36–39 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy
Directions for Proper Dental Care at Home
If you've ever looked in your puppy's mouth, you were probably suitably impressed with his white the teeth and pink gums. The gums should also be firm. They may have black spots, just as a puppy's skin has. A puppy at this age probably has all of his 42 adult teeth in place. If your pup's adult teeth are still coming in, you might see a small amount of bleeding still but any excessive bleeding should be reported to your vet. Likewise, let your vet know if your puppy's gums are pale, which can indicate anemia.
Puppies of this age tend not to have any dental problems but it's amazing how quickly things like gingivitis can take hold. A good 80% of dogs by the age of three show periodontal disease. Starting to take care of your puppy's mouth now means he will get used to the process more quickly and you will be insuring a healthier adult mouth. If your pup's teeth and gums aren't perfect, it's even more important to start dental care. Signs of gingivitis include inflammation of the gums, red gums or swollen gums. Once gingivitis gets hold, it's tougher and tougher to treat. Now that most or all of your pup's adult teeth are in, it's time to start dental care at home.
This removes plague and strengthens gums. Start with a piece of gauze with a tiny amount of dog toothpaste on it. Once your puppy is used to the brushing, switch to a dog toothbrush or soft children's toothbrush. Brush gently! And avoid any empty tooth pockets. You can also occasionally brush with peanut butter.
Rinses and Additives
There are several dental rinses and additives for food and water to supplement brushing. These also help remove plague. A few include Ora-Clens Dental Rinse, Breath Fresh Dental Rinse, Petrodex Dental Rinse, C.E.T. AquaDent Water Additive, and Clenz-a-dent Water Additive. These can be found online and at pet stores.
Chew Toys and Dental Treats
A good chew toy can really help remove plague. Likewise, a treat made especially for cleaning teeth is helpful. Toys developed specifically for cleaning teeth include Pro Action Advanced Canine Dental Device, Gumabone and Nylabone. Some dental treats include the Dingo Dental Dog Bone and Dental Blast.
Instead of giving your puppy soft treats such as jerky or Beggin' Strips, give him crunchy goodies such as Milk Bone or any dog cookies. These are better for removing plague.
Later on, you will probably opt your puppy's teeth cleaned professionally by your vet. But the more time you spend in caring for his teeth and gums, the less often you'll have to have the vet clean them. Your pup may have to be put under for the procedure and it usually costs around $250 so it's safer and cheaper to treat at home in between vet cleanings.
If your puppy is resistant to brushing at first, go slowly and use commands such as "Gentle!" while gently holding his mouth open. He'll eventually get used to it and it's unlikely that you'll lose a finger though it may be a little slimy when it's done.
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