Performing Routine Daily Checkups on Your Puppy
In addition to routinely bathing and grooming your puppy, you should do regular spot checks to ensure that his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are healthy. Close inspection can identify potential issues before they become serious, so you can notify the vet.
Any mindful puppy owner knows that a puppy can’t articulate discomfort or dismay and may react defensively or get hyper when handled in unfamiliar ways. Establishing routine daily checkups not only conditions your puppy to handling but also keeps you aware of anything that runs amiss.
If you notice that your puppy’s eyes are tearful, full of mucus, swollen, or itchy, see your veterinarian. Your puppy may be suffering from conjunctivitis, a cold, an internal parasite, or an allergy.
Your puppy has a third eyelid. If you lift the lower lid carefully, you see a pinkish lid that closes independently. This lid protects your puppy’s eye from dust and other particles that are picked up near the ground. This third lid can become infected, so note its healthy color and take your puppy to the veterinarian if you notice it becoming inflamed.
If your veterinarian prescribes eye medication, administer it carefully by swiping something tasty on the refrigerator (peanut butter or broth) at a 30-degree angle above your dog’s eye level. Stand behind your dog or to his side and pull back the upper lid until you see the white of your dog’s eye; then carefully drop in the medication.
As a general rule, floppy ears require more care than upright ears because of limited air circulation. If you have a hairy-eared breed, you may be instructed to pluck the hair out of the way, because excess hair can trap wax and make one big mess that cries out for parasites. Talk to your veterinarian or groomer for personal instructions.
Following is some general information about caring for your puppy’s ears:
Clean the outer ear flap. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a commercial ear solution that helps prevent infection. Using a cotton ball soaked in the solution, swipe the outer flap. Use caution when cleaning, because the ear is very tender and going in too deep can be painful. Repeat this process until the cotton comes up clean.
Don’t use cotton swabs or poke into your puppy’s ear canal. You can cause irreparable damage by doing so.
Prevent water from entering the ear. If you’re bathing your pup, put a cotton ball in the opening ahead of time and wipe the ears out with a dry cotton ball when you’re finished.
Ear infections are quite common. Signs of infection include a red or swollen ear, discharge, head shaking, ear itching, or bad odor. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your puppy to his doctor immediately.
You don’t have to know much about your puppy’s nose, though it is helpful for tipping you off to the fact that your puppy’s not feeling well. A warm nose can be caused by an elevated temperature. However, weather conditions also can lead to dryness or fluctuation in body temperature. If you suspect your puppy has a fever, touch his other body areas without fur (belly, paws, or the inside of his ears) or take his temperature.
Dogs’ noses can become discolored. One potential cause is the sun. When your puppy hangs in the sun, protect his nose with sun block with a sun protection factor of 45. Another reason a pup’s nose may become discolored is an allergic reaction to a plastic food dish or household detergent. In such cases, use stainless-steel bowls for your dog’s dishes and clean with environmentally safe products.
You must take care of your puppy’s teeth. Though dogs are less prone to tartar buildup than humans are, they’re not immune, and poor dental hygiene can also lead to heart disease and kidney disease. Sure, dogs have more-concentrated saliva, and they chew bones and things, but these forms of prevention don’t take the place of dental care.
Follow these tips to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy:
Include chew bones or dry food in your puppy’s diet. The saliva involved in chewing helps clean your puppy’s teeth.
Start brushing your puppy’s teeth once a week. Use special dog toothpaste instead of human toothpaste. If your dog is averse to the brush, use your finger or a finger brush. If your dog growls at you, quit immediately and call a professional.
If you have a young puppy, acquaint him with this procedure early on. Rub your fingers along his gums throughout the week and praise him calmly as you brush.
Some puppies put up an enormous struggle when getting their teeth brushed. For these critters, your veterinarian may suggest an oral spray that breaks down tartar.