I’m a vet – your puppy’s food could hold the key to easing teething pains

Puppy teething is a natural process in which a young dog’s milk teeth start to fall out to make way for their permanent adult teeth. This process typically begins when a puppy is around three to four months old and can continue until they are about six months old. During this time, puppies experience discomfort and soreness in their gums, causing them to chew on various objects to reduce the pain. 

Peter Wright, star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet and vet for natural dog food brand Harringtons, advises dog owners to keep a close eye on their daily dog walks (while also being very careful not to overexercise at this tender age, which can easily harm optimal bone and joint development) and ensure their dog’s diet is appropriate for their age, as some puppy foods are specifically designed to be softer and wetter, easing some of the pain that comes with teething.  

What are the symptoms of puppy teething? 

The main symptom pet parents need to look out for is a notable increase in chewing – particularly items your dog wouldn’t normally go for – as puppies seek relief from the discomfort of emerging adult teeth. The effects of this often lead to drooling, swollen or reddened gums, occasional irritability or restlessness, and a temporary decrease in appetite, as chewing and eating can exacerbate gum issues. These symptoms are typically part of the natural teething process and can be managed with appropriate chew toys and care.  

How is puppy teething managed? 

Treating puppy teething primarily involves providing comfort and relief as your dog goes through this natural phase. To ease their discomfort, offer a variety of safe and durable chew toys that satisfy their urge to chew and help soothe their sore gums.  

Regular vet check-ups during this period can help monitor their dental development. The vet may recommend pain relief medications or other treatments in cases of severe pain or complications, although this is rarely required. Proper care while your puppy is teething ensures a smoother transition to adulthood and establishes habits contributing to great oral hygiene. 

Pet parents should supervise their dog walks to prevent them from sniffing or chewing on inappropriate objects like toxic plants, human food scraps and debris, including cigarette butts, chewing gum and some sweet wrappers, which contain xylitol, a highly poisonous substance that can be life-threatening to puppies. This also prevents your table legs, clothes and furniture from being chewed to pieces! Use positive reinforcement training to teach commands like “leave” and “drop it.”  

How can diet impact puppy teething?  

Diet plays a significant role in how puppy teething progresses and how comfortable the experience is for the young dog. A well-balanced and appropriate diet for puppies provides essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus (chicory and omega oils are great for these), which are necessary for developing strong teeth and bones. Ensuring your puppy’s diet supports their oral health can ease some pain. Opt for a wet food diet if your dog likes it, as the softer food is gentler on their sensitive gums and may encourage them to continue eating despite some appetite loss.  

Wholesome nutrition during this phase contributes to healthy teeth and supports overall growth and development, helping your pooch transition smoothly into adulthood. Encouraging healthy eating habits at an early age could also prevent your dog from becoming a fussy eater. It’s important to consult your vet to ensure your dog is on an appropriate diet tailored to their age and specific needs during teething. 

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