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72–75 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

Five Steps for Making Your Puppy's First Dental Cleaning a Success :: Checking Your Puppy For Benign or Dangerous Lumps :: How to Stop Your Puppy from Licking or Mouthing You :: What to Do If Your Puppy is Sleeping Too Much

Five Steps for Making Your Puppy's First Dental Cleaning a Success

Have you had to turn away when your puppy lavishes you with kisses lately? It could mean it's time for your puppy's first dental cleaning. More than half of dogs have tartar accumulation by one year of age. This is a good time to introduce your puppy to the process and make it a routine thing. Dental cleaning prevents tartar build up, helps ensure healthy gums, reveals loose teeth and any other problems, and improves breath.

Bad breath can be caused by things other than dental decay, such as stomach problems, so look for other signs that your puppy's mouth isn't as clean as it should be. Look for yellowing of the teeth, a dark deposit where the tooth meets the gums, red or swollen gums, broken teeth or white spots on the tongue. It's important to check and care for your puppy's teeth regularly as dental decay can cause other health problems. Taking your puppy to the vet for cleanings on a schedule can help immensely.

Things to Do to Help Your Puppy with the Cleaning

  1. Brush His Teeth - Start slowly, a few teeth at a time until your puppy gets to it. Use a toothpaste for dogs (never a human toothpaste) and occasionally peanut butter as a reward. Brush once a week - it doesn't take long.

  2. Meet the Vet Tech - It is almost always a vet tech who does the cleaning so meet her first and discuss any questions you have.

  3. Stay Calm - Immediately before the cleaning, stay calm and assertive. This will rub off onto your puppy and make him feel secure because you are in control (and you wouldn't do anything bad to him, would you?).

  4. Stay Home - After the cleaning your puppy will be groggy and maybe a bit scared. Stay home with him for at least a few hours and report any unusual behavior such as labored breathing or inability to wake up to your vet immediately.

  5. Continue Meds - Be sure to continue any meds your vet prescribed for the duration stated.

What Happens When Your Puppy Goes in the Back

  1. Your vet checks for any broken, loose or missing teeth.

  2. Your vet checks for any tumors or lesions.

  3. Your puppy's gums are then probed and any bleeding, pockets or white spots are noted.

  4. All tartar and plague are scaled from the teeth.

  5. The teeth are polished.

  6. Your vet performs any necessary procedures such as extractions or root canals.

There are two types of canine dental cleaning - with anesthesia and without anesthesia. Most vets prefer to use anesthesia because they can do a more thorough exam and cleaning. Puppies at this age can usually go under anesthesia safely but blood work will be required first. But if your puppy is sensitive to anesthesia or it worries you too much, there is the anesthesia-free option.

Extractions and such appear not to be as painful for a dog as they are for a human but your puppy will certainly appreciate some extra attention for a few days. And with the modern care available, the old adage that a dog's kiss is cleaner than a human's may be true.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

A Puppy's First Round of Shots

Almost all of my puppies get their first shots between 9 and 10 weeks of age. Prior to that the mother's immunity is still present and the shot does no good, in fact there is some evidence that given too early it will actually interfere with the mother's immunity. Mine get the full series of three shots, usually 9 weeks, 13 weeks, 16 weeks and 20 weeks. Rabies is given usually around 14 weeks, but not at the same time as the other ones are given.

~Evelyn C., owner of Miniature Poodle

When Puppies Should Get Their First Vaccines

First vaccines are usually given between 6 and 8 weeks for Parvo/ Distemper/ Parainfluenza, etc. Hopefully the mom was up to date prior to giving birth, as her immunity should help cover the pups up to this point, but be very careful, as they are very susceptible to Parvo!

Some people think the vaccines they can mail order or buy at farm supply stores are good, but it is not worth it! Take the pups to the vet, the vaccines they use are superior to the others, have been shipped and stored at the right temperature to ensure efficacy, and if the pup were to have an immediate reaction, they can help, as opposed to dying at home before you can get help for it. Doing them at home is just plain dangerous! Plus, the doc will do a physical exam to check them out, and be certain they are healthy with no congenital birth defects.

~Kim K., owner of Rottweiler

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