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Puppy Teething — Timeline & Survival Guide

By Aviram K.
December 6, 2020
5 min read
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Puppies are born toothless and start getting their first teeth after 2-4 weeks. Just like humans, they first grow baby teeth (also called deciduous or milk teeth). Once they finish coming in after about 12-16 weeks of age, the puppy should have 28 baby teeth. Only then do their permanent adult teeth start coming in to replace them. From birth to a full set of 42 adult teeth, the entire process usually takes about six to eight months.

Unfortunately, the teething process usually involves some discomfort and pain for the puppy. You do have some options at your disposal to ease his time, though.

Puppy Teething Timeline

  • Weeks 0-2: Puppies are toothless.
  • Weeks 2-4 (0.5 - 1 month): Puppies should start getting their first baby teeth. The teeth should start coming from front to back in order. First, the incisors in the front will come in, followed by the canine teeth, the premolars, and finally, the molars in the back.
  • Weeks 12-16 (3-4 months): puppies should have all their 28 baby teeth out. Over the next couple of months, their baby teeth should start falling out while new adult teeth start coming in to replace them. Your puppy will probably begin biting and chewing more around this time.
  • Week 26-34 (6-8 months): By this time, the entire teething process should have ended or at least almost over. All the puppies’ baby teeth should have fallen out, and all their 42 permanent adult teeth should already be in place.

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Common Problems During the Puppy Teething Process

Sometimes, things won’t go smoothly. Hopefully, your puppy is perfectly healthy, but here are some common problems to watch out for:

Retained Baby Teeth

These are rare, but still, they happen from time to time. The most common problem is retaining some baby teeth after the adult ones have come in. Some small and brachycephalic dog breeds (like French Bulldogs and Pugs) are more likely to experience retained teeth.

Retained teeth can be problematic and be the cause of various bad things, including:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Discomfort
  • A weak and unstable bite
  • Gum disease (due to food getting stuck between the baby teeth, the gums, and the permanent teeth)

For that reason, a professional vet must remove the retained baby teeth. The removal of those teeth doesn’t have to be a dedicated procedure, though. The vet may perform it while neutering or spaying the puppy.

Bleeding

It is usual for your puppy to experience some minor bleeding during the teething process. It should be almost unnoticeable, however. It’s okay if you see some minor red stains on his toys here and there, but if the bleeding is more severe than that, you should get him checked by a vet.

When to Visit the Vet

As a general rule, if you have any reason to suspect something might be off with your puppy, visit the vet to make sure he’s alright.

If your puppy still has his baby teeth by the time he is 30 weeks old (7 months old), it could be a sign that something might be off with the teething process. In that case, it’s a good idea to have the vet inspect him.

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How You Can Help Your Puppy with Teething

As some parents can testify, the teething process is not the most pleasant. Dogs, like human babies, may experience some discomfort and pain while going through it. While you can’t make the discomfort and pain go away completely, you can help reduce them a bit:

  • Give your puppy frozen things to chew. Things like frozen carrots, plain ice cubes, or frozen rags can help numb the gums and help with your puppy’s teething pains. Another thing you can do is give your puppy a frozen Kong filled with soaked kibble as his meal.  
  • Give your puppy chew toys. Chew toys like ropes can help ease some of the discomfort caused by growing teeth. You can ask your vet for a specific toy recommendation that is the safest for your puppy. Make sure those toys you give your puppy stay whole and don’t break down. Torn apart toys can be a hazard.

I recommend having a professional vet check on your puppy during the teething process. A vet can make sure that everything is well, and if not, treat your puppy as early as possible.

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Keeping Your Puppy’s Teeth Healthy

Try not to interfere with the puppy’s baby teeth falling out unless necessary. Only a professional vet or a pet dentist should remove a puppy’s teeth if necessary. Please don’t do it yourself unless you precisely know what you are doing.

Here some tips that will help you protect your puppy’s teeth in the long term:

  • Don’t let your puppy (or adult dog) chew on very hard toys and other things. Chewing on hard things can cause damage to your puppy’s teeth in the long term. Puppy proof your house to make sure your puppy doesn’t chew on unexpected things that can potentially harm him.
  • Start getting the puppy used to being touched inside and outside the mouth. This will prove very useful later when you or the vet need to brush his teeth or take something out of his mouth.
  • Start brushing your puppy’s teeth as soon as he has all his adult teeth in place. Keeping good oral hygiene is essential if you want to keep your puppy’s teeth in tip-top shape and prevent many dental problems in the future. For brushing, use a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste as it can contain Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
  • Feed your puppy with quality dog food. You can ask your vet for a specific dog food recommendation for your puppy. Avoid feeding him foods that are bad for dogs.

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How to Stop Biting and Nipping

Biting, nipping, and chewing are normal and healthy behaviors of almost all dogs, even adult ones. For that reason, you can’t stop the biting entirely. However, you can take some steps to reduce the bite’s frequency and strength when it does happen.

Teach Your Puppy Bite Inhibition

The chewing and nipping will stop being cute when your puppy becomes a big and healthy adult dog. In an ideal world, you will have already taught him proper bite inhibition by this time.

  1. Work on making the bite hurt less. You can train your puppy’s bite to be less forceful by signaling to your puppy when he bites too hard. Whenever your puppy bites you in a non-gentle way, sound a high-pitched “Ouch!” sound. If your puppy stops biting, immediately reward him, and have him sit to calm him down a bit before continuing the play session. However, if your puppy doesn’t listen, sound another high-pitched yelping sound and stop playing for a few minutes. After some timeout, return and lure your puppy to sit and calm down, and only then resume playing. With time, your puppy will learn that he should use a soft bite if he wants the play to continue. It would be best if you worked on this even before your puppy is three months old. This way, when your puppy gains his adult teeth, he is already using a more gentle bite that doesn’t hurt.
  2. Reduce the frequency of biting. Teach your dog the “Leave It” command. Whenever your puppy starts using you as a chew toy, use “Leave It” and reward him immediately with treats and pets to reinforce it further. After some training sessions, your dog should start getting it and will bite you less and less.

Keep working on proper bite inhibition with your puppy. He will slowly but surely lose interest in biting and nipping if you stay consistent. As a bonus, when he does slip and decide to bite, it will be a soft bite and will likely not hurt anyone.

Redirect Your Puppy’s Attention

You can redirect his attention towards a soft chew toy like a rope if he is in a very high energy stage and does not listen to you.

Do Not Punish Your Puppy

Negative reinforcement will only lead to a scared and fearful puppy. Punishment won’t make your puppy learn any faster and can even cause him to regress. Please don’t get mad at him for doing what is natural for him. If you don’t like a behavior your puppy is doing, use treats, play, and pets to reward him when he does something you do like. If you consistently reward the behaviors you want, your puppy will be well behaved in no time.


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TeethingNew PuppyPuppy Development

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