Puppies have many of the same teething challenges that human babies have as they grow, develop and eventually exchange baby teeth for adult chompers. Understanding what your puppy is going through during the teething process can help you help him alleviate pain and discomfort, and protect against unwanted chewing.
What Teething Entails
When teeth are erupting at the surface of the gums, it’s sometimes a painful process. A puppy may try to soothe his gums and expedite eruption by rubbing or chewing in an effort to provide a source of friction that furthers the process. If left to his own devices, the puppy may use shoes, books, children's toys, furniture or other household items to aid in this effort.
Signs of Teething
If your puppy chews excessively, tries to gnaw on your fingers or slobbers more than normal, he could be in the process of teething. Small breed and toy dogs often have a more difficult time with teething, because their small mouths and shorts snouts often cause crowding that makes the process more painful.
Helping Your Pup Teethe
When you recognize your puppy is teething, provide appropriate teething chew toys. Rubber chew toys, particularly those you can freeze or refrigerate to provide cold relief, are often most beneficial. Don't allow your puppy to chew on squeaky toys during teething, as aggressive gnawing could release the toys' internal noise-making mechanisms, which could lodge in your puppy’s throat.
Puppies are prone to nipping and play-biting; during teething, they may go to your fingers and toes to help relieve teething pain. By now you should be training your pup that biting other dogs or people is not allowed. If your puppy nips you during teething, make a high-pitched squeak or bark to imitate how a littermate might discourage rough play. Stop playing with the biting puppy and redirect him to an appropriate toy.
To keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy, start implementing good oral hygiene practices when your pup is young. Buy a commercially produced dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste -- not human toothpaste -- and get into the habit of brushing your puppy’s teeth on a regular basis. Incorporate a dental exam into your annual veterinary care regime to protect your dog against future dental ailments.