Establishing a relationship with your vet as early in your dog’s life as possible will create trust between your dog and your vet, making visits less scary for your dog, and ensuring your dog’s health is regularly monitored.
- Dogs need to be vaccinated against various illnesses and checked periodically for worms and other parasites to ensure they are protected from contracting these illnesses.
- Ask your vet about important health programmes available for your pet:
These vaccinations are aimed at preventing the more serious and often fatal diseases, such as Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Rabies.
These vaccinations are for dogs that may be at risk of contracting Bordetellosis, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis and Coronavirus because of their lifestyle habits or surrounding environments.
These exams should be performed at least once a year and are important for keeping your dog in optimal health. During these exams your vet will do a full check-up on your dog, which will enable your vet to find any chronic or ‘silent’ illnesses to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy.
Neutering or spaying
Unless you are intending to breed your puppy, neutering or spaying is recommended. Not only will this decrease the chance of unwanted procreation, but it will also have additional benefits for your dog. Neutered or spayed dogs are generally less territorial, less aggressive and less inclined to run away in search of a mate. Neutering or spaying your dog also lessens their risk of life-threatening diseases/infections such as Pyometra, Breast Cancer and Prostate problems.
It is recommended to spay or neuter your pet between 4 and 7months of age. Another helpful thing to remember is that females who are spayed before their first heat cycle will have a 95-98% decreased chance of developing malignant Breast Cancer.
Even the most well-cared-for and loved dogs run the risk of accidentally getting lost. Microchip identification is a very efficient way of ensuring that your dog is safely returned to you if this does happen. A microchip is inserted under the skin, in a quick and relatively painless procedure. This chip allows vets to obtain important information about you and your pet, allowing you to be reunited with your faithful companion quickly and easily.
Keeping your dog healthy
Keeping a close eye on your friend will enable you to notice any changes in his appearance or behaviour. This will help to catch any potential health problems early in their development and increase the likelihood of treatment working quickly and effectively.
Keep an eye on the following things to ensure your friend remains healthy and happy:
Your dog’s eyes should be clear and bright, and the whites of their eyes should have no red or yellow discolouration. If you do spot discolouration, tearing, cloudiness, heavy discharge or any other conditions you think are abnormal, take your dog to the vet straight away. This way, you can treat the condition, or rule out any serious problems. Don’t worry if you notice a slight mucous build-up in the corner of your dog’s eyes – this is quite common.
Healthy ears should be clean, with no discharge or odour. Check your hound’s ears at least once a week to ensure they stay this way. If you notice any unusual discharge or odour, take your dog to the vet to get him checked out.
Your dog’s mouth should have pink, healthy gums with no redness or swelling. Their lips should be free of sores or growths, and their teeth should be free of tartar build-up and bad breath.
Your dog’s nose should be wet, with no discharge or sores. If your dog’s nose is dry, take them in to see your vet as this could be a sign of illness.
The body and coat
Your dog should have no lumps, fleas or ticks. Make sure you regularly check your dog for these by running your hands over their coat. Their fur should be thick, shiny and silky ¬ – with no greasiness, dandruff or bare patches. If you spot any irregularities, take them into your vet to get checked out.
Check your dog’s legs for swollen joints, particularly if they are very active. Inspect between their toes for excess hair causing irritation, or any objects that may have been lodged there. Be sure to check the condition of your dog’s nails as well, as these may need to be trimmed if they get too long.
Make sure that your dog’s anus is free of swelling and intestinal parasites. In addition to checking for any abnormalities, watch out for telltale signs. For example, if your dog ‘scoots’ along the ground, it may be an attempt to relieve swollen anal glands, and could be a sign of infection. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you notice any of these conditions.
- Parasites and worms are dangerous to the general health of your dog. Checking your dog regularly will help to ensure you detect them early and prevent or treat any illnesses they may cause. Vaccinations against these illnesses are available, so make sure you ask your vet about them. Keep an eye out for the following:
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and will cause damage to various organs, respiratory problems and heart failure. Heartworm is hard to detect, so ensure that your vet checks your dog regularly for it, as once it is detected it is very easy to treat.
Intestinal worms, including tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms, can cause health problems such as diarrhoea, weight loss, dry hair or vomiting. In some cases, there are no symptoms, and the worms can be passed from mothers to pups during pregnancy.
There are many different types of worms to look out for:
Tapeworms are one of the most common types of intestinal parasites in dogs. Dogs can get these by licking and swallowing fleas that are carrying tapeworm eggs.
Hookworms or whipworms are dangerous as they can cause anemia by sucking large amounts of blood from the intestinal wall vessels of dogs.
Roundworms are not only dangerous to your dog, but they can also infect humans.
Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that is also contagious to humans. You will notice the infection by seeing circular patches of discolouration and hair loss. Seek treatment for your dog immediately and keep children away from your dog until the ringworm has been thoroughly treated. Make sure to keep an eye on your other pets as well, as ringworm is very contagious.
Ear mites cause severe irritation in the ears of dogs. While you won’t be able to see the mites without magnification, you will notice a black, crusty discharge. You will probably also notice that your dog starts to scratch their ears a lot – they will probably scratch the hair off the back of their ears in attempt at some relief. Ear mites cannot be treated through cleaning alone. Your vet will need to clean their ears, and this will need to be followed by prescription medication: eardrops, oral medicine and injections. Dips, sprays and powders can then be used to prevent additional outbreaks.
Fleas and ticks
Fleas and ticks are the most common parasite found in dogs and need to be watched out for as they can cause your dog to get very sick. Intense itching, hair loss, and crusting of the skin around your dog’s ears, front legs, chest and abdomen are signs of an infestation. Fleas and ticks may not be easy to notice, but be sure to check your dog’s coat regularly as they can usually be found on close inspection.
You can prevent fleas and ticks with spot-on applications, flea and tick collars or medication. Ask your vet for the best option for you and your pooch.