Puppies are like little babies with razor-sharp teeth. They're teething, and everything is fair game. Your furniture, your shoes, your hands... nothing is safe.
When adopting a new puppy, there are many things pet owners know to expect, such as potty training and regular vaccination boosters. One thing that some pet parents may not realize is that our canine companions will lose their first set of teeth, which are then replaced by permanent adult teeth. Just as in human babies, this process can be uncomfortable, and your puppy needs to have lots of appropriate things to chew on for relief.
Puppy Teething Timeline
When puppies are born, there are no visible teeth. Their 28 puppy teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, erupt from the gums at between 2 and 4 weeks of age. Their teeth may be small and cute, but boy are they sharp! At 12 to 16 weeks of age, your puppy will begin to lose these teeth and their full set of 42 adult teeth will come in by about 6 months of age. This process of new teeth erupting can be painful. Many pups chew on things to help ease this discomfort, so it is important to provide them with appropriate puppy teething toys for this purpose. You may find a lost tooth or note blood spotting on their toys. Don’t be alarmed if you do not find their teeth as most of them will be harmlessly swallowed. If all their puppy teeth do not fall out on their own by 6-8 months of age, check with your vet, they may advise having these retained puppy teeth pulled to prevent excessive tartar buildup between these teeth and their permanent counterparts.
How to Help a Teething Puppy
Freezing certain foods or toys can offer additional relief. The cool temperature can be soothing and even numb sore gums. There are a few foods that are great frozen options for teething puppies, offering them both relief and a tasty treat. A few examples include frozen mini bagels just be sure there are no raisins or chocolate), carrots and fruits (strawberries or pieces of banana). If your pup has a sensitive stomach, and you’re concerned about giving them these, an alternative is wetting down a dish rag or kitchen towel, molding it into a playful shape and freezing it for your pup to chew on. Giving them ice cubes is another good option. Always be sure to supervise your pup carefully with these treats to prevent choking.
There are a lot of toys out there that are great for teething puppies specifically. One such toy is the Chilly Bone. This toy is designed to absorb water and then be frozen to provide relief for your teething pup. Kong is another great option, especially for those pups you may consider super-chewers! Kong is made of a durable rubber material that can be given alone or can be filled with treats or peanut butter to keep your pup interested. Toys come in many sizes and materials, so it's important to find one that won't pose a choking or blockage hazard, but that is still small enough to get their teeth on.
Tips for Avoiding a Puppy Teething Catastrophe
During the teething stage, it is in your best interest to keep your personal items such as shoes, purses, hats, etc. out of your puppy’s reach to avoid them inadvertently using these as a chew toy. Keep the toys intended for this purpose in an easily accessible and visible location to encourage them to make the appropriate choice when they want something to chew on. Be sure the toy is of appropriate size and durability for your specific pet to help them avoid harming their teeth or chewing off and swallowing a piece of the toy. Bones and other hard chews can damage teeth, so try to find something hard enough to be durable, but not so hard that it’ll crack a tooth.
Taking Care of Your Puppy’s Teeth After Teething
Your puppy is going to lose their first set of teeth, so it may not seem necessary to brush them, but introducing teeth brushing to your dog at a young age will help get them used to the feeling. Regular teeth brushing is an important part of enhancing and maintaining your dog’s oral hygiene. If not introduced until years down the road, many dogs are not as amenable to suddenly having their teeth brushed. After 6 months of age, the teeth you see are what you get, so it is very important to begin dental care early! It is always better to be proactive and maintain your pet’s dental health from an early age rather than wait until it’s too late and your pet needs to have teeth pulled due to dental disease. Your vet should examine your pet’s oral cavity at their annual exam which can give you insight into any concerns early enough that they can be addressed without extractions being necessary.
Besides regular brushing, providing your dog with dental chews can be beneficial as well. Keep in mind this is a recommended addition, but it is not intended to replace brushing all together. Dental chews are typically infused with anti-bacterial factors or sealants that help slow the buildup of plaque on your dog’s teeth. For these to be of benefit, it is important that your dog actually sits and chews the dental chew rather than just eating it.
Dental Coverage for your Puppy
Dental accidents and illnesses happen, even to those who receive regular brushings. Maybe a few of those pesky puppy teeth don’t fall out on their own. A dental visit with just a few extractions can cost north of $400-500. Many people may not think about pet dental insurance, but dogs have even more teeth than us! It is better to be protected in the event of dental accident or illness rather than having to face a potentially hefty bill unexpectedly.
Dental accidents and illnesses can be expensive to treat, but with Embrace pet insurance, your dental expenses are covered under the accident and illness coverage. Embrace covers up to 80% of the cost of these, from fractured teeth to gingivitis and periodontal disease, even extractions or root canals. Dental accidents and illnesses are covered up to $1000 per policy term. Routine dental cleanings are not directly covered but could be eligible for reimbursement through an optional wellness plan. It is important to get your puppy insurance early on to avoid them developing pre-existing conditions that might not be covered.
How to Provide Puppy Teething Relief for You and Your Pup
Teething is a normal but challenging part of puppyhood. To help your puppy through this phase, start brushing their teeth young and make it a positive experience. Provide them with soothing toys and frozen treats when they lose their baby teeth and avoid unwanted chewing by providing appropriate chew toys. Dental hygiene is especially important to your pet’s health and should be prioritized at a young age. Take care of those pearly whites and be sure to get your pet insured!
Teething can be a tough time for puppies, but it's also a time when they're learning and growing. They're curious and playful, and they're always up for an adventure. Even if that adventure means chewing on your favorite shoes or furniture.
So if you're raising a teething puppy, remember to be patient and understanding. They're not trying to make you crazy, they're just trying to figure things out. And in the meantime, enjoy this special time with your new furry friend. Because before you know it, they'll be all grown up and you'll be reminiscing about the days when they were just a tiny puppy with razor-sharp teeth.