Raising a Puppy – Teething and Puppy Breath

October 28, 2013

By Linda Cole

Raising a puppy can be challenging; dealing with house breaking, chewing, nipping, teaching basic commands and making sure the cat and furniture are safe from exploring teeth can be a full time job. However, the most challenging time comes when he’s teething. When pups are around six to eight weeks old, mom will start the process of weaning them, and with good reason. Puppy teeth start to come in when they are ready to begin eating solid food, and those little teeth are sharp – all 28 of them.

As puppies mature, their baby teeth fall out and are replaced by adult teeth – 42 for most breeds. Once a puppy’s baby teeth begin to fall out, you might find one or two on the floor, but not usually. Most teeth are swallowed, but there’s nothing to worry about. Teething is a natural and necessary part of raising a puppy.

Because the teeth are well positioned and strong, a mature jaw has the necessary strength needed for protection and eating. Puppies, on the other hand, have weaker jaws, so their teeth have to be razor sharp to make up for inadequate jaw strength so they can eat solid food easier.

Puppies can start to lose their baby teeth as early as three months, but most will start closer to four months. However, some may not begin until they are older, at around six months or so. It depends on the breed and his size. For the most part, pups should have their adult teeth between seven to eight months old. Once teething begins, so does the chewing.

Chewing is how puppies soothe their mouth during teething. They will pick up anything and everything they find, whether it’s an appropriate chew toy or not. This is an important time to be vigilant, to make sure your pup isn’t chewing on electrical cords, furniture, shoes, clothing or anything else that could be dangerous.

You can help relieve sore gums by giving your puppy ice cubes to chew on, chicken or beef broth frozen in ice cube trays, a wet rolled up washcloth with knots tied in it and then frozen, or CANIDAE All Life Stages wet dog food frozen in ice cube trays or simply spooned onto a cookie sheet and placed in the freezer. Ice cube treats are best served outside or in an enclosed area of the home to avoid having them melt on your couch or carpet.

Puppy breath has dog owners divided. It’s a smell people seem to either love or hate. Personally, I love puppy breath. To me, cuddling a puppy and smelling his breath as he gives doggy kisses is part of the enjoyment of raising a puppy. Where puppy breath comes from is a mystery, but one common thought is that it’s due to an immature digestive system which isn’t completely developed. Gas in the pup’s stomach leaks out through his esophagus. Another theory is that puppy breath is a result of his mother’s milk, and puppy food. As the food is broken down in the digestive system, enzymes could be what causes puppy breath. If you don’t care for the smell, it won’t last long and fades quickly as the pup grows.

Whether you’re buying chew toys for a puppy or an adult dog, make sure they are safe for your pet and can withstand chewing. Check that there are no loose parts which can be swallowed, and throw away worn out or torn toys. It’s best to monitor your puppy or dog when he’s playing with a toy to make sure he isn’t trying to eat it.

The weaning stage is a good age to start a pup on basic training so you can stop unwanted nipping and biting before it becomes a bad habit. Pups learn about biting from interacting with siblings and mom. When a puppy bites too hard during play, his “victim” yelps to indicate his play is too rough. You can stop puppy biting in the same way with a loud ouch that tells him his bite hurt. Puppies and mom are experts at sending a signal when one gets overly excited, and walking away is one way of showing a pup his behavior isn’t acceptable. The last thing a puppy wants is to have his playtime stopped. Starting puppy training early is the best way to make sure he grows up without behavior issues.

Top photo by Tambako the Jaguar
Middle photo by Rob Jamieson
Bottom photo by Bill Young

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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