As you know, puppies are born with no teeth at all. The first teeth to erupt are the incisors which come out at 2 to 3 weeks of age. Next to erupt are the canines and premolars. The last premolar erupts at about 8 to 12 weeks of age.
The average puppy has 28 baby teeth – the incisors, canines, and premolars. Puppies do not have molars. Anyone who has had a puppy can attest to the fact that puppy baby teeth are quite sharp and can easily draw blood! So beware when you are rough housing with your puppy!
The puppy baby teeth remain for 3 to 7 months.
Beginning at around 3 months of age, puppies shed the baby incisors. By 5 months, a puppy should have all his adult incisors. Between 4 to 7 months of age, he will have his adult canines, premolars and molars.
A puppy will have all his adult teeth at 7 to 8 months of age.
Adult Dog Teeth
The average adult dog has 42 teeth: 22 in the lower jaw and 20 in the upper jaw. In each jaw there are:
- 6 incisors,
- 2 canines,
- 8 premolars, and
- 6 molars in the lower jaw, 4 in the upper jaw
Depending on the breed, some dogs have more than 42 teeth and some may have fewer. For example, doberman pinchers have fewer teeth, whereas spaniels and greyhounds tend to have more teeth.
Symptoms of Puppy Teething
A teething puppy will show some of these signs:
- Red and swollen gums, may bleed at times
- Chewing and gnawing on things
- Drooling due to pain and discomfort
- Less willing/eager to eat
- Being listless
- May run a slight fever
How to Relieve Puppy Teething Pain
Just like human babies, puppies feel pain and discomfort when their teeth are erupting. As a result, teething puppies tend to chew and gnaw at everything in order to relieve the teething pain and pressure in their gums.
Some people use pain medications (e.g. Anbesol, a local anesthetic) to relieve puppy teething pain, but some puppies may develop adverse reactions to such medications.
Unless your puppy is really agitated by the pain, and doesn’t seem to be able to settle down, or is refusing to eat, try to avoid giving such pain meds to the pup. It is much better to use natural solutions to soothe teething pain in puppies.
Natural home remedies are safe and are equally effective. Here are some suggestions:
Puppy teething pain can be numbed by something cold, so the easiest way to soothe a teething puppy is to gently rub an ice cube on the puppy’s gums. You can also make simple tasty “pupsicles” by freezing 100% pure fruit juice (such as apple juice, watermelon juice, etc.) in an ice cube tray.
The juice of aloe vera is available in a drinkable form, and it is a great way to help sore gums recover more quickly.
You can pour some in a bowl for your puppy to lap up, or you can freeze it to a slushy consistency and rub it directly on his gums.
If your puppy does not like the taste of aloe vera juice, use a needle-less syringe and squirt it directly into his mouth.
Chamomile tea is a natural way to help teething puppies be less fretful and anxious.
Make an herbal tea of chamomile by adding a tablespoon of the dried herb to a cup of hot water. Let it cool to room temperature and use a needle-less syringe to squirt some of the tea into your puppy’s mouth.
Cold Chew Toys
One easy way to make a cold chew toy is to soak a rope toy in water and freeze it. When your puppy chews on it, the cold frozen rope can numb the puppy teething pain and soothe the swollen gums.
More Suggestions on Relieving Puppy Teething Pain
Here are some additional suggestions to help your teething puppy:
- Puppy proof your home to make sure that your furniture is safe from your puppy’s teeth. You should also keep hazardous items such as household detergents and electrical wiring out of reach of your puppy.
- Massage your puppy’s jaw and mouth to ease discomfort.
- Your teething puppy might be a bit quiet and not all that keen on eating during the teething phase. Provide small amounts of easily chewable food often.
- Avoid hitting or scolding the puppy when he chews on forbidden items. Use positive reinforcement. Say “Drop!” in a firm voice, calmly take the forbidden item away from him, and replace it with a chew toy and offer lots of praise.
How to Take Care of Puppy Teeth
Finally, it’s important to remember to take good care of your puppy’s teeth from day one.
When your puppy is teething, be sure to regularly check his mouth (once a week) until the puppy is about 7-8 months of age.
This is important because some dogs, especially small breed dogs, are predisposed to incomplete shedding of their baby teeth (retained baby teeth). This will lead to dental health complications.
If you find any retained baby teeth in your puppy’s mouth when he is around 8 months of age, or if your puppy appears to have an abnormal bite, seek veterinary advice immediately.
Here is a quick video showing you what retained baby teeth are and how they may affect the puppy:
In addition, start brushing your puppy’s teeth from when he has his baby teeth – Even though he will lose his baby teeth, it is a good idea to get your puppy accustomed to having his teeth brushed the sooner the better.
Try and brush 3 to 4 times a week. If your puppy is still very small, just put a small amount of pet-specific toothpaste on your little finger and gently rub this over his teeth and gums.