts of their home from their teething dog. If you’re wondering how to deal with teething, this may be a great option for you. More than anything, remember that by adopting a puppy, you are accepting the risk that they may chew on something you do not want them to.
Nipping is Normal
The third warning to watch out for is nipping. As your puppy develops their adult teeth, they will almost certainly begin to nip. It is natural for your dog to test out their new teeth and learn about the appropriate limits. While nipping is normal, you should be prepared to set the precedent early on that they do not nip at you. Failing to do so might mean developing a habit that is harder to break.
If your puppy begins to nip at you, let out a high pitched “Ow!” to let them know that they bit too hard. This is similar to what other puppies and dogs will do to each other when playing. If the noise excites your dog, then be sure to act calm and turn away or stop playing. Your puppy will quickly learn what is and is not okay with nipping.
Some experts suggest purchasing toys that are at least twice the size of your puppy’s head to help with nipping. Doing so will decrease the chances of your hand coming into contact with your furry friend’s mouth. While this is a great solution for protecting yourself against nipping, it is still important to be prepared to actively teach your puppy not to nip.
Teething: Together, You Can Do It!
By now, you should feel more confident in answering the questions “Is my puppy teething” and “how to deal with teething”. Remember that preparation is key—the more you have at the ready for your dog, the better their teething experience will be. Even if things get difficult, teething only lasts a few short weeks. Try to keep this in mind, and enjoy every stage of life that you and your puppy get to experience together.
What has helped you during the teething process? Let us know in the comments below!