Dog Care – FAQ

Does temperament vary much between breeds of dog?

Different breeds of dogs have been developed to perform specific tasks (e.g. guarding, hunting, herding), and consequently, as well as developing a characteristic appearance, they also developed variations in temperament.

  • Retrievers and Setters are inclined to be boisterous, but are essentially good-natured and easy to train.
  • Smaller spaniels (King Charles or English Toy Spaniel, and Cavalier King Charles) are very even tempered.
  • Beagles are rather playful and slow at learning, but most have an easy-going disposition.
  • Afghan Hounds, Saluki, Borzoi and Greyhounds often prove difficult to control, particularly if allowed off a lead.
  • Collies develop a strong loyalty to members of the family and are rather wary of strangers.
  • Border Collies have a strong herding instinct and, with nothing to occupy them, can become frustrated to the point of hysteria.
  • Whippet and Shetland Sheepdog are both very good with children and come in smaller sizes.
  • Bulldog is a placid breed but its habits of slobbering and snoring can be tiresome Bull Terrier or Stafordshire Bull Terrier are not to be trusted with strange dogs, which they will usually want to fight, though they are affectionate towards people, including children, and make very good family pets.
  • Smaller breeds are less easy-going, more defensive and inclined to be snappy with children.
  • Corgis, in particular are this way and the tendency needs to be firmly curbed early in life.
  • Small terriers are tough, wiry and inquisitive, and certain breeds (e.g. Border Terrier and Boston Terrier) tolerate children much better than others (e.g. Scottish and Yorkshire Terriers).
  • Dachshunds and Chihuahua are inclined to bark a lot if unchecked an Chihuahuas in particular are likely to be bad-tempered with children and strangers.
  • The German Shepherd Dog is the most popular breed in the world and is an excellent working dog, but some individuals are very shy and apprehensive and become aggressive through fear.
  • Boxer is usually a friendly exuberant dog which remains playful for several years, though some animals develop unstable temperaments.
  • Doberman Pinscher and Rottweilers have forceful, dominant personalities, especially the German strains, and should always be well trained and strictly controlled.
  • Great Danes are like young colts, rather skittish and inclined to crash into things.

Are some breeds of dog more prone to certain illnesses?

Yes, most canine breeds are likely to suffer from one or more specific types of disorders, some of which are definitely known to be inherited. Hereditary cataract can occur in Boston Terriers, American Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer and Old English Sheepdogs ultimately resulting in complete loss of vision.

Collie eye anomaly is an inherited defect of the Collie breed which causes poor vision Hip dysplasia can occur in all breeds but affects more than 20% of dogs in some of them, including German Shepherds and Retrievers.

Chihuahuas may suffer from hydrocephalus due to an excess of cerebral fluid. In Bull Terriers, Dalmatians and Sealyhams deafness is commonly found in dogs with a white coat or predominantly white marking and so on and so on.

Are some breeds much more subject to inherited diseases than others?

Yes. There are seven breeds which it is known can suffer from twenty or more different disorders of genetic origin: American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog and toy and mini Poodles. A further ten breeds are each subject to at least ten separate inherited diseases: Chihuahua, Collie breeds, Dachshund, Fox Terrier, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Pekingese, St. Bernard and the Shetland Sheepdog.

What are the effects of having your dog neutered?

In the female it is called spaying and means the removal of the uterus and the ovaries and in the male it is called neutering and is the removal of the testicles. In the female the main change is that the typical behaviour shown during ‘heat’ and its possible sequel-a ‘false pregnancy’, will not occur. She will not produce a discharge and she will not attract every male dog for miles. Otherwise the female appears unchanged. In the male neutering reduces roaming in about 90% of male dogs, in about two-thirds it stops aggression between males, and in about 50% it stops urine-marking in the house. There is no evidence that neutering/spaying causes a dog to be less active or reduces its prowess as a guard guide. There may be a greater tendency for a neutered animal to gain weight but this can be checked by reducing its food intake. Spayed females may develop urinary incontinence later, either because of the lack of estrogen or because of a change in the position of the bladder. Surveys show that only about 10% of females become incontinent.

How serious an operation is neutering?

It is not as serious as the pet population problem. In males it is a relatively minor operation; castration involves removing the testicles of the anesthetized dog through a small incision into the scrotum. The surgical wound requires two or three sutures and heals quickly. In the female, spaying is a little more serious because it involves opening into the abdomen. Usually the incision is made on the underside of the abdomen. Between four and eight sutures are usually required. She should be restrained from running and jumping or walking long distances for a few days.

Will your new dog get along happily with the existing pets in the house?

It depends on each dog’s temperaments and the age at which they are introduced to each other. A puppy is socialized between four and twelve weeks of age. So, if two puppies are reared together from that time they usually get on well together.

When a young puppy is introduced into a home where an older dog is already in residence a problem can occur, but whether it does depends largely on the owner’s handling of the situation. The owner can avoid conflict by giving more affection to the resident and dominant dog, thereby confirming the hierarchy and stabilizing the relationship.

When an older dog is introduced into a home where another dog is already present the newcomer may not automatically accept the role of underdog, so that the order of dominance has then to be determined, usually with fights over territory, food and favorite toys. It may also be settled with a single fight or the power struggle may go on for some time before being resolved.

Introduction of a dog into a household where there is already a cat may result in behavioral problems on the part of the cat. But, if affection is lavished on the cat, and the two pets are fed quite separately they will in most instances gradually come to tolerate each other.

Do healthy dogs normally shed hair?


If your dog keeps shaking his head does it mean there is anything wrong?

Yes, almost certainly the external ear canal of one or both of his ears is severely inflamed, a condition known as otitis externa. Ear mites is another culprit and will cause your dog to to considerable head shaking and ear scratching. Foreign bodies in the ear canal can be responsible for ear irritation also. To identify and treat the cause the dog should be examined by your veterinarian.

If your dog has very pale gums and lips does it mean that he is suffering from anemia?

Certainly this is likely if the pallor of these visible mucous membranes together with that of the tongue and inner lining of the eyelids is present continuously. Apart from anemia the only other important cause of extreme pallor of these membranes is shock.

My dog appears to have no control over her urination, what could be the cause of this?

The involuntary passage of urine producing constant or intermittent dribbling, of which the animal is often unaware, constitutes true urinary incontinence. It needs to be distinguished from conditions in which so much urine is produced that the animals’s bladder is unable to retain it for any appreciable period and from dogs that are not adequately house-trained or in which training has broken down, and from submissive urination.

What could be the cause of my dog having diarrhea?

Virus such as distemper or parvo, irritant poisons, food poisoning or dietary allergies are the most common causes of diarrhea. In all cases where diarrhea persists or your dog is passing blood or rapidly becoming weak, veterinary attention should be obtained immediately.

What are the most serious infectious diseases of dogs?

These are viruses… distemper, hepatitis, ademovirus, parainfluenza, parvo, rabies, neonatal canine herpesvirus. These are bacterial… leptospirosis, bordetella bronchiseptica infection, brucellosis, trench mouth. This is fungal… ringworm. This is protozoal… toxoplasmosis.

Is infection the same as disease?

No, infection is when a particular micro-organism has become established in or on the dog’s body. If the dog’s normal defence mechanisms are damaged or weakened thereby allowing the commensals to invade other areas, it can then produce disease.

What are the two most serious canine diseases?

Rabies and Distemper.

What sort of disease is hardpad?

Hardpad is not a separate disease, but is a name given to those cases of distemper in which there is a marked thickening of the horny layer of the skin on the pads.

Is it true that distemper only occurs in young dogs?

No, although it is true that this age group is primarily effected. Dogs under a year old account for 80% of clinical cases and those under two years for 90%. Any dog or any age that is not vaccinated against distemper or has a weakened immunity is at risk of contracting this deadly disease.

How common does infectious hepatitis occur in dogs and is it serious?

The infection with the canine adenovirus type 1 is commonplace. The infection is most common in dogs that are unvaccinated. Some dogs only show signs in which a slight fever is detected while others die suddenly, having shown few, if any, signs beforehand.

Is kennel cough simply the result of barking a lot while in the kennel?

No, kennel cough (canine respiratory disease) is a highly contagious disease which can be produced by a number of infectious organisms acting singly or in combination.

Is it true that parvovirus infection is a new disease?

Yes, no evidence has been found to show that this disease existed in dogs before 1978.

Parvo is a major life-threatening disease in dogs, although it is not as fatal as it was when if first showed up in dogs in the late 70’s. Aggressive treatment for parvo has shown to have a high success rate in infected dogs. Parvo is responsible for two distinct disease syndromes: the most common is an enteritis seen in dogs from weaning onwards, and the other is a heart condition of young pups.

Is it a fact that dogs acquire toxoplasmosis from cats?

Yes, by eating the feces of a host cat. The most common way for a dog to eat an oocyst of the parasite is by eating under-cooked meat or the flesh of an animal which is infected.

Is ringworm really caused by a worm?

No, it is due to the effect of parasitic fungi.

How does a dog get rabies?

Rabies is generally transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Other routes of infection are possible but much less common; such as infective saliva can enter through a scratch or an existing skin wound, or droplets of saliva may be inhaled. Another way a dog can get rabies is if it eats the carcass of an infected animal.

Can a dog showing clinical signs of rabies be cured?

Once clinical signs are present in a dog, or in man or any animal, no treatment is effective and the disease is always fatal.

What diseases should your dog by vaccinated against?

There eight important diseases your dog should be vaccinated against. These are canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus infection, rabies, leptospirosis and the three most common causes of kennel cough, namely canine adenoviruses, canine parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica.

How old should a puppy be when it is first vaccinated?

Puppies usually lose all maternal antibodies soon after six weeks old, so this would be a good time to start vaccinations. Bordetella can be given at three weeks old and rabies shouldn’t be given before three months old. Parvo vaccine should be given at eight weeks.

Do vaccinations always work?

Regrettably no, it does not. There are a small portion of animals whose immune systems do not respond in the normal manner to vaccines, or for that matter to natural infections. If a vaccine is administered after its stated expiration date and/or hasn’t been stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions it will not not be effective. By way of reassurance, a survey of over 15,000 dogs was vaccinated against distemper, in an area where is was common and less than1/2 % contracted the disease.

Does vaccination ever cause the disease?

This is extremely unlikely and could only happen with live vaccines in which the viruses were not as weakened as was believed. Rare cases in which a dog develops the disease shortly after administration of a vaccine are almost always due to the animal having already been in the incubation stage of the disease.

What are the most common parasites that dogs get?

Fleas, ticks, ear mites, roundworms, and tapeworms.

Why is it important to get rid of fleas on my dog?

Adult fleas are parasitic and survive by sucking the blood of their hosts. They are the most important single cause of skin disease in dogs. A heavy infestation may result in anemia. Fleas can transfer some infectious diseases from one dog to another. Fleas can transmit tapeworms to the dog.

Are flea collars safe for dogs to wear?

Flea collars are not designed to eliminate a heavy infestation of fleas, they are useful chiefly to control mild infestations. A tightly applied flea collar can produce a zone of acute inflammation around the neck of some dogs and in a few allergic individuals it will also cause dermatitis elsewhere on the body. If your dog develops signs of neck irritation, especially in the first week, or poisoning from the collar (e.g. depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and staggering) remove the collar immediately.

Should a tick be pulled from a dog’s body?

No, pulling a tick off usually causes its deeply embedded mouthparts to remain behind, and this may result in an abscess forming. You should try to make the tick slacken it’s grip by applying alcohol, or ether, or by spraying it with an insecticidal aerosol spray, before carefully removing it with forceps. Any ticks removed should be burned.

Apart from parasites are there any other causes of skin disease in dogs?

Yes, itching or pruitus is an obvious sign of skin disease, and although frequently caused by parasites, itching occurs whenever the skin is damaged or inflamed. Itching is one of the major signs of allergic skin diseases. Important allergies in dogs are due to inhalation of pollens, moulds or house dust, insect bites and stings and direct skin contact with chemicals in soaps and detergents, carpets, flea collars, plastics etc. Although foodstuffs are often blamed they are rarely responsible. Bacterial infections can cause skin diseases. Hormonal disorders can cause loss of hair, which is identical on both sides of the body, occurring without any skin irritation. Skin can also be involved in the growth of tumors and at times is affected by very bizarre conditions such as cutaneous asthenia in which the skin can be stretched to extremes but also tears very easily and canine icthyosis where much of the body surface is covered with grey scales and feather-like projections.

How does your dog get infected with roundworms and are they harmful?

Dogs can become infected by eating an infected dogs feces and by eating another animal that is infected. Puppies can become infected through their mothers. Toxocara canis infection can produce noisy breathing and coughing, especially during suckling in puppies under two weeks old. In older puppies, up to three months of age, there is persistent diarrhea with vomiting, whining and a pot-bellied appearance. In mature dogs clinical signs of ascarid infection are virtually non-existent.

How can you tell your dog has worms?

Ideally, at intervals throughout the dog’s life, you should have your veterinarian test your dog for worms. You can sometimes tell your dog has worms by seeing the worms.

Can humans get worms from dogs?

Some worms can infect humans such as the roundworms, tapeworms, heartworms and hookworms.

Is it a good idea to worm your dog, and if so, how often should you do it?

Yes, it is advisable to give your dog a deworming treatment at 6 month intervals. If there is definite evidence of a worm infection, worming with the appropriate drug should be carried out as soon as possible and then repeated a month later.

What sort of a worm is the tongue worm?

The parasite Linguatula serrata gets its popular name from its appearance; it is long and worm-like and flattened like a tongue. In reality it is not a worm but an unusual variety of mite which has no legs. The ‘worms’, which can be up to 5 inches long, attach themselves high up in the nasal chambers of the dog.

Do dogs get cancer?

Yes, cancer is one of the most common conditions to affect dogs.

What kind of tumors do dogs get most commonly?

Each year about four dogs in every thousand develop a tumor. Of these the most common are skin tumors, tumors of the mammary glands, tumors of bones, lymph nodes, testicles, one organ of the digestive tract (most commonly the gums of the mouth). Tumors appear earlier in Boxers than other breeds and is roughly four times as common. They occur tow or three times more frequently in Cocker Spaniels, Fox Terriers and Boston Terriers. Beagles have a very low incidence or tumor formation. Mammary tumors are 200 times less likely to occur in bitches spayed before their first heat.

Is it possible to treat cancer in dogs?

Yes, treatment of certain types of cancer (i.e. malignant neoplasia) by surgery, radiation therapy and drugs may be successful in eliminating the tumor and preventing recurrence, especially if commenced in teh early stages of the cancer.

What other dog diseases come with old age?

Kidney failure, progressive thickening and distortion of the mitral valve of the heart, bacterial infections of the urine, enlargement of the prostate gland in males, periodontal disease, degeneration of the cartilage lining the joints, slipped discs (Dachshunds account for about 70% of these cases), obesity, constipation, urinary and/or fecal incontinence.

If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes and will need an insulin injection every day, will it be to distressing for the dog and just kinder to put the animal to sleep?

No, the discomfort will be slight for the dog. Dachshunds are particularly likely to be affected.

Are there likely to be any complications when treating a diabetic dog?

The most frequent complication in the management of a diabetic dog is the inadvertent infection of an overdose of insulin.

Can your dog pass on any diseases to you?

Yes, external parasites transmissible to man include fleas, sarcoptic mange, the fur mite and ringworm fungi. Internal parasites are (as mentioned above) roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms and heartworms. Man can become infected with rabies, canicola fever caused by Leptospira canicola and Weil’s disease due to L. icterohaemorrhagiae (this is more common than canicola fever). Bacteria may also be implanted in bite wounds. Salmonellosis, Campylobacter infection, and tuberculosis are other bacterial diseases which the dog may communicate to man.

Do dogs ever get fitted with casts?

Yes, fractures of the limbs below the elbow joint in the front limb and the stifle joint in the hind limb can be effectively treated with casts and splints.

Is general anaesthesia safe?

In the vast majority of cases, yes. Although, there are individuals who may react unfavorably to a particular drug.

How long is the average length of pregnancy?

The average length is around nine weeks (63 days), but there is a good deal of variation depending on the breed; three days either side is quite common and even a week either side is not unusual.

If my dog goes blind in old age, should I have him put to sleep?

No, Many dogs that are partially or totally blind manage very successfully in familiar surroundings. Dogs adapt well to this handicap, particularly if blindness comes on slowly and if they remain among people they know and love. Similarly, with dogs that become totally deaf, they do very well if you appreciate that they cannot come when called or respond to other verbal commands, and you take care to keep them out of harms way such as traffic.

What is a proper way to give my dog a tablet or capsule?

Often the easiest way a dog will accept a tablet or capsule is to conceal it in a tidbit of meat or cheese. You could also crush the tablet and add it to something appetizing like sardine oil or his favorite can dog food. If this doesn’t work then the thing to do is to open the dog’s mouth, place the tablet at the back and ensure that it is swallowed.

How should I clean a wound?

The wound should be cleaned out within the first six hours of injury. In the next six hours bacteria multiply considerably. Any large foreign bodies should be picked out and any soil washed away. It will be easier to wash the wound, especially in long haired dogs, if the area is clipped of hair. Clean the wound using a pad of clean gauze or even paper towels. Soak the pad in water with a small amount of antiseptic or peroxide. Gently dab away and wipe away the dirt and/or pus. Dab the wound dry with clean gauze.

What can I do if my dog gets into a fight with another dog?

If you are close to a water hose, start spraying both dogs. If the animals will not stop fighting try spraying them right in their mouths. This should give you the chance to grab them as soon as they separate. When walking your dog where you could run into another dog, you should keep your dog on a leash. You can also walk away from the fight and call your dog from a distance. This has the effect of withdrawing the owner’s support for the dog, thus weakening his confidence and therefore his aggression.

How often should I bathe my dog?

As a general rule a dog only needs a bath when its coat gets soiled, with mud or urine for example. The frequency of bathing will also depend upon the breed and its housing. If your dog normally sleeps with you and is allowed on your furniture you may want to bathe the animal once a month. An outside dog will benefit from an occasional bath.

Is it neccessary to clean my dog’s teeth?

Yes, cleaning your dog’s teeth is useful in preventing or minimizing the accumulation of tartar. The build up of tartar is responsible for most of the dental problems in dogs.

I have found a stray and brought the animal home, what should I do now?

The ideal thing for you to do with a stray you have rescued off of the streets is to get the animal to your veterinarian. Have a thorough exam done and have the dog dewormed and vaccinated. If you have dogs at home it would be a good idea to let the veterinarian keep or board the dog for a couple of days (up to week is ideal) to make sure the animal does not have a disease or virus that can be transmitted to your pets. Keep in mind that when you bring the animal home, he is totally dependant upon you for everything. Be sure you are going to have the resources to feed and care for the animal and make sure you will have the time and patience to play and love the dog and give the dog the obedience training it will need.

What does it mean when my dog goes into heat?

Heat or estrus is the time during which a bloody discharge first appears at the vulva of a female. During this stage of her reproductive cycle the female is sexually receptive and therefore can become pregnant.

What can I do for my dog when she does go into heat?

If you are not a professional breeder you should keep your female dog out of sight during this time. Dogs can perform remarkable feats to reach a female in heat. You should keep her away from males for at least three weeks from the onset of bleeding or until all signs of her heat are gone. You can also buy doggie diapers if her bleeding is a problem. It is recommended to have your dog spayed.

How long will she be in heat and how often will she go into heat?

The female heat generally occurs twice a year. The female dog will undergo a cyclical rhythm of reproductive function called the estrous cycle. Each dog has her own normal cycle that, once established, tends to repeat itself. Proestrus is the time during which a bloody discharge first appears at the vulva of the female. During this stage the follicles from which the ova are produced are growing. Proestrus usually lasts about 6-11 days and can last up to twenty-eight days. It’s end is marked by the acceptance of the first male. Estrus is the period which the female is sexually receptive and breeding can occur. Many females continue bleeding throughout estrus, but some do not. Ovulation usually occurs about twenty-four hours after the first acceptance of a male. (about 10-11 days after the onset of bleeding). Ova survive and are capable of being fertilized for at least four days following ovulation. Estrus lasts about 5-9 days and can last up to 28 days.