Puppy teething can be painful, and as your little guy's adult teeth come through, he'll begin to chew on almost anything in a bid to relieve his pain and discomfort!
Learn more about the pain and discomfort your puppy will be going through during this developmental stage and how you can help ease him through this troublesome teething phase.
Just like babies, puppies don't have any teeth when they're first born, which I'm sure is a relief to their Mom! Unfortunately, that doesn't last long, as their first puppy teeth (milk teeth) can begin to emerge as early as between 2 to 4 weeks old.
Unlike baby teeth, puppy teeth are as sharp as needles, and if you're unlucky enough to be on the other end of them, you'll undoubtedly know about it!
The incisors are usually the first to push through the gums between 4 and 6 weeks old; incisors are the tiny teeth at the front, six at the top and six at the bottom.
Next to come through, between 3 and 5 weeks old, are their four canine teeth, one at either side of their incisors, top and bottom.
And finally, when your puppy is between 5 and 6 weeks old, out pop the twelve premolars, three on each side, both top and bottom of his mouth.
Molars arrive once their adult teeth come in.
Whilst the above timetable isn't set in stone (every puppy is different), your puppy should have his first set of 28 sparkling white but very sharp puppy teeth by the time he's 6 to 8 weeks old.
Your puppy will begin to lose his baby teeth at around 12 weeks, and usually, by 28 weeks, they should all have dropped out to allow new adult teeth to come through.
Many dog breeds have 42 adult teeth: twelve incisors, four canines, and eight premolars in each top and bottom jaw. In addition, there are four molars in the top jaw and six in the bottom.
Please don't quote me on this, but because Cocker Spaniels tend to have more than their fair share of teeth, they often have a few more than this!
Your Cocker's full set of adult teeth should be complete by the time he's eight months old, but all dogs develop at different rates (just like our children!), so don't worry if they arrive a little before or after this time.
Don't be surprised if you fail to find any of your puppy's milk teeth, as he may swallow them whilst eating, although you may find one stuck in one of his chew toys!
Your puppy's milk teeth will begin falling out to make way for his new big-boy teeth when he's around 3 to 4 months old, and by the time he's six months old, they should all have fallen out.
When your puppy is 3 or 4 months old, his incisors and canine teeth begin to push through his tender little gums.
Between 4 and 5 months, your puppy's premolars will begin to emerge.
Between 4 and 6 months, his molars will have arrived to complete the set!
It will be pretty obvious that your puppy is teething. The most common signs that your puppy's teeth are coming through are:
During teething, your puppy will bite and chew almost everything in sight to relieve his pain and discomfort.
Puppy teething also tends to cause a lot of drooling, so you'll need to have lots of wipes at the ready!
Your puppy may go off his food for a while, which isn't unusual, as chewing on his kibble can be painful at this teething stage.
If your pup finds eating painful, try softening his kibble with boiling water 30 minutes before mealtimes. It will make his food much easier for him to chew, and you can be sure your precious puppy is eating something!
You may also notice a few blood spots on his chew toys as your puppy's teeth break through the gum's surface.
During the painful teething phase, your puppy's gums will be sore and sensitive, causing him to start whining and crying again.
As long as his whining isn't excessive and your puppy doesn't seem to be in severe pain, this is still within normal teething behaviour.
When puppies chew, they don't discriminate!
Unfortunately, your puppy will likely chew on the things you don't want him to chew on, like your new leather handbag or suede slippers!
Keep your precious things tucked away, out of sight, to avoid this happening to you!
In the meanwhile, you can do one or two things to help ease your puppy's discomfort during this time.
You can help soothe your puppy's teething pain by giving him lots of chew toys to bite on, as chewing helps relieve the pain and discomfort he may be feeling.
You can choose from various puppy teething rings and chew toys to relieve your puppy's discomfort on a safe toy rather than chewing your furniture or prized possessions.
Rope toys are also safe for your Cocker, but remember, puppy teeth are pretty fragile and can break easily, so take care with rope toys, especially when playing tug-of-war games.
Chewing on an ice-cold treat, such as a frozen banana or ice cubes made with chicken stock, can relieve your puppy's pain.
When Max was teething, I would roll up a face cloth and put it in a plastic freezer bag. I'd then pour chicken stock onto the fabric and soak it thoroughly before freezing it.
I also made up a batch of chicken or beef stock ice cubes. Occasionally, when there were leftovers, I would add tiny bits of shredded beef or chicken as a special treat!
Either way, chewing the ice-cold cloth or biting on the frozen stock cubes helped to numb his gums and lessen the pain. Job done!
If none of the above work for your puppy, you must speak to your vet, who may decide to prescribe pain relief.
Visiting your vet will also reassure you that your puppy's pain is nothing more serious than puppy teething.
If your puppy is still chewing and gnawing on inappropriate items, correcting it before it becomes a real problem is essential.
Milk teeth must give way readily to adult teeth; otherwise, it can lead to problems.
As his second phase of puppy teething begins and his new adult teeth start to come through, it's wise to check your puppy's gums to ensure his teeth are coming through okay and that his baby teeth are dropping out naturally.
A stubborn milk tooth will crowd the adult tooth, forcing it to grow in another direction, too close to the next tooth, or in front of or behind another tooth.
A crowded mouth can cause hygiene problems because you won't be able to brush your puppy's teeth properly, which could lead to decay and periodontal disease.
If you find that one of his adult teeth is breaking through really close to a baby tooth, a baby tooth that feels like it's not going anywhere anytime soon, I would take your puppy to see his vet.
Your puppy may need to have the stubborn milk tooth removed. NEVER do this yourself. (Sorry for shouting, but you must have your vet do this).
Your vet will check your puppy's mouth for bite problems and will be able to advise you about ongoing dental care for your Cocker.
Puppies play and explore their world using their mouths, and whilst these little mouths can do some damage, their adult mouths will be capable of doing much more.
Puppy nipping, in comparison, is a lot less damaging!
Puppies' teeth are very sharp, and while he's still with his Mum, she can teach your puppy to bite gently with a soft mouth. Although it's a task for his Mum, his brothers and sisters will help too.
For example, when puppies are play-biting, and one of the pups bites too hard, the puppy receiving the bite will yelp loudly, move away, and stop playing.
The biting puppy soon realizes that rough play ends the fun, which teaches the puppy not to bite too hard.
Puppies usually go to their new home when they're eight weeks old (sometimes earlier!) and often before their mother has completed teaching her puppies bite inhibition.
When you bring your puppy home, it becomes your job to continue training your puppy not to bite.