Dog Health Questions
This page is specially for common dog health questions Iíve encountered over my veterinary career. If you canít find an answer to a specific dog health question you have, you can ask your question by clicking here or browse the pet health questions section to see if there are articles there which interest you.
How do I know if my dog is really sick?This is one of the most common dog health questions that come up. After all, you donít want to appear like a hypochondriac parent nor do you want to be a slack one whoís dismissed important signs as just a tummy ache that will go away. In general, you know your dog best and if your gut feel tells you something is amiss, Iíd say to play on the safe side and go in for vet check up. That way, you will sleep easier knowing full well that your dogís health isnít compromised. Having said that, there are many dogs (generally the larger breeds) who are terribly stoic and will not let on that they are sick till they are at deathís door. If you have one of these, then Iíd say any small sign eg going off his food, looking depressed is reason for you to take him into the vet. So the rule of thumb is know your dog and be alert to any changes in general appearance, behavior, feeding/drinking habits or voiding. These are the common signs that something is not right with your dog:
- inappetence ie stops eating.
- changes in water consumption ie drinks a lot
- changes in consistency of feces ie starts getting the runs. Note that puppies dehydrate easily and even a mild case of diarrhoea could be life threatening.
- vomiting Ė if it persists then itís time to take the dog in for check up. If itís just one episode after eating garbage then Iíd say itís probably something heíll get over.
- changes in behavior Ė stops playing with the ball, moping around, refuses to go for walks.
- losing weight for no apparent reason
- urinates a lot more
Of course there are other more obvious signs you get which are indications of you dog being sick eg whimpering in pain and limping, but the above should alert to you take further action to seek help from your vet.
Should I neuter my dog?
Questions about this often pop up. I find it hardest to convince clients to neuter male dogs because they feel that itís not something that inconveniences them as much as an unneutered female dog who comes on heat every 6 months. If you arenít planning on breeding from your dog, then Iíd highly suggest you neuter it. There are too many Ďsurrenderedí unwanted puppies out there, we donít want or need anymore. There are obvious health advantages to neutering your dogs. Males that are neutered are less aggressive and it reduces their prostate and testicular cancer rates to near nil. The health advantages to female dogs are even more pronounced Ė it reduces their risk of mammary cancer to nearly nil, they donít get womb infections (pyometra) which their entire female cousins get if they arenít bred, they are at a lower risk of getting a form of diabetes plus you save on the hassle of having all the local male dogs congregating at your doorstep whenever she does come on heat!
Neutering is usually performed at 6 months of age, but some vets perform it in young pups. Many shelters are now taking this option as they find that increasing numbers of people opt not to bring their adopted puppies back for the operation at the appointed 6 months of age.
How often should my dog visit the vet?
Generally for most dogs, itís a yearly visit for their annual vaccinations. With puppies, itís often a bit more frequent initially as they require their vaccination boosters. Of course if you dog has an ongoing medical problem which needs to be addressed then your visits would be more frequent. As your dog ages (after 6 years of age is a good estimate), you may decide to take him in bi-annually ie twice a year for a thorough check up to pick up any conditions that he could have at an earlier stage so that treatment options are greater.
What should I feed my dog?
You can feed your dog any commercial dog food but remember just as in any food, you get what you pay for. Supermarket no name varieties often use low quality protein sources, have low digestibility and have a lot of preservatives. Some dogs develop allergies to the preservatives or to the protein sources used and have to resort to Ďlow allergyí diets. There is a huge variety out there but I prefer brands like Iams, Eukanuba or Hills Science Diet.
How do I stop my dog eating grass?
This is a very common occurrence and many people have tried to find out the reasons behind dogs eating grass. More often than not, some eat it and will subsequently vomit. The question that needs to be asked is if the dog is eating grass because itís feeling ill already in which case the grass wasnít the cause of the vomiting, or did it eat the grass and consequently got ill in the process? It is surmised that dogs in the wild do have access to vegetation in the guts of the prey they eat and our Ďmoderní dog makes up for this lack by grazing on our lawn. If you are duly concerned about your dog eating grass and want to try to stop it, you can try Barley grass for dogs by Green Foods. Itís a natural product that you sprinkle onto your dogís food and there have been anecdotal evidence from people whoíve tried it to say that it does stop their dog from eating grass.
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