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Dental Care For Puppies

Caring for your new puppy starts when you bring her home. Much of what you do (and don't do) in the early stages of her life will impact her emotionally and physically when she grows up. Dental care is one of the aspects of caring for a puppy and this article will provide some tips.
Until they are adopted, most puppies are used to being with other dogs. We may be delighted with our new "baby" but sometimes the change of family is overwhelming for them. They need to get used to their new humans - their smells, how they feel, and the noises they make. Handle your puppy often and gently and make part of that getting him used to having his mouth open with your finger touching his teeth. If he bites, and this is normal, begin teaching him to be gentle in return by saying "Easy" or "Ouch!" or "Gentle". Never force your pup's mouth open and make the experience pleasant for him by coating your finger with something tasty like peanut butter or chicken broth. Later, when he goes to the vet for a dental check-up, he will be used to having his mouth handled.
Puppies will lose their first set of teeth by the time they reach 7 to 8 months old and in this process, they may experience discomfort as they go through the teething process. During this time, monitor your dog's gums to make sure that the baby teeth are out and the adult teeth are coming in. If you notice anything amiss or if your pup is in discomfort, bring her to your vet for examination and possibly an X-ray. You may want to offer an old, clean rolled up frozen wash cloth for him to chew on through the teething period so he doesn't chomp on your furniture or anything that could cause harm if swallowed. There are products available that you can spray on to deter chewing - they are bitter but non toxic. Offer your puppy a variety of toys designed for chewing - they should give somewhat, not be too hard and be small enough for a puppy-size mouth.
While you're at it, give your pup products that are meant to clean her teeth too. These come in smaller sizes for puppies and small dogs, also have breath-freshening benefits and many dogs think of them as treats. As your dog gets older you can offer bones for chewing and keeping his teeth clean and tartar-free.
Introduce regular brushing while your pup is young. Use a flavored paste specially for puppies and dogs and a brush that can allow you to reach back to the molars. At first, you may have to be content with more toothpaste-eating than brushing, but be patient and persistent. Just as your pup got used to you handling his mouth, he will get used to having a toothbrush in there! Remember to be positive and give lots of praise when introducing a new behavior - this will ease the learning curve and lower the stress - for both of you!
Dental care for your pup should start right away and much of it is simply prevention and common sense that can promote good habits and alleviate discomfort as your dog ages.

Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer