Puppies like to chew on things -- you've probably discovered that fact, to your horror, if you've got a pup around the house. Maybe you've sacrificed shoes, purses, furniture and other sundry items to your pup's insatiable desire to get his mouth around something and gnaw. Take heart -- this stage shall pass. Provide plenty of suitable chew toys in the meantime.
Puppies aren't born with teeth. Can you imagine the effect that would have on the poor nursing mom? The 28 puppy teeth begin arriving between when your pup is between 6 weeks and 8 weeks old, coinciding with the time when many puppies start the weaning process. Just like human babies, puppies eventually lose these teeth to larger, permanent ones. The larger your dog's breed, the faster the teething process is completed.
By the time your pup is 12 weeks old, he should have a complete set of "milk teeth," or primary teeth. When you bring your puppy bundle of joy to the vet for his shots and checkup, the vet should examine the milk teeth to make sure all have developed. If a milk tooth doesn't develop, it's likely that the permanent tooth for that spot won't come in. Your vet will also examine the mouth for misaligned teeth, overbite, underbite and other dental problems. Parents know that teething makes human babies uncomfortable, and it's the same with pups. Your pup chews to relieve teething pain.
The first of the milk teeth to fall out are the central incisors, usually when the pup is between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. Next to go are the fangs, properly known as the canines, at the 4-month mark. At 6 months old, pups start losing premolars. As your pup's teeth fall out, check to make sure the baby teeth aren't trapped along the gum line between the emerging permanent teeth. When teeth fall out, you might notice blood on your pup's chew toys, and his normal "puppy breath" may smell bad.
Your pup, which is now almost an adult, should have all 42 of his permanent teeth by the age of 8 months. Once his adult molars come in, he's done with teething. If serious dental problems concerning alignment, called malocclusion, are evident, your vet can perform corrective dentistry. Otherwise, a dog with misaligned teeth can experience pain and difficulty with chewing and eating.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.