How to Choose Teething Dog Toys
If you’re not sure how to buy the most appropriate or even the best teething toy for your young mutt, you need not worry as we’re here to share with you some tips on how to pick the best for your puppy.
Choose one That is Soft but Tough
It is important to choose a chew toy that is soft enough to be chewed on and provides adequate pain relief but tough enough that it will not be destroyed easily. It should be able to withstand more than just a couple of continuous biting and chewing, otherwise, you’re looking at a very expensive proposition. The point is to get something that is durable yet soft.
Pick Something That Won’t Break into Fragments
Puppies are more susceptible to choking for the simple fact that their airways are smaller. That said, it is important to choose a chew toy that will not break easily or one that will not shatter into many smaller pieces.
Consider Getting a Variety of Textures and Shapes
Different pooches have different tastes, just like us. Just because your older pooch loves the toy you gave it doesn’t mean your pup will love it, too. As such, try to invest in a variety of chew toys that comes in different shapes and textures.
Take a look at our article on Chew Toys for Puppies.
Check the Size Appropriate to Your Pup’s Mouth
This is self-explanatory. A Shih Tzu pup will have a smaller mouth than a St Bernard pup. Both are puppies yet they do have different sizes of mouth. So choose one that is appropriate for your puppy breed.
Consider Something Tasty
It’s great if you can give your pup an indestructible chew toy. It’s definitely greater if it also tastes good. The welcome news to this is that manufacturers are now churning out puppy chew toys that are edible. So give them a treat.
Check out Indestructible Dog Toys.
Timeline of Puppy Teething
To help you understand just how critical it is to choose the right teething gadget for your pup, it is often wise to gain an understanding of the normal process of teething. Do canine teeth appear all at once? Or do they erupt one at a time? These are just some of the questions that boggle the mind of newbie puppy owners. That’s why we’d like to share with you the timeline of puppy teething for you to gain a better picture of this physiologic change.
The following is the ‘usual’ progression of temporary, deciduous, or milk teeth among puppies. Just like human babies, these are eventually replaced by more permanent teeth.
- 2-3 weeks old: The very first deciduous teeth of your pup will already be erupting. These include 12 incisors or front teeth, 6 each on the upper and lower jaw.
- 4 weeks old: By the time your pup reaches about a month old, its canines will already be erupting on both the upper and lower jaw, positioned next to the outermost incisor on both right and left sides for a total of 4. By this time your young pooch already has about 16 teeth.
- 3 to 8 weeks old: Between 3 and 8 weeks old, although some would start at 4 weeks, four premolars begin to erupt adjacent to the canines on both sides and floors, bringing the total to 28 which is the total number of deciduous teeth that puppies have. By comparison, human babies only develop 20 milk teeth. It should be noted that puppies don’t really develop their molars yet since they don’t have a need for grinding and chewing really tough food.
Starting around 12 to 16 weeks, young puppies will already start shedding their milk teeth in favor of the more permanent canine adult dentition, numbering 42. Technically, teething commences when the pup starts shedding its deciduous dentition.
- 3 to 5 months: Permanent incisors will start replacing the temporary ones.
- 4 to 6 months: It’s the canines’ turn to be replaced.
- 4 to 5 months: The premolars are replaced.
- 5 to 7 months: The molars start erupting to complete the 42.
Technically, your teething chores should be geared towards assisting your pup make the transition from deciduous teeth to permanent pearly whites. It is thus, crucial that your choice of chew toy reflect this need from 3 to around 7 months.
Benefits of Chew Toys for Teething Puppies
Canine teethers provide the same benefits as those that we use on our human babies. While these products come in various shapes, sizes, and even flavors, they are inherently designed to help puppies get through the teething process more successfully. Here are some of the more popular benefits of chew toys for teething puppies.
Stimulates growth of the erupting tooth
One of the fundamental reasons why chew toys are recommended for pups is that they somehow provide the necessary stimulation for the more normal growth of the dentition. No one actually knows the principal mechanism that governs tooth eruption or teething. There have been many theories forwarded and refuted over time. One of the most enduring theories is that tooth eruption occurs because of the cross-linking and shrinking of the collagen fibers of periodontal ligaments combined with the contraction of the ligaments’ fibroblasts. It is through the stimulation of the periodontal ligaments through the application of pressure that the tooth can be stimulated to erupt and to continue growing.
That is why even pups that are not provided with chew toys eventually end up chewing and nibbling at almost anything they can get their mouth into. The reason is quite simple. If there is no pressure on the erupting teeth, the periodontal ligaments will not be stimulated properly and it will often take a longer time for the tooth to erupt. This easily translates to prolonged agony for the young pooch.
Relieves pressure and pain
While pressure is needed for successful tooth eruption, it can be a real nuisance, too. As the tooth pushes its way through the gum line, it inadvertently causes micro-inflammation of the adjacent tissues resulting in pain. The application of counter-pressure can help negate this outward force by temporarily blocking the pain signals transmitted to the pooch’s brain with an entirely different signal. Experts say that it is also possible the application of pressure can somehow reduce the number of pain signals transmitted to the brain for interpretation.
Soothes and toughens the gums
In addition to relieving the pressure and pain off of your young mutt’s gums, chew toys can also help soothe the gums while strengthening them. This can be especially beneficial since strong gums can help provide for a stronger framework for canine dentition.
There are many other benefits of chew toys that are not really related to teething. Soothing the gums and allowing the tooth to grow normally are just some of the many benefits of chew toys. The other benefits can include the following.
- Prevents gum diseases: This is often related to the abnormal accumulation of plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth especially near or on the gum line. Underneath these cement-like substances are germs that can release acids and other corrosive substances that eat through the layers of the tooth, leading to periodontal disease. Chew toys can help rub against these formations and get rid of the problem.
- Helps clean the teeth: Dogs don’t brush their teeth. As such, chew toys can help them remove debris, tartar, and plaque buildup to make the teeth whiter, brighter, and cleaner.
- Prevents bad breath: Some dog chews come with flavors that can provide your mutt with a refreshingly cleaner breath. Moreover, the removal of the plaque and tartar also removes the habitat of odor-causing microorganisms and thus, prevents halitosis or bad breath.
- Prevents destructive chewing: We have already mentioned that chew toys are better alternatives to the legs of your chairs and tables, your upholstery, your wooden door, or almost anything that your pooch can latch its teeth on. Giving your pooch a variety of toys will lead to less boredom and stress.
What Type of Toy Should I Choose?
Knowing the benefits of a chew toy on your teething pup is one thing. Knowing which type of toy you should choose is clearly another. There are a number of chew toys that can lay claim to being the best for puppies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make choosing any easier. Here, we’ll present to you the different types of toys that are commonly used as teething toys.
Hard rubber chew toys
These are epitomized by the products produced by KONG. The materials used are nearly indestructible. Regardless of how powerful a chomper and chewer your pooch may be, it will never be able to puncture through the tough and dense rubber shell of the KONG. Well, almost never, actually. The beauty of these products is that they are fillable with almost anything making them more appealing to pooches, especially the young ones. These can be frozen, too, which is perfect for soothing gums.
Check out our ultimate guide on Dog Toy Boxes.
Hard nylon chew toys
Like rubber-made chew toys, hard nylon toys provide for exceptional durability and strength. These are also nearly indestructible. Nylabone is well known for creating such products. The only downside is that these don’t come with a compartment that you can fill with treats. However, to counter this deficiency, many manufacturers of hard nylon chew toys have learned to incorporate flavors into their products. Regrettably, this is where some companies fail miserably as they tend to incorporate artificial flavoring.
Thick rope playthings
The main concern with these types of chew toys is that the different fibers may be pulled out and off from the rest of the rope. These can be swallowed and might increase the risk of blocking the gut. It also increases the temptation of playing tug-of-war with your pup which is still not recommended at this stage in their lives. As such, it is crucial to choose only those rope toys with exceptional qualities and to never use it as a tug toy.
Treat chew toys
These are inherently designed to provide a more interactive experience for your pup. Treats are placed in the toy for your pup to ‘work’ with. KONG is an example of this type of chew toy.
Choosing the best teething toy for your puppy means you’ve got to choose something that is both soft and tough, can provide a variety of textures and shapes, will not break off into very small pieces, and maybe palatable to your puppy. It is equally important to appreciate the normal growth and development of the canine teeth so you’ll know what to do especially in managing their teething.
Lastly, understanding the different benefits of using chew toys for their teething as well as the different types of chew toys will help you gain a better understanding of these types of dog care products.
- Dr. Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, Teeth, Teething and Chewing in Puppies, VCA
- Dr. Leslie Gillette, DVM, How to Pick the Best Chew Toys for Puppies, PetMD