Some puppies will stop eating when teething because of pain. If you have a teething puppy who refuses to eat, try feeding them softer food such as canned dog food or boiled chicken and rice. You can also put warm water in dry kibble and wait for it to soften.
Your darling little ball of fluff has only been with you about a month and suddenly seems to have lost his appetite. He’s been more nippy than he used to be, and he seems tired. While there could be many reasons for this behavior, one possibility is that he’s teething.
If your puppy seems exceptionally lethargic or out of sorts, you should certainly take them to the vet. But if the symptoms seem relatively mild, your pup could simply be going through the teething process.
When human babies go through teething, we expect there to be some side effects, but people rarely talk about puppy teething. The truth of the matter is that puppies experience pain with teething just like humans do, and this pain can cause a loss of appetite.
Why Does Teething Cause a Loss of Appetite?
The obvious reason a teething puppy would stop eating is pain. If your puppy is exhibiting signs consistent with teething symptoms and is between three and six months old, she is likely in her teething stage. Just like with human babies, your puppy will find some relief in chewing on something, so make sure to invest in some appropriate chew toys. This can help ease the pain and make your puppy more likely to eat.
Drooling and Teething
Drooling is another symptom of teething. The pain in her mouth might cause her to hypersalivate and not swallow as often. This may cause more drooling than what you usually see from your puppy.
If her drooling is excessive and accompanied by lethargy, you will want to have her seen by a vet. But if your puppy has just a little more drool than what is usual and is otherwise in good health, the extra drool could be attributed to teething.
More Signs Your Puppy May Be Teething
When your puppy is teething, you may find teeth on your floors. Some puppies will swallow their teeth when they lose them but others will not. This means you’ll find those missing teeth around the house.
If your puppy has stool that is looser than usual, she may be teething. Vomiting is a less common symptom, but it can happen. If your puppy is vomiting, take her to a vet to make sure that the vomiting is teething related and that there are no other health concerns.
Puppies have tiny teeth, but they are razor sharp, which makes it painful when they nip at you! Puppies usually have to be trained out of their nipping habit, but it can return to full force when they are teething.
Chewing is comforting to your puppy, and she may not realize that your hands and ankles are not appropriate chew toys. If your puppy tries to use you or other objects as a chew toy, try playing the “exchange game” with them.
The exchange game is when you take away the thing your puppy should not be chewing on (such as your hand) and instead give them something more desirable, such as a rope or another chew toy they will enjoy.
Playing the exchange game shows your puppy what is appropriate to chew on and what is not. This method of training can be helpful throughout the months of teething.
Ruling Out Other Causes
Puppies can have many problems, so it is very important to rule out more serious issues before assuming that your puppy’s loss of appetite is from teething alone.
Even if you have seen some signs of teething, it is important to make sure that your puppy isn’t also suffering from other common ailments.
Many puppies suffer from worms. They get worms from their mother during birth, and they must be treated every couple of weeks, starting when they are only two weeks old.
If the breeder of your puppy’s litter did a good job, your puppy would have been given pyrantel or ivermectin at ages 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. You should have been told to continue with this treatment via Heartgard or another heartworm medication containing ivermectin and pyrantel.
It is important to keep up on these monthly medications as they prevent not only parasites in the intestinal tract, but also the potentially fatal condition of heartworm.
Heartworms are caused through mosquito bites, so it is especially important to make sure your puppy is up to date on this medication throughout the mosquito season. If your puppy has contracted worms, she is likely to have a loss of appetite.
It is important to make sure your puppy is thoroughly treated for worms before assuming that her symptoms can be attributed to teething alone.
A more severe condition that could cause a loss of appetite is the parvovirus. The breeder should have given at least one parvovirus vaccination to your puppy before sending her home.
If you adopted your puppy from a shelter, they likely would have already updated her on all the vaccinations she needs, but it doesn’t hurt to double check and ask for all vaccination records before bringing her home.
However, a puppy isn’t immune to this virus until her third set of vaccinations, which is usually given by the vet when the new owner takes the puppy to the vet around twelve weeks of age.
The symptoms of parvo include lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Those are some of the same symptoms that are listed for a puppy who is teething. A puppy with parvo, however, will usually exhibit these symptoms in the extreme.
Often, there is blood in the stool as well. If your puppy shows any of these symptoms, you will want to rule out a parvovirus infection before assuming that your puppy is teething. Your vet can test for parvo if you bring in a stool sample.
In most cases, the distemper vaccination is given along with the parvovirus shot. Try getting all the records of vaccinations from the breeder or shelter before taking your puppy home.
Distemper also has symptoms that can look like the symptoms of teething, only more extreme. Puppies with distemper will be lethargic, have a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.
However, they also usually develop respiratory congestion and discharge from the eyes. If your puppy is exhibiting any of these signs, do not assume she is teething. Take her to a vet immediately.
Diet For a Teething Puppy
But what if you have ruled out all the above possibilities for your puppy’s behavior? If your puppy seems to have mild symptoms, is not in much pain, and your vet has ruled out more serious conditions, it may be time to treat the symptoms of teething.
The main thing you can do for that is feed your dog a diet that she will be motivated to eat, but will also be easy on her digestive system.
Since teething can be painful, some puppies will avoid eating hard food. If your puppy’s gums are sore, she will likely choose to go hungry rather than hurting her already sore gums by trying to chew the hard food.
You can moisten dry kibble by putting warm water in it and waiting for it to soften. If your puppy still refuses to eat, try a diet of rice and boiled chicken for a few days until your puppy feels more like herself.
When a puppy loses her appetite, it can be quite concerning. If you have ruled out more serious conditions, you can rest easy knowing that this time will pass, and you can make her much more comfortable in the process by changing her diet or softening her food before giving it to her.
You can also help her get some relief by giving her appropriate chew toys. Puppies usually begin losing their teeth around three months of age, but should have all of their adult teeth by the time they are eight months old.
This may seem like a long time, but it will go quickly, and you can rest assured that you have done all you could to make your puppy as comfortable as possible throughout the teething process.
Your vet can also help you decide how to best care for your puppy during this time. Teething can be hard on a puppy, but she is lucky to have you there to comfort her until she is back to feeling like her old, happy, playful self again.
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