While dogs have earned the title “man’s best friend,” they are also members of our family who depend on us to take care of them. Because our dogs cannot tell us when they face a health issue, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of common dog health problems. In addition, we encourage you to take preventative measures to avoid issues that may become a problem down the road. Use the following basic dog care tips to ensure your dog remains healthy and happy for years to come.
Regular Veterinarian Visits
Just like humans, dogs require a yearly checkup with their veterinarian to make sure things are running smoothly. This is an important step in preventing illness and injury. Annual visits should address vaccinations, parasite control, and dental health as well as nutrition and weight management.
When choosing a veterinarian, you may want to visit the American Animal Hospital Association’s website for a list of accredited vet practices in your area. You can also ask for recommendations from friends and family – especially those who take skilled care of their dogs’ health and welfare. Additionally, you may visit any of Petsway’s VIP Pet Clinic events for micro-chipping, vaccinations, Rx flea and tick control, heartworm prevention, testing, and deworming.
Obesity is a common problem among dogs and can lead to diabetes, arthritis, cancer, joint pain, and liver problems. Overfeeding plays a large role in many cases of obesity, as dogs often need fewer calories than they consume.
Speak with your vet about your dog’s ideal weight. Knowing the correct weight range for your dog is important, as both weight gain and weight loss can be signs of a more significant health issue. Always consult your vet before starting your dog on a diet or exercise regimen.
Proper parasite control is essential to the health and comfort of your dog. Flea infestations can cause irritated skin, hair loss, and infection. Luckily, they are easy to prevent. Tapeworms, heartworms, and roundworms are also common parasites among dogs, and though they cannot always be seen, they can be detrimental to your dog’s health – sometimes they even prove fatal.
Talk to your vet about regular flea, heartworm, and intestinal parasite control. If you think your dog may already be infested with one of these parasites, be sure to take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. Finally, don’t apply products formulated for cat parasite control to dogs.
Spaying & Neutering
Spaying or neutering your dog reduces the number of unwanted litters, helps cut down on the overpopulation of dogs in shelters, and provides several health benefits. Spaying female dogs helps to prevent uterine infections and breast cancer and prevents them from going into heat. Neutering male dogs will reduce the urge of your dog trying to roam away from home and to “spray” to mark territory. Neutering can also help decrease unwanted aggressive behaviors, as well as mounting and leg-lifting.
While dogs can be spayed or neutered at just a few months old, some research indicates that waiting until your dog has gone through puberty before spaying/neutering can produce long-term health benefits. Consult your veterinarian to decide when to spay or neuter your puppy.
Grooming & Bathing
Grooming doesn’t just improve your dog’s appearance; it also benefits his or her health. Brushing your dog’s fur can remove tangles and disperse healthy oils, trimming the nails can improve your dog’s comfort and prevent injuries, and regular baths can remove debris and parasites. Use the following tips to ensure your dog is properly groomed and bathed:
Bathing and Brushing Tips:
- When bathing your dog, wash the dog’s head, neck, and ears first. Any fleas that are on the animal will take refuge in those areas while you wash the body if they are not washed first.
- Avoid getting water in the ear canal, as this can lead to ear infections which can be very painful. To prevent this, tilt your dog’s head back and use a cup to pour warm water from the top of the head and down the neck, and use pet-friendly wipes to clean the face and ears.
- Regular brushing will ensure your dog has a healthy coat and skin. It also removes unwanted tangles and helps loosen dry skin before a bath. Ask your vet how often you should brush your dog’s coat, as this varies from breed to breed.
- Keep your dog’s ears dry, clean, and free of foreign objects. Give your dog’s ears a complete cleaning weekly or monthly by moistening a cotton ball with mineral oil and gently wiping the inside of the ears.
- Examine your dog’s feet on a regular basis to make sure they are free of foreign objects and nothing has become embedded in the paw. Clean any small cuts and apply antibiotic cream.
- During winter, make sure to rinse off the bottom of your dog’s feet. Your dog can pick up salt and chemicals from the street that can hurt his or her feet, and they may be harmful if consumed.
- Trim your dog’s nails regularly using a tool designed for the task. If you’ve never trimmed your dog’s nails before, consider hiring a professional to complete the job and show you how it’s done.
- Gum disease is one of the most common problems seen in dogs. Avoid this by brushing your dog’s teeth daily or weekly.
- Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis can also prevent bad breath.
- Check your dog’s gum health regularly, perhaps before brushing. Any abnormal coloring can be a sign of a bigger health issue. Dogs’ gums should typically be pink, although some dogs have natural dark spots on their gums. If you notice any bleeding in the gums or any unusual pigmentation, plan a visit to your vet to check for oral health issues.
Need help caring for your new dog? Visit your local Petsway. Our friendly associates would be happy to help you find the products that you need to keep your dog happy and healthy.