TAKING CARE OF YOUR DOG’S HEALTH

Dog health

Some dog owners might wonder when their pets need a visit to the veterinary. After all, many of them only go when it’s an emergency – but that’s not enough. 

In fact, once a year, every year, your dog(s) should see a veterinarian for a full checkup and all the necessary shots and vaccinations for his or her age and your geographical environment. 

If your dog is sick, injured or behaving strangely (uncharacteristically lethargic, struggling to breathe, not eating or drinking water, whining, scratching consistently, etc.) then make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

FLEAS & TICKS

It is important to frequently inspect your dog for ticks and fleas, especially from early spring. 

If you notice a problem, there are various reliable tick and flea control products for dogs. Opinions on which ones to use vary according to beliefs, needs and affordability. 

One of the very effective, yet costly, options is a chewable tablet that keeps dogs tick- and flea-free for up to three months.

For maximum efficiency, it’s important that the dog receives the right dose, based on his or her weight. Puppy schools, doggy daycares and kennels often require dogs to be on a specific tick and flea control product before entry is allowed.

VACCINATIONS

Canine vaccinations help protect your dog from common, contagious illnesses and diseases. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you give your pets all the protection they need. Be sure to get a vaccination card from your veterinarian, dog breeder or animal shelter and keep it updated.

One of the most important vaccinations is DHLPPC. It consist of components that protect against the following illnesses: Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus and Coronavirus.

Canine illnesses include:

  • Hepatitis: viral liver disease
  • Parainfluenza: infectious bronchitis
  • Parvovirus: viral intestine disease
  • Corona: viral disease of the intestines
  • Leptospirosis: urinary tract bacterial disease
  • Rabies: fatal viral disease; can be contracted by humans and animals
  • Distemper: airborne viral disease affecting the lungs, brain and intestines
  • Bordetella: aka kennel cough; bacterial infection of upper respiratory system

In South Africa, puppies and adult dogs usually require the following vaccinations and/or tests:

  • Heartworm Test: Adult dogs annually
  • Bordetella (Kennel Cough): Adult dogs annually
  • DHLPPC: Adult dogs annually; puppies 6 – 8 weeks, 11 – 12 weeks and 15 – 16 weeks
  • Rabies Shot: Puppies aged 4+ months, then one year after that, then biannually after the 2nd shot (frequency may vary based on your geographical location; consult your veterinarian for details)

Additional shots include Giardia and Lyme disease. Inform your veterinarian where you live and explain your dog’s lifestyle (day care, kennels, etc.) to help the veterinarian recommend all the required vaccinations, shots and tests. Most decent kennels will only accept dogs with current, up-to-date paperwork.

Note: don’t walk or socialise your dog too early / before he or she has had the proper treatments.

MEDICINES & POISONS

Dogs should not eat or have access to any of the following:

Xylitol | Avocado | Alcohol | Leaves, Stems and Roots from Tomato & Potato Plants | Onions & Garlic | Coffee, Tea & Other Caffeine | Grapes & Raisins | Milk & Other Dairy Products | Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts & Pecans | Chocolate | Fat Trimmings & Bones (Raw or Cooked) | Persimmons, Peaches & Plums | Raw Eggs | Only Raw Meat & Fish | Salt & Salty Snacks | Sugary Foods & Drinks | Yeast Dough & Hops | Human Medicine | Baking Ingredients & Spices | Excessive Coconut Milk/Oil/Flesh | Apple Seeds & Cores | Chamomile | Cherry Stems, Leaves & Pits | Mustard Seeds | Rhubarb | Citrus Fruits | Licorice | Marijuana in Any Form

Only give your dog medicine that has been prescribed by a qualified, certified veterinarian and keep rodent, insect and other poisons in a safe place, always out of reach. If, for any reason, you think your dog might have ingested any poisonous substance, call your veterinarian immediately.

WORMS

Be sure to deworm puppies as often as necessary and adult dogs yearly. Many humans, whether pet owners or not, make use of deworming medication as a precaution.

Dogs, even healthy, happy ones, can be exposed to worms, even in urban areas. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are not uncommon in puppies (or even older dogs), but diagnosis is key and fast treatment is very important. Make sure you use the right medicine (for the right worm), prescribed by a veterinarian, to get rid of these intestinal parasites.

SPAYING & NEUTERING

This can be a sensitive subject, but it’s increasingly recommended that non-breeding females should be spayed (removal of ovaries and uterus) before reaching maturity (6 months) to reduce the risk of breast cancer and/or an infected uterus.

Non-breeding males benefit from being neutered (removal of testicles) before maturity to help prevent testicular and prostate diseases, certain hernias and some types of aggression.

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June 2017

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