During teething, puppies will sink their chomps into just about anything -- as your destroyed shoes, chewed furniture, shredded carpet and cracked TV remote testify. Teething begins before your puppy is weaned from his mother's milk and can continue until after his first birthday.
There are two stages during which your puppy's teething symptoms will be most obvious. Your puppy will begin to get his "milk teeth" at about 4 weeks of age. This is the time when his mother will begin to wean him because of the discomfort caused by the sharp teeth during nursing. The entire set of milk teeth is usually showing by the time the puppy is 8 weeks old. The teething process continues for the next year, but symptoms will likely be most obvious when your puppy is about 6 to 7 months old. This is the time when puppies begin to lose their milk teeth and and begin to get their adult teeth.
In addition to the obvious symptom of chewing, there are other signs that indicate your puppy is likely in an active stage of teething. Drooling and foul breath are common during teething. You may see spots of blood on items your puppy chews: As the teeth erupt through the gums, there is often some bleeding. Unless there is lots of blood, this is no reason for worry. Puppies may chew on your hands during teething. They are doing this to alleviate pain. It's important to redirect this teething behavior to an appropriate item such as a toy or rawhide chew to help your puppy learn it's never appropriate to bite a person.
Your puppy has 28 milk teeth. At about three months, your puppy will begin to lose these. The process of shedding the first set of teeth to make room for the adult set will continue for about four months. Larger dogs complete teething before smaller dogs; most dogs have their complete set of adult teeth at 8 months. At the end of the process, most dogs have a set of 42 teeth, though this number varies with breed. Although your puppy is loosing a lot of teeth, it is unlikely you will find any of them. Most puppies swallow the teeth when they shed from the gum.
Teething, while uncomfortable and painful for your puppy, is an unavoidable part of growing up. There are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms, though. Provide your puppy with plenty of appropriate items to chew, both treats and toys. Offer your puppy ice cubes on which to chew; or dampen a washcloth, put it in the freezer for an hour and then give it to your puppy for chewing. You can also try massaging your puppy's gums with your fingers.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.