Your puppy will have had their first set of shots at approximately 8 weeks of age and will need their second set of shots four weeks later. The third set of shots will come four weeks after that, and will include the rabies vaccination. Often your veterinarian will recommend splitting up the third set of shots and the rabies vaccination in order to minimize the chance of a reaction. After their puppy shots are finished, they can have a booster every 1-3 years as necessary. Follow your veterinarian's recommendation. If you are worried about over-vaccinating, you can ask for a titre test which will determine your dog's immunity level and then you can decide whether or not they need another vaccine.
Your puppy will have been dewormed by their breeder at least two or three times and you can continue to give deworming treatment as recommended by your veterinarian.
Your breeder will have given your puppy a flea treatment before going to their new home. Most flea treatments last a month though there are some that last up to three months. Flea treatment should be repeated every 1-3 months throughout the year even during the winter. Fleas can be very easy to prevent but hard to treat once there is an infestation in the home so prevention is key. Only purchase flea treatments from a veterinarian, as the products found at pet stores can be very harmful to pets.
Your puppy's sharp baby teeth will begin to fall out between 3 and 4 months of age and should all be fallen out by 7-8 months. During this time your puppy will want to chew on things more and may be more sensitive around their mouth. Sometimes you will find their teeth on the floor or in their beds but often they swallow them. You can encourage them to chew on raw meaty bones and tug with fleece or rope toys to help their puppy teeth fall out.
An issue with some poodles (as well as many other small breeds) is retained deciduous teeth (see photo on the left). This is where the adult tooth comes in but the baby tooth has not fallen out yet. This can cause tooth decay between the two teeth and will cause the dog's breath to have a bad odor. Poodles as a breed are known for their bad teeth. This means that you will have to be extra diligent about taking care of your puppy's teeth. Providing raw meaty bones to chew on will help scrape tartar away and frequent brushing can help soften or prevent plaque. If considerable tartar starts to accumulate, your puppy
will have to go to a veterinarian to have a full dentistry performed. We recommend only trusting a veterinarian with this procedure, even though there are other professionals who do it anesthetic-free. If the teeth are not cleaned properly plaque can be left under the gumline and cause the teeth to be unhealthy even though they appear to be clean.
A common dental issue with smaller poodles is called base narrow canines. This is where their lower jaw is growing at a slightly slower rate which makes their lower canines connect with their upper gums instead of sliding into place. Usually this will correct itself in time, especially as the canine teeth fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, but it can be helped along with ball therapy as the adult teeth begin to erupt.
It is common for a puppy to get tear stains when they are teething. They will usually go away once the puppy is done teething. If you notice tear staining as your puppy ages, it may be time for a dental cleaning or it could be a sign of allergies. Often, though, it is simply the shape of the dog's face or certain genetic factors that determine whether their eyes will tear or not. It is always a good idea to have the dog examined by a vet to make sure the tears are not being caused by an entropion eyelid, dental infection, or any other medical issue. Though there are many products on the market that say they can treat tear stains, none of them actually work. All you can do is keep the eye area clear of hair and wipe gently with a damp cloth every day or so. Feed high quality food and keep their food and water bowls sanitized.
Puppies are still growing and their joints, ligaments, and even bones are not fully formed. Normal play is fine, of course, but don't force your puppy on long walks or encourage or allow them to jump over things or down from the couch. Doing high-impact dog sports is also not a good idea until their growth plates are closed which is usually about one year old in small dogs. There are lots of fun and safe exercises for puppies to do in the meantime! Walks are safe but look for signs of fatigue which may include sluggishness, heavy panting, refusing to move, or jumping up on your legs. Be cautious when letting your puppy play with other dogs, especially those larger than them, as that can cause injury or strain. Of course, only allow your puppy to play with vaccinated dogs until your puppy is fully vaccinated. Always supervise play and if your puppy seems overwhelmed, or is being too rough with the other dog, remove them from play and give them a time-out or distract them with a toy or food. Remember that mental stimulation is also exercise! It is very tiring on a puppy to be learning new things! Keep training sessions short, only 2-3 minutes at a time, but repeat throughout the day. Keeping your puppy mentally
stimulated will help them tire out so they sleep better at night as well!
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help them live longer and have less stress on their joints and cardiovascular system. Most puppies have a bit of chubbiness to them but it is important that as they grow into their adolescence that they maintain a healthy weight. You should be able to feel your dog's individual ribs but they shouldn't jut out (look at your dog in the bath if they have too much hair to see). Hip bones should be visible but not extremely obvious. The dog should have a slender waist and an obvious tuck-up.
Dogs often begin to put weight on after they are spayed or neutered. They may need less calories after being altered. Follow the directions from whatever food you are feeding, but keep in mind that each dog is different and if your dog is putting on weight you can cut back on their food a bit or if they appear to be too thin you can add more food. If the dog is doing a lot of training they may be eating a lot more calories in treats than you realize! You can cut down on their breakfast or dinner so they are not eating too much on training days.
Spaying / Neutering
Having your dog spayed or neutered at an appropriate age can curb urine marking, reduce the risk of cancer, and stop unwanted litters. It is best, however, to wait until the dog has fully matured as the hormones from their reproductive organs are necessary to their growing bodies to ensure they mature at the correct rate. In miniature poodles, usually they are finished growing and mature by 10 to 12 months of age. For females, this may mean that they will go through a heat cycle before they are spayed.