Dogs are great companions and come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. These animals can live very long lives, sometimes up to 20 years! What makes it possible for a pet to live this long? The dog breed has a good deal to do with lifespan but adequate health care is the first step to a long and happy dog life. There are several things you should do for your pet’s good health.
All dogs are susceptible to various diseases such as parvovirus, heartworms, distemper and rabies just to name a few. This is why it is very important to get your dog on a regular schedule of vaccinations. The first shots are usually given at 6 weeks of age and continue routinely over the following 16 weeks. After the initial round of vaccinations, your dog should only need a yearly booster to keep them protected.
Know Breed Specifics
If you have a purebred dog, you should know what diseases are specific to the breed. Some breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia, cleft pallet, blindness, deafness and trick knees and you will want to know the specifics for your dog so that you can watch for early warning signs. You can best protect yourself from dogs with potential health problems by being very careful when you purchase the animal. Check the reputation of the breeder and watch for signs that the dogs are poorly cared for.
You are your dog’s first line of defense when it comes to their health. Since they cannot communicate verbally that, they are not feeling well you will have to know what to watch for. With most breeds of dogs, the skin will tell you a good deal about their health. Healthy skin should be soft, smooth and free of scabs or growths. Watch for rashes, bites and scaling of the skin, which are indicators that something is definitely wrong.
The nose is another good indicator of your dogs overall health, it should be cool and moist most of the time with little or no drainage. Any discharge from the nose should be clear and not thick, yellow or foul smelling. While a warm, dry nose is not a definite sign your dog is sick, it is a good reason to watch their behavior for other indicators.
Call the Vet
Some situations call for immediate veterinarian care. If your dog is suddenly unsteady on their feet, vomiting a lot, shivering, constipated or lethargic you should make an immediate call to the vet. Poison and even some illnesses can take a dog’s life quickly so you want to be proactive in seeking medical attention.
What type of food you should feed your dog is a hotly debated topic in some arenas. There are those who believe a raw diet is the best and veterinarians who will swear by one brand of dog food over another. The best choice is probably somewhere in the middle of all the controversy. Look at the ingredients on the label and choose what you and your vet feel is the best combination for your particular dog breed. Be very conscious of potential pet food recalls and act accordingly.
Many people like to feed their dog’s table scraps, which for the most part will not hurt. However, there are two things you should never give a dog, chicken bones and chocolate. The bones can splinter into dangerous slivers while your dog is chewing and chocolate can be fatal even in small amounts.