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40–43 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

How to Handle Canine Incontinence :: A Guide to Treating Recurrent Ear Infections :: How to Trick Your Puppy Into Becoming a Straight-A Student :: A Guide to Advanced Socialization

A Guide to Treating Recurrent Ear Infections

Does your puppy shake his head like he's trying to get water out of his ears even though he hasn't been swimming? When you scratch behind his ears does he pull away? These could be signs of an ear infection.

At week 41, your puppy's immune system is well-developed, but ear infections can easily sneak in. Ear infections can be caused by several things: they can develop from wet ears that aren't dried, a buildup of ear wax, allergies, an insect bite or a cut that doesn't heal, and using cotton tips to clean the ears. In addition to shaking the head, you might notice blood or pus coming from the ear or an odor. Dogs may become dizzy and walk around in circles with poor coordination.

If an ear infection is left untreated, your pup's eardrum could rupture, which causes a mid-ear infection. This, in turn, can cause your pup to lose his balance and will probably result in a loss of hearing. It is also possible for the infection to travel up the acoustic nerve and cause a fatal brain infection. And recurring infections raise the chance of serious outcomes.

There are things you can do to help prevent ear infections and, though medical intervention is recommended once your puppy has one, you can do a few things to help your puppy through his recovery.

Preventing Ear Infections

  1. Clean Your Puppy's Ears - Use an ear wash from your vet or the pet store. Use a cotton ball soaked in the wash to gently clean out the outer part of the ear. Never use Q-tips to clean an ear as it pushes the bad stuff down the canal. Clean only the parts of the ear that you can see.

  2. Don't Pluck Ear Hairs - When you have your puppy groomed, ask them not to pluck your puppy's ear hairs. The fluid that comes out of the plucked spot creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

  3. Have Professional Removal of Mats - Only your vet should remove any mats that develop in your puppy's ear canal. Mats outside of the canal can be removed by you by soaking the fur in a conditioner for a few minutes and gently combing them out.

  4. Check Ears After Play - Look for signs of insect bites and things like fox tails which are caught in the ear. Treat an insect bite with diluted Peroxide and a little Neosporin. Have your vet remove any obstructions such as fox tails.

Treating Ear Infections

  1. Take Your Pup to the Vet - It is usually recommended that at any sign of an ear infection, you should have your vet look at it. This is because, if it is not treated quickly, it can develop into something very serious. Your vet will probably prescribe antibiotics and/or an anti-bacterial cream.

  2. Treating at Home - If you decide to treat the infection at home, give a week at the most to work and then call the vet. At home, you can wash your dog's ear out with one part white vinegar to one part water. You can also help boost your puppy's immune system with 100 mg. of Vitamin C a day.

  3. Soothing the Pain - While your puppy is recovering from an ear infection you can help by applying warm compresses to your pup's ear, such as a towel soaked in warm water. You can also ask your vet for a pain reliever. Do not give puppies aspirin as they do not have the enzyme needed to process it.

Keeping your puppy's ears clean is a very simple task. By washing them out once a week and looking for any signs of infection, an ear infection can be prevented or headed off quickly. When ear infections are recurrent, you need to review your treatment strategy. Are you taking your pup to the vet for treatment, which usually prevents recurring infections? Are you feeding your puppy good food? Does your puppy need supplements to boost his immune system (if you don't know, check with your vet)?

Remember that, though an ear infection may seem unimportant, if left untreated it can cause death and, at the very least, keep your puppy in lots of pain. And the next time your puppy does that head shake, which is actually pretty funny to watch, treat it seriously. Otherwise, you may get an earful from your vet down the line.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Keep Your Puppy Off the Christmas Tree

Puppies should be supervised at all times. She or he should be crated while alone, leashed while you are around. Time to teach the "leave it" command. You will really mean it when you fear for the dogs safety! Baby gates might deter him - unless he's that curious kind that looks to defeat all confinement. If he's leashed it's easy to give a sharp leash correction if he goes near the tree. Put the tree up for a few days without trimming to get the dog used to it without risking fragile ornaments.

~Liz H., owner of German Shepherd mix

When Puppies Lose Their Teeth

Puppies have a full set of 28 milk teeth - 4 canines, 12 incisors and 12 molars. The incisors and canines grow in first, the molars last. At around three to four months of age, your dog is going to start losing milk teeth and growing in her adult set of teeth, which consists of a total of 42 teeth - a lot more than the puppy teeth she has. The first to fall out are going to be her incisors, her front teeth. She will start growing her adult incisors first. Around four to five months of age you will see her adult molars and canines to grow in. By about six months, she should have her full set of adult teeth.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

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