Having Whisky, our 9 week old French Bulldog puppy, join our family brings back memories of having a baby in the house again. We are having to adjust our lives to prioritise his feeding, toileting, sleeping, comforting and yes TEETHING!
Like human babies, puppies are born with their teeth inside their gums. The teeth start coming through when they are just 2-3weeks old - around the same time their eyes begin to open. Usually its the front incisors first, then the canines (which signals they can start on solid foods) then the pre-molars up to 6 weeks old. Around 8 weeks, when most puppies are ready for adoption to their forever homes, they should have 28 baby teeth in total.
In Whisky’s case they are like sharp little needles! He already chews everything he can, even though he hasn’t officially started teething just yet! Remember dogs are the descendants of wolves, and the predatory behaviour is instinctive - this includes chewing!
They start “teething” from 12 weeks onwards when their 28 baby teeth (milk teeth) start to fall out as they are pushed out by the adult teeth - they will end up with 42 adult teeth eventually at around 7 - 8 months of age when teething stops with the final molars coming through.
So the teething stage generally lasts for between 20 -24 weeks for most Frenchies and the accompanying signs are common:
Chewing helps relive pain in the puppies teeth and gums. As the adult teeth start to move and erupt they push the baby (milk) teeth loose and they eventually fall out, becoming stuck in things or just found laying around. This makes way for the adult teeth to come through. This phase can also mean blood spots around on toys, bedding, furniture, but don’t worry this is totally normal and no cause for alarm.
Drooling can become excessive during teething and this is also very normal.
Frenchies are known for their upright “Bat-Like ears, but this cartilage need calcium and if that calcium is being redirected for teeth, then the ears can suffer, and droop over or become floppy.
During teething the gums can become very red and inflamed looking as there is lots of activity happening and the adult teeth work their way through.
They can have a bit of a fever, and be irritable and distracted
It’s not common, but if an adult tooth is misaligned with the baby tooth then it can try to come through alongside it and sometimes case an infection or abscess which will require you to go to the vet.
Providing appropriate teething toys for your puppy that are able to cope with those sharp little teeth and painful gums is essential. Silicone and hard rubber based toys are the best, and you can even get some that you can put in the fridge or freezer to help with the pain and inflammation too.
Below are some of the teething toys I chose for Whisky:
Kong Teething Stick $19.99
Kong Traditional Treat Dispenser
Nylabone Power Chew Barbell
Nylabone Teething Keys $9.99
Dog Toothbrush Stick $16.99
Puppies chew things - just like human babies they explore things with their mouths - we get that! When their baby (milk) teeth start to fall out they chew even MORE because it help relieve the pain and helps the gums harden to let the adult teeth come through.
Here are some tips that can help during this stage.
Give them things they are allowed to chew, be it old stuff you don’t mind getting chewed, or specific teething toys and provide positive reinforcement through pats, praise or treat when they play with them.
When you catch them chewing something they shouldn’t say “NO” and distract them away with something they are allowed to chew instead.
Wherever you can REMOVE temptation - puppy proof your home just a as you would for a toddler or crawling baby. Keep anything they seem to want to chew but shouldn’t out of their reach in the first place, either by moving those things or restricting the puppy’s access with a playpen or safety gate.
Give them frozen stuff to chew - like “coconut/blueberry paws”, ice cubes, frozen bone broth cubes or frozen fruit. Frenchies can eat most fruit, with the exception of grapes, sultanas or raisins which are toxic to all dogs! Just make sure fruit is washed to remove any pesticides, peeled, cored and seeds removed as these can often be toxic. You can also soak a washcloth in bone broth, or just water and freeze that. The cold helps numb their gums and reduce swelling and pain.
The more stored energy you Frenchie has, the more they will chew, so keep them exercised a couple of times a day (not more than 10min and in the cool or the morning or evening to avoid overheating).
Ensure they have things that stimulate them, such as puzzle feeders or toys as well as humans or other dogs to play with, bored dogs chew more.
You can try rubbing clove oil (but it tasted foul!) on their gums, and there are baby teething gels you can use - anything with lignocaine is good as it is a local anaesthetic. I used to use SM33 for my human babies and it worked well.
Keep a watchful eye on them at all times to ensure they are not chewing things that could be dangerous like electrical cords and make sure everyone picks up after themselves so things aren’t left laying around.
Put physical repellents over items you want to protect. For example a bitter but harmless spay is Fidos Chew Stop $30.99 https://www.petbarn.com.au/fido-s-chew-stop-bitter-spray-and-training-aid-for-puppies-and-dogs-500ml
Even after their teeth have come through the jaw is still growing and the teeth have to “settle” so can still be moving, so be aware that your puppy may still be showing teething signs even when all 42 adult teeth are through.
Once your puppy has their adult teeth, it’s a good idea to have a plan to maintain them. If you want to brush their teeth there are products available including doggie tooth brushes, finger brushes and even biscuit flavoured tooth paste. This must be started at a young age if you want your dog to accept it as part of their daily routine. I tried to introduce it to Jock and Skye, my previous two black cocker too late and they refused to let me brush their teeth. I had to then rely on dental chews and cleaning under anaesthetic by the vet when they were having some other procedure done.
VERY IMPORTANT LAST WORDS….DON’T GET ANGRY!!!
Your Frenchie pup needs your love and support, patience and understanding. No matter how precious the item that your puppy has damaged may be - and I know it can be gut wrenching if it is something of significant sentimental or financial value - it’s your fault! They are just trying to relieve their pain and discomfort and often the item may smell of you - the one they love and who comforts and protects them.
Getting cross, yelling or punishing your puppy will just confuse it and lead to a stressed out, anxious, scared and unhappy dog who will hide and chew things out of your sight in future and will damage their trust in you.