You have a new puppy! They are cute, energetic, and the subject of what should be years of joy and love. But you quickly find that you have also brought home a terrifyingly efficient chewing machine, ready and willing to destroy anything and everything they can sink their teeth into.
Why, you ask? They are teething and uncomfortable, and chewing eases the pain. For a puppy, teething and chewing go hand in hand.
Are you wondering how to help puppy teething? Know what to expect from the stages of teething. Understand why your puppy is chewing everything in your house, and provide safe puppy teething toys.
Here’s a brief overview of a teething timeline and how you can help along the way.
Puppy Teething Stages
Puppies are born without teeth. They later develop 28 baby teeth, which eventually fall out and are replaced with 42 permanent teeth. The following puppy teething age chart shows a typical teething timeline (based on a chart by The Spruce Pets).
|Birth-2 weeks||No teeth|
|2-4 weeks||28 baby teeth emerge|
|5-8 weeks||Baby teeth begin falling out|
|12-16 weeks||Permanent teeth start pushing baby teeth out|
|6 months and older||All 42 permanent teeth are in|
Birth to 2 Weeks
When puppies enter the world, they cannot see, hear, or smell and depend entirely on their mothers. They also have no teeth and nurse from their mothers. No doubt Mama Dog appreciates that lack of teeth.
2 to 4 Weeks
Puppies’ eyes begin opening, and other senses awaken. They start mingling with their siblings and mothers and take their first shaky steps. This is when the first baby teeth start to break through. It’s no coincidence that weaning begins at three to four weeks, as Mama Dog is probably feeling those tiny teeth.
5 to 8 Weeks
Puppies are transitioning to solid foods. They are perfectly capable of setting off on expeditions around the house and getting into all kinds of mischief. Baby teeth start falling out at this time. They either fall out of their mouths, or they are harmlessly swallowed.
12 to 16 Weeks
By this time, you’ve probably given your puppy plenty of opportunities for socialization and fun new places and situations. You may have started behavior training. Unfortunately, this is also when the permanent teeth start coming in and pushing the remaining baby teeth out. This is not the most comfortable time for your puppy.
6 Months and Older
Your puppy has reached teenhood. Small dogs reach their adult size, while larger dogs still have some growing to do. But, like human teens, your pup will start testing boundaries. Meanwhile, 42 brand new permanent teeth should finally be in place!
Teething and Chewing
Teething brings discomfort. Sharp bits of bone are pushing through soft gum tissues. It has to hurt. Chewing is a puppy’s way of reducing the pain. If they can reach it and sink their teeth into it, they will chew it.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and you can’t train them out of it. However, with careful supervision, you can control what they can and cannot chew. Move off-limits items out of reach, and make sure what they do chew will not harm them (or ruin a family heirloom).
What NOT to Chew
Shoes are easy targets. They tend to linger on the floor, have just the right texture, and are easy to drag off to a spot for the little culprit to get comfortable and start chewing.
Puppies explore with their mouths and will pick up anything they deem interesting, or that will alleviate that teething sensation. Unfortunately, some of those things can be dangerous. For example:
- Electrical wires and cords: These can be enticing to a puppy. But if they bite through the casing, they can be seriously injured or worse.
- Soft, fuzzy, and plastic toys: If the puppy tears a toy to shreds, they may swallow bits of fabric, stuffing, or plastic, creating dangerous blockages in the digestive system.
- Sticks: You should not have your puppy chewing on sticks. They break easily into pieces with sharp edges that, if swallowed, can perforate the intestines or get stuck in their jaw.
- Rawhide chew toys: We don’t like rawhide chew toys that have been treated with chemicals or items that become soft and gooey while chewing because the puppy can swallow them and get them stuck in their intestines.
- Hard objects: Anything that does not bend can damage those new, hard-earned teeth.
- People: If you’ve ever had a puppy use your hand as a chew toy, you know those baby teeth are pointy and sharp! Keep fingers out of reach, and immediately remove your puppy from any fingers they have grabbed.
What to Chew
There are several safe, satisfying options for your puppy’s chewing needs. Have some things ready as soon as you bring your puppy home. Whatever you get, make sure they’re the right size for your dog.
- Marrow bones: These are excellent choices, especially if they are meaty.
- Beef soup bones: You can get them at the supermarket. A dog can’t easily break them.
- Nylabones: These are safe, veterinarian-recommended chew toys and treats.
- Kong toys: These are durable rubber toys virtually indestructible and safe to chew. You can stuff them with treats.
- Other puppy teething toys: Having plenty of toys will keep them away from your favorite shoes.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council has created a list of safe items for dogs, including chew toys and treats.
A Parting Reminder
Puppies go through a rapid, painful teething process. Every puppy will look for relief in the form of chewing. Unfortunately, they are not very discerning about what they chew; just about anything will do.
The best way for you to help your puppy is to protect them from dangerous objects. You’ll also want to maintain a distance between them and things you’d like to keep in good condition.
Maintain a generous inventory of safe toys and treats, and your puppy will soon have a gleaming set of 42 healthy teeth!