Chew on These Tips to Survive Your Puppy’s Teething Stage
Bringing home a new dog is a wonderful time in a pet lover’s life, especially when it’s a puppy. You get to experience them learning the ways of the world; teaching them how to behave; and watching them grow up. One of the harder parts about raising a puppy starts at around three months – teething. Puppies will lose their baby teeth and grow their adult ones, and this memorable phase lasts a few months.
Typically, we don’t realize our puppy is teething until their behavior changes. They might act a little bit more wild, and they will begin to bite things (including you), more frequently. You may notice blood and find teeth on the ground. Don’t be alarmed, this is completely normal. Here’s what you need to know to get through this stage in your puppy’s life without getting chewed up.
Teething is a painful process for a puppy, much like it is for a child. You’ll notice an increase in nipping, but it’s not because they’re mad; it’s because it hurts. Try to keep this in mind when your puppy is teething. If they begin to nip at you, replace your finger with a toy instead. They don’t necessarily want to chew on you; they just need to chew on something. If the puppy is nipping too hard and testing your patience, remove them from the situation for a few moments. Put them somewhere safe and quiet until they (and you) calm down. It’s never okay to yell at them or hurt them for this – it’s not their fault.
Wet Their Food
Because teething hurts, your puppy might be hesitant to eat. If you notice they aren’t eating their food with the normal gusto, add some water and let it soften. I don’t recommend adding wet food if that’s not part of their normal routine that will only make them picky in the future.
Freeze Their Toys
When teething, the puppy’s gums will swell and get quite painful. Take a rope toy, soak it in water, and then freeze it. Kong toys filled with peanut butter and frozen will work as well. The cold toys will help reduce swelling and ease your pup’s pain.
Chews, Chews and More Chews
Have a bunch of chews available for your puppy. Stay natural with Bully sticks, chew hooves, bones and antlers. Avoid artificially dyed products and rawhide because they can be dangerous for a young pup. Always make sure to supervise your puppy when it’s eating a chew for safety. It’s a great way to allow both you and your puppy to relax at the end of a night.
Offer Healthy Teething-Friendly Treats
If you’re worried about whether your puppy is getting everything that they need nutritionally due to their reluctance to chow down on their usual kibble, another way to offer something with high nutritional value is to provide some teething-friendly treats. One of the easiest options is simply to freeze a pet-friendly vegetable like carrots and allow your dog to chew on the frozen veggies. They will benefit from the vitamins that these options include while fact that it’s frozen will offer some much-needed pain relief.
Another option is to make puppy teething cubes. Take an ice cube tray and add some random treats and goodies to each of the individual cells of the tray. Some great options include blueberries, green beans (they can hang out of the cell, that’s fine), strawberries, pieces of watermelon (with no seeds), banana slices, green peas, or any other tasty treats. When you’re happy with the selection, pour a sodium-free chicken or beef broth over everything, filling the cells before freezing them. Your pup will love chewing the frozen cubes, revealing the various surprises.
Puppy Proof Your Dog’s Space
If you haven’t already puppy proofed the areas that your pup is spending most of their time, now is the perfect time to make that a priority. Teething puppies may be tempted to chew on objects that you would prefer they avoid, such as the table legs on your living room coffee table or your favorite pair of shoes. They don’t mean to be destructive; they just want relief. To set your pup up for success, try removing or blocking off any items that they may be tempted to gnaw on. Instead, replace it with chew-friendly options like the treats and chews mentioned already on this list.
Keep Your Puppy Busy (and Distracted)
If you notice that your puppy is starting to become destructive with their chewing, consider introducing a safe distraction. Not only will keeping your puppy busy help to provide the physical and mental stimulation that they need for proper development, but they won’t have time to focus on their teething pain. One great way that you can do this is with the use of puzzle toys and snuffle mats.
Keep an eye on the Progress
Routinely check the puppy’s mouth to see how it’s coming along. Teething can take weeks or months depending on the dog. Safely look into the mouth to observe and look out for problems. The puppy will be fussy so it’s a good idea to start this process before the teething process begins. Get in the habit of brushing their teeth and handling their mouth as soon as you bring them home. Keep an eye out for anything that looks strange – mainly teeth refusing to fall out. Sometimes the baby teeth will need to be pulled to avoid problems for the adult teeth. If you notice something strange, contact your veterinarian.
Start to Incorporate Regular Dental Care
Not only should you be checking your pup’s teeth regularly to make sure that everything is progressing properly, but this is also a great time to start introducing your pup to the ins and outs of the dental care routine that they will be experiencing throughout the rest of their lives. This includes introducing them to the dog toothbrush and toothpaste as well as helping them adjust to the feel of someone looking in their teeth and handling their mouth.
Not only will this make it easier for you to carry for their teeth and prevent dental problems in the future, but it will also make it easier for your veterinarian when they need to do a dental exam. After all, no one want to try to force their way into the mouth of a dog that’s uncomfortable with the situation. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!
Teething can be a painful process for everyone involved, but keep in mind that it’s only temporary. Your puppy is growing and eventually those adult teeth will grow in and the gnawing will stop. Be sure to puppy-proof your house at this time, because they will chew on anything to relieve the pain. If it’s out of control, hire a professional trainer to help. Otherwise, sit back and stay patient. Remember – how you handle this situation will impact the dog’s behavior for life.
Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Virginia Woof. She’s loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she’s not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.
Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she's not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.
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