To help teething puppies, it's helpful to firstly understand the teething process and how it impacts them. Learn at what age puppies start teething and what you can do to help them. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares a variety of tips on how to help teething puppies get relief from sore gums.
The Teething Process in Puppies
Toothaches are the worst. We have all experienced them, and we all hate them. Even the slightest tooth pain makes us moody and cranky.
So, imagine how a puppy feels when going through a teething phase. Sore gums and aching teeth are definitely a reason to despair.
Being a responsible parent of a teething puppy means knowing a thing or two about the teething process and finding ways to soothe the gums and relieve the discomfort.
In this article, we will explain the teething process in puppies and the moods and behaviors that follow. You will also find simple yet efficient tips on how to make the teething phase more comfortable for your puppy.
At What Age Puppies Start Teething?
Here is a short timeline of the puppy’s teething phase:
- Milk teeth start piercing the gums at one month of age
- Milk teeth start falling at around three to four months
- Permanent teeth start coming out at five months
- All permanent teeth are grown at approximately seven to eight months.
How to Help Teething Puppies
Luckily, there are ways of making the teething process if not comfortable, at least more bearable. Here are several simple and efficient tips that will soothe your puppies sore gums.
Invest in a Variety of Chew Toys
It is completely normal for a teething puppy to want to chew. However, you can decide what your puppy chews on whether it's chew toys designed specifically for that purpose or your brand-new shoes. If you do not want the latter, the choice is a no-brainer- invest in high-quality chew toys!
Luckily, the modern market offers a plethora of chew toys for dogs. Some are specifically designed for teething puppies. It is advisable to look for chew toys made of hard rubber that can withstand your puppy’s vigorous chewing.
It is even better if the toy can be stuffed with peanut butter or some other, smoothly-textured, dog-friendly treat. Plus, if the chew toy offers such an enticing flavor, who cares about your blunt-tasting shoes!
Use Ice Cubes Out of the Freezer
Ever left your dentist’s office holding a pack of ice cubes on your cheek? Well, there is a reason dentists recommend ice cubes – they are quite soothing and pain reliving.
If your puppy has a more delicate palate and does not find chewing on plain ice cubes interesting, you can get creative and make some ice cubes out of frozen chicken or beef broth (make sure it's low sodium and with no garlic or onion in the ingredients). The broth taste will definitely encourage your dog to chew and the coolness will provide the much needed relief.
If your puppy is still reluctant to chew on the broth cubes, place a few of them on top of its kibble in the food bowl. He or she may be skeptical at first, but once he or she tries them and feels how they taste, your puppy will happily chew on them.
Provide Frozen Chewables
Most pet stores offer cold chew toys – commercially available chew toys specifically designed to be frozen prior to use. The concept behind these toys is same as with the ice cubes. The only difference is these toys can be re-frozen and re-used.
Alternatively, you can save some money by making your own frozen chew toys. All you need is an old dishrag or towel which you can twist into a long and stick-like shape and put in the freezer for couple of hours.
Then, once well-frozen, give the dishrag or towel to your teething puppy. The cold relieves oral discomfort while the towel’s texture and chewiness promote proper biting behavior.
Finally, instead of toys and old dishrags you can use edible items, such as frozen fruits and vegetables. Bananas, strawberries and carrots make excellent and tasty frozen pain relievers. Their coldness will numb the sore gums and their density may aid the removal of the already loose teeth.
Just keep in mind, that frozen edibles are treats, and therefore, they are not meant to be used as meal substitutes and should not be over-used.
Herbal Medicines are Efficient
Certain herbal plants like chamomile and lavender are well-known for their soothing properties. The simplest way of using these herbal plants is making weak herbal teas. Some puppies will happily drink the tea out of their water bowls.
If your puppy is not very fond of tea, you can pour the tea over its regular kibble. Alternatively you can freeze the tea into ice cubes or inject the tea directly into the puppy’s mouth with a syringe.
Puppies are naturally adventurous. Teething puppies are both adventurous and moody, and this is bad combination especially if you like your home décor and personal items.
To prevent destructive behaviors, it is advisable to contain your teething puppy to a certain puppy-proofed area of your house. This often requires installing baby gates that will restrict the access to various parts of the house.
Even if you do not mind having your furniture and shoes disastrously chewed, chewing on hard items can be dangerous for the puppy. The puppy’s teeth are more fragile than it seems and can easily break.
Avoid Doing the Following
In the section above we covered the “what to do” part. However, knowing what not to do, is equally important. Therefore, here is what you should not do when trying to help a teething puppy.
Avoid Over-the-Counter Pain Meds
Pain medications, unless prescribed by a vet and used as instructed, can be harmful to dogs. Not to mention that certain human pain medications are toxic to dogs. If you believe your puppy is in severe pain, talk to your trusted vet and ask for prescription pain meds designed specifically for dogs.
Do Not Allow Chewing on Sticks
A nice wood stick is really tempting for a teething puppy. However, sticks are prone to splintering and can cause serious damage to the puppy’s digestive track if swallowed. Plus, they can fracture the puppy’s fragile teeth. Here is more info on puppies who chew on sticks and how to stop this habit: why do dogs chew sticks?
Not all Holistic Remedies are Vet-Approved
Clove oil is a popular holistic remedy used for soothing irritated and sore gums. However, clove oil is not appropriate for puppies, and if used can have serious adverse effects.
The teething process, although not painful, is at least uncomfortable. Expecting a teething puppy not to chew is irrational. Therefore, instead of expecting the impossible, redirect your puppy’s chewing tendency to chew-appropriate items.
Hopefully, the teething phase, as the name suggests, is just a phase and it will pass. If you follow the tips in this article, it will not even be that much uncomfortable.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.