It’s heart-warming to learn just how many of a dog’s life stages mimic our own - and teething as a baby is no exception. Puppies start to grow milk teeth from the ages of three weeks to six months old, and lose them all as adult teeth start to come through. Just like with human babies, this is a new and uncomfortable sensation for the little pup, and they may even go off their food in the process.
Let’s delve into puppy teething a little further, so that if your puppy doesn’t seem as hungry all of a sudden, you can recognise it alongside the other signs of teething and rest assured that everything is happening as it should be.
Teething can be painful, often causing a sore mouth and jaw and inflamed gums. For this reason, it’s very common for puppies to stop eating as their teeth cut through, especially if they eat dry puppy food which becomes hard work to crunch. You might even see baby teeth around a puppy’s feeding area and food left in the bowl - a sure fire sign that teething is putting your pup off their kibble.
If your puppy doesn’t seem to want to eat, remember that they could be suffering from food poisoning or sickness. If you notice any of the following signs at the same time, however, you’re probably dealing with teething:
Puppies grow quickly - they will start teething as early as three weeks old, and have usually grown all their adult teeth by about six months. So you and your puppy will be going through the teething stage for around five to six months in total.
If your puppy refuses to eat while they’re teething, don’t panic or berate them in any way. It’s completely understandable that they don’t want to bite down when their poor mouth is feeling so sensitive and sore - you’d be acting the same way!
What you can do is make the food more palatable for your pup - perhaps by adding a bit of warm water to their kibble to soften it, crushing it up into smaller pieces with a fork or rolling pin, or even mixing with a small amount of wet food.
Chat to your vet for recommendations over what kind of food may be suitable for your puppy at this stage (we also have some suggestions below) - and don’t completely switch your puppy’s food, as this could result in stomach upset.
A teething puppy will try to ease their discomfort by chewing and mouthing on all kinds of things - including furniture, clothing, items around the house or even your hands or ankles. To discourage them from going to town on your sofa or table legs, you can offer more appropriate things for them to chew on.
Dog chew toys made specifically for teething are irresistibly chewable to puppies, and you could even try putting one in the fridge or freezer to add some soothing coldness before giving it to your young pooch.
Edible dog chews are also a great idea, such as dental dog treats. Not only will the chewing and meaty flavour distract your puppy from teething pain, but it will brush their teeth and freshen their breath, too.
It’s normal for your pup to turn their nose up at food when they’re teething. To get a teething puppy eating again, try the following food boosting tricks:
Take your usual recipe of healthy dry puppy food and add some warm water. This should soften the food making it easier to chew, and release those yummy meaty flavours and smells so your pup won’t be able to resist.
Another tip is to mix your usual puppy food with some wet food, again making it easier to swallow and much more palatable for your (temporarily) picky pup. Don’t completely replace your puppy’s food with wet food if they’re not used to eating it, as this is likely to upset their tummy.
As mentioned, puppy teething treats such as a tasty dental chew for dogs is a great way to ease your pup’s discomfort while releasing ingredients for good dental health.
It’s vital that puppies get the right amount of nutrients as they grow and develop - and that includes when teething. If you’ve softened your pup’s food with water or added some wet food, a boost of puppy probiotics or other puppy food supplements will help strengthen your pup’s adult teeth as they cut through, and ensure your growing puppy is as happy and healthy as they should be.
Follow the advice above, and before you know it, your teething pup will have a mouthful of grinning adult gnashers - and most certainly have their appetite back!
Do you have any other questions about the teething stage for your puppy? Get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help. Until then, nourish your fast-growing pup with Pooch & Mutt’s range of tasty grain-free puppy food and puppy food supplements.