Dog Health

Knowing your pet”s changing needs at the various ages of his life is key to promoting dog health and avoiding dog health problems. While most owners know that having their pets vaccinated and regularly taking them to vets for check ups is important, far fewer are aware of how breed-specific conditions can affect overall dog health. This section will help you answer any dog health questions you might have.

Learning about the common pests and diseases that can infect your dog will help you know how to prevent or treat them, should your dog become affected. In this article, we”ll give you a basic outline of how to keep your dog healthy.

A Healthy Dog

Overall dog health depends on a variety of factors. Here are tips for keeping dogs healthy:

  • Exercise: Your dog needs exercise every day in order to stay healthy. Taking your dog on a walk, playing with him at the dog park or even just bringing your dog on a jog with you will help him get the exercise he needs. Keeping your dog outside in your yard is not sufficient for exercise; he should be walked or be able to run off-leash for at least an hour every day.
  • Feed your canine a balanced diet: Feeding your dog nutritious food twice a day and not giving him too many table scraps will prevent him from becoming obese. While obesity is seriously detrimental to overall dog health, even slightly overweight dogs are at a far greater risk for certain health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. In fact, studies indicate that somewhere between 25 to 40 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight.
  • Make sure that your dog is adequately vaccinated: If you are getting or already own a puppy, check to see if he has had all of the necessary vaccinations. Keep in mind that some vaccinations require booster shots (follow-up vaccines) a couple of months to a few years after the initial vaccination, depending on the type of vaccine. As a result, creating a vaccination schedule according to dog health standards will help you prevent him or her from contracting potentially harmful diseases.
  • Spay or neuter your pet: Vets recommend that dog owners who aren”t breeders get their dogs spayed or neutered. Not only does sterilization ease the overcrowding in shelters, but it also makes for a healthier dog. For example, spayed or neutered dogs are at a lower risk for cancer, are far less aggressive and are less likely to roam/run away from home to look for a partner. In general, spayed and neutered canines live longer, healthier lives.
  • Visit the vet regularly: Even if you follow general dog health guidelines, schedule regular checkups for him or her every 6 months. Going to the vet consistently can help you identify and curb any potential health threats before they become too serious.

Parasites and Pests

Even if your take all of the necessary measures to promote dog health, his interaction with the world may still bring him into contact with parasites and pests that can harm him. For example, nearly every canine will suffer from fleas at some point in her life.

However, while some parasites are harmless or easily treated, others are serious and potentially fatal if left unrecognized or untreated. Here is a list of some of the more common pests that your pet may come across, along with information on how to treat each to maintain dog health:

  • Fleas: Although fleas are one of the less serious pests, they can become extremely irritating as they rapidly multiply and infest your home. In fact, a single female flea produces about 25,000 eggs each month.Consequently, the minute you notice fleas on your puppy, take action. Along with getting your dog flea dipped, have him wear a flea collar, have your house sprayed for fleas and replace your dog”s bedding and/or toys that may be infested.
  • Ticks: Canines who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in wooded areas, are most susceptible to tick bites. While ticks fall off dogs when they are done feeding, the real danger lies in the fact that ticks (like mosquitoes) are excellent carriers and transmitters of disease. Some of the most dangerous, potentially fatal diseases dogs can get from ticks include: lyme disease, tick paralysis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The minute you notice a tick on your dog, take him to the vet.
  • Worms: While puppies are most susceptible to worms through their mother”s milk, dogs at any age can become infected from contact with infected soil, feces or other animals. Some of the most harmful worms to dogs include heartworms and roundworms. Diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite are symptoms of worms. If you suspect your dog has been infected by worms, take him to the vet for immediate treatment, which usually includes oral medication.

Diseases and Conditions

While your puppy may become infected with parasites, he may also suffer from some infectious or genetic disease at some point in his life. Such conditions depend on your dog”s breed, his lifestyle and his unique genetic composition.

In most cases, vaccinations can prevent your dog from contracting infectious diseases. For example, distemper, lepto and parvo are all serious, potentially fatal diseases for which puppies are vaccinated.

However, in other cases, your dog can suffer from unpreventable conditions in which the only treatment available calls for treating the symptoms, rather than the underlying condition. For example, heart disease, canine arthritis and allergies are all conditions veterinarians consider to be inherited. If your dog suffers from one such congenital condition, learn how to treat and prevent flare-ups of its symptoms to promote ideal dog health!