Just like people, dogs go through a teething process, during which their teeth erupt through the gums and settle in their mouths. Also just like in humans, teething is an uncomfortable experience, and your dog may act a little strange. Your dog will be done teething before he's a year old, though, so his behavior won't necessarily stand out from typical puppy curiosity.
The Teething Stages
The teething process consists of two similar stages: the eruption of the baby teeth and the eruption of the adult teeth. Your dog's baby teeth erupt between weeks three and six. When he's about 12 weeks old, they start to fall out. By the time he's 6 months old, he will have lost all 28 of his baby teeth, and they will have been replaced by 42 permanent teeth. These two stages are marked by the same distinct symptom of teething: chewing.
During both stages of teething, your dog is liable to chew -- and chew a lot. The process is uncomfortable, but chewing can give your dog some relief, so he's going to do it a lot. Toys, shoes, furniture -- anything he can wrap his jaws around, he may end up chewing on. Providing him with toys during the teething period is critical, otherwise he may learn to chew on inappropriate items.
Potential Dental Problems
According to the Veterinary Medical Centers of the Humane Society of Missouri, health problems associated with teething are relatively rare, but that doesn't mean you should skip regular visits to the vet. Some short-nosed breeds, for example, may retain their baby teeth, which can lead to discomfort and dental problems such as periodontal disease if the teeth aren't removed. If you are concerned about your dog's chewing behavior, consult your vet.
Helping with Teething
If you are bothered by your dog's abnormal chewing behavior, you can take steps to help him cope. Talk to your vet about teething toy recommendations, as giving your pet something appropriate to chew on is always preferable to allowing bad chewing habits to form. Consider freezing a wet washcloth for your dog to chew on -- the cold has a comforting numbing effect. Supervise your dog while he chews to make sure that he doesn't choke on or try to eat the washcloth.
- eterinary Medical Centers of the Humane Society of Missouri: Teeth, Teething and Chewing in Puppies
- Veterinary Partner: Changes in Behavior with Physical Causes
- Humane Society of the United States: Chewing: The Whys and Hows of Stopping a Gnawing Problem
- Cesar's Way: 5 Steps to Correct Inappropriate Dog Chewing
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.