The importance of keeping an eye on our animals should never be underestimated. Dogs are obviously unable to vocalise what they’re feeling, so it’s up to us to watch for signs that something might be wrong, and to know when to act. It might just be the knowledge that saves a dog’s life.
Know Your Emergency Contacts
Many vets have after-hours contact numbers in the case of emergencies. Keep both the day and emergency numbers of your vet – and a backup in the local area - in your phone or on hand at all times. Check local veterinarians for any that might offer call-out emergency assistance. The Australian Veterinary Association may assist with listings.
Signs of Distress
If your dog displays signs of distress or appears to be experiencing any of the following, then you need to get them to a vet quickly.
Obvious physical injury such as wounds, injured limbs, burns or scalds
Severe breathing difficulties
Severe allergic reaction
Loss of consciousness
Ongoing vomiting or diarrhea
What to Do
Phone your vet immediately. Remain calm and clearly describe the problem. Your vet will generally advise you to bring your dog into the clinic as soon as possible, but may also give you instructions to administer basic first aid treatment to your dog before moving them.
Obviously, some conditions will be worse than others. If there is not an obvious injury, but you still feel something might be wrong, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Vets love animals too and will certainly understand if it turns out to be a false emergency.
Training and Grooming
An Introduction to Dog Bathing and Grooming
Dogs are lovable and loyal creatures, but they are also dependant on their owners for basic care and grooming. It’s a good idea to develop a regular pattern for grooming and bathing, to keep your dog happy – and healthy.
Washing Your Dog
There is no set guideline for the frequency of dog washes. The general recommendation is that dogs be washed when they become visibly dirty and/or smelly. For many dogs, that means a bath around once every four weeks, but it will depend on your particular animal. Long-haired and thick coated animals will require more frequent washes.
It is certainly not a good idea to wash your dog too often if not required. Frequent washing can strip the natural oils from dog hair, leading to dry skin and even skin disorders such as dermatitis.
Walking on concrete will help keep your dog’s nails filed. If you notice the nails are becoming quite long, it’s a good idea to get them clipped. You can purchase clipping tools at pet stores, or have nails clipped at vets or professional groomers.
Regular brushing is essential for all dogs. Dogs should be brushed at least once a week, with long-haired breeds requiring extra care. There are various brushes available that suit different coats. Brushing prevents matting, keeps the coat healthy, and improves circulation.
Long-haired dogs may need their coats to be clipped. It can be a good idea to get this done by a professional groomer, who can also wash, comb, brush, and clean ears. This helps keep dogs comfortable and helps maintain general health.
What You Need to Know About Fleas
Every dog owner is likely to discover the frustrating world of fleas at some stage. Without proper care, fleas may not only cause severe discomfort to your animal, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Here’re a few flea facts for every pet owner.
Fleas are tiny wingless parasites that feed on the blood of other animals. They love warm, humid and dark areas. They can burrow into your dog’s fur, and elsewhere, hide in carpets, lounges and shaded areas of the home and garden. Fleas can jump huge distances and they breed very quickly.
When fleas bite, the result may range from minor irritation to major problems, such as ulcers or anaemia. Dogs that are allergic to fleas will have more extreme reactions. Fleas also carry diseases. If you spot one flea on your dog, there’s every chance there will be many more in the vicinity.
How to Prevent Fleas
The treatment of fleas involves a two-prong attack. In the first instance, you need to treat your dog. There are a few options to do this. You can try flea control shampoos, flea collars, tablets or a topical treatment that is generally applied to the back of the dog’s neck. Should your dog have a flea infestation and you are having no luck with these treatments then make an appointment with your vet.
You will also need to treat the environment. Once they arrive, fleas are quick to make themselves at home. Wash your dog’s bed and any bedding regularly in hot water with a flea treatment shampoo. You will also need to vacuum the house frequently, ideally daily for high-traffic areas, until the fleas have been eradicated.
Fleas are very common but with proper care and attention, you can help keep your dog and home flea-free.
Common Health Issues and Dogs
Just as you no doubt keep a check on your own health; it’s vital that you give your four-legged friend the same degree of attention. Regular exercise and check-ups are a great start, but it’s also good to make yourself aware of common health issues, and just what to do about them.
You may not have thought too much about it, but obesity is a major problem amongst animals, and just like humans, an overweight dog faces a greater risk of heart failure, diabetes, osteoarthritis and liver disease. It’s essential to get your dog’s weight under control, and it’s most likely going to take a controlled diet and exercise.
Arthritis is common amongst aging animals, with symptoms ranging from minor discomfort to major mobility problems. Anti-inflammatory medication may assist, and exercise, in particular swimming, is often recommended. You can even take your dog to an animal physiotherapist who offers hydrotherapy.
Skin Problems and Allergies
Dogs are just as susceptible to allergies, and skin problems, as we are. Skin problems may arise from being bathed too frequently, or after excessive scratching from fleas. Or it may just be an allergy or sensitivity to foods, grasses or particular medication.
Other Common Problems
Other common problems include separation anxiety, tumors and even cancer. The best way to help your dog stay in good health is with a regular trip to the vet. Your vet can assess your dog, address any of your concerns, and provide a treatment plan when needed. Don’t forget too that pet insurance is available, because cost should never be a deterrent from keeping your beautiful dog happy and healthy.