Perfect Puppy Care Book – Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 9)
Chapter 7 – Puppy Health Care (Part 9)
Puppies are born without teeth. Their baby teeth start poking through the gums between two and three weeks of age. At about three months, your puppy will start losing her baby teeth while her adult teeth come in. You may find your puppy’s baby teeth in her toys or on the carpet. She may even eat them, but this is normal and shouldn’t cause a problem. Adult teeth continue to come in, in stages, until your puppy is about eight months old, at which time the last molars appear. Most adult dogs have 42 teeth.
Retained Baby Teeth
Sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out when the adult teeth start coming in. If you see a double row of teeth in your puppy’s mouth, this means that she has retained some of her baby teeth. (This is a condition seen more commonly in toy breeds.) It causes the adult teeth to push out of place, which can lead to a bad bite and injuries to the gums. Treatment usually involves removal of the baby teeth by a veterinarian. A convenient time to remove retained baby teeth is when you have your puppy neutered, because she already will be under anesthesia.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Periodontal disease is one of the most common problems seen in veterinary practices. It’s rare for puppies to have it, but starting prevention now is the key to helping your dog avoid it as she grows older. There are two forms of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
In gingivitis, tartar builds up around the gum line, causing small pockets that trap food and bacteria. Smaller breeds, and certain breeds such as the Poodle, are very prone to tartar buildup.
Symptoms include bad breath. The gums may be swollen, red, and bleed easily when touched. You may even see pus if you press along the gum line.
If left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis, at which time the gum infection attacks the membrane that holds the teeth in the bone. Teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Root abscesses also may occur, which are very painful. Symptoms include drooling and a reluctance to eat. Treatment involves professional teeth cleaning by your veterinarian. Your dog will be sedated, and the veterinarian will scale and clean her teeth and remove any damaged ones. Some dogs have the disease so badly that they lose most of their teeth. You can help to prevent periodontal disease—and save yourself a good bit of money in dentistry costs—by beginning a good dental care program now.
Dogs can get a variety of ear infections, caused by either bacteria or yeast. Here are some common causes of ear infections:
- A lot of ear hair, which blocks air circulation.
- Drop ears. Drop ears don’t allow as much air circulation into the ear canal, so they can remain moist or wet, which is a good breeding ground for bacterial or yeast infections.
- Grooming by plucking hair from the ear canals, which can cause sebum to ooze from the hair pores and encourage bacterial growth.
- Narrow ear canals.
- Using a cotton-tipped swab to clean the ears, which can force liquids or bacteria down into the ear canal.
- Water getting into the ears while swimming or bathing.
Symptoms of an ear infection include unusual odor, head shaking, scratching, and rubbing at the ear. The ear will be painful. Your puppy may tilt her head and cry and whine if you touch her ear. The ear will be red and usually have a discharge.
It’s important to take your puppy to the veterinarian if you suspect an ear problem. You don’t want it to get worse and affect her hearing. The type of ear infection will determine what treatment your veterinarian prescribes. If it progresses too much, the vet may have to sedate her to clean her ears, or he may even have to perform surgery. For a more minor infection, the veterinarian may prescribe medication to put in your puppy’s ears. Be sure to follow all directions carefully, and don’t touch the tip of the applicator to the ear, or you could contaminate the applicator.
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