A puppy is born without teeth. Its first set of teeth, called milk teeth, erupt at about 3 weeks of age. These teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth between the ages of 5 and 8 months. When its milk teeth are dropping out, the puppy's instinct is to chew excessively. Puppies can be destructive during this period, seeking relief from their pain or discomfort through chewing. This stage requires close supervision and patience on the part of the owner.
Puppies love to chew, but when they are teething, the chewing escalates and nothing is safe that is within their reach. Their chewing not only targets their toys but can include furniture, clothing, shoes and carpets. They will nip human fingers and hands. Help your puppy through this stage by supplying hard rubber and tough nylon toys.
The puppy will experience minimal bleeding and swollen gums as the teeth loosen. You will see traces of blood on toys and sometimes on rugs. This is normal unless the bleeding is excessive, in which case the puppy needs to see the vet. Ice cubes can be used as treats and are soothing to a puppy's gums. Rope toys and hard rubber toys can be frozen and aid in relieving the pain.
Feeling Generally Ill
With sore gums, the puppy might not be eating well. This will upset its general digestion and can cause loose stools and diarrhoea. The puppy might react to the pain of teething by becoming lethargic and not exhibiting interest in normal play or taking walks. If this becomes extreme, the puppy needs to see the vet immediately because there are many other more serious issues that can cause these symptoms.
Sometimes the milk teeth do not fall out on their own, especially in toy breeds. Check the puppy's mouth every week, paying close attention to the upper teeth. The permanent incisors should develop in front of the first incisors. Occasionally, the first incisors do not fall out on their own. Do not try to remove these teeth yourself. This is a job for a vet with the aid of anaesthesia. If the first teeth are not removed, it affects the growth of the puppy's jaw and will also cause tooth decay.