Your puppy starts losing their deciduous, or baby, teeth at around 12 weeks. By 6 months, they have replaced all their deciduous teeth with permanent teeth. During this stage, you may find yourself referring to your puppy with nicknames such as “land shark,” “bitey monster,” or just “OUCH.” Your puppy is born without visible teeth, but a lot goes on in their mouth during the first six months of their life.
- Weeks 2-4: Deciduous teeth start coming in. Your puppy is nursing with their mother.
- Weeks 5-6: Your puppy has a full set of deciduous teeth, on average 28, and is starting to wean.
- Weeks 12-16: Your puppy starts shedding teeth.
- 6+ Months: Your puppy has a full set of adult teeth. In general, adult dogs have 42 teeth.
Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean you should tolerate your puppy chewing you, the furniture, and everything else in sight. For one thing, those teeth are razor sharp! If you need help corralling your puppy and teaching them to chew only their toys, Gentle Beast’s Bite Inhibition Course walks you through the how’s and why’s of puppy nipping so you can prevent and redirect it with ease.
How to Help a Teething Puppy
Teething is no fun for anyone, you or the pup! As their new teeth erupt through the gums, you may see signs of or increases in:
- Drooling or nipping
- Blood left on bones or toys
- Red or swollen gums
- Slower eating or reduced appetite
- Crying and whining
It’s also very common to see puppy teeth left on the floor or embedded in toys. If you don’t see them, don’t worry–your puppy may have swallowed them, which is completely safe and normal.
While your puppy is teething, work on giving them puppy-safe chew toys. Some of our favorites are:
- Frozen baby carrots: Cheap, edible, and healthy! May turn your puppy’s poop orange.
- Stuffed Kong toys: Look for pink or blue toys, as these are made of softer rubber. They can be frozen for extra durability.
- Nylabones: The puppy line of Nylabones helps soothe their gums. Look for toy designs that are designed to be frozen.
- Bully sticks, pig ears, Himalayan yak chews: Your puppy may be extra motivated to focus on edible and tasty chews. Make sure your puppy is chewing small pieces off, not breaking off large chunks, and take the chew away when it’s small enough to be swallowed whole. These chews tend to be stinky, but your pup will appreciate them.
- MultiPet Chilly Bone: Designed to be soaked in water and frozen, the Multipet Chilly Bone helps soothe and numb your puppy’s swollen gums.
In general, when choosing a chew toy for your puppy, look for something that you can indent with your fingernail or flex with your hand. Your puppy’s deciduous teeth aren’t as strong as their adult set will be, so you want something hard enough to withstand some chewing but soft enough that they won’t chip a tooth. And if you can freeze a toy, all the better!
How to care for your dog's teeth
Ideally, you can start training your puppy to accept and even enjoy having their teeth brushed at this age. If you’ve adopted an older dog, no worries–training can happen at any age! More and more dog owners are becoming aware of the importance of maintaining their dog’s dental hygiene and preventing gingivitis and other forms of dental disease. One study found that daily brushing helps keep plaque and calculus from forming while reducing the severity of pre-existing gingivitis.
To help supplement your pup’s daily teeth cleaning, you can give them dental chews. In the long run, dental chews can help reduce plaque and calculus accumulation, while freshening your dog’s breath. Bad breath can be normal, especially if you supply lots of edible chews, but anything that makes your pup’s breath less stinky probably comes as a relief! However, dental chews are not effective at controlling or reducing gingivitis long-term and do not replace teeth cleaning, either at home or under vet supervision.
In addition to chews, there are teeth cleaning additives that can be added to your puppy’s water bowl. These are safe to ingest and, with consistent use, soften the plaque for easier cleanup.
Chewing is actually a natural way for your dog to clean their teeth. As your dog chews, the action of their teeth scraping against a hard surface removes plaque. Bones are an extremely effective method for plaque and calculus removal, but do not completely replace periodic professional cleanings, as they are not able to remove anything that has accumulated below the gum line.
Why does my puppy still have their baby teeth?
If your puppy has deciduous teeth after six months, take them to the vet for a checkup. Sometimes, the adult tooth emerges without displacing the baby tooth. This is more common in flat-faced or small breed dogs, but can happen in any dog’s mouth.
Teeth crowding can cause pain and increases the risk of dental disease or infections. Your vet can determine whether an extraction is necessary.