Signs of Health
A healthy dog should display the following signs of health:
- Demeanour: alert, and quickly responsive to sounds and calls;
- Movement: good stamina in youth, deteriorating with age; no lameness;
- Appetite: enthusiastic for food, eating fast; no vomiting;
- Coat: clean, glossy, and free from parasites and dirt;
- Ears: alert to slightest sound, no discharge or irritation;
- Eyes: clear with no discharge or inflammation;
- Nose: cold and damp when outdoors, dry and warm when indoors; no persistent discharge.
If your dog appears unwell, has lost its appetite or is unresponsive and lacking energy, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Canine distemper, canine infectious hepatitis and canine parvovirus are three viral diseases of dogs which are potentially fatal. Vaccination against the diseases are mandatory. Temporary vaccinations are given from 6 – 10 weeks of age, but further injections are required. A vaccine is available against kennel cough, an upper respiratory infection of dogs. This disease is not fatal but vaccination is advisable. Consult your veterinary surgeon for advice on the proper schedule and whether any other vaccines are advisable.
Puppy roundworms can infect humans. To prevent this infection, puppies should be wormed regularly throughout the first year of life, and dog owners should practice commonsense personal hygiene at all times.
Tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms can also infect dogs, whilst heartworm is a major problem for dogs in many areas of Australia. Preventative treatment is advisable but must not be commenced without first receiving veterinary advice.
Fleas are a common external parasite associated with dogs. They usually cause severe itching and inflammation of the skin, leading to dermatitis. They are also the intermediate host for the tapeworm most common in dogs. There are now a number of options available for control of fleas, including medication, insecticidal powders or washes or the use of a flea collar. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on these.
Bitches are desexed for a number of reasons:
- to prevent the season cycle which occurs twice a year for 3 weeks (This may attract many male dogs to property where the bitch is housed resulting in fighting and destruction of gardens, or the escape of inseson bitches);
- to prevent unwanted pregnancies with the associated problems of rearing puppies and finding proper homes for them;
- to prevent breast cancer and uterine problems frequently found in entire (undesexed) bitches that have not had puppies.
Male dogs are predominately desexed to prevent fighting and straying.
The preferred age for desexing dogs is usually between two and six months. Your veterinary surgeon will advise.