With sharp little teeth and their playful attitude, puppies are small balls of adorable nightmares. They explore the world through their powerful jaws and play with as much strength as they can muster in their grips by biting into everything possible. This includes your slippers, hands, and hair if it’s long enough. Nothing is safe from their little bites. It’s when they turn three months though, or 12 weeks, that puppies begin to teeth. It can be worrying for first time dog owners to witness their precious puppy lose a tooth and not eat as much as usual. It’s completely natural though, like a child losing their teeth, your dog will too. The teething process for puppies varies from each breed and their individual health but the average timeline begins and ends roughly between the ages of 3 to 8 months.
The appetite of your puppy might diminish during these weeks which is completely normal, however, do keep an eye on their food intake. If it appears that your puppy isn’t eating enough then take them to the vets to get checked over. Whilst your puppy may seem to not want to eat their food, don’t change what you feed them. Altering their diet could cause them more stress both emotionally and physically and they’re already stressed enough from the pain of their teeth and sore gums.
If you’re feeding them canned, wet food, try breaking the food up into smaller chunks so it’s easier for them to chew and swallow. The moistness from the wet food is already good enough for their gums and teeth so no other changes are necessarily needed. If you so desire though, you can mix in some dry pellets with the canned wet food. Let the pellets soak in the wet food so they’ll soften and be easier to chew.
If the puppies primary diet consists of dry food, pellets, or biscuits, try to soften them by soaking them in a little warm water or dog friendly broth for roughly 10-15 minutes. This might make it more appealing to their achy gums. Feeding them the pellets and biscuits though can possibly speed up the process of teething as it helps loosens the teeth.
Your puppy will be more likely to nip and chew during this period, so if they try to nibble on your fingers or slippers more than usual, don’t be too surprised: they’re trying to relieve the pain they’re feeling.
To redirect their biting and nipping if they’re going for your hands or clothes, have a suitable chew toy nearby that you can distract them with and replace whatever they had previously been biting. You can also use chewy treats to distract them, such as raw hide, goat ears, meaty raw bones and more. These are nutritious ways to distract your puppy from slobbering all over you and helps to distract and soothe their aches. It will also keep them entertained for hours so it’s a perfect opportunity to get some work or relaxation in.
Just like with people, brushing your dog’s teeth is incredibly important for their dental health in reducing the risks of any dental diseases. Despite your puppies’ teeth going to fall out, it’s better to begin the process of getting your dog used to the feeling of their mouth being touched and brushed sooner rather than later. With the use of pet safe, flavoured toothpastes and finger-brushes, brushing a puppy’s teeth can be simple if you have patience.
There are also dental sticks and treats that can be used to boost their oral health. As with every other treat though, don’t feed too many to your dog or puppy as they will gain weight. Too many sugary treats can also cause a build-up of bacteria on the teeth and cause bad breath.
Bad breath is also a sign for poor health- dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, mouth tumour or something stuck in their mouth and building bacteria. By keeping up with the dog’s oral hygiene, it’ll be easy to notice bad breath from regular dog breath.
Other symptoms of poor dental health or pain are decreased interest in dry foods and hard treats, along with slow chewing and dropping food from their mouth. More obvious symptoms though are excessive drooling and pawing at the mouth, along with new or worsening resistance to having their face or mouth be touched and a change in colour of their teeth. If these symptoms begin showing, then a trip to the vets is advised.
Love or Avoid
There are a few things that your puppy will love while they teeth, and there’s a few things you should avoid helping benefit them.
Starting off with the things to be wary of; cooked bones. If the bones are cooked, smoked, fried, or steamed, they’ll become brittle and are incredibly likely to splinter, causing damage to both the already inflamed gums of the teething puppy and internal damage once swallowed. Bones are already a risk due to causing gastrointestinal obstructions, choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth and on the tonsils, but raw bones reduce the risks.
Something else to be aware of is left over wet food. With your puppy’s appetite reduced while they teeth, they’ll be more likely to leave food behind in their bowls. If you give them wet food, once they’re done eating, clean out their bowl. The wet food, if left, can breed unhealthy bacteria. To prevent the food waste offer smaller, but more frequent meals.
Things you can do to help your teething puppy is offer small, frozen chunks of banana and strawberries. Ice cubes or frozen beef /chicken broth can also offer relief to their sore gums too. The use of a chilled, wet cloth under supervision or a chilled dog chew can help also.
Frozen carrots are also a good snack for a puppy to chew on other than ice cubes or fruit. It’ll not only ease the puppy’s sore teeth and gums but will help improve their dental health too.
Article by Shannon Parsons, International Petfood Magazine, UK