Dog Health Tips
Your puppies, first vaccination is due between 6 to 8 weeks of age. They will then require a booster vaccination 4 weeks later at 12 weeks of age, and possibly another at 16 weeks of age (depending on the vaccination type and timing). Unvaccinated adult dogs generally only require an initial vaccination and a booster 4 weeks later. The most important vaccination for dogs is the C3 vaccination, which protects against canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus. This vaccination may be repeated either annually (every 12 months) or triennially (every 3 years), depending on your veterinarian and the type of C3 vaccination used.
An optional vaccination, important for dogs that socialise at dog parks, training groups and go into kennels, is the Canine Cough vaccination (formally known as Kennel Cough) which protects against Bordatella bronchiseptica and Parainfluenza causes of Canine Cough. All dogs that require Canine Cough protection need a booster every 12 months. A C5 vaccination is both the C3 + the Canine Cough vaccination.
It is always important to follow the advice of your veterinarian who will be able to recommend the most appropriate vaccination protocol for your pet.
Heartworm is a potentially fatal parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes. You should start your dog on heartworm prevention by 6 months of age. You are best to check with your veterinarian for advice on the various treatment options. Adult dogs (over 6 months) must be tested for heartworm before starting treatment. This is a simple blood test to ensure that they are not already infected.
Adult dogs should be wormed every three months. It is best to choose an 'all-wormer' which treats all the important gastrointestinal parasites. Follow the dose directions on the packet according to your dog's weight and treat all of your animals at the same time. Never use dog products on cats or vice versa.
Alternatively, many veterinarians are now offering to do faecal tests for gastrointestinal parasites at a competitive price. This involves collecting a fresh stool sample from your pet and submitting it to your veterinarian for testing every three months. The veterinarian will then be able to advise you whether your pet requires worming or not.
Your dog should be fed a good quality commercial dog food, either tinned, dry, or a combination of both. Cheaper dog foods can cause diarrhoea, increased flatulence and acid reflux (often exhibited by dogs eating excessive grass), so it is important to choose a high quality dog food. Consult your veterinarian as to the best food for your dog. If you prefer to home cook your dog’s food, mix it with commercial dog food in order to provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Be aware that some human foods are toxic to dogs so check with your veterinarian to ensure any home cooked foods you are feeding your dog are appropriate.
Healthy Teeth and Gums
Raw bones are good for your dog’s teeth and gums but be aware that there are some risks associated with them, so please consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any. Never give cooked bones of any type to your dog. You can also train your dog to allow you to brush their teeth which is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Dental chews and treats is another way to help keep your dog's teeth clean.
Cow’s milk and Weetbix are not suitable for dogs or puppies. This is not a balanced diet and cow's milk can cause your dog to have diarrhoea.
There are many commercial products available to treat fleas. Liquid ‘spot-on’ treatments such as 'Revolution', 'Advantage' and 'Frontline', are examples of effective treatments. There are also oral formulations such as ‘Bravecto’ and ‘NexGard’. All of these treatments are available at good quality pet shops and veterinary clinics. Follow the directions on the pack in regards to dosage and frequency. Avoid supermarket brands which are less effective and less safe. Flea irritation can become a serious problem with dogs if not controlled in the earliest stages. You may have to treat other items such as bedding if you find your dog has fleas.
Long haired dogs require daily brushing and regular grooming. If your dog’s long fur is not maintained, this may cause health problems. If you do not have the time to groom your dog, it is advisable to look into purchasing a short-haired breed. Regularly check your dog's nails and clip them when needed. If you are not confident to clip your own dog’s nails (it can be tricky), book it in with the nurse at your local veterinarian or dog groomer.
Unless you are a registered breeder, your dog needs to be desexed. The South Australian Government has recently introduced laws which will soon make it illegal to have an undesexed pet over 6 months of age without breeder’s registration. There are many health and behavioural benefits of desexing your dog. These include reducing aggression, reducing the risk of mammary, uterine and ovarian cancers, testicular cancers and prostatitis. Having your dog desexed can also reduce their urge to wander and prevent unwanted litters.
Overweight dogs are unhealthy dogs. Dogs can become overweight due to being over-fed, feeding them the wrong type of food, and not giving them enough regular exercise. If your dog is overweight there is a greater risk of arthritis, liver disease and heart disease.
Exercise & Enrichment
All dogs, regardless of age or size, need regular exercise for good physical and mental health. It is important to fully understand your dog's exercise requirements and make the time each day to take them for a walk and play games with them. Never allow your dog to actively exercise immediately before or after feeding. Dogs will become bored if they do not receive the mental stimulation from regular exercise which may lead to negative behaviours such as digging and excessive barking. Provide your dog with appropriate dog toys which are changed regularly and encourage your dog to engage with the toys by playing toy games together.
Dogs in the Heat
Dogs will readily suffer heat stroke in extreme temperatures, so it is very important to take steps to avoid this. Make sure you notice any changes in behaviour including excessive panting and ensure your dog always has access to cool, clean water and shade. You can help cool your dog down quickly by wrapping them in a cold, wet towel and immersing their paws in cool water. Never leave your dog in a car, even on mild days. Even with the windows down, the temperature inside the car will rise rapidly and will subject your dog to extreme anxiety and risk their life. If you own a short-nosed breed (brachycephalic) dog (for example: pugs, boxers, bulldogs), they are even more at risk of heat stroke. These dogs should never be left outside on hot days, never exercised on hot days, and always have access to an air-conditioned room.