Keeping your dog healthy is the key to keeping them happy. They depend on you for their health so it’s important to know how to care for your dog and look after them properly. A nutritionally balanced diet gives a level of protection but even so you’ll want to be aware of the most common health problems dogs face, how to spot them and what to do about them. At different stages in your dog’s life they may face different health concerns. From puppy vaccinations, to dog pregnancy through to problems with joints and mobility as they get older. Taking your dog to the vet and learning basic dog first aid is also part of caring for them. Give them a daily groom and once over to spot any signs of poor health.
Dog skin and coat health
Making sure your dog’s skin and coat are in tip top condition is important. Giving them food containing Omega 3 and 6 will help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny. They prevent flaky skin, dullness and hair loss.
The condition of a dog’s skin and coat gives you a good indication of how healthy it is. If the coat looks dull and lack lustre it may be a sign of ill health.
Dog skin problems are a common issue for dogs. Scabs or lots of scratching and itching may indicate a skin infection, skin allergy or the presence of parasites.
Dog eye health
Looking deep into your dog’s eyes is something we highly recommend. You can tell a lot about a dog’s health through his eyes!
By inspecting your dog’s eyes regularly you can pick up on any tearing, redness or cloudiness.
Watch out for gunk and discharge, tear-stained fur, cloudiness or pupils that are different sizes: all signs there may be a problem with dog eye health.
You should check your dog’s teeth and mouth regularly to make sure they look healthy. Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three. Dogs can get plaque and tarter which can lead to common teeth problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
Poor dental care for dogs can lead to infections which can cause major problems. Trips to the dog dentist aren’t cheap so prevention is best.
If your dog can’t eat his food, stops playing with his toys or has really smelly breath this might be the sign of a dental problem.
Dog teeth cleaning is a must, you can even get meat flavoured toothpaste so it’s not such a hardship for your dog!
Dog joints and mobility
Looking after your dogs joints and keeping them as active as they can be for as long as they can is important.
Feeding a good diet with extras like Omega 3 and 6 will help. Dogs, just like us, when they get older tend to suffer with their joints, in fact more than 9 out of 10 dogs over the age of 5 has an issue with joints or mobility.
Much of it is down to the effects of getting older but it may be down to other factors like overuse, strain or arthritis.
Carrying too much weight can also put more pressure on a dog’s joints.
Common ailments for dogs
Dog skin problems and ear infections are the most common dog health conditions. An RSPCA study found they top the list of reasons why dogs are taken to the vet.
Dog obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems. It’s associated with many health problems like diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, hypertension and various types of cancers. It’s up to you to make sure your dog’s the right weight as it may be storing up health problems for the future if they are overweight or obese.
As dogs are generally active they may pick up injuries on their paw pads like cuts or thorns. You’ll soon learn how to spot minor injuries.
Dogs can experience episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea which may be caused by an infection, parasites or by something they have eaten.
Fleas are a common problem for dogs as they are so easy to pick up. You can get a treatment for the vet.
Your dog will need to be wormed regularly to protect it. A dog with worms shows a number of symptoms depending on which worm has infected it, including diarrhoea, lethargy, itching and vomiting. Most worms are easy to treat but it’s best to try to prevent them in the first place.
Vaccinations usually take place when puppies are 8-10 weeks old. They may then be given a booster injection at around a year but older pets need protecting as well because their immunity to certain conditions may decline. Speak to your vet about what your dog needs in the form of boosters.
The routine dog vaccinations are:
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine distemper virus
- Infectious canine hepatitis.
Dogs may also have the kennel cough vaccine, usually into their nostril. Dogs travelling abroad may need a rabies vaccination.
It’s strongly recommended that owners have their dogs neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Some people decide to breed from their dogs.
If your dog is pregnant, it’ll last for around 60 days or nine weeks. In the last four weeks she may eat a lot more than usual.
When your dog is whelping (giving birth) they’ll usually do it without any special help. You’ll need a special bed or whelping box for her to stay with the puppies.
The puppies need to remain with their mum for at least eight weeks.
Remember you may get unexpected vet’s bills if the puppies need extra attention or get ill. You’ll also have to have them vaccinated before they go to their new homes.