Dog Care: A Complete Guide to Keeping your Dog Healthy
For dog owners, their pet’s health is one of the major concerns. However, dog care and health topics can be a little bit overwhelming.
If you happen to own a dog, it is important to understand how you must tackle this issue and make your little one a healthy and happy dog!
In such a situation, you may have to research a lot of things to find what’s good and what’s not for your dog.
Luckily, your search ends here! This time, you have landed in the right place to find the all the information required for dog care.
In this complete guide, we’ll take a look at:
- Five Dog Care and Health Facts
- 7 Healthiest Dog Breeds You Should Know About For Dog Care
- 5 Dog Breeds That Are Susceptible to Illnesses
- Pet Symptom Checker: How to Know If Your Dog Is Sick?
- Common Dog Health Problems
- Dog Care and Wellness: Easy Health Tips to Follow!
- Old Dog Health Care and Wellness
So, let’s dig in, shall we?
Five Dog Care and Health Facts
You may know various things about dogs. Yet, certain facts will surely surprise you!
So, to increase your knowledge, given below are the five surprising facts specifically focused on their traits and health.
Puppies Are Born Deaf
Did you know that puppies are born deaf?
The actual reason is that when they’re born, their ear canals are closed. This is necessary as silence is very important in developing the hearing sense of the puppies. In fact, this is the last among all their senses to develop, which normally happens after three weeks.
So, if you force your puppies to listen to some intense sounds before their hearing capabilities develop, it can cause harm to their auditory functions in the future.
But, as soon as it develops, expect that they can hear four times better than a normal human being. This is the reason why they are more sensitive to loud noises such as fireworks and thunder.
Dogs Pant Instead of Sweat
Another fact you may want to know about your dog is that panting is a form of sweating for them.
I can almost hear you thinking… “So, dogs don’t sweat?” They do but in very little amount.
It is because sweating doesn’t help in cooling off their bodies as much as panting does.
When dogs pant, they are trying to regulate their body temperature. This helps them to evaporate moisture from different body parts such as their tongue, nasal passage, and even the lining of their lungs.
Once the moisture evaporates, their body’s temperature gets back to normal.
Chocolate is Hazardous For Dogs
If you’re thinking of giving chocolate to your dog, stop right there!
Chocolates are extremely hazardous for dogs due to their chemical composition that could cause adverse effects on their bodies.
Chocolates contain a type of caffeine-like molecule known as Theobromine. This molecule is known to increase the blood flow to the brain.
Now, this may not be an issue for us, humans. However, dogs can’t digest Theobromine easily.
So, due to this toxic buildup, they can have severe side-effects such as seizures, tremors, vomiting, restlessness, and sometimes, even death.
Dogs Have Wet Noses For Different Purposes
Have you ever wondered why dogs have wet noses? Well, it isn’t always about them licking it repeatedly.
In reality, dogs have a thin layering of mucus on their nostrils that enables them to have a strong sense of smell. This is one of the reasons they are used for sniffing purposes in crime investigations.
Moreover, the special mucous glands inside their nostrils produce a type of watery fluid that helps them to regulate their temperature.
Dog’s Whiskers Can Sense Things in the Dark
Do you ever think about how dogs can sense things in the dark? Well, it is no paranormal mystery — it’s because of their whiskers!
A dog’s whiskers serve more purposes than just being a facial feature. These contain tactile hair that helps them see things in the dark.
The method is quite simple. Whenever the air changes, the tactile hair relays this information to the sensory cells, which transmit the signal to the brain.
Thus, due to sensing different changes in air motions, your dog can interpret the size, shape, and motion of things, even when in a dark environment.
7 Healthiest Dog Breeds You Should Know About For Dog Care
If you are planning to get a dog and you are having a hard time making a decision, knowing the healthiest breeds can be advantageous. So, we have collated those that have been recorded to live for more than 10 years, and are not susceptible to serious illnesses.
These dog breeds with the least health problems may not require extensive dog care as compared to others.
So, keep on reading ‘cause you should never miss this part!
Expected Life Span: Up to 18 Years
Chihuahuas are smaller dogs and thus, have a better lifespan compared to other dogs. Right now, there isn’t any solid information about why smaller breeds live longer.
However, one potential reason could be that the bodies of bigger dogs tend to grow up faster.
Due to this, the aging and the growth of cells also increase. These could potentially contribute to life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Now, when it comes to Chihuahuas, their resilient nature helps them fight illnesses, too.
These dogs are also quite energetic and enthusiastic due to which they remain active and healthy through and through.
Common chihuahua illnesses include epilepsy and heart diseases, but don’t worry as they’re very uncommon.
Expected Life Span: Up to 18 Years
As surprising as it sounds, Poodles are also considered a healthy dog breed. Poodles are very athletic so they keep their bodies in the best shape. Due to this, health issues are rare.
Additionally, they’re flexible to learning new tricks and obeying the owner. So, they also stay out of any risks.
Expected Life Span: Up to 13 Years
As you may already know, Greyhounds possess quite a strong and athletic build. These dogs are extremely fit and are also known as the fastest breed of dogs in the entire world. The reason for their fitness lies in the fact that these dogs were initially bred to hunt deer, foxes, and other animals.
So, owing to their built and athletic nature, Greyhounds are one of the healthiest dogs that can live up to 13 years of age.
Expected Life Span: Up to 15 Years
Just like the other dogs mentioned on this list, Beagles are also a healthy breed.
These dogs are very active as they love outdoor activities and exercising. Moreover, they also require more exercise compared to other dogs.
Don’t worry as these dogs mostly experience major illnesses at an older age.
Expected Life Span: Up to 20 Years
Dachshunds, a type of small dog breed, are included in the category of fit and healthy dogs, too.
These are hunting dogs and so, they possess strength and agility. They can also live up to the age of 20 years if you make them exercise regularly along and feed them healthy food.
However, Dachshunds are the most susceptible to back injury due to their built and stature.
Expected Life Span: Up to 16 Years
One of the major reasons why Siberian Husky is considered a healthy breed is because of their strength and endurance.
As you may know, Siberian Huskies have sled-pulling skills. Secondly, they are also well-trained when it comes to walking, jogging, or even hiking!
Australian Cattle Dog
Expected Life Span: Up to 16 Years
Similar to other active dog breeds, Australian Cattle dogs are very athletic. Owners can take Australian Cattle dogs for running or even hiking as they are very agile and strong.
5 Dog Breeds That Are Susceptible to Illnesses
Although looking after your dog is a responsibility that you must never forget, some breeds require extra assistance and care from their owners.
So, let’s take a look at some dogs with the most health problems.
Expected Life Span: Up to 10 years
German Shepherds are active and rough dogs yet they are extremely susceptible to various types of illnesses.
For example, these dogs may have a lot of allergies. They are also quite prone to joint problems, such as hip dysplasia. Moreover, thyroid, bladder, and pancreas-based complications may develop as they grow old.
Expected Life Span: Up to 10 years
One of the most susceptible dog breeds is definitely the bulldog.
Bulldogs require extreme care and training to remain healthy. It is because their body built isn’t exactly the most athletic one out there. Also, they commonly suffer from health problems that are very common to small dogs, like the Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.
Moreover, their genetic composition also makes them susceptible to various physical ailments. Due to this, they remain quite inactive and develop illnesses over time.
Expected Life Span: Up to 15 years
Cocker Spaniel is one of the most beautiful dog breeds out there. However, it also requires proper dog care.
Cocker Spaniels are known to experience plenty of health problems, ranging from orthopedic to cardiac issues.
These dogs can easily gain weight as they get older. So, even if they do seem slim right now, it is essential that you cut back on treats and keep them active at least an hour or two per day.
This obesity at an older age can lead to various problems such as pancreatic problems, diabetes, and even heart problems.
Expected Life Span: Up to 12 years
Golden retrievers are known for their friendly and extremely affectionate nature. This makes them the perfect family dog.
However, these dogs also face quite a lot of health problems. One of the most dangerous ones being cancer.
Other illnesses include hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, allergies, heart ailments, and cataracts too.
Expected Life Span: Up to 15 years
The last on the list is the Chow Chow. This dog breed is quite confident and stubborn which makes them extremely hard to train.
Additionally, Chow Chows are also easily susceptible to medical problems such as allergies, hip diseases, eye problems, and skin problems too.
So, if you have any of the above breeds, you must give them the utmost dog care.
Dog Symptom Checker: How to Know If Your Dog Is Sick?
For efficient dog care, you must try to recognize the symptoms of illnesses in dogs. Moreover, you always need to be observant and look out for any signs indicating poor health and dog care.
If you are a keen observer, you can easily go to an emergency veterinarian and get your dog treated. Contrarily, a delay in treatment can result in the deterioration of your dog’s health.
So, to avoid it, let’s take a look at some of the common signs of dog illnesses, shall we?
Constant Diarrhea and Vomiting
One of the major signs of a dog illness is frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
Now, keep in mind that dogs do tend to vomit occasionally especially when they have eaten a lot. This may not require immediate care.
On the other hand, if your dog keeps having loose motions and vomits continuously, go for immediate dog care. There are also some instances that they may seem lethargic and low on life.
Moreover, sometimes you may notice blood in your dog’s stool or vomit. If this is the case, then there are chances that your dog has some infection or has ingested something bad. It is very important to visit a vet immediately to rule out serious health conditions.
Lethargy and Lack of Appetite
Dogs are a huge ball of energy and they absolutely love their food!
So, when you notice that your dog isn’t eating properly and is constantly tired, you may wonder what’s wrong with your dog. Well, the answer lies in how long they’ve been like this.
If your dog gets tired after a long walk then they may not be sick. However, if you notice that your dog is tired all the time, then you may have to consult your vet.
Similarly, if your dog is simply fussy and wants to eat human food, then it is not a cause of concern. Yet, if they’re not eating anything at all, even their favorite treats, then you need to have him checked.
Irregular or Extreme Urination
Another red flag when it comes to dog care and health is irregular and extreme urination.
First of all, if you notice that your little dog is drinking more water than necessary and urinating excessively, these could be a major sign of diabetes or kidney/liver problems in dogs.
On the other hand, when your dog has been experiencing difficulty while urinating and he has to strain a lot, he may have UTI or bladder stones.
In some instances, you might also notice blood in the urine.
Coughing and Loss of Breath
If your dog is coughing continuously, you need to look out for medical problems such as lung diseases, heartworm, or even heart diseases.
Some dogs may even encounter Kennel Cough. It’s more common in dogs with pushed-in faces like bulldogs or pugs.
So, it is highly necessary to consult a vet for proper dog care, when you notice your precious dog coughing their lungs out!
Your dog’s health record says a lot about its history of problems. This can help your vet to diagnose the medical issue properly and find a suitable treatment for your dog.
Additionally, it is also helpful if you’re moving places or changing your vet and can help in knowing if your dog needs special dog care or not.
So, these are some of the common symptoms you will notice from your furbaby.
Common Dog Health Problems
Just like humans, dogs also face plenty of health problems due to parasites, viruses, fungal problems, and many more.
So, we will discuss some of the most common dog health issues you need to look out for proper dog care. This way, you’ll know how to properly attend
A parasite is a type of organism that may live inside or outside of the dog’s body (host). They suck the necessary nutrients from your host’s body.
Now, there are two types of dog parasites – external and internal parasites. Let’s understand the causes, dog parasites symptoms, and treatments.
- External Parasites
External parasites stick to your dog’s outer body, causing excessive discomfort due to itch, and sometimes, pain. Common external dog parasites include:
Fleas are external wingless parasites that live on the skin of your dog and feed on their blood. A female flea can lay about 50 eggs per day, which usually hatch within 2 to 5 days.
- Unhygienic environment
- Outside animals like cats, squirrels, and mice can bring in fleas inside your home
- If your dog previously had fleas, chances are that their bed/furniture still has fleas, waiting for a new host, so there’s a potential that he can still have it again
- Severe and constant itching
- Redness on the skin
- Hair loss
- Agitated and restless behavior
- Visible fleas on the dog’s body
- Flea dirt on your dog’s bed
If your dog has a flea problem, you should definitely give importance to dog care and try to follow some of the treatment methods such as:
- Flea shampoo is great for killing off the fleas from your dog’s fur and coat
- Certain products such as insect growth regulators inhibit the fleas to perform the full life cycle. Therefore, they help in getting rid of fleas hidden in your dog’s furniture
- Flea powders and collars are also used as treatments.
- Some other products that you may want to use are topical liquids and insect development inhibitors (IDI)
Seek your vet’s help for other possible solutions in case the aforementioned solutions did not work.
Another type of external parasite is the tick: a small black parasite. Just like fleas, these parasites also attach themselves to your dog’s skin and feed on the blood.
- The main cause of ticks is when your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, especially in the wild. Ticks tend to hide in grassy and woody areas. So, whenever they encounter a dog, they may infect them by attaching themselves to their body.
Symptoms of Ticks:
There are no major symptoms of Tick infestation. However, there are some ways you can find out if your dog has a tick infestation, such as:
- Noticeable ticks on your dog’s body
- Slight skin bumps or inflammation
- Wobbly and uncoordinated walking, i.e limping
- Inability to eat
- Difficulty in breathing or coughing
- Balancing issues, i.e inability to sit or stand
Treatment of Ticks:
Some of the treatments for ticks include:
- Removing ticks from your dog’s body using tweezers
- Killing them with rubbing alcohol
- Cleaning your dog’s bedding and other areas to avoid another infestation
- Visiting vet in the case of emergency
There are some homemade flea spray remedies for parasites, like ticks and fleas, too!
Lastly, keep in mind that you need to take precautions as ticks can infect your dog with harmful diseases that we’ll discuss further.
Mites and lice are some other external parasites that may cause an infestation in dogs.
- Internal Parasites
Unlike external parasites, internal parasites attach themselves to the inside of your dog’s body.
Here’s a list of dog parasites:
Causes of Internal Parasites:
Most of the time, dogs get infected by harmful internal parasites when they eat the larvae found in dog feces, rodents, or even dead fleas. These parasites include tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms.
These are highly contagious as their larvae are found in feces, which could easily infect other dogs.
If your dog has internal parasites, the symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lethargy and dehydration
- Pneumonia or anemia
- Bloodied stools
- Unhealthy coat
- Pot-bellied appearance
The treatment for internal parasites usually depends on the type. However, some steps include:
- Pyrantel pamoate containing product for hookworms and roundworms
- Praziquantel for treating tapeworms
- Fenbendazole for whipworm, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms
To ensure that your dog recuperates properly, make sure to visit his vet regularly.
Ticks are a huge menace for dog care. These external parasites feed off of your dog’s blood. Moreover, they also infect your dog with some severe tick-borne diseases such as:
- Dog Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Causes of Tick-borne diseases:
As mentioned earlier, if your dog has ticks from roaming about in the wild, chances are that they may also have tick-borne diseases.
So, if you start noticing any abnormalities, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Symptoms of Tick-borne Diseases:
Symptoms of Tick-borne diseases are specific to the type of it. However, some of them include:
- Blood clotting
- Abnormal white blood cells count
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain in neck or back
- Diarrhea or vomiting (of bile)
- Abnormal urination
- Limbs and joints swelling
- Seizures (in certain conditions)
- Gum color changes
Specifically, Dog Lyme disease symptoms may include loss of appetite, fever, swollen or painful joints, lethargy and fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and occasional lameness.
Treatment of Tick-borne Diseases:
The treatment of Tick-borne diseases usually involves proper medication for dogs, depending on the type, along with proper care and rest.
For example, Doxycycline works the best for three tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme’s disease, and Ehrlichiosis.
Moreover, there are vaccines available for some diseases too, such as Lyme disease.
Canine Distemper or Dog Distemper
Canine distemper or dog distemper is one of the deadliest diseases in dogs. It’s because it affects different parts of the dog’s body such as gastrointestinal, respiratory, and even the nervous system.
The good news is that you can get it cured if you detect the disease early. So, let’s understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Dog Distemper Cause:
Paramyxovirus, a type of virus, causes Canine Distemper – one of the fatal diseases in dogs that is transmitted via airborne droplets. Once infected, it causes acute respiratory diseases.
Just like the common colds in humans, Canine Distemper is spread via air or direct exposure to an infected animal. This disease may spread among dogs by sharing water and food bowls, or even other equipment such as collars.
An infected dog usually carries the virus for months. A pregnant dog can also pass it to her puppies through her placenta.
Dog Distemper Symptoms:
As this disease is quite deadly, the symptoms may appear in a phased-manner. For example:
- First Phase Symptoms
Initially, your dog may experience the below symptoms if they are infected:
- Yellow or green colored watery or pus-like discharge from eyes (main symptom)
- Nasal discharge
- Reduced appetite
- Second Phase Symptoms
As the disease and infection spread, the symptoms may become more severe and they may start to experience:
- Chronic tremors
- Death (in extreme cases)
Dog Distemper Treatment:
As of now, there is no proper cure for Canine Distemper. Treatments are commonly done to avoid secondary infections such as excessive vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic symptoms. But, like in other medical conditions, it is still best to give him a dog distemper vaccine.
Treatment is usually given based on symptoms. For example,
- Hydrating dogs with severe diarrhea and dehydration
- Medication for vomiting
- Antibiotics and medications for pneumonia
- Anticonvulsants for seizures
About Canine Distemper Vaccine or DAPP:
The distemper vaccine, pharmaceutically named DAPP or DA2PP vaccine, protects your dog from 4 different deadly viral infections. Puppies should be vaccinated at an age of as early as 6 to 8 weeks.
Puppies should be given at least three doses between the age of 6 and 16 weeks, then another dose one year after that.
For adult dogs, two doses should be given 3 or 4 weeks apart.
Take note: it is recommended to get your dog revaccinated every 3 years after the initial doses.
Canine Influenza or Canine Flu or Dog Flu
Canine Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that may spread easily amongst dogs. However, this disease isn’t as fatal as others as the mortality rate is almost less than 10%.
Still, it is necessary to prevent the disease from harming your dog.
Dog Flu Causes:
Canine influenza, more commonly known as the Dog Flu, is a type of viral disease caused by the Influenza A Virus. Mainly, in the US, two strains of Dog Flu are found – H3N8 and H3N2.
Mostly, dog flu cannot be passed on from dogs to humans as there has been no evidence of such cases to date.
Just like common flu in humans, Dog Flu is also an airborne disease. So, it can be caused by:
- Coming in contact with an infected dog who’s coughing, sneezing, and barking
- Contaminated objects such as food or water bowls, collars, kennel surfaces, etc.
- Contaminated areas such as a dog house
- Your dog coming in contact with the owner of another infected dog
- Crowded areas like dog parlors, daycare centers, dog parks, etc.
Dog Flu Symptoms:
If you observe the below symptoms appearing in your dog, the chances are that they may have Dog Flu.
- Moist or dry coughing
- Nasal discharge
- Runny eyes
- Difficulty breathing
Some severe symptoms may appear such as pneumonia and breathing problems.
Dog Flu Treatment:
Currently, there’s no cure for Dog Flu. However, treatment is quite efficient and is given in the form of:
- Fluids to keep your furry friend hydrated
- Anti-inflammatory medicines for fever
- Rest and quarantine period to avoid the spread of the virus
- Proper nutrition and diet plan
- Antibiotics for preventing secondary bacterial illnesses
Again, as Dog Flu is highly contagious, you need to consult your vet regarding the medications and treatment. Moreover, there is a Dog Flu vaccine available, too.
About Dog Flu Vaccine or Flu Shots:
The canine influenza vaccine does not prevent your dog from getting infected or developing the disease. However, it helps reduce the severity and symptoms of the disease. Puppies should be vaccinated at the age of 7 weeks or older.
Puppies should take their first dose at the age of 7 weeks and the second one after 2 to 4 weeks. For adult dogs, they should be vaccinated with 2 doses 2 to 4 weeks apart.
Remember, as a responsible owner, you have to make sure that your dog gets the vaccine annually.
Canine Parvovirus or Dog Parvo
Canine Parvovirus is a highly fatal viral infection in dogs. It is a type of gastrointestinal infection that can affect your dog in adverse ways. This disease is also more common in puppies (six weeks or six-month-olds) than adult dogs. Yet, the virus can still infect your dog when he’s exposed.
Causes of Canine Parvovirus:
Canine parvovirus is caused by Parvovirus. It mainly affects the stomach and small intestine of a dog. So, how does a dog get Parvovirus? Here’s how:
- Coming in direct contact with an infected dog/animal
- Sniffing, licking, or consuming feces of an infected dog/animal
- Coming in contact with a contaminated or infected object such as food or water bowls, leashes, collars, etc.
Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs:
If your dog or puppy has parvovirus, you may notice some symptoms in just 3 to 7 days. These symptoms include:
- Bloody and severe diarrhea
- Anorexia or reduced intake of food
- Continuous and severe weight loss
- Rapid heartbeats
- Inflamed and red tissue around the mouth and eyes
Treatment for Canine Parvovirus:
One thing to keep in mind is that there’s a vaccine available for this disease and we highly recommend it as a part of dog care. (Note: It has a 91% mortality rate in puppies if left untreated)
Now, you may wonder, “can a vaccinated dog get parvo”, the answer is yes, they can. But, the vaccine helps decrease the probability.
Apart from the vaccine, there is no real cure for this disease. Luckily, there are certain medications and treatments that can help treat your dog effectively.
Some of these treatments include:
- Fluids for proper hydration of dog
- Antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections
- Proper hospitalization for drips needed, as mouth intake of fluid and food, is quite painful for infected dogs
- Proper rest
- Isolation to prevent the spread of the virus
So, rather than allowing your dog or puppy to go through this, it is better to get them vaccinated to ensure dog care and wellness.
In case you failed to have them vaccinated and you have noticed some symptoms, make sure to visit a vet instantly for medical interventions.
About Parvovirus Vaccine or DAPP (Same as Distemper):
Just like in Canine Distemper, young puppies should take at least three doses between the age of 6 and 16 weeks.
Adult dogs should take 2 doses 3 or 4 weeks apart. It is highly recommended that all dogs should be given a booster vaccine every 3 years to ensure the best protection.
Dogs are usually wild creatures that are surrounded by germs. This makes them easily susceptible to various fungal diseases.
So, apart from bacterial and viral diseases, dogs also suffer from fungal or yeast infections. These infections may be dog fungal infection in the nose, ear, or even paws.
Types of Fungal Infection:
There are different types of fungal infections. Some of them include:
- Nasal Aspergillosis
- Disseminated Aspergillosis
- Fungal Dermatitis
Causes of fungal infection:
Some of the causes of fungal infections are:
- Contact with other animals
- Due to the environmental factors, such as unhygienic environments, bird droppings, dust, increased moisture levels, or damp surroundings
- Overgrowth of fungi present in the dog’s body
Symptoms of fungal infection:
Some of the symptoms of fungal infections include:
- Nasal Aspergillosis: Nasal discharge, nose bleeds, lethargy, nasal pain, and sneezing
- Disseminated Aspergillosis: Back pain, loss of appetite, back pain, vomiting, bloodied urine, paralysis (in worst cases)
- Cryptococcosis: Coughing, lethargy, skin lesions, eye troubles, seizures, and other neurological issues
- Blastomycosis: Fever, coughing, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue
- Ringworm: Itching, hair loss, crusty/flaky skin, and brittle nails
- Fungal Dermatitis: Itching, crusty/flaky skin near nails, armpits, skin folds, and anal area too
Treatment of Fungal Infections:
The treatment is specific for each type of fungal infection. However, it mostly includes anti-fungal medication in either an oral or infused manner, depending on the type.
For ringworm and fungal dermatitis, medicated baths or anti-fungal shampoos are also suggested for dog care.
Keep in mind that fungal diseases, especially cryptococcosis and disseminated aspergillosis, are quite dangerous for your dog’s health.
Cryptococcosis and disseminated aspergillosis usually affect dogs with an already low immune system. Moreover, they also affect the nervous system, which makes them really dangerous to your pet.
Heartworm, a type of parasitic and fatal disease, affects the entire body system of a dog. This disease has gotten its name from the internal parasite, ‘heartworm’, which is known to cause severe heart problems, lung diseases, and organ damage in dogs.
Moreover, if not treated, it may lead to death as well.
Causes of Dog Heartworms:
As the name suggests, heartworm is a type of parasitic roundworm, Dirofilaria immitis, that infects the heart of the dog, leading to congestive heart failure.
There’s only one known cause of heartworm, which is a mosquito bite. To understand the cause of heartworm, let’s try to take a look into its life-cycle.
In the parasitic life cycle of Dirofilaria immitis, two hosts are involved – primary host and secondary host.
Dogs are considered to be the primary host of the parasitic worm. So, in the body, these worms feed, become adults, and also mate to produce offspring. This offspring is then transferred to a secondary host.
Mosquitoes are considered to be the secondary host, wherein the worms become infectious. This period is short and transitive.
Once the dog is bitten by an infectious mosquito, they develop heartworm disease.
There are four stages of symptoms depending upon the level of infection. They are as below:
- Stage 1: Mild symptoms such as occasional cough or no symptoms
- Stage 2: Fatigue after just a moderate activity and occasional cough
- Stage 3: More severe symptoms, including sick appearance, tiredness after a simple activity, breathlessness, and cough.
- Stage 4: This stage is often known as ‘Caval syndrome’ and may require surgery. Chances of death are very high at this stage.
The treatment of heartworm is often expensive and time-consuming as it may require:
- Frequent vet visits
- X-rays and other blood tests
- Use of expensive medication such as Immiticide and Diroban
- Topical solution for the skin
- Surgery in critical cases
- Hospitalization and injections
So, make sure you take all heartworm prevention measures to protect your dog from it. It is also important to keep your surroundings and get rid of those pesky mosquitoes!
Heatstroke or Hyperthermia
Dog Heatstroke or Hyperthermia is a severe health condition that happens when your dog’s body temperature suddenly increases.
If your dog’s body temperature rises above 106F, then it is known as heatstroke.
After this, you need to take care because once the temperature further rises to 107F or 109F, it can cause multiple organ failures.
Causes of Heatstroke:
Heatstroke in dogs is caused when they are exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. You have to remember that they are more sensitive to heat as compared to humans.
Most heatstroke cases transpire when you leave your dog in the car for hours, or if he doesn’t get water or food while he’s outdoors and exposed to the sun.
Dog Heatstroke Symptoms:
To ensure that you are providing the right dog care methods, it is best to know the symptoms prior. Here are some things that should alert you:
- Excessive panting (most common symptom)
- Reddened gums
- Uncoordinated movements
- Loss of consciousness
Serious symptoms may include intestine and kidney problems, swelling in the brain, abnormal blood clotting, and many more.
Treatment of Heatstroke:
Firstly, you must take your dog to a shaded and cool environment immediately. Then, you should also give them a little amount of water to reduce hydration.
Lastly, try to douse their house with cold water. Here, make sure that the water isn’t ice cold, as this may cause the body temperature to waver and thus, cause shivering in your dog.
Other than this, some other treatments include:
- Cooling treatments
- Using drips for more hydration
- Constant dog care
- Blood tests for organs
- Supplemental oxygen
Heatstroke can lead to potential damage of organs so see your vet immediately for proper dog care and wellness.
Other than diseases, injuries are also a huge hindrance to dog care and wellness.
So, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common injuries in dogs and how you can treat them.
- Extreme Trauma
Major or extreme trauma is a horrifying medical emergency wherein your dog’s external and internal are affected.
Causes of Extreme Trauma:
Your dog may experience extreme trauma when they encounter a horrible incident. Some of these causes may include:
- Any form of severe physical abuse
- Car accidents
- Fights with other animals
- Falling from heights
Symptoms of Extreme Trauma:
Depending on the type of trauma, the symptoms may differ accordingly. For instance, some of the common symptoms may include:
- Severe injuries and fractures in different parts of the body
- Cuts and bleeds
- Internal bleeding due to which your dog may look weak, have trouble in breathing, have an enlarged abdomen, and/or pale gums
- Burns, in case of fire-related traumas
- Sudden anxiety
Treatment of Extreme Trauma:
The treatment depends on the type of trauma and injuries. However, you immediately need to get your dog first aid. Then, take your dog to the veterinarian so that medical procedures can be applied.
Keep in mind that you can easily avoid such major trauma by keeping your dog on a leash when outdoors and close doors/windows or make use of barricades.
- Dog Fights
Playful fights are a normal thing. However, they become dangerous when both of the dogs get aggressive and start inflicting wounds on each other.
Causes of Dog Fights:
Dog fights may turn extremely intense if you don’t know how to tackle the problem. Yet, you can put an end to it, if you know that dogs may fight due to the below reasons:
- Territorial reasons, i.e when another animal enters your dog’s safe space
- Need to protect their loved ones, such as their pups from other dogs
- Friendly fights that may turn competitive
- Redirected aggression when a dog may remove their anxiety on another one
- Not getting along with another dog due to different personalities
Symptoms of Dog Fight:
Some dogs may horribly hurt each other. There are some areas that dogs specifically target. They may include:
- Neck i.e may bite and cause puncture wounds
- Face, i.e scratches and cuts
Treatment after a Dog Fight:
The treatment depends on the severity of the wounds. However, it is important that you give them first aid help immediately.
Also, make sure that if your dog is bitten, get them to the vet as they may get infected with rabies, which is another fatal disease to canines.
Most dogs suffer from an eye injury at least once in their lifetime due to their playful nature and curiosity.
Eye injuries too can be of different severities, from minor scratches (corneal laceration) to puncture wounds to corneal ulcers (due to chemicals/debris). Hence, it becomes necessary to pay attention to them to prevent any type of vision loss.
Causes of Eye Injury:
As mentioned above, dogs are often found running and playing in the whole house. Because of this, eye injuries can have many causes such as:
- Fights with other animals, such as cats and dogs
- Environmental accidents, such as getting hit by branches or getting insect bites
- Exposure to any type of chemicals that may harm their eyes
- Running into sharp objects, like furniture edges or fences
Symptoms of Eye Injury:
- Noticeable and clear wound near eyes
- Constantly pawing the eyes
- Greenish or yellowish discharge from eyes
- Frequent squinting, rapid blinking, or eye spasms
- Excessive tears
- Bloodshot appearance in eyes
- Difficulty in opening the eyes
Treatment of Eye Injury:
Your vet may suggest any of the given treatments on the basis of the severity of the eye injury.
- Eyedrops to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Antibiotics to treat eye infection
- Surgeries in case of severe eye injuries
- Washing dog’s eyes with cold water/saline eye solution in case of exposure to chemicals
Dog Tail Injury
Dog tail injuries are fairly common. Some of the times it mostly happens because of some type of major trauma, like accidents. However, sometimes it may also happen due to other causes.
Causes of Dog Tail Injury:
Dog tail injuries may not seem as common as other injuries. However, due to the fragile physical structure of tails, they may get injured due to:
- Getting caught between a door or other surfaces
- Getting stepped on
- Animal bite on the tail
- Limber Tail Syndrome
- ‘Happy Tail Syndrome’ in larger breeds of dogs
Symptoms of Dog Tail Injuries:
You may easily notice some of the symptoms of dog tail injuries. If not, you can specifically look out for:
- Swelling in tail
- Bleeding, abrasions, or lesions
- A weird or tilted tail appearance that may signify a fracture
- Extremely droopy or limp tail
Treatment for Dog Tail Injuries:
Sometimes, tail injuries may get difficult to treat. Yet, if quick and efficient treatment is given, your dog may not have to suffer.
Types of treatments may include:
- Crate restrictions
- Medications, if needed
An immediate vet visit is required if the injury is serious.
- Limb Injuries
Limb injuries may sometimes just be a small sprain. However, sometimes it may also be a huge fracture or bone deformities.
You can know which one it is by observing your dog’s movements. If they’re limping less, it may not be serious but it is highly suggested to bring them to a vet for an X-ray and other check-up procedures.
If your dog can’t totally walk, immediately take them to a hospital as it could be an indication of a broken bone.
Causes of Limb Injuries:
As dogs are always on the run, they may suffer from limb injuries that are caused due to various reasons such as:
- Vehicle accidents
- Falling from a height
- Fights with dogs or other animals
Symptoms of Limb Injuries:
If you’re unsure about whether or not your dog has a serious limb injury or not, look out for the below symptoms:
- Frequent limping and lameness
- Bleeding and swellings
- Resting always
- Stiff body
- Leg extended while sitting
- Not excited about their walks or exercise sessions
Treatment of Limb Injuries:
The treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Some of the common treatments include:
- Immobilizing or stabilizing affected bones by using a cast or splint
- Bone replacement
- Medications, such as painkillers
- Proper rest
So, there are some of the most common injuries found in dogs. However, there are other injuries too such as ligament injuries, dog pad injuries, spinal injuries, and so on.
Unlike normal cough, Kennel Cough is a distinctive type of deep cough characterized by its ‘honking’ or ‘choking’ type of sound. It is a type of highly-contagious bacterial respiratory infection.
Causes of Kennel Cough:
Kennel Cough is also known as Bordetella as it is caused by the bacterium named Bordetella bronchiseptica.
It can be transmitted in three different ways:
- Airborne Droplets: When a dog barks, the bacteria is spread via air and then infects other dogs.
- Contaminated Surfaces: Sharing food and water bowls may also cause the transmission of this bacterium.
- Direct Contact: When one dog touches the toys or noses of the infected dogs, then also this disease spreads.
This disease often spreads in crowded areas with low-ventilation, such as parks, playgrounds, and shelters.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough:
The Kennel Cough symptoms include:
- Loud cough sounding like honking, i.e Kennel Cough sound
- Runny nose and constant sneezing
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Slight fever
- Loss of appetite
Sometimes, your dog may even be asymptomatic.
Treatment of Kennel Cough:
If the Kennel Cough in your dog is mild, then the infection may simply go away in a week or two with proper rest.
However, if the symptoms last for long, then the Kennel Cough treatment may include:
- Medications to stop coughing
- Vaporizers and nebulizers for respiratory support
About Kennel Cough Vaccine or Bordetella Vaccine:
The recommended age for the Bordetella vaccine is under 8 weeks and it should be given along with an infection control program prescribed by your vet.
Small puppies should be vaccinated with a minimum of three doses between the age of 6 and 8 weeks.
They should also take a second booster dose 4 weeks after their initial dose.
Rabies is one of the deadliest and most common viral diseases in dogs. It is because the virus directly attacks the Central Nervous System of your dog.
Cause of Rabies:
Rabies is spread when a healthy dog comes in contact with the saliva of the infected dog or other animals. Mostly, it happens due to animal bites.
Some of the animals that spread rabies are bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes.
So, if your dog comes in contact with them, try to be extremely cautious and watch out for symptoms in case he was bitten.
Symptoms of Rabies:
Rabies symptoms include:
- Excessive drooling (major symptom)
- Extreme sensitivity to various things, including light, sound, or touch
- Behavioral changes, i.e sudden aggression, shyness, hallucinations, disorientation, and self-mutilation
- Extremely high fever
Keep in mind that the symptoms may take around 10-14 days to appear. So, if you find any of them, make sure you consult your vet immediately and don’t come in contact with your dog.
Treatment of Rabies:
There’s no proper cure for Rabies at the moment nor any efficient treatment. Rabid dogs have to be kept in isolation to reduce the spread of infection.
However, there is a Rabies vaccine available.
About Rabies Vaccine:
Fortunately, in the US, all dogs have to be vaccinated for rabies when they are around 14 weeks old.
After your dog has taken their first dose at the age of 12-14 weeks, they should be given their second dose a week later.
If you’re wondering, “can a vaccinated dog get rabies?”, the answer is yes, they can. So, It is recommended to get your dog vaccinated every 3 years after the second dose.
Diabetes is a type of chronic disease in humans as well as animals, such as dogs and cats. This disease mostly occurs due to insulin imbalance in the body.
This disease doesn’t have a cure yet. However, with proper diet and exercise, you can prevent it from happening, or control it in case your pet is already suffering from the condition.
Dog Diabetes Causes:
The succeeding information can be a lot to take in, but please bear with me. Let me explain to you this condition so that you can provide the best care possible for your dog.
When the body doesn’t synthesize or utilize insulin properly, diabetes takes place. Now, there are mainly two types of Diabetes found in dogs such as:
- Insulin-deficiency Diabetes
As the name says, in this type of diabetes, the dog’s body may not produce enough insulin. This could be because of improper functioning of the liver.
This type of diabetes is the more common one.
- Insulin-resistance Diabetes
The second type is known as insulin-resistance diabetes. It is more common in obese or older dogs. This is important so you have to pay attention.
The dog’s body produces sufficient insulin. To thoroughly explain, the body doesn’t utilize it as the cells become unresponsive to insulin. This leads to the failure of extracting glucose out of the blood and into the cells. Thus, causing increased glucose content in the blood.
Dog Diabetes Symptoms:
Let’s understand some of the initial signs of dog diabetes:
- Excessive thirst
- Consistent weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Increased urination
If it gets severe, the symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
The last stage symptoms of untreated and uncontrolled diabetes are:
- Enlarged liver
- Kidney failure
Whew! I hope I have clearly explained it to you. So, it is extremely important that your pet goes through a diabetes test at least once a year for maximum dog care.
Dog Diabetes Treatment:
The three essential steps taken to treat diabetes in dogs are:
- Proper diet
- Insulin injections
As you may have realized, most of the above diseases are curable, except rabies and diabetes. Some of them even have vaccines available, as mentioned. However, each of the diseases may get fatal if you don’t get them checked immediately.
So, it becomes necessary to keep track of the symptoms, get your dog vaccinated regularly, and take some measures to prevent the onset of diseases. For additional dog care, you can also read the below tips.
Dog Care and Wellness: Easy Health Tips to Follow!
Dog care may seem like a tedious and tiring task. Yet, if you know exactly what to do and how to plan things for your dog, then you won’t have any problem dealing with it.
In dog care and wellness, everything from their dietary plans to their grooming and vet sessions is included. So, to get a detailed overview of how to take care of your dog, keep reading, and follow everything written below!
Find a Good Veterinary Doctor
We cannot stress enough how important it is to find a good veterinarian. But, how to know which one is the best?
First of all, we always recommend asking other people, especially your family and friends, about the vet you’re planning to consult.
Moreover, there are also some websites that list the performance of veterinarians in a specific neighborhood/location.
Keep in mind that you need to take your dog to the vet at least once or twice a year to ensure that he’ll be safe from any chronic diseases.
For an older dog, it should be once in 6 months. It could be more if your dog has underlying diseases.
Vaccinations and Treatment
If you want to protect your little good boy against all the harmful diseases and viruses, then you need to get him vaccinated.
Vaccinations have successfully prevented the deaths of millions of animals worldwide. They help your dog to steer clear of extremely harmful diseases. They also boost your dog’s immunity during infection spread.
You need to get them vaccinated for various types of diseases such as Kennel Cough, Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Rabies, Leptospirosis, and many more.
Additionally, you need to get your dog checked if they have heartworms, ticks, fleas, or intestinal parasites that cause discomfort. For treatment, there are chewable tablets present that can help in preventing parasite infestation. As for ticks, mites, and fleas, you can get skincare products that can help in their removal.
But, don’t forget, your vet’s advice should always be prioritized. Although there are home treatments, when you see that your dog’s condition is severe, professional help should be your number one option.
Apart from the usual vaccination and vet visits, you need to give proper and healthy food to your dog. If you give them the right one, you probably won’t have to worry about them getting sick often.
You need to ensure that your dog gets a balanced diet that includes nutrients such as:
- Proteins for strengthening the muscles and body tissues
- Fats for keeping your dog energetic and warm
- Fatty acids such as Omega-3 and 6 for your dog’s coat and skin
- Carbohydrates for better health of tissues
- Fiber for better digestion
- Vitamins and minerals for your dog’s immunity and overall body health
- Water for hydration as dogs may face danger even if they lose 10% of the water in their body
Apart from these, there are also different types of dog food available such as dry or wet food, raw or canned food, and organic or inorganic food.
To give you a general idea, if you want food that has more nutrients than water content, dry dog food is a better idea. Similarly, if you want to feed them less processed food, you can try out raw food than canned one.
Keep in mind that you may always want to go for organic food rather than inorganic as artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors can get harmful for your dog.
Now, this is important… depending on your dog’s size, choose the proper size of kibbles and amount for them.
Lastly, steer clear of ingredients such as chocolate, coffee, coconut, citrus, grapes, dairy products, nuts, and many more. These ingredients are harmful to dogs and may lead to poor dog care and health.
If you’re under the impression that grooming is just for fancy purposes, don’t be!
Regular grooming is extremely crucial especially if you have a long-haired dog. In this case, you need to brush their hair daily to prevent hair matts, and also ward off fleas and ticks.
As for short-haired dogs, brushing is required every one or two weeks.
You should also consider bathing your dog once a week or month (up to you). Make sure you don’t bathe them more than once a week as it could dry their skin and fur.
Lastly, always trim their nails to prevent the buildup of germs and fungal problems.
Exercising and House Training
I’m sure you’re with me on this one… You may already know that exercising and house training your puppy or dog is necessary for your dog’s health and wellness.
If you don’t exercise or walk your dog, they may develop behavioral issues and get lethargic.
Keep in mind that the amount of exercise needed depends on the breed of your dog.
For example, large dogs such as Labradors and Retrievers require more exercise for at least 60 minutes (two sets of 30 minutes each per day).
Small dogs such as Bulldogs and Shih Tzus don’t require a lot of exercising time, just one set of 30 minutes is fine.
On average, a dog may require 30 minutes to two hours of exercise.
Neutering or Spaying
Neutering or spaying your dog is also a form of dog care. It basically means to remove the reproductive organ of your dog. Now, this may seem like a cruel thing to do but in the long run, it has plenty of benefits.
Some dog care and health benefits of neutering include:
- Prevention of uterine infections and breast tumors in female dogs
- Prevention of prostate problems and testicular cancer in male dogs
- Your female dog won’t go in heat and urinate too often
- Your male dog will become less aggressive and also remain disciplined
If you want your dog to stay healthy, you must always monitor their symptoms. It is because many dog diseases have the same initial symptoms. For instance, a simple cough can actually be kennel cough.
Moreover, if you don’t observe the symptoms, your dog’s condition could lead to serious health issues due to complications. This can make it harder for them to recover. Sometimes, their health may also get to the point where there’s almost no hope.
So, always look out for some common symptoms indicating diseases such as persistent fatigue, vomiting, urination problems, refusal to eat, etc.
You can easily check for any symptoms in your dog that may indicate poor dog care by following our pet symptom checker section. If unsure, visit your vet.
Getting a Dog Health Insurance
Lastly, we totally recommend getting dog insurance. Keep in mind that while dog insurance is a bit expensive, it is beneficial in case your dog got into an accident or acquired a serious illness. You won’t worry about the expenses you need to shell out in order for him to get the best medical treatment.
If you have the best dog insurance, you can easily afford treatment from the best veterinarian without any worries.
Moreover, a dog’s medical insurance can also prevent you from breaking your life-long savings or your peace of mind!
Old Dog Health Care and Wellness
Now, you may already know almost everything related to young pups and dogs. But, what about old dogs? Do they show any signs of aging? What are the common diseases in them?
An old dog definitely shows many signs of aging. Moreover, they are also susceptible to various chronic illnesses. Due to this reason, it becomes essential to know everything about old dog health care and wellness.
When Are Dogs Considered Senior?
Most humans are considered seniors around 55-65 years of age. But, dogs have a much faster metabolism and a different genetic composition. Owing to these two factors, they turn older much faster.
To give you an example, a one-year-old dog can be equivalent to a fifteen-year-old human!
Statistics show that dogs usually turn seniors in the last 25% of their life span. Still, there is no ‘fixed age’ for a dog turning senior. This age keeps varying depending on mainly three things – size, breed, and susceptibility to diseases.
Eg: Shih Tzu, Beagle, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund
Small breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. One theory is because larger breeds have an accelerated aging rate. This fastened growth may lead to chronic illnesses such as cancer.
Thus, small breeds may reach old age when they turn around 11 years old.
Eg: Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Standard Poodle, Retriever
Medium breeds aren’t as healthy as small breeds but they also don’t face chronic illnesses as much as larger breeds do.
Due to this, medium breeds may enter the senior phase around the age of 9-10.
Eg: Bulldog, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Siberian Husky, Newfoundland
Because of the increased rate of aging and growth, large breeds may encounter a lot of chronic illnesses. Most of these breeds are also at risk of turning obese as they grow old and attracting obesity-related diseases.
So, they may turn senior earlier than the other two breeds. For instance, large breeds turn senior at the age of 8 whereas giant breeds, like Great Dane, may become senior when they are 7 years old.
In each individual category too, senior age variations may occur depending on whether or not a particular breed is susceptible to diseases or not. For this, consider checking our healthiest and weakest dog breeds section.
Signs That Your Dog is Getting Old
As dogs turn old, they may experience some of the signs of aging. These can either be physical or behavioral signs.
But, unlike humans, these are not extremely noticeable. Hence, if you feel like your dog might be turning old, given below are some of the signs you should definitely look out for.
Physical Signs of Aging
Eyesight Problems or Eye Cloudiness
As dogs grow old, they face some common eyesight problems such as cloudiness or nuclear sclerosis.
In nuclear sclerosis, your dog’s eye may develop a type of bluish transparent haze which can cause difficulty in seeing. This happens due to the degeneration of lens fibers in your dog’s eye as they grow up.
So, you will often notice your dog running into things. They may also be unable to locate their things, such as toys.
Sometimes, eye cloudiness might also be because of a cataract, another type of eye problem in older dogs. Now, if you want to find out whether it is a cataract or nuclear sclerosis, it is better to pay a visit to your vet.
Most of the dogs have stinky breath throughout their lifetime. However, if your dog never had it and is suddenly developing bad breath, it might be because of developing tooth decay problems or gum diseases.
Tooth decay and gum diseases are yet another common sign of aging in dogs. It is because unlike humans, dogs don’t have a proper brushing routine. This leads to an increased amount of infections that he couldn’t fight off.
Another scientific reason is that dogs have an alkaline mouth which stimulates the formation of plaque as they grow up. This may also contribute to increased teeth and gum-related problems.
Other than bad breath, you may want to look out for other symptoms of tooth problems such as increased plaque, loss of appetite, and swollen gums.
One of the most common signs of aging in dogs is mobility difficulties.
These mobility problems may stem from joint degeneration which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. Sometimes, it may also be because of arthritis where there is joint inflammation.
Due to this reason, you will often find your dog sitting in one place rather than moving out and about. Moreover, they will also be less excited about their morning/evening walks.
During such times, it becomes necessary that you observe your dog well as most of them tend to hide any pain they are feeling.
As dogs become old, they become inactive. So, they won’t exercise as much as they used to before. Due to this, they won’t burn a lot of calories or fat in their body. This may contribute to the increasing weight.
Some of them might also gain weight if they are developing any underlying disease, such as hypothyroidism, arthritis, and Cushing’s Disease.
Keep in mind that a few older dogs may lose weight because of the below reasons:
- Loss of appetite due to underlying diseases
- Reduced absorption of nutrients
- Reduced muscle mass
- Digestive illnesses
So, if you notice your dog losing 10% of their total body weight in just a few months, make sure you take them to a vet.
Similarly, if their weight is constantly increasing without any pre-existing health condition, your dog might be getting old and developing an illness.
Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control in dogs is a common sign of aging in old dogs.
You may find that despite house training your dog, they are unable to hold their pee because of which they’re having more frequent indoor incidents. Some of them might also have to strain while doing their business.
Now, if you see this happening all of a sudden, don’t shout at your dog. The truth is that they might be getting into their senior years and losing control over their bladder.
If you see that they are experiencing pain while urinating, it could be because of urinary tract infection or kidney problems.
Loss of Senses
Lastly, some dogs may lose their senses partially or fully. For instance, eye cloudiness or cataract problems may lead to the partial/full loss of eyesight. Some may even lose their sense of hearing.
So, as they lose their senses, there might be some changes in their reactions. For instance, if they see a stranger approaching them, they may get startled and become aggressive. Because of their reduced senses, they do not immediately notice that a person is coming towards them.
Similarly, if you touch them all of a sudden, they might get frightened.
Behavioral or Mental Signs of Aging
Other than physical changes, you may also notice some behavioral and mental signs of aging such as:
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Unstable or confused behavior
- Failure to follow any commands
- Lack of enthusiasm for activities they once loved
- Increased barking
- Repetitive actions
- Developing fear of some familiar people and their things
- Lack of energy while greeting you
All of the above signs may stem from some or the other underlying diseases. So, it becomes your duty to take your senior dog to a vet to get them examined.
Your vet can diagnose any disease, provide proper treatment and medication to prevent the problem from getting severe. They can also help in planning a proper diet and routine for your dog to reduce the risk of any chronic illnesses.
Common Health Problems In Old Dogs
Old age in senior dogs is one of the most crucial periods of their life as they are constantly under the risk of developing life-threatening diseases. It is because as they grow old, they lose their immunity to fight diseases.
Thus, it becomes important to know which are the common health problems that can affect your dog’s life quality as well as their life span.
Many older dogs suffer from degenerative joint problems, mainly osteoarthritis, and arthritis as they grow up. It is because the cartilage cushioning and protecting your dog’s joints deteriorate. Hence, the term ‘degenerative joint problems’.
If your dog has arthritis, you may find their body quite stiff. You’d also notice their reluctance to play games or go for a walk. Sometimes, they may limp. As the symptoms advance, your dog may become restless, lethargic, and may whine during exercising out of pain.
So, if you notice any signs, it is time to take your dog to the vet. As of now, there’s no sure-shot cure for joint problems. Yet, making some diet and lifestyle changes, such as giving your dog special food made for senior dogs and reducing exercising time, can help.
Cancer is a common illness in senior dogs, especially those of the larger breeds. It is also one of the leading causes of death in dogs above 10 years. It happens when your dog’s body cells start growing abnormally. The actual cause of cancer is still unknown.
If your dog is developing cancer, they may start getting abnormal swellings or lumps on their body. You may also notice that their wounds aren’t healing and they’re losing weight rapidly. Their appetite may significantly decrease and they may also develop constipation and urinary problems for a long amount of time.
Currently, there’s no proper cure for cancer either. But, with the help of various treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the cancerous tumors and cells can be destroyed. So, if you feel paranoid, it is best to get your dog checked.
One of the most common cardiac problems in dogs includes congestive heart failure. In this disease, the dog’s heart doesn’t pump out blood efficiently.
Due to this reason, they may develop various problems such as excessive coughing and fatigue, breathing difficulties, vomiting, restlessness, and sudden fainting. So, if you notice these symptoms, contact your vet right away as they may indicate a heart problem.
Most dogs having congestive heart failure may only live around for 6 to 14 months more. Medical intervention is necessary. Depending on the root cause, your vet may suggest medication or surgery. Additionally, supplements such as taurine, vitamin B, or carnitine are proven helpful.
As dogs grow old, they become inactive and gain weight. This leads to obesity in senior dogs.
Obesity is the root cause for many chronic problems in dogs, be it heart issues, diabetes mellitus, or arthritis. Moreover, an obese dog may also become more lethargic and may have difficulty in breathing too.
So, it becomes necessary to curb it with the help of an age-appropriate diet plan offering balanced nutrients and regular exercising.
Aging dogs often face the brunt of gastrointestinal problems. Your dog may have some accidents in your house or may have to strain while peeing or pooping. They may even vomit sometimes.
Now, these problems aren’t always serious but some of them may even point towards kidney problems or urinary tract infections in dogs.
Some kidney problems cannot be treated. Yet, various treatment options such as dialysis, medication, proper diet plans, and fluid therapy, may help in prolonging your dog’s life quality and duration too.
As for urinary tract infections, the treatment is usually based on the underlying cause. For example, if it is related to a kidney problem or bladder stones, then the treatment is given based on that.
Eyesight and Hearing Loss
Eyesight and hearing problems are common in old dogs.
One of the most common eyesight problems is a cataract in which the eye lens develops a cloudy layer. Due to this, your dog may suffer from partial or full blindness.
The cause of cataracts is mostly hereditary.
As a result of aging and tissue degeneration, most dogs may lose their sense of hearing. As prevention, clean your dog’s ear at least once a month.
Lastly, keep in mind that not all health problems in old dogs are physical. Some may develop cognitive or mental problems too.
For instance, senior dogs develop canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), a type of memory loss similar to dementia.
A dog having CCD may seem disoriented and confused most of the time. They may also seem lost or restless in even familiar surroundings, such as their own house. Sometimes, a few dogs may have some bathroom accidents too. So, if you notice any of these problems in your dog, it is best to take them to a vet.
Right now, there’s no cure for dementia, but certain medications and enhanced diet may help to slow down its progression
So, as you can see most of the illnesses in dogs are incurable. But, if you take your dog for regular vet visits, and get them proper medication right from the start, they may overcome any health problem!
How to Take Care of an Old Dog?
As you saw, the immunity of old dogs decreases significantly. Hence, they also become inactive and may develop some chronic diseases.
So, as the owner of a senior dog, it is crucial to take the extra steps that are required to keep your pet away from all the diseases. Moreover, you should try to make them feel comfortable and loved even when they are not in their best shape anymore.
Follow the below tips to get a clear understanding of how you can do it.
Give Your Dog A Proper Diet
The very first change that you need to make as your dog grows old is to give them an age-appropriate diet.
As you may know, dogs tend to gain weight as they become inactive growing up. Thus, it becomes essential that you provide them with a balanced diet to reduce the risk of obesity and its related diseases.
To find a healthy diet, you may want to consider consulting your vet. A vet can examine your dog’s health and accordingly, prepare a well-balanced diet.
Help Them Maintain Their Health
It’s essential that you help your senior dog to maintain their health. For this, you need to continue exercising them for at least 10-20 minutes a day. Regularly exercising and taking your senior dog outside for walks can help in reducing arthritis and other joint-related diseases.
Now, you have to be extremely patient as senior dogs don’t have a lot of stamina. Due to this, they may take more time to cover a specific distance in comparison to when they were young.
Don’t Forget Vet Visits
Keep in mind that you need to take your dog to the vet at least once in 6 months.
It is because older dogs are much more susceptible to serious and chronic illnesses compared to their younger peers. Moreover, they also lack immunity which makes them vulnerable to infections.
So, if your dog suffers from any disease, the vet can check them and provide them medications right from the start. This can help in curing any disease at the base level and prevent it from getting serious.
As for vaccinations, most senior dog owners don’t get their senior dog vaccinated if they were vaccinated young. But, if you want you can consult your vet regarding it. Another thing you can try is a titer test which can determine if your dog is immunized against a particular disease or not.
Dental Health Is Important
As you may have read above, poor dental health is one of the major signs of aging in dogs. Due to this reason, it becomes essential that you take extra care of their dental health.
To do this, all you need to do is wash their teeth every day to get rid of germs. But, if your old dog hates getting its mouth washed, you can consider giving them some dental treats too.
Lastly, consider getting their teeth cleaned by a vet once a year to get rid of any dental caries and other tooth-related problems.
Groom Them Regularly
Old dogs become a storehouse of parasites, such as ticks and mites, if they aren’t cleaned properly. Moreover, your senior dog may also have dry, flaky, and irritated skin that may make them feel itchy and annoyed. Thus, it becomes necessary that you consider grooming your dog.
To groom them well, regularly brush their fur to get rid of any tangled hair or hair mats. Additionally, you can also use a natural shampoo that can help in nourishing your dog’s hair and give it a shiny glow again
Give Them Proper Accommodation
Many older dogs develop problems, such as Arthritis and partial/full blindness too. Because of this, it becomes necessary that you offer them comfortable accommodation.
For instance, if your dog suffers from arthritis or any joint problem, make sure you keep their bed in a low-lying area. So, if you have a two-storeyed house and their bed is upstairs, consider bringing it downstairs. This way they wouldn’t have to jump, climb, and strain their joints.
Additionally, you can also make use of rugs and carpets, so that your Arthritic dog can walk comfortably without straining its legs.
If you feel like your dog may suffer from blindness, make sure that you help them to navigate through the house. Also, don’t move or rearrange the furniture. This may confuse their dog and make them bump into things!
So, try to understand the potential risks of diseases in old dogs, and provide them with the required preventative measures.
Final Thoughts on Dog Care and Wellness
Dog care and wellness may have been a time-consuming and confusing concept for you. However, with all the above information, you don’t have to worry about it anymore!
Keeping in mind these instructions can prevent your dog from getting infected with any harmful diseases.
Have them vaccinated for all the major diseases at the correct time. Additionally, keep track of their symptoms, and get them to the vet.
Lastly, with these effective dog care tips, you can ensure that your dog remains physically and mentally fit. Thus, living a happy, healthy, and long life under your warmth and protection!