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Common health issues with dogs

Flea comb - has very small, close together teeth
Flea comb - has very small, close together teeth
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Most people love their dogs, but unfortunately many people do not recognize some of the more common health related issues necessary to keep your dog healthy. The most obvious of course are fleas and ticks. Today we have products that can keep them in control. However, even those products cannot prevent itching in dogs that are allergic to flea bites. Ticks can infect a dog with a number of diseases as well. Therefore it is always a good idea after your dog has been outside, to check your dog for ticks and fleas. A Flea comb is handy for this. If you use the flea comb and find small black dots, place one in a drop of water. If it turns blood red it is flea droppings and that means your dog has more than an occasional flea. It is time for a treatment. A Tick Key is the best way to remove ticks from a dog. This device will prevent the tick from regurgitating which will infect the dog with any disease that the tick has. Signs of flea infestation can be itching, hair loss, hot spots or bald sores.

Ear infections are another common problem, especially in dogs that have drop ears such as spaniels. If your dog likes to swim, it is a good idea to clean the ear after swimming or a bath. I like to use Derma Pet Ear and Skin Cleanser which helps dry the ear. If your dog has long ears using this product every week or two will help prevent ear infections. Signs of ear infections are frequent shaking of the head, pain when touching the ear, a foul smell (learn what your dog’s healthy ear smells like) loss of balance, frequent scratching of the ear and back and forth eye movement. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection take him to the veterinarian immediately. Ear infections are very painful.

Infected Anal Sacs are another overlooked problem. If you see drainage by the anus, frequent biting at the rump/tail, scooting or a foul odor, it could be an infected anal sac. This again should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Worms are another common problem. If your dog is bitten by a flea, he can get tape worm, which the monthly heartworm medications do not prevent. It is a good idea to have a stool sample checked by a veterinarian every six months if your dog is outdoors a great deal. You should collect a tiny sample for three days in a row and bring that to your veterinarian. Some species of worms only show up every three days so a one day sample may miss them. Signs of worm infestation can be bloody stools and/or diarrhea, poor coat quality, change in appetite, weight loss, scooting and in some cases, you can see the worms in the stools. Do not try to worm the dog yourself with over the counter worming medications. The dog should be treated by a veterinarian.

Periodontal Disease is a greater risk in older dogs but all dogs can get it. Unfortunately the damage that can be done to the dog is not always curable. Dogs can get heart attacks and die from the bacteria if it gets into the bloodstream. Loss of teeth can also be a result. Prevention is the name of the game in this case. Brushing your dog’s teeth at least every other day and keeping a careful eye on their teeth is important. Dogs can chip a tooth when playing with hard objects. If you notice inflammation, bad odor, excessive salivation, or difficulty chewing or swallowing it could be sign of tooth or gum problems in dogs. Prevention should include regular cleaning by a veterinarian. The frequency of the cleaning will depend upon your dog’s diet as well as his genetic makeup. Dogs like people, vary in how often they need to have their teeth cleaned. Never use human toothpaste to brush a dog’s teeth, it is poisonous to dogs. Only use a tooth paste or gel made for dogs.