In order to save you a lot of worry now and maybe some trips to the veterinarian later, I’ve put together some of the most common, and most serious dog health care information.
|Dog Pregnancy||Puppy Shots|
|Hip Dysplasia||Puppy Spay/Neuter|
|Arthritis in Dogs||Dog Dental Care|
|Dog Vomiting||Diarrhea in Dogs|
|Dog Skin Problems||Dog Hot Spots|
|Dog Eye Problems||Dog Ear Infections|
|Dog Seizures||Cancer in Dogs|
|Best Dog Food||Dog Obesity|
|Dog Insurance||Frontline for Dogs|
Every dog lover should know how to watch out for certain things. Basic dog health care starts at cleaning ears and eyes, and goes on to knowing what health problems can arise in the breeds you own. This free doggie health care information is here to help you with exactly that.
Aside from the specific tips about each different kind of health care situation dog owners find themselves in, there are also a few general things you should do, or watch out for, on a regular basis. “Prevention is the best cure.” By following the advice below, and reading the articles that deal with health issues for your specific breed, you will help ensure a long, happy life for your dog.
Remember – preventing health care problems before they arise
saves your dog unnecessary misery, and saves you money at the veterinarian.
The four pillars of doing basic dog health care at home are:
- Observe and maintain your dog’s health every day.
- Track any early symptoms as soon as they develop.
- Connect those symptoms to likely health problems, and treat them if you can.
- Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you think there could be a serious health problem.
That’s all there is to being a great dog owner. If you know your dogs well, you should be able to spot new behaviors that indicate a possible health issue, and help your dog deal with it quickly.
Daily Dog Health Care:
Start With The Basics
As everyone probably knows, dogs are about as complex as we humans are. Their comfort and mental health have a huge impact on their physical health and their life spans. If you do everything within your power to keep them comfortable and happy, you’ve solved a lot of health care issues before they arise. This means a comfortable dog bed placed somewhere that’s private for them and isn’t cold or drafty; toys and obedience training; socialization training and personal play time; and the best possible dog food.
The next health care step that’s easy to do, and gives huge benefits to your dog, is to puppy-proof the dog’s environment. Puppy-proofing means everything from preventing dangerous escapes into the street, to keeping the harmful things they might swallow out of chomping distance. I’ve written a lot of detail about puppy proofing your home.
Daily Dog Health Care:
Dog Food – Nutrition and Diet
Dogs are what they eat, just like us. If they eat healthy, they’ll be healthy, if they don’t, they won’t be. The quality of the dog food you provide will usually mean the difference between your dog living fewer, or more years than their expected life span, and will have major effects on the dog’s quality of life at the end of life. The quality of dog food, and whether you feed the right amount on the right schedule, also has mental health effects every single day. For a full examination of the question of quality feeding, read my article about choosing the best dog food.
Periodic Dog Health Care:
Bathing & Grooming Your Dog
Bathing, brushing and grooming your dog does more than simply control shedding and odors. Brushing brings more blood to the skin cells, preventing many skin problems such as hot spots. And, because mental health is important to overall health care, don’t forget your dog doesn’t want tangled, matted fur!
Bathe your dog as often as it’s appropriate for your breed. Some dogs need it weekly, some only yearly – too often, and you remove important skin oils, too rarely and you risk skin conditions. Use a gentle, medicated soap solution, and you’ll help prevent fleas and skin problems. Plus, bathing is a chance to inspect your dog for ticks or other existing problems.
Periodic Dog Health Care:
Simple Physical Inspection
Think of the last time you got a physical. The doctor ran his hands over your body, poking softly, and all the while he was watching your face, listening to your breathing, etc. Do that to your dog once or twice a week to check for health care problems your dog might be hiding out of pride. Yes, they do that.
Here’s what your looking for when you give this basic health care inspection:
- Your dog’s reactions. Your dog will know more about the areas you’re inspecting than your fingers can learn. If he winces or flinches, check that spot more carefully.
- A dog’s ears are a big health care vulnerability. Check, sniff, and clean your dog’s ears.
- Skin conditions such as dryness, bumps or hives; cuts and bruises; lumps and bumps; soft, mucous or swollen areas that shouldn’t be there. For a lot more detail on this, consider reading “Veterinary Secrets Revealed.”
- A dog’s feet are very important. Nails should be trimmed so they aren’t scraping the ground, and toes should be inspected for things that get lodged between them. Check the pads for firmness, and clean around the pads.
- Changes in gum coverage, gum coloration, gum texture, and firmness and shape of the teeth. A dog’s teeth and gums should be cleaned at least weekly.
Both during these health care inspections, and throughout each day, make a mental note of any changes in behavior. That’s the best way your dog has of telling you something might be wrong with his health. Dogs are as proud as a stubborn old man, and most of them will try to hide minor health complaints – and not just to avoid going to the vet. You have to find your dog’s hidden health issues yourself.
Some common behavior signs that, once you notice them, will help you protect your dog’s health care:
- Lower energy than usual; lots of naps, disinterest in play, etc.
- Vomiting, especially right after eating.
- Shaking and trembling.
- Increase or decrease in his appetite for water.
- Changes in stool texture or odor, or diarrhea.
- Much more of this sort of advice can be found in “Veterinary Secrets Revealed.”
Aside from finding actual health care problems when you inspect your dog, here are a couple of other benefits from these regular inspections:
- When there’s nothing wrong with your dog, these health care inspections will help you know what’s “normal” so that you’ll be better-educated for finding subtle problems.
- When there is a problem, you’ll catch it as early as possible, and reduce your dog’s time spent suffering by getting the health problem resolved before it becomes unbearable for him.
- It’s a good time for giving medication, if your dog needs it.
- Dogs love attention anyway!
Daily Dog Health Care:
Exercise and Play (Including Training)
Exercise is just as important to your dog’s health care as the quality of his food. Apart from preventing the killer problem of canine obesity, all living things work better when properly exercised, meaning all your dog’s natural systems for “automatic health care” will be stimulated and working in their prime, simply thanks to a good brisk daily walk. Dog exercise will help stave off everything from arthritis to diabetes.
Meanwhile, social play time and training (which, for a smart dog, is a form of play) goes a very, very long way toward ensuring the mental health of your dog. Teach your dog to fetch, or just play chase in the back yard!
Good obedience training has to be mentioned whenever I talk about dog health care. If your dog runs toward the street, the ability to shout “come!” and have your dog return to you is a life-saver. An obedient dog who knows the rules will be included in family functions, which goes very, very far to ensuring good health. Finally, the act of learning new tricks stimulates not only emotional health, but also keeps the actual brain-organ working in prime condition. Read about clicker training, probably the healthiest way to reward your dog for obedience.
Dog Health Care:
Dogs and First Aid
Once you identify a possible dog health care problem, what do you do? Well, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. You really ought to read “Veterinary Secrets Revealed.” Knowing the difference between simple scrapes or the need for a flea bath, versus an infection or a disease, is a critical skill for a dog owner. “Veterinary Secrets Revealed” is your handbook for making that kind of decision, and let’s face it – one “false alarm” that results in a trip to the vet is a waste of money and stress! And, blowing-off early signs of a serious dog health problem, is bad news.
Periodic Dog Health Care:
When to Visit the Veterinarian
Aside from emergencies and other occasional health care situations, your dog needs to see a vet every now and again. No matter how careful and thorough you are, there are simply some things that require a professional.
Here are some of the top reasons you need to take your dog to the vet every now and again:
- Castration / spaying and neutering. This helps your dog directly by preventing the urge to roam, and it prevents the stray dog population from rising.
- Shots and vaccinations. Dogs don’t eat off of sterilized plates. Their noses are always near the ground, and many of them like to roll in mud and then lick themselves clean. To protect your dog from diseases such as heart worms, rabies, and much more, you should get the initial shots around 4 months old (or whenever your vet or breeder advises) and a booster shot on a regular schedule.
- Annual check-ups. Once a year, your dog should visit a health care professional. This is invaluable! Aside from catching early problems you might miss, you’ll get advice about the next stage of your best friend’s life, including breed-specific issues that can only be found through lab testing.
- Fleas and parasites. Once your dog contracts a serious flea problem, that problem multiplies. Fleas can reduce your dog’s immune system, spread diseases all on their own, and the little buggers can spread all over your home, leading to a long battle. You can control fleas yourself in advance, of course. Meanwhile, heartworms, tapeworms and other tiny parasites are a major risk to your dog’s health which can be controlled by visiting your veterinarian and following his instructions.
- Doggie 911. In case of emergency, you need a professional who knows your dog inside and out (literally) and can quickly diagnose and treat the problem. There is a such thing as health insurance for dogs, and you might want to consider having it in case your dog ever needs surgery.
So, that’s it for the general advice. Take what I’ve said here about dog health care deeply to heart, and practice the daily and periodic steps I’ve described. You’ll be helping your dog a great deal in the long run.
Also look through my specific articles about the different dog health care problems, and consider a much more complete resource such as Veterinary Secrets Revealed so that you’ll know how to handle a large number of potential problems yourself.
Or, go back to the main dog training and ownership page.