Newborn puppies are born toothless. That's because, like other mammals, a puppy's only source of nourishment for their first weeks of life comes from their mother's milk. And you don't really need (or want!) teeth for that. But once teeth start to come in, a teething puppy can quickly become an enthusiastic chewer.
By the time puppies are around two weeks old, their first set of teeth begins to emerge. Called milk, needle, or deciduous teeth (in humans we call them "baby" teeth) this first set of teeth starts with incisors. Then canines come in, and finally, premolars fill out the complete set of puppy teeth.
By the time a puppy is 8 to 10 weeks old, she will have a mouth full of 28 teeth, perfect for her transition from a liquid to solid diet. Your puppy will physically be ready for this transition, and so will Momma Dog since the more sharp teeth her puppies have, the less likely Mom will be to put up with nursing them.
This early set of sharp-as-a-tack puppy teeth will begin to fall out when the puppy is between 4 and 6 months old. Timing varies by breed; some smaller breeds tend to hold on to their baby teeth longer. But once most dogs are 7 to 8 months old they will have traded their first set of chompers for a set of 42 permanent adult teeth.
During this process of trading puppy teeth for the adult version, puppies experience teething, just like human babies. "Puppies explore the world through their mouths," says Zazie Todd, PhD and author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. "So you must puppy-proof everything," she says.
Because a dog has two sets of teeth that come and go within a relatively short period of time, your puppy will seem like he's teething constantly. So be sure to provide plenty of soft and flexible, puppy-appropriate items for your little guy to chew on. Todd recommends chew toys as a way to channel a puppy's need to chew (as opposed to having her gnawing the legs of your kitchen chair). Giving a puppy a toy to replace destructive chewing is a positive way to change her behavior. "The most important thing to know [about teething] is that your puppy needs chew toys," Todd says.
As your pet sheds his baby teeth you may find them randomly in your home. But just as often, your pup will swallow them with his food. Sometimes, you'll even be able to see the adult tooth coming through the gum and pushing the baby tooth out. And, on occasion, when the baby tooth refuses to leave, you may need to have your veterinarian help remove it so it doesn't inhibit the growth of the adult tooth below. Do not try to pull a baby tooth on your own; they can have long roots that could break off in the gum and cause problems.
Your puppy's teething may leave you wondering will my puppy ever stop chewing everything? According to VCA Hospitals, the excessive chewing behavior of teething seems to subside when dogs reach 18 months of age. However, your dog may continue chewing to some degree for the rest of his or her life.
Chewing, licking, and mouthing are normal behaviors that allow dogs to explore and learn. VCA Hospitals advises that you should consult your veterinarian if chewing is excessive.
A teeth-cleaning routine is essential to keeping your puppy's new adult teeth shiny and healthy. Learn how to brush your dog's teeth properly and easily from the comfort of your home. Most dogs can be taught to tolerate and even enjoy daily teeth brushing. It is also recommended that every dog gets their teeth professionally cleaned once a year (or more often if they are prone to dental issues).
Since your dog will still like to chew, give them teeth-cleaning dog toys that satisfy this instinct while also keeping their teeth clean and minimize bad breath.
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