Routine health checks at the vet
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Throughout your dog’s lifetime, it’s likely they’ll encounter various health conditions and injuries. It’s important that your dog has the correct care to prevent and treat these conditions and ensure they’re healthy and happy.
Vaccination is an important part of a complete dog health care programme. It helps prevent and control the spread of infectious disease that could prove potentially fatal to your dog. Vaccines contain a weakened form of the organism that your dog needs protecting against. It works by stimulating your dog’s immune system to produce its own defence against the infection.
What diseases can be vaccinated against?
Some of the major infectious diseases that dogs are typically vaccinated against include:
Neutering is the removal of the reproductive organs in dogs and is generally undertaken to stop any unwanted litters. In female dogs, the procedure is known as spaying and in the male dog, the procedure is known as castration. Male puppies are typically castrated at approximately eight months of age and female puppies are spayed after their first season.
Why might a dog be neutered?
Unneutered male dogs are often easily distracted by female dogs in season and may try to escape and find a mate. They can also react negatively towards other dogs and may become territorial. Similar behavioural changes can also be experienced by a female dog, who may become restless, easily distracted and attract unwanted male attention.
Some other benefits of neutering dogs can include:
- Reduced risk of some cancers, including breast cancer in female dogs
- Reduced risk of infections of the womb in female dogs
- Reduced risk of prostate disease in male dogs
Fleas are small, black insects about two millimetres in length. They live in the bedding and coats of dogs, cats and other animals and feed on their blood.
Ticks are small, light grey, rounded insects which feed on the blood of animals. They vary in size and when engorged, can reach the size of a pea. They can be found anywhere on your dog’s body but are most frequently found on the ears, face or abdomen where hair cover is relatively thin. Ticks will only feed at certain times in their life. Peak activity is between the months of March to June and from August to November. Most of their life cycle is spent outside in areas of long grasslands and moorland but they can also survive in cracks and crevices in the walls and floors of kennels.
Roundworms are worms that live in the guts of dogs, feeding off partially-digested food. They can be up to ten centimetres long and appear white in colour. They’re most common in puppies where they’re passed from the mother through the placenta before birth, or after birth through the milk.
Tapeworms live in the gut of dogs and may reach up to twenty centimetres in length. The worm attaches itself to the wall of the intestines by its head, which has hooks and suckers. The worms are made up of flat segments, which are white in colour. Each segment is packed full of eggs which break off and are passed with the dog's faeces.
One of the most common ways for your dog to become infected with tapeworms is through fleas. As they grow, flea larvae will swallow tapeworm eggs and become infected. In its adult form, the flea will feed from the blood of your dog by biting it. On reaction to a bite or during grooming, your dog may lick or chew the area and swallow the flea. As the flea is digested inside your dog, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to the intestine of your dog.
Microchip identification was first introduced in the late eighties and has gradually been accepted as a safe and reliable way to identify dogs. The microchip is contained within a special glass coating and is completely harmless. The chip will register a unique code number when a scanner is passed over it. The code number can then be referred to a central database that will identify the dog and owner.
Varieties of complete diets are also available and have been formulated to suit the particular phase of your dog’s life. There are puppy foods, adult maintenance foods, and foods suitable for older dogs. Each of these has the correct balance of nutrients for that stage of your dog’s life.
Whatever food you're using, it’s important to monitor the amount your dog is given. Don’t feed titbits or human food as this may lead to health issues. We also recommend that you don’t give bones to your dog as these can cause damage to your dog's mouth and teeth and are also a choking hazard. Bones can also cause minor stomach upsets and splinters can become stuck in the digestive tract. Many dog-friendly toys are available which are safe for your dog to chew and effective at maintaining oral health.
Dogs sometimes suffer from minor eye infections or inflammation of the eye. Occasionally, tiny objects such as grit or grass seed can get into the eye and cause discomfort. Other common problems include eyelid problems, dry eyes or glaucoma. Most eye conditions will need veterinary attention. We don't recommend that you treat your dog's eye condition at home or attempt to remove foreign objects lodged in the eye yourself. This may make the condition worse and cause permanent damage.
If you think your dog has a problem with their eye, prevent them from rubbing or scratching their eye until you can see the vet. To maintain your dog's eye health, keep their eyes clean by wiping away any discharge that may accumulate at the corner of the eye with cotton wool soaked in luke-warm water. Use a separate piece of cotton wool for each eye to prevent the spread of any infection.
Dogs will suffer from ear problems from time to time. During the summer months, grass seeds can become a problem by becoming lodged in the ear, causing discomfort. Other common problems include ear mites and ear infections.
If you suspect that your dog has an ear problem, you should consult your vet immediately. If left untreated, your dog may cause damage to themselves by scratching. If a foreign body is visible and is easily accessible, it can be removed with your fingers. Don't insert anything into the ear (such as tweezers) as they're easily damaged. To prevent your dog from causing further injury to themselves before seeing the vet, try to stop your dog from rubbing or scratching the affected ear.
Who to contact if you have questions or concerns
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog, you should always contact your vet for advice. For guide dog owners with general questions (non-urgent), please contact Guide Line, who will be happy to help with any queries or concerns.
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