Guide to Preventive Dog Health Care
When it comes to dog health care, having access to reliable veterinary attention doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared to deal with your pet's health problems as they arise.
Just like humans, dogs are vulnerable to many diseases.
In addition to illnesses that are unique to dogs, they face so-called "human illnesses", such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and even depression.
Since dogs can't talk, it's up to us to recognize when they are not feeling well, and to take appropriate action.
To keep your pet healthy, and to prevent small problems from developing into much bigger and more serious ones, you'll need to learn the basics of dog health care.
Dog Health Care Basics
My approach to dog health care is simple...
I feel, and I am sure you will agree with me, it's much better to prevent a disease from developing than to treat your pet after he gets sick.
Before we continue, let's take a look at a short video from Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz, DVM. She discusses some of the things you'll read about further down on this page...
Setting the Foundation...
I feed my dogs a good balanced diet, give them fresh water, make sure they get plenty of exercise, and have couple of good dog chew toys.
I also keep my home "dog proof". That means I hide all dangerous chemichals and cleaning supplies, and make sure I don't leave behind anything small a dog may choke on.
I know, I know -- you probably feel that "dog proofing" your home has nothing to do with dog health care, but it does. More dogs die from easily preventable accidents that occur indoors than from being hit by a car...
Many dog diseases are not treatable and the only way to protect your pet is by vaccinating him.
Your vet will develop a puppy vaccination schedule based on your pet's breed, where you live, and potential of the dog to be exposed to the disease.
In addition to the initial vaccination, your vet will suggest booster shots. Their frequency will depend on many factors, including your vet's preferences, the vaccine, and your pet's health.
I make sure my dogs are always up to date with their vaccinations.
Internal and External Parasites
A lot of dog and puppy health problems are caused by internal and external parasites, such as ticks, worms and mites.
I'll show you how you can protect your pet from them a little later…
In addition to annual vet visits, I like to inspect my dog at least 2 times per week. It's really not complicated. Here is what I do...
- I inspect Bo's teeth and gums every time I brush them. Visit dog teeth cleaning to learn what I am looking for. I'll also show you not only how to brush your pet's teeth but also how to keep them healthy.
- I check Bo's ears for signs of infection, buildup of wax, and presence of dog ear mites. Bad odor is also a sign that something is wrong.
- I slowly move my hands all over Bo's body. While I am checking for any bumps and cuts, I also pay attention how he reacts. If he pulls back, I inspect that spot further. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health has a section that explains what TIP-to-TIP Dog Examination is and why it is so important.
- I also like to check his nails and feet to make sure nothing is stuck between the toes.
Here is a short ASPCA video that demonstrates TIP-to-TIP examination performed on a cat but the routine is the same for dogs.
The biggest benefit of these inspections is that after a while, you will begin to know your pet better. You'll be able to recognize changes in his behavior and mood much sooner. You'll be able to recognize potential health problems while they are still minor.
Make regular inspections a part of your dog health care routine.
Parasite-Induced Dog Health Problems
Dogs exhibit many signs of parasite infestations.
Some, like presence of worms in feces, are easy to spot. Others are less obvious but still easy to spot if you know what to look for. Finally, some may only be detected by taking tests at a vet's office.
There are 2 types of dog parasites. Let's take a look at each type separately...
External parasites include mites, ticks, and fleas. They carry lots of diseases and can cause great damage to your pet's health.
While most people are aware of ticks, dog mites are less known.
Mites live on an infected dog's body and are the culprits of many skin problems, including irritations, rashes, and hair loss. Some can even cause a permanent hearing loss in an untreated dog.
Of all the external parasites, dog ticks cause the most serious health problems. In extreme cases, a single tick bite can cause paralysis and even death of your pet. Visit tick bite symptoms to learn how to recognize if your pet was bitten.
While fleas are not as dangerous as ticks, they can still cause great discomfort to your pet and, since they can infest your whole household, you.
Luckily, there are a lot of really good products available to treat our pets from external parasites. Some products are effective against both, fleas and ticks.
One such product, which I am very familiar with, is FRONTLINE Plus.
It's a fast acting over the counter product that you apply on your dog once a month.
I use it on Bo during tick season and am very happy with results.
Spotting external parasites is not complicated. Make it a part of your dog health care routine to check your pet for any signs of fleas, mites, and ticks.
Most dogs are born with internal parasites. Even if you don't see them, chances are your puppy or dog is infested with worms.
Worms rob your pet of much needed nutrients, and can cause anemia and other health problems. Some, like Heartworms, can kill your pet. And some worms can be transmitted to humans.
Visit worms in dogs to learn more about types, causes, and symptoms of worms as well as how to keep your pet worm-free.
There are several really good medications you can use not only to eliminate worms but also to prevent them from infesting your pet in the future.
The most effective de-worming medications are sold by prescription only. But there are some excellent over-the-counter products that can not only prevent future infestations but also treat your pet from minor to medium worm infestations.
One such product is WormXPlus.
You may use WormXPlus on adult dogs and puppies to effectively and safely prevent and treat roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
Visit puppy worms to learn more about other products that will eliminate internal parasites. And once you are there, you'll find some tips for buying prescription medications over the Internet. You'll be amazed by how much money you can save by not buying from your vet!
The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health offers more tips and advice for protecting your pet from internal and external parasites.
Is Pet Insurance Necessary?
No it's not… until your pet gets sick and you are faced with bills that run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Veterinary science is changing. Some procedures that only a short time ago were available only to humans are now being performed on pets. As a result, pets are living longer and healthier lives.
Unfortunately, the cost of dog health care is rising too. It's not uncommon to end up paying $5,000 for some procedures. Even a routine visit to a vet can set you back several hundred dollars.
To help fight rising veterinary costs and dealing with dog health care, more and more pet owners are buying pet insurance. Unfortunately, they do not ask the right questions before they buy the policy. As a result, they end up shocked when they need to pay for procedures they thought were covered.
Visit pet insurance to learn what to look for and what questions to ask when you shop for insurance for your pet.
I am sure you'll agree with me that dog health care deserves the same attention as our own.
Need more puppy health information or have more questions about dog health care?
Another good source of information about dog health care is the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. It will teach you how to recognize common health problems and administer first aid if your pet gets ill.
Being able to provide basic health care will not only save you time from unnecessary vet visits but it will also save you lots of money too.
I also encourage you to visit puppy care for tips on caring for your puppy or an adult dog. I'll show you how to…
- Keep your pet's teeth healthy
- Remove ticks the right way (unless you do it correctly, you may leave your pet exposed to many diseases)
- Take care of your pet's skin and coat
Preventive dog health care will keep small health problems from developing into big problems.
You may also wish to explore the following articles:
Want to learn more?
As a dog owner, you are responsible for your puppy's health. A good source for dog health information, including puppy care and preventive medicine, how to protect your pet from worms and ticks, dog food, and how to recognize if your pet needs immediate medical attention, is the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.
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I hope you will find this information useful and it helps you to recognize some common dog health problems your pet may be experiencing. However, if you suspect your pet is ill, immediately contact your veterinarian. He or she will be able to help you decide the best course of action when it comes to caring for your pet.