For the past two weeks Melissa has been losing LOTS of puppy teeth. Her gums are sore and her adult teeth are emerging. I have noticed blood on toys, blood on dogs she plays with, and blood on her legs and blankets. The sight of blood can be alarming but this is all normal during the phase of teething.
There are days that Melissa prefers not to chew for long hours on a knuckle bone, but instead chews on one of her soft toys.
Her favorite at the moment is a piece of sheepskin which actually is a replacement piece for the Ram Tuff Wooly Octopus Tug Toy sold at Clean Run. http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=822
Just the long piece of sheepskin. She isn't interested in the leather handle...at least not this week. She tosses it, she runs with it and chews it.
I've noticed that there are days that she does not want to play tug with another dog or with me. Tugging must hurt those sore gums!. Some days she sleeps a bit more. In the past some of my own dogs have regressed somewhat in their house training. No scientific data to back it up, just my observation. I am sure it has something to do with all the changes going on in their bodies as puppy teeth fall out and adult teeth appear.
I am making sure Melissa goes out more often and I watch carefully for signs of her wanting to go out. I am monitoring Melissa to be sure that she continues to eat well (She has yet to miss a meal since she arrive here nearly 3 months ago. An eager eater she is!). I also am making sure she gets enough mental and physical exercise and has enough appropriate items to chew.
I massage her gums gently with my finger coated in margarine, cream cheese, or peanut butter. This gives me the chance to notice any excessively sore area, watch for retained puppy teeth and allows her to become accustomed to being handled around her muzzle. What could be better than a finger with cream cheese on it? Future vets exams and routine grooming which include mouth checks will be something Melissa looks forward to, rather than something she dislikes.
Another month or so and the teething stage will be nearly complete. Will that stop Melissa's chewing? No! Even adult dogs need to chew. I call that recreational chewing, a topic for a future blog. By giving Melissa appropriate chew toys/bones now, I am setting her up for good habits that will last into the future.