Puppy Teething Toys
Despite your best efforts at puppy proofing your home, your little bundle is still sinking their sharp puppy teeth into everything they can get their mouth on: your footwear, baseboards, and maybe even you, too. Sound familiar?
A Google search for “puppy teething toys” or “best chew toys for teething puppies” will yield all kinds of results (millions, in fact), but the tricky part is weeding out the filler from the for real.
That’s where we come in. Our vets did the research so you don’t have to.
In this post we’ll help you navigate the highs and lows of puppy teething, including which puppy teething toys aren’t worth the spend and a few of our favourite homemade puppy teething toys for dog parents on a budget.
Puppy teething: How long does it last?
Technically speaking, puppies start teething at about 12 weeks old and finish around 6 months. If you’re currently in the thick of puppy teething time, you’ll know those 12 weeks often feel like 12 years…
Chewing is a natural and normal behaviour for puppies. It’s how they learn about the world around them. Chewing also alleviates some of the pain puppies feel when they are teething.
EXPERT TIP: Many puppy teething toys come in different sizes. If your pup outgrows a favourite toy, size up and make a sneaky swap while they’re sleeping!
The most important thing to remember is to exercise patience. It’s a season, not a lifetime—we promise. A good supply of safe puppy teething toys and puppy teething chews will help the time pass (and give you a bit of a break).
What do we mean by safe?
A quality puppy teething toy should be safe for your puppy’s teeth and safe for your puppy’s stomach. Just because your adult dog can digest something without issue doesn’t mean your puppy can, too.
What makes a good puppy teething toy?
The goal with puppy teething toys is to redirect your puppy’s urge to gnaw, while still providing them the outlet and relief they need.
Here are five rules of thumb to follow when shopping for a puppy teething toy:
EXPERT TIP: Have a destructive pup in the house? Skip the stuffies and the squeakers, especially if you aren’t within arm’s reach, to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion. The last thing anyone wants is an emergency trip to the vet!
- Toys should be soft enough not to break any teeth. If your fingernail can’t make an indent in the toy, the toy is too tough for your pup. Not sure if it passes the test? Play it safe and try something else.
- Toys should be as large as your puppy’s mouth. Anything smaller presents a risk of ingestion; anything larger will make it harder—and therefore less desirable—to chew.
- Toys should be durable (but not too hard). Some toys may last the entire 12-week teething period, while others—particularly for larger breeds—may need to go before your puppy’s full set of adult teeth are in.
- Toys should be in good condition. No rips, tears, or strings or other parts that can be torn off and swallowed. If it doesn’t meet quality control, it’s time to go.
- Toys should be non-toxic. Because puppy teething toys aren’t regulated (more on this in a minute), puppy parents should exercise extreme caution when choosing a toy. Chemicals like lead can be harmful to your growing puppy! If you wouldn’t offer it to a child under 3, it’s probably not a good idea for your pup, either.
Two types of puppy teething toys (including examples)
What are the best chew toys for teething puppies? Usually there’s some trial and error involved. Like us humans, puppies have preferences; what works for one may not cut it for another.
There are two main types of puppy teething toys to try out:
1. Soft rubber toys
Rubber tends to be more durable than fabric, making it an attractive choice for an active, restless chewer.
A few of our favourites include:
- Kong – A beloved brand, Kong’s signature soft rubber comes in goodie bones and teething stix specially designed for puppies. They can also be stuffed with treats, peanut butter, or pre-made pastes and then frozen to relieve teething discomfort.
- Goughnuts Lite Bite – Colourful and chew-friendly! They also offer adult and aggressive chewer lines.
2. Soft toys (fabric and stuffed)
Prefer something a little more plush? Fabric and stuffed toys can make perfectly fine puppy teething toys, provided you’re keeping a close eye on your puppy while chewing.
We love treating our puppy subscribers to brands like:
- Aromadog – What’s unique about Aromadog’s puppy teething toys is that they have a calming lavender scent to give your puppy and your home an extra shot of zen.
- Beco Pets – We love that these durable, double-stitched, dual material toys are made with soft recycled materials and hemp and cotton ropes.
Best chew toys for teething puppies
So far we’ve shared toys that aren’t meant for eating, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up for a healthy, tooth-friendly treat. Puppy-safe dental chews are a staple inside our Waggle Mail Puppy packs.
Here are some of our vetted go-to chews:
- UBADENT enzymatic dental chews, dental chew sticks, and dental chew bars (suitable for all ages)
- Zoë dental chew sticks and bones (suitable for all ages)
- Purina Dental Chewz (suitable for all ages)
- Whimzees dental puppy stix (suitable for puppies over 5lbs and 3 months or older)
If you’re unsure whether a dental chew is safe for your puppy, check the bag. Most products will include age recommendations; if not, search the company up online or contact them directly to find out.
Or, for an even easier option, sign your pup up for a puppy subscription box and we’ll take the guesswork out of what to buy and what to put in the bin.
Dog chew toys for cleaning teeth
As it stands, no puppy teething toys have been given the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval, but many will stake a claim to help keep teeth clean.
Since the veterinary industry relies on VOHC to test products, we can’t say for sure whether a particular dental toys “works.” That said, if the toy itself is safe for puppies, it won’t hurt to incorporate it into their toy box.
Puppy teething toys to pass on
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of buying safe toys for dogs, and that includes puppy teething toys.
You may be surprised to learn the following offenders aren’t safe for puppies or adult and senior dogs:
- Natural bones (raw or cooked)
- Antlers and hooves
- Large rawhide bones
- Ice cubes
- Tennis balls
Some of these items—tennis balls, for example—gradually wear down your puppy’s teeth, while others may injure their mouth or tongue, become lodged in the throat, and even poke holes in your poor puppy’s gut.
Homemade puppy teething toys
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a puppy teething toy handy, the good news is you can easily make one.
(Finally, a use for all those old t-shirts you’ve been meaning to take to the thrift store.)
Before we put your old clothes back to work, let’s head to the fridge for our founder, Dr. Beck’s, favourite homemade puppy teething toy: frozen carrots.
Homemade puppy teething toy #1: Frozen carrot
This one’s a breeze: find a carrot that’s appropriately sized for your puppy (large enough that they shouldn’t be able to gulp it down in one go) and pop it in the freezer overnight. Frozen carrots work double duty by helping to calm irritated puppy gums and acting as a low-calorie treat.
Homemade puppy teething toy #2: Old shirt tug toy
What you’ll need:
- An old t-shirt (pajamas and other clothing will also work—just make sure they’re not too threadbare)
- Dog-safe ball (Chuckit! is a favourite around here)
What you’ll do:
- Cut two 5-6”-wide strips and one 2”-wide strip from your chosen article of clothing
- Lay the two larger strips in the shape of an ‘X’ and place the ball in the middle.
- Wrap the ball in layers of fabric, gathering the strips at the base of the ball.
- Tie the smallest strip around the base to secure everything in place.
- Cut each strip into 3 and braid down to the bottom, tying the ends together at the end of each strip.
Homemade puppy teething toy #3: Braided t-shirt toy
Found a shirt but not a ball? No problem!
What you’ll need:
- An old t-shirt or other piece of clothing
What you’ll do:
EXPERT TIP: For larger breeds, longer strips are best. Shorter is better for small dogs.
- Cut 1”-wide fabric strips of equal length. For a simple braid, cut 3 strips; for a basic square stitch, up it to 4.
- Tie all the ends together in a knot before fashioning into a braid. Make sure you pull the ends together tightly to secure everything in place.
- When you reach your desired length, tie the ends together in another knot.
- Cut any dangling ends.
If there’s one lesson we can leave you with, it’s that no toy is 100% safe or indestructible. You are your puppy’s best line of defence to prevent accidents and ingestion. With supervision, the two of you can play (and teethe) the day away!
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Dr. C. Beck
Registered Veterinarian, Founder & CEO