When you own a dog, it is your responsibility to watch for any symptom that may indicate there may be something wrong. Typical signs are not eating – or eating excessively, rough coat, listlessness, runny nose, constipation, excess urination, the list goes on. Any unusual behavior that is shown is nearly always a sign that you may need veterinarian assistance.
When you go to your vet, they will want to know what symptoms the dog is showing and as the dog cannot talk they will be relying on your observations. You will be able to say if the dung is dark, loose etc. and whether the dog is urinating frequently or drinking excessively. Sneezing, coughing, breathing, breathlessness, whimpering, only you as a loving and attentive owner will be able to answer all the question your vet will need to know.
Keeping a dog healthy involves a good diet, exercise and warm housing. Puppies should be vaccinated against some of the worst diseases that affect dogs and follow up annual vaccinations are necessary, particularly when your dog is exposed to other dogs.
Worming is a very important when puppies are small and as they grow, it advisable to worm every six months for all worms including tapeworm. Worming tablets are given on the body weight of your dog and your vet will give you the correct dosage. Not giving enough medication will not kill the cycle of the worm and you are wasting your time.
When your dog does get sick, have the phone number handy for your vet for emergencies and he/she will give you instructions on how to keep the dog comfortable until you can get to the clinic. When getting your dog home, follow the vet’s instructions and administer the medication as instructed. Keep the dog warm and shielded from bright light.
Keep a record of the changes and improvements in your dog and its behaviour, so that you are well informed for your next visit to your vet.
Vaccinating Your Dog
Vaccinations are given to puppies at three months of age for the main infectious diseases. Infectious hepatitis vaccine lasts a lifetime, but Distemper, Parvo and Leptospirosis need booster shots. Rabies is a problem in most countries and if it is you will need regular Rabies vaccinations. Kennel cough is also a big problem and if you have to board your dog, you must have all current vaccinations, before the Boarding kennel will take your dog.
Distemper is a terrible disease and once a dog contracts this virus, there is no cure and the dog will have to be put down. Parvo can be cured if caught early enough. The symptoms of Parvo are diarrhea and vomiting. Parvo usually affects young pups and the pup dehydrates, becomes weak and dies. If intravenous fluids and antibiotics are given early enough, the pup may recover.
Many dogs suffer from eye and ear disorders. Dogs with pointed ears rarely suffer from ear complaints, because the ear remains dry, but with dogs with ears that hang down, the ear gets moist and is a breeding ground for mites. All dogs can get mites and signs of ear problems are discharge, odour, head shaking, ear scratching, pain when touched and your dog may hold its head on the side. Contact your vet for treatment urgently.
Eye problems are most common in dogs with skin folds around their eyes. The eyelashes rub against the eyeball, causing irritation and if neglected, can cause blindness. If you take your dog into the country when there are grass seeds in the paddocks, check your dog’s eyes, because they can sometimes pick up a seed under the eyelid, that will cause pain, irritation, the eye will weep and if untreated, will cause blindness.
Skin disorders give a lot of irritation to a dog and hopefully your pup will not suffer from any of these. Skin complaints include Eczema, mange, ringworm, mites and flea irritation and they all contribute to hair loss. Ringworm is a fungal infection and appears on the skin in round hairless circles. Ringworm is contagious to humans, so take your dog to the vet for treatment.
All of these problems can be treated by your vet, but remember that once a dog develops a skin allergy, it will be a lifetime problem and you need to keep a close watch for symptoms.