Ah, teething time. A shared growing pain for every puppy and parent…but some milestones are rockier than others. Because when those tiny snouts get equipped with their first set of needle teeth, little love bites and cherubic chomping can do some real damage.
Luckily, as with humans, there are numerous toys to divert puppy’s first fangs from shoes to chews—all while soothing sore gums. The problem is, where do you start in a sea of teething options? Not all teething toys are created equal, but never fear: we’re here to help. We’ve narrowed down the selections and put together a list of top toys and chews for your pup.
Best in show: KONG Puppy Toy
As a pup parent, chances are you’re already familiar with KONG. This brand is a household name for good reason: they’re durable and they work. Crafted from soft, natural rubber, the puppy editions will satisfy your dog’s instinctive drive to chew, while the distinct hollow center can be filled with treats to physically and mentally stimulate your pup and keep them busy (and eventually, tired). This particular toy is customized for teething puppies and is the gentlest model they offer. It also comes in a variety of size options, from XS – L, to suit pups of any size. We like to store them in the freezer between playtime to help soothe sore gums.
Best budget: Nylabone Puppy Dental Chew
For a more budget-friendly option, we’re fans of Nylabone’s puppy line. Each toy is made in the USA from soft, puppy-friendly polymers with a nubby texture that massages achy gums and helps scrub plaque and tartar from teeth. This particular chew also comes infused with chicken flavor that will hopefully prove more attractive to your pup than your favorite running shoes.
Best edible: Best Bully Sticks 6-Inch Thin
Bully sticks are a tasty, single-ingredient chew made from beef. Unlike rawhide, bully sticks are easily digested by dogs and don’t splinter the way some other edible chews do, which makes these a safer option. We recommend going with something relative to your pup’s size and replacing it with a new piece when it becomes small enough to be swallowed whole. Like any edible chew, bully sticks are a treat and contain extra calories that should be balanced out with the rest of your dog’s diet, so moderation is key.
Best of both worlds: Nylabone Chill’n Chew Freezer Bone
If you’re torn between options—and your puppy’s tearing your home apart—there’s no need to limit yourselves to one single toy. This hybrid combines a soft polymer chew, coated in massaging bristles, with a textured cloth that can be soaked in water and frozen for cool relief on inflamed gums. As with most Nylabone products, this model comes with built-in flavor to appeal to your pup’s taste buds, without adding extra calories.
Best for interactive playtime: Mammoth Flossy 3-Knot Chew
Knotted rope toys are a great alternative to harder chews, but it’s important to invest in a quality product for your pup. Avoid toys with loose binding; your puppy may be able to swallow loose threads, which could cause digestion issues or a choking risk. This chew by Mammoth is sturdily constructed with fibers to help floss your pup’s new teeth while they play. And while it may be tempting to engage in tug-of-war with a rope toy, it’s important to be gentle. Your pup’s new teeth can be fragile, and too much tugging can impact the way their adult teeth eventually grow in.
A note on safety
Every pup plays differently, and when you give your dog a new toy or treat, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them and monitor their play. No toy is truly indestructible against puppy power, and small pieces can be a choking hazard. Supervised play not only keeps your dog safe and healthy, it’s also a great way to spend time together and build a better bond.