DOG HEALTH

Dog Health

Your dog's health should be just as important to you any member of the family. With the right care, you dog should live a long and happy life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easy when you follow our tips below.

Vaccinations come with added benefits to your dog's health

Vaccinations are such an important part of maintaining a healthy, disease free lifestyle for your pet. Often the infections that dogs contract can be easily avoided by following the standard vaccination programme co-ordinated by your vet.

Vaccinations are a necessity when it comes to dog health as they stimulate and promote immunity, enabling your dog to fight off infections. As a dog owner you will need to visit your veterinarian with your dog for a series of general vaccinations over a specified period of time. Primary vaccinations for puppies will generally be at 7, 13 and 16 weeks.

Later in life, boosters are necessary as vaccinations may decline to non-protective levels. Boosters are generally an annual exercise. When your dog has been vaccinated by a veterinarian you will be issued with a vaccination certificate. This will show what vaccinations have been administered and when the next one is due. It is very straight forward and easy to understand so always remember vaccination means eradication and these will help maintain your dog's health.

Brushing and washing your dog

Brushing:

Dogs often groom each other in the wild as a sign of companionship. Brushing your dog creates a similar bonding experience and has the benefit of keeping their coat shiny and clean. Different coats require different grooming techniques and tools.

Medium and long coats: Use a wire dog brush. Brush very gently to avoid scratching and irritating your dog's skin. Angle the brush so it's close to the skin. Start at the head and work down to the tail, working with the angle of the coat hair.

Short smooth coats: A rubber dog brush removes loose hair and dirt. It also increases blood circulation to the skin.

It's a good idea to brush your dog before a bath as it disperses oil and loosens dirt. And for all dogs, sensitive areas are the tummy and genitals.

Washing:

Use a shampoo that's right for your dog's breed. Your vet will be able to suggest some of the better options. You'll only need to bathe your dog about once a month provided he/she has relatively good personal grooming habits. Bathing too regularly could dry out the skin, making it itchy and flaky.

OPTIMUM™ range dog products can help keep your dog's skin and coat looking beautiful and in peak condition.

Clean your dog's ears

Check regularly that your dog's ears are free from wax build-up and dirt. This will help prevent irritation, infection and inflammation and hence improve your dog's overall health. It's best to check when your dog is in a happy or relaxed mood. Depending on their breed, gently hold or fold back their ears so you can have a good look inside. For more information consult your vet.

Check your dog's nails

Letting nails grow too long can be painful for your dog. If you haven't done this before, take your dog to the vet or groomer and ask them to show you when and how to clip them and what tools to use.

Dog Size matters

It's not just dimensions that differentiate small dogs from their larger relatives - aging rates and maturity also vary depending on size. Although small-medium dogs will reach their full weight and size earlier than large dogs, they reach their senior years later. A small dog enters its senior years at approximately 7 years, compared to around 5 years for large breeds.

Although they mature later, small dogs won't show signs of aging until after large dogs do. These maturity and aging rates generally mean that small-medium breeds live longer than large breeds.  That's why OPTIMUM™ has a variety of different formulations to suit your dog's various life stages and needs.

Dog Obesity

Along with humans, dog obesity is a "big" health problem in Australia. Incredibly, about 20% to 30% of all dogs and cats are overweight! You may think that giving your pet what they want is the right thing to do but obesity can lead to even greater health problems such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and joint disease such as arthritis.

The best way to help your dog maintain a healthy weight is to ensure you feed your dog a balanced healthy diet. Exercise for your dog is also just as important. Every dog should either be walked or have some sort of exercise that gets the heart pumping every day. When your dog is obese it is hard for them to exercise and they eventually stop trying all together when it gets too hard. Implement an exercise regime and the weight should drop off quickly.

If you have any concerns or questions about how much or how often to feed your dog make an appointment with your vet so you can sit down and work out a schedule to shed those extra pet kilos and inprove your dog's health.

OPTIMUM™ Light & Mature has been developed to help you manage the weight of your pet.

Fleas and your dog

Flea control is very important when it comes to our furry friends. Both cats and dogs can experience the annoyance and discomfort of these tiny pests.

Treating your dog for fleas is easy but you have to remember two very important things.

Firstly, preventions are available at most Supermarkets and vet clinics. Exelpet® provides a range of products suitable for the prevention and treatment of fleas (for more information visit www.exelpet.com.au. And secondly, once you've got them, you need to tackle them in two ways:

Fleas must be controlled on your pet
Fleas must be controlled in your pets environment

Killing just the adult fleas and not the eggs will not do the trick as they will grow and you will still have an annoying flea problem! Visit your local veterinarian or www.exelpet.com.au for more information on how to go about controlling fleas in your home and on your pet.

Ticks can turn the family holiday into a disaster

If you've just taken your dog camping, this would be a great time to check for Ticks. Ticks are those nasty little blood suckers that can do a surprising amount of damage to your dog's health. Ticks can cause paralysis, so by the time you spot one, it could be too late. Basically the female tick will attach herself to the skin of your dog "the host" and burrow its mouth parts into the body, while injecting a neurotoxin.

The tick will keep sucking the blood from the host and grow in size every day. A neurotoxin has a few side effects that contribute to muscle damage and can also be damaging to the respiratory system. You may see your dog having trouble breathing. The most likely place to pick up a tick is in natural bush land areas and the danger period is in the warmer months of spring and summer.

You can protect your dog from ticks by using a good flea control treatment. Exelpet® products offers protection from fleas and ticks for up to six months www.exelpet.com.au, However, if you find a tick on your dog or start to notice any symptoms of tick paralysis, get to your vet immediately as the sooner the tick has been discovered, the better chances your dog has of recovery.

Dogs aren't people

It's often tempting to give your dog a snack, especially if he is looking expectedly at you and your food. But be aware that human snacks aren't always suitable for dogs as many contain high levels of preservatives and fats, which can be detrimental, especially if you are trying to manage your dog's weight. And although you may love it, chocolate is a no-no for your dog's health as it contains an ingredient that is potentially poisonous to pooches. This is not to say you can't treat your dog, just do it with nutritious doggy snacks and in moderation to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Eyesight in ageing dogs

As dogs age they can start to lose their eyesight and rely more on their sense of smell and hearing. In determining whether your dog has a vision problem, it is important to take note of both physical signs, such as watery eyes or redness in the eyes, and behavioural signs, such as difficulty moving around the house.

Most likely your dog would have memorised the layout of your house and so if he is gradually losing his sight, you may not notice. If you are worried, visit your vet for an eye exam. If your pooch has vision problems, try to keep his environment safe and familiar by not moving furniture, bedding or food bowls.

Also, it's a good idea to talk to your dog before approaching him, to avoid any unexpected frights.

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is when the body reaches an abnormally high temperature. Within 10 minutes of leaving your dog in the car on a warm day, (it doesn't necessarily have to be a scorching hot day) heatstroke can set in. Aside from leaving your dog in the car, heat stroke can also result from lack of water, exercising in hot weather and being outside in the sun on a hot day.

Heat stroke can be very damaging to the health of your dog, potentially causing haemorrhaging, kidney failure and even death in extreme cases. Some signs that your dog may have heat stroke are rapid panting, wide eyes, salivating from the mouth and/or collapse. There are a few things that you can do to try to minimise the chances of your dog getting heat stroke and protect your dog's health. These include:

- Always having access to fresh water

- Never leave your pet in the car (even if it's just for a minute)
- Walk your dog in the mornings and evenings during hot weather

- Provide shade if you leave your pet outside during the day

Think smart when it comes to hot weather and give treat your dog as you would like to be treated. If you do think that your dog may have heat stroke take them to your veterinarian as they will require medical attention.

Microchipping

Microchipping is becoming more and more popular as a permanent and effective way of identifying domestic cats and dogs. In the painless procedure, your vet implants a tiny microchip, the size of a grain of rice, under your dog's skin. The microchip holds unique information about your dog and, should it go missing, the chip can be used to trace your dog back to a central animal registry.

So effective is this method of identification that in some Australian states it is compulsory.
Check with your vet or local council about your obligations as a dog owner.

 

DR. CHRIS BROWN

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Chris Brown