Dogs are omnivorous by nature;
meaning that their 'ideal' diet consists of both meat and vegetable
Puppies have special requirements, which
alter as the animal ages. Meeting these special requirements is important
in achieving optimal growth potentials, and prevention of lifelong
debilitating joint and limb conditions such as rickets and hip or elbow
dysplasia. This is best achieved by feeding good quality AAFCO
(Association of American Feed Control Officials) tested dog food brands. A
range of different formulations of dog food are available; the food fed to
your dog will depend on whether you have a growing pup, an active working
dog, a house pet, an old age dog, or a pregnant or nursing bitch.
Feeding AAFCO approved balanced commercial
diets ensures optimum levels of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats
and proteins are provided.
Special prescription or
veterinary diets are also available for animals affected by conditions
such as obesity, heart disease, bowel intolerances etc
Your local veterinary
clinic provides the most up to date information about the ideal diet for
Protection from sickness and disease is
important for the ongoing health and well-being of your dog
It is important to
vaccinate against the most common contagious viral and bacterial diseases
of dogs. These are canine parvovirus, canine distemper, infectious canine
hepatitis, and kennel cough complex.
Nearly all dogs will be exposed at some time in their lives to distemper.
Unvaccinated dogs initially develop a discharge from the eyes and nose,
accompanied by coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea. On reaching the nervous
system, the virus causes seizures, twitching, behavioural changes,
paralysis, and death. Although dogs can, and do recover from distemper,
they seldom return to normal. Dogs that survive may have permanent brain
damage. Vaccination is very effective at preventing Distemper.
Canine Parvovirus is a deadly disease causing a sudden onset of
depression, vomiting and diarrhoea, and dehydration. Despite intensive
treatment, many dogs infected with Parvovirus will die. The virus also may
attack the heart muscle, resulting in sudden severe heart attacks,
particularly in pups affected with the virus. Canine Parvovirus is spread
in the faeces of affected dogs, and can survive for long periods in the
environment. Vaccination is essential to prevent this disease.
Kennel Cough is a respiratory disease causing a dry hacking cough, loss of
appetite, and lethargy. The disease is highly contagious, so it is
recommended that all dogs attending shows, obedience clubs, boarding
kennels etc are vaccinated against kennel cough.
Puppies are at the greatest risk from this disease. Symptoms include
abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, intense thirst, jaundice
and fever. Permanent kidney damage is common in dogs that recover.
Vaccination is very effective at preventing this disease.
Dogs most at risk from
these diseases are puppies and geriatric animals.
Vaccination programme and
combination of cover, will vary slightly within geographical areas, so it
is always worth consulting your local veterinarian.
Puppies generally require a
series of three vaccinations in their first 4-5 months of life, often
commencing at 6-8 weeks of age. The vaccination schedule outlined in your
vaccination certificate should be strictly adhered to, to ensure maximum
benefit and protection. Your puppy will not be fully protected until after
the end of the vaccination course. For this reason, it is important for
your puppy to avoid contact with unvaccinated dogs, and confined on your
property as much as possible.
Following the puppy
vaccination course, all dogs require an annual booster vaccination to
maintain adequate protection.
Additional vaccine cover is
available for Leptospirosis and Bordetella bronchiseptica. Discussion with
your local veterinarian will determine if your dog needs protection from
Dogs can be affected by a
number of different types of worms. The most common types are roundworms,
whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms.
Roundworms can cause symptoms of coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea or
constipation, poor growth rate, dull coats and pot belly appearance.
Puppies are born with roundworms passed from their mother during
pregnancy. To reduce the number of worms passed on during pregnancy, the
mother should be wormed prior to mating, prior to having the pups, and
also while nursing the pups. Puppies should also be wormed regularly from
2-3 weeks of age. Consult your veterinarian for the most appropriate
programme for your puppy.
Hookworms can cause severe illness in puppies and dogs, because they feed
on blood, and can cause anaemia, weakness, and even death in severe
infections. The hookworm is passed from the mothers milk to the puppy, and
also from the ground. Regular worming is essential to control hookworm
Whipworms are generally found in dogs
over 12 weeks of age, and they can cause intermittent bloody diarrhoea and
scooting of the dogs anus along the ground.
Tapeworms (including Hydatids tapeworm) are found when dogs are fed
uncooked sheep meat or offal. These worms cause little harm to the dog,
but they are a serious health risk to humans.
Regular deworming needs to be performed
throughout the dogs life to combat the ill effects of worm burdens.
Because puppies are most at
risk from the ill effects of roundworms and hookworms, a wormer covering
these two types of worms is used at two week intervals until the pup
reaches 12 weeks of age.
Puppies older than 12 weeks
of age are also at risk from whipworms as well, and monthly worming with a
wormer that treats roundworms, hookworms and whipworms is recommended
until 6 months of age.
All dogs over 6 months of
age should be wormed with a broad spectrum wormer treating all worm types,
including tapeworms, every 2-6 months, depending on the level of exposure,
whether the dog is a farm animal, or a household pet. Your local
veterinarian will be able to advise on the most appropriate frequency of
worming for your dog.
Fleas are small brown wingless insects that
feed on the blood of their host. Fleas and flea droppings may be seen on
the skin and in the fur, most commonly about the base of the tail, the
head, ears and neck.
Generally, fleas tend to be
a seasonal problem; that is, during the warmer months of the year from
spring to autumn. The female flea may lay several hundred eggs during this
time. During warm conditions, it may take only 3 weeks for these eggs to
hatch and develop into a new flea generation. During the colder months of
winter, both flea eggs and young fleas remain dormant until spring, or
more favourable conditions arrive, such as warm heated homes.
Adult fleas feed on the
blood of dogs, cats and people, often causing an intense skin irritation
due to their frequent bites. Some dogs develop an allergy to flea bites,
causing severe itching, skin irritation, hair loss and skin infection.
Fleas can be controlled by
a number of different methods, depending on your preferences, finances,
and level of flea infestation.
It is important to combat
fleas on the dog, as well as any other contact pets in the house. Options
include topical liquid agents applied to the dog’s fur, oral flea
fertility modifying drugs given in the food, collars, sprays and powders.
Products that provide
continual long lasting protection are recommended. Your local veterinarian
will be able to provide the best advice on the basis of seasonal exposure
levels, and your current situation, including the number of pets in the
If you are not wishing to breed from your
dog, he or she can be neutered at any age from 6 months of age onwards.
Castration of the male
involves removal of both testicles, while spaying of the bitch involves
removal of both ovaries and the uterus. In both cases, the operation is
performed under general anaesthetic, and a short stay in the veterinary
clinic for one or two days.
Castration of the male
limits the urge to wander, and reduces aggression related to the male sex
Spaying of the female
prevents her from coming into season, unwanted pregnancies, and may reduce
the incidence of mammary cancer if performed in young dogs.
Dogs require daily exercise to maintain a
healthy bodily state, heart function and muscle maintenance - not to
mention a happy state of mind!
The level of exercise your
dog requires will depend on its breed, natural activity level, the dogs
function, age and any illness present.
Obesity, or excessive bodyweight is usually
the result of overfeeding your dog, in combination with under-exercising.
When a dog is fed food in excess of its daily energy requirements, the
excess is stored as fat. This is detrimental to the health of a dog,
placing strain on the heart, joints, respiratory system, and various
Regular weighing is the best way of
monitoring a dog’s weight, and is an integral part of assessing the
response to a weight loss program. There are a number of nutritionally
balanced diets designed to achieve weight loss in overweight dogs - your
veterinarian will be able to advise you on the most appropriate quantity
and type of diet to use for your dog if he or she is overweight.
Puppies are born with deciduous teeth which
fall out as they are replaced with permanent adult teeth from 4-6 months
of age. Some puppies will retain some of their deciduous teeth, and these
should be removed, as they can trap food, and encourage gum and tooth root
infections, and can damage the enamel surface of the permanent adult tooth
As dogs age, tooth and gum
health often deteriorates due to an accumulation of plaque and tartar on
the teeth about the gum margins. Tartar accumulation results in gum
inflammation and infection, pain and discomfort, excessive dribbling,
eventually progressing to tooth root infection, abscesses and tooth loss.
Regular dental checkups for
dogs are recommended to assist in avoiding severe dental disease. Dental
care biscuits may be fed as part of a dental care program including
regular brushing of your dogs teeth, mouth washes or sprays, and descaling
and polishing of the teeth to remove tartar.
& Coat Care
Feeding a good quality balanced diet is an
essential element in producing a healthy coat, aided by regular grooming
to prevent matting or knotting of the coat.
A wide range of pet
shampoos and coat and skin conditioners are available, including
prescription remedies for specific skin diseases. Avoid using human
shampoos, or shampooing your dog more frequently than once every 2-3
weeks, unless directed by your veterinarian.