“Seriously, when will my puppy stop teething?” said just about every dog parent ever. If your new puppy’s 3 or 4 months old, you might be wondering when they will quit chewing on everything: their toys, your table, your shoes, your hand. And what, if anything, you can do to help them through it.
“Just like human babies, puppies go through teething. Some fly through it with no problem, while others fuss, drool and chew,” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, in upstate New York says.
Puppy teething, or the process of developing healthy teeth, is crucial to your dog’s health. Here’s what you need to know about your puppy’s teeth, from ways to help them self-soothe (without destroying your favorite shoes) to when to call a veterinarian.
When Do Puppies Start Teething?
“Puppies actually go through teething twice by the time they are a year old,” Dr. Eldredge says. Newborn puppies’ first teeth begin to appear around 2 to 3 weeks of age.
And you won’t have to work too hard to spot them. “The first teeth to appear are the incisors—the tiny teeth right in front,” she says. In total, puppies will develop 28 baby teeth (aka deciduous teeth, meaning they fall out).
Because many puppies are adopted after weaning from their mother, usually around 7 or 8 weeks old, many pet parents don’t witness newborn dog teething. Don’t worry: There’s another round of teething to come.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth?
At about 8 weeks of age, puppies will start to lose their deciduous teeth. Most pups have their full set of teeth by 8 months of age or so. In total, dogs develop 42 adult teeth.
How Long Does Puppy Teething Last?
How long puppy teething lasts depends on your particular puppy. Expect puppy teething to last until your pup is 6 to 8 months. Some dogs—especially small and brachycephalic breeds—might need help from a vet, if their baby teeth are resistant to falling out.
Puppy Teething Symptoms
So how can you tell if your puppy is teething? Once your pup is 3 or 4 months old, keep an eye out for these puppy teething symptoms:
- Blood on Toys: Don’t freak out if you spot a little blood on your puppy’s fave chew toys—it’s normal and won’t hurt them.
- Dog-Version of Baby Teeth: Just like with human babies, your fur babies teeth fall out as they begin the teething process—it’s normal. You may find them stuck to toys or whatever else they’ve been chewing. They lose 28 baby teeth in all over a period—some you may see, others not.
- Increased Chewing: Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs, but for many puppies, teething can put that impulse into overdrive. That’s because chewing can be a self-soothing behavior for teething puppies — but it can also put your belongings at risk. There are some expert strategies below to save your shoes.
Other puppy teething symptoms include:
- Increased drooling
- Hesitating to eat
- Eating slowly
- Running a low fever
- Red and/or swollen gums
How to Help Your Teething Puppy
Teething is an unavoidable rite of passage for puppies, but you can make things a little easier for your little friend.
1. Provide Puppy Teething Toys
Puppies love to chew! Your best bet is to help them do it safely with a teething toy Just be sure you’re in the room when it happens: Toys for a teething puppy should only be used under your supervision, as sharp puppy teeth can rip off small chunks that your pup may then swallow.
Try these puppy teething toys:
- Soft rubber dental rings
- Soft plastic chews
- Teething sticks
- Bully sticks
Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA, author, dog trainer and owner of Frolic Pup in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, recommends the KONG Puppy toy—the rubber is designed specifically for a growing puppy’s baby teeth. “KONG rubber toys are usually my go-to suggestion for dogs of all ages, but particularly puppies because it’s a safe and fun busy toy,” she says.
She also recommends KONG’s Puppy Teething Stick: “The grooves on the teething stick make it easy for them to get a quick payoff.”
- Plush toys: “Puppy teething toys should be tough enough to withstand hard chewing, which means that plush toys aren’t a good option,” says Schade.
- Your hands: Many puppies at this age are learning bite inhibition (aka the ability to control the strength of their bite). It’s important to put a stop to them biting your hands—even nips—before it escalates or becomes an ingrained behavior.
2. Freezing Treats and Toys
Cold treats can ease the swelling and pain of tender teething gums. While ice cubes may be too rough on their teeth, frozen carrots cut into small, chewable chunks, are an easy solution.
Another option: Freeze your puppy’s toys. Or better yet, freeze a treat inside their toy, like KONG’s Puppy Easy Treat, which pet parents can use to fill up their pup’s KONG toy and it’s gentle on sensitive stomachs.
3. Puppy-proof Your Home
Your puppy wants to chew everything, including your shoes, sofa and lots of other things that will be aggravating to replace. Here are a few simple strategies from our experts to try:
- Hide personal possessions or put them out of reach. You pup is going to be especially drawn to anything that smells like you (their favorite thing in the world). Shoes on the floor of a closet, laundry in basket, your phone of the couch— these items are simply too enticing for a teething puppy. Put them out of reach for safety and know that teething does not last forever.
- Protect electrical cords. Cords, whether electrical or from your blinds or curtains, that are on the floor or within reach, are another temptation for chewing. Move cords out of reach (upward, of course) or utilize tools such as cord covers if moving cords upward and out of reach is not an option.
- Install child-proof safety locks on drawers and cabinets. It might feel like overkill but installing child-proof safety locks on lower drawers in the kitchen can help prevent a chewing puppy from getting into foods or linens stored within.
- Provide a “safe” spot for your puppy to hang out. Use gates to close off rooms that you do not want them to explore and find fun thing upon which to chew. The MidWest Steel Pet Gate, for example, can help keep teething pups in safe spaces, and comes in two colors to blend in with your home’s decor.
Learn how to puppy proof without sacrificing your sense of style.
4. Redirect the Behavior
Chewing is going to happen. Getting angry and scaring your pup is not a solution. Be prepared to distract them from gnawing on your prized possessions by providing appropriate toys under supervision such as those listed above.
Of course, accidents are going to happen. If you catch your pup chewing on your pricey pumps or sofa cushion, remove the item or remove them from the item and give them a firm “no” then replace with a toy that is cool to chew on. Positive reinforcement will go a long way to teaching your puppy.
5. Practice Proper Dental Care
For now, you can skip the dog tooth brushing. (Yes, you should brush your dog’s teeth. More on this here.) Instead, pet parents can start familiarizing their pups with elements of tooth brushing without actually scrubbing their (super-sensitive!) new teeth by lightly touching the teeth with a toothbrush or putting dog toothpaste, such as TropiClean Fresh Breath Puppy Clean Teeth Gel, in their mouth. This will help put your pup on the road to good dental health, avoiding trouble like periodontal disease.
When to Call Your Vet
For most puppies, teething is mildly uncomfortable—but routine. Sometimes, though, a call to the vet might be necessary. You’ll want to watch for these signs of teething troubles. If you spot these issues, give your vet a call.
- Trouble eating
- Rubbing at the mouth
- Dropping food from the mouth while eating
- Reluctance to eat or chew
- Odor from the mouth
Toy breeds in particular seem prone to “double teeth,” says Dr. Eldredge. “The retained baby teeth can cause problems for the developing adult teeth,” she says. “They may totally block the eruption of the adult tooth, leading to a very sore and swollen gum area.” A vet might suggest deciduous tooth removal happens at the same time as a dog’s spay or neuter procedure since they both require general anesthesia.
As a pet parent, you can help during this transition by providing appropriate dog toys, introducing dental health habits, and watching out for signs of trouble. And if your couch or your favorite shoes become a casualty of puppy teething, well, they weren’t nearly as cute as your adorable pup anyway.
There are no “stupid” questions when it comes to your pet’s health. If you suspect your pet is sick, please call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your regular veterinarian when possible as they can make the best recommendations for your pet.
What else can you expect to experience during your puppy’s first year? Read our puppy stages guide to learn more.