There are plenty of challenges that come with raising a puppy. House training, yipping and barking, nipping, an unpredictable sleep schedule — the list goes on. Teething is another part of puppyhood that can be a bit uncomfortable for your new pet.
Puppy teething is something that, for the most part, your dog will work through on their own. But it's important that you're familiar with the process, including the timeline of the teething process and what teething will consist of, so that you can make sure your puppy is healthy as he or she continues to grow.
Dogs and humans share many similarities. Just like human babies, puppies lose their baby teeth and gain adult teeth as they get older. Read on to find out more about the stages of this process so you can answer the ultimate questions: When do puppies lose their teeth? And, what can we do, as dog owners, to help the process along and keep our dogs' teeth and gums healthy?
Puppy Teething Stages
While every puppy is different and the timeline of your puppy's teething might not look exactly like what's described below, most puppies follow the same general pattern when it comes to teething. And, they all share the same numbers: Your pup will have 28 baby teeth (known medically as deciduous teeth and often called milk teeth) that eventually get replaced with 42 adult teeth.
The stages of puppy teething look something like this:
Newborns aren't born with any teeth at all, just like a human baby. If the new puppy is still with its mother, it will suckle milk from her. If the mother isn't available, the newborn puppy will need to be bottle-fed by hand.
2-3 weeks of age
In the first few weeks of age, your puppy's baby teeth will start to protrude through the gums. You'll most likely see the incisors first, which are the smaller front teeth, followed by the canine teeth which are the fangs on either side of the mouth. The premolars are the last to appear. They’re found behind the canine teeth closer to the back of the mouth.
6 weeks of age
Around 6 weeks of age, your puppy will most likely have all of their 28 baby teeth in their mouth. It's at this time that your puppy will begin getting weaned off of the mother's milk and start eating solid puppy food. And, it won't be long before those puppy teeth will begin falling out.
12-16 weeks of age
Between 12 and 16 weeks, your puppy's deciduous teeth will start to disappear, soon to be replaced by the adult teeth. The adult teeth simply push the baby teeth out of the way, so you might find the occasional puppy tooth on your floor or by your pup's water dish. Most of the time, however, your puppy simply swallows the baby tooth, which is normal and shouldn't cause your pet any harm.
6 months of age
By about 6 months of age, all of the baby teeth will have fallen out and been replaced by the permanent teeth. Note that in addition to premolars, your dog now has molars as well. These are the larger teeth at the very back of the mouth that help with chewing and mashing.
Signs of a Teething Puppy
Reading about the stages of puppy teething is one thing. Going through it with a living, breathing puppy in front of you is another. Let's take a look at the signs of a teething puppy so you can be sure what's going on with your new pet.
As you can imagine, the process of the adult teeth pushing out the baby teeth can be a little uncomfortable for your young puppy. And it will probably cause a few outward signs. Look for these things when your puppy is around 3 to 4 months of age because they most likely means your puppy is going through the teething process:
- More chewing. The process of teething can cause a puppy to chew even more than they already do. Chewing is a way of relieving some of the discomfort your puppy is feeling, so you'll want to make sure shoes, furniture, valuables, and anything else your pup could get their mouth on is protected.
- A little blood on chew toys. It's not uncommon to find a bit of blood on your puppy's chew toys while they're going through the stages of teething. This is perfectly normal and isn't something to worry about unless the amount of blood seems excessive. If it does, talk to your vet.
- Red, swollen gums. As the adult teeth push the baby teeth out, it can cause some natural inflammation and swelling around the gums. This is usually nothing to worry about, but call your veterinarian if it looks serious.
- Reluctance to eat or slow eating. You might find your puppy eats very slowly or is reluctant to eat at all. This is simply because of the discomfort in their mouth and should subside after a few weeks.
- Whining. Puppies whine for all sorts of reasons, and teething is one of them. Expect a bit of noise as your puppy's teeth grow into their full adult form.
How To Help Your Puppy's Teething Process Along
The teething process is a natural part of life for your puppy. There's really nothing you can do to speed it up, but you can help your young dog feel a bit more comfortable as their adult teeth make their way into the mouth.
First, give your puppy plenty of chew toys. Your puppy's natural chewing instinct will be at an all-time high during this stage of life, and having the proper outlet will both make your dog more comfortable and save your property from being destroyed. Soft rubber chew toys, like KONG puppy toys, are popular and give your pup a safe way to get out his or her chewing instincts while keeping them occupied for hours.
You might also try giving your puppy cold dog treats. The cold helps soothe your dog's teeth and gums as their first teeth arrive and the process goes on. Try popping your puppy's favorite treats into the refrigerator or freezer for a little while and see if they like the result.
A final tip: Check out your puppy's mouth on a regular basis throughout puppyhood to make sure nothing looks amiss. If you notice excessive swelling, redness, bleeding, or anything else that looks wrong, let your veterinarian know. Probing your puppy's mouth on a regular basis is also a good way to get your pet used to having their mouth handled, which will be important for tooth brushing a little later in life.
Tips for Great Dental Care
Once your puppy has completed the teething process and has all 42 adult dog teeth in their mouth, you can start implementing a regular tooth brushing regimen. This is important for preventing tartar build-up, which can lead to excessive plaque, gingivitis, or even serious periodontal disease. Always use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs and a toothbrush designed for adult canine teeth.
It's also important to make sure your puppy receives the proper nutrition in these early stages of life. Aside from being essential for growth, it makes for strong teeth and gums, leading to good dental health. Ask your vet about a good puppy food choice, and consider adding a nutritional supplement for an extra boost in the dental department.
So, when exactly do puppies lose their teeth? Your puppy starts losing teeth around three months of age or so. Their baby teeth will be completely gone by six months, having been replaced by their adult teeth. You can help your pup feel better during these months by providing appropriate chew toys, offering the occasional cold treat, and checking the mouth regularly to make sure nothing looks out of place. Once your puppy's adult teeth have come in, be sure to keep up with good dental care for a lifetime of health and happiness.For more great tips on your dog's health and wellness needs, visit the Pet Honesty blog.