Puppies are lovely little creatures no matter what breed they happen to be and sharing your home with one is a lot of fun. However, when they start teething it can be a little stressful for your four-legged companion because through no fault of their own they start chewing on just about everything they come across around the home just to ease their discomfort!
The thing to remember is during the first year of their lives, puppies have a lot to deal with and they have to cope with some pretty big changes. This includes things that start happening in their mouths. By the time they arrive home with you, puppy will have had their deciduous (baby) teeth burst through their gums, which typically happens when they are just 2 to 3 weeks old. At around eight weeks old, they should have all of these small albeit very sharp teeth in place and it’s when “mum” really starts to object a little when they try to suckle her and you know it's time for pups to be weaned!
Puppies start to lose their puppy teeth at anything from 8 to 12 weeks old. You'll probably notice they are quite loose and start falling out which they have to do to make room for their permanent teeth to push through. The first of these to appear are your pup's incisors, closely followed by their canine teeth (fangs) and then their premolars will appear. The last of the permanent teeth to push through are your puppy's molars. Most breeds have their full set of permanent teeth by the time they reach 8 months old.
Dogs just like people can suffer painful dental issues and this includes young puppies. It's really important to keep an eye on your pup's teeth right from the word go to make sure all their permanent adult ones are coming through correctly and that none are impacted or are pushing through at a funny angle. If it looks like anything untoward is going on in their mouths, a quick trip to the vet is definitely in order so they can assess your pet's mouth and recommend what should be done to correct things.
Retained deciduous teeth - when baby teeth don't fall out it leaves no room for the permanent teeth to push through which is a condition referred to as “retained deciduous teeth”. When two teeth have to compete for the same space it can be very painful and lead to all sorts of other dental issues. Every time your pup eats anything, food will get caught in between the two teeth which will eventually lead to them suffering from periodontal disease.
Pressure can build up when baby teeth leave no room for permanent teeth to grow properly and this leads to the tooth growing at abnormal angles in your puppy's mouth. This can lead to ulcers developing, especially if the tooth starts to rub on a puppy's lips or gums. It can also affect your puppies “bite” which means the upper and lower teeth won't meet properly and this makes it that much harder for them to chew their food correctly.
If you suspect your puppy has any retained deciduous teeth in their mouths, you need to ask the vet to examine them and if necessary remove the offending teeth surgically to correct the problem. In a perfect world, this would need to be done as soon as possible so that the permanent tooth can grow through normally. Most vets would take a close look at a young dog's teeth when they are taken in to be neutered or spayed because it's so much easier to do when dogs are sedated. If the vet finds any problems with retained deciduous teeth, this is when they could correct the problem if it's previously gone unnoticed.
It's really important to help puppies through the painful teething process they all go through and the best way of doing this is to make sure they have plenty of safe, well made chewy rubber toys to gnaw on whenever they feel the need to do so. If they are experiencing lots of discomfort, there are some very good puppy specific products on the market which can really make life more comfortable for your little friend. These soothing gels are formulated for use on puppies and they help them through some difficult times. You can also buy special soothing treats for your pup to gnaw on which helps take away a lot of the discomfort too.
Teething can be a difficult time for a puppy so making things more comfortable for them goes a long way in not only helping them through the process, but it saves your furniture too. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on things when your puppy is losing their baby teeth to make sure their permanent ones are coming through properly and that no deciduous teeth are refusing to fall out causing a condition known as retained deciduous teeth. If you suspect there is a problem the sooner the vet deals with it the better because it means your pup’s permanent teeth can grow through correctly.