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Dogs

Good advice for dog owners from Haughley & Thurston Vets

Behaviour

Good relationships between dogs and their owners are based on good communication. Between each other, dogs communicate in a number of ways, but their body language is one of the most important. It's only natural, then, that they'll use the same methods to communicate with people.

Improving communication between you and your dog

Understanding your dog's behaviour and its body language forms an important building block for happy pet ownership. A well-adjusted and controllable dog that interacts well with people, other animals and its environment is a joy.

Learning about how dogs communicate through body language will help you understand your dog's needs, and will help you teach him or her how to behave appropriately.

Good behaviour should be rewarded

Parents often don't remember to praise their children when they behave well, yet will never forget to tell them when they do not. We tend to do the same with our pets. We ignore them when they are quiet and well behaved and pay them attention only when they behave inappropriately. It's often best to do the reverse - praise and reward desired behaviour, and ignore the unwanted.

First Steps: Teaching your dog how to sit

One of the most important lessons your puppy or dog should learn is that he or she must sit before interacting with you or any other human. You can easily teach a puppy or even a mature dog to sit. Dogs can learn at any age, as long as lessons are repeated often enough and teaching sessions are short and fun.

Step 1

  • To begin, take a very special food treat, like a small piece of cheese, and hold it between two fingers.
  • Place this hand close to the front of your dog's nose.

Step 2

  • Raise the hand above his/her nose and then backwards. Your dog's head will move to follow the treat.
  • Eventually, your dog will sit, because it will be more comfortable.

Step 3

  • As soon as this is done, say "sit" and give your dog a treat.
  • As a dog always connects what they are doing with what you are doing at the same time, they'll associate the action of sitting with the word "sit" and a reward - at this stage, the food treat.

Tips to stop your dog jumping up and barking

Dogs, just like humans, are social animals and need interaction with others. So withholding your attention is a very effective passive punishment. For example, if your dog jumps up at you or barks excessively, cross your arms, turn your head away and remain absolutely silent until they stop jumping or barking. Don't try to push them away, look at or talk to them. They'll interpret any of these actions on your part as attention, or even play.

When your pet does finally calm down and sit, reward them with your undivided attention and a treat of some kind.

If, in the past, you allowed your puppy or dog to gain your attention by barking or jumping up on you, you must realise that if you subsequently decide to ignore such behaviour, your pet will only try longer and harder to regain that attention. An analogy in human terms would be a person who presses the button of an elevator whose doors do not open. He or she will press the button repeatedly, before giving up and walking down the stairs.

For success - to fully change your dog's behaviour - you must ignore, and outlast, all their efforts.

Eye contact exercises for your dog

Dogs do react to eye contact. Call your puppy or dog by his or her name. As soon as they look at you, you should give them a special treat. Repeating this simple exercise at any time will teach your pet that it is worthwhile to pay attention to you. In fact, calling your pet's name is an effective way of interrupting, and thus eliminating, unwanted behaviour.

Making an unusual sound is another way of interrupting their activity. Once your dog is paying attention to you, you can ask them to come or sit.

How to play with your dog

Puppies and dogs need to exercise and play and to have contact and interaction with both people and other dogs. Old slippers and socks are not suitable playthings. They should be taught to play with toys only and should learn that human hands, feet or any other body part are not toys.

If your pet grabs a hand or foot, either intentionally or accidentally, such behaviour should be interrupted either by withholding your attention (ignoring them) or by making a high-pitched "ouch" sound. As soon as they let go, offer a large toy and resume playing.

Dental Care

With major advances in treating serious infectious and other pet diseases, oral disease - most importantly periodontal or gum disease caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar - has become the number-one health problem for dogs.

It is estimated that without proper dental care 70% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by the age of three. With your help, your pets can have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.

Tips for better dog dental care

To look after your dog's teeth, is relatively simple based on:

  • A nutritious diet
  • Chew treats
  • Regular brushing at home
  • Yearly dental check-ups by a veterinary surgeon

The right diet to keep your dog's teeth healthy

The wrong kinds of food can lead to dental disease in your dog. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar.

Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation.

Your vet may recommend the use of dental diet, a specially formulated dry fooddesigned to reduce plaque and tartar build-up, especially if a dog is prone to dental problems related to its breed or individual genetic history.

How to brush your dog's teeth

Dogs need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age.

Even older dogs can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience a positive one for your pet.

Reassure and praise them profusely throughout the process and reward them with a very special treat when it's finished.

  • Step 1: Start by dipping a finger in beef paste. Rub this finger gently over your pet's gums and one or two teeth. Repeat until your pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.
  • Step 2: Gradually introduce a gauze-covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular motion.
  • Step 3: Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people or a special pet tooth-brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small brush built in at its tip.
  • Step 4: Finally, once your pet is used to having his or her teeth brushed, you can start using a pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride - ask your veterinary surgeon for his/her recommendations.

Don't use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet's stomach. Your vet may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.

Book a yearly dental check up for your dog

Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will help maintain teeth and gums in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need to start with a clean bill of dental health.

Your vet will give your dog a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are any underlying problems and, especially important, tartar build-up.

Brushing removes plaque but not tartar, so if your dog's teeth do have tartar, your veterinary surgeon will have to remove it with a professional clean and polish, usually accomplished under anaesthesia.

After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your veterinary surgeon will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.

Do's and Don'ts to improve your dog's teeth

  • Chew treats, including hard meat-protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help remove plaque, and provide stimulation for the gums.
  • Watch out for wood - throwing sticks for dogs can result in splinters and gum damage. Pieces of wood can even become stuck in the roof of the mouth, perforate the oesophagus or if they manage to get into the gut, cause an obstruction.
  • Don't let your pet chew on hard materials like cooked bones or stones. They can wear down, even break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection or be swallowed and lead to blockages.

Did you know?

Puppies develop their deciduous teeth at two weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth starting to appear at three months.

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which your dog's pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin. It is estimated that approximately one in 500 dogs and cats in the UK develop the disease.

Middle aged to older dogs are more prone to developing the condition and un-spayed bitches are most commonly affected, however certain dog breeds including Australian Terriers, Bichon Frises, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Keeshonden, Poodles (toy, miniature and standard), Pugs, Samoyeds and Schnauzers (both miniature and standard) are at increased risk.

What does insulin do?

Every time your dog eats a meal, glucose is absorbed from the intestines and enters the bloodstream. Glucose (sugar) is the essential fuel of the body's cells and is needed for these cells to work and so for the body to function. At the same time, insulin is released by your dog's pancreas.

Insulin allows the glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter cells (e.g. liver, kidney, and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy and growth. Think of insulin as a key that unlocks a door to let glucose into the cells. Insulin lowers blood glucose and allows it to enter cells, where it is used to produce energy.

What happens in dogs without enough insulin?

In diabetic dogs, the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes). Without insulin, glucose is no longer able to leave the bloodstream to be used as energy by the body's cells and the glucose in the blood will rise to an abnormally high level.

The level will become so high that glucose overflows into the urine and your dog's urine will contain glucose.

The body's cells cannot utilise the glucose they depend upon for energy. In order to compensate for this, other 'abnormal' energy producing processes start-up which do not depend on glucose (such as fat break-down).

Unfortunately, these processes eventually create toxic by-products that can make your dog very sick.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

Contact your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.

Signs to look for are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Deteriorating coat condition
  • Lethargy or lack of energy

Can canine diabetes be treated?

Your vet will discuss treatment options depending on the extent of the diabetes. This could include dietary changes as well as considering insulin injections to replace the insulin that your dog's pancreas can no longer produce.

A good quality of life can be restored for the majority of diabetic pets given insulin treatment and appropriate care.

For further information on diabetes, simply phone your vet to book a pet health check or visit www.diabeticpets.co.uk.

Diseases

Being aware of the infectious and in some cases potentially fatal diseases your dog can catch at any age is a vital part of dog ownership. Spotting the signs that your pet is unwell and in need of veterinary care will not only help you give your dog a long, happy and healthy life. Knowing when to call your vet for advice and support could even save your dog’s life in an emergency. Understanding how dog diseases are transmitted will also help give you the information you need on how to protect your dog and prevent the spread of dangerous disease.

Babesiosis (from ticks) is most commonly seen in France but increasingly British dogs who travel are at risk. Signs include a high temperature, blood in the urine and lethargy.

Ehrlichiosis is also a tick-borne disease. Infection with this parasite can cause anaemia, immunosuppression and compromise the blood's clotting ability. This disease is considered as deadly as babesiosis. Ehrlichiosis has an acute, subclinical and chronic phase. The acute phase starts with fever, anorexia, vomiting, swollen glands and bleeding problems (nose bleeds). This phase can take up to four weeks. Most dogs will survive this phase.

Canine Coronavirus is a potentially fatal virus that causes diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss.

Canine Parvovirus is highly contagious and symptoms include bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. The disease can be fatal especially in puppies and young dogs.

Distemper is caused by a virus and like Canine Parvovirus is also extremely contagious. Signs include coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Canine Hepatitis affects the liver with signs including fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Lyme Disease can develop after a tick bite, signs include joint pain, fatigue, depression, excessive thirst and loss of appetite. 

Rabies is a fatal disease caught from a bite or scratch by an infected animal. Rabies is found on mainland Europe and is a risk to pets travelling abroad from the UK.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial illness transmitted in the urine of infected wild animals such as rats. This can be a silent killer and may lead to kidney or liver failure.

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious infection caused by the Bordetella virus with symptoms including a severe, honking cough, nasal discharge and watery eyes.

Heartworm disease is caused by damage from the adult worms once they get into the blood vessels of a dog's lungs. The worms cause the blood vessels to swell and become scarred. As the blood vessels shrink in diameter, blood flow becomes restricted and blood pressure begins to rise. Eventually, the increasing blood pressure will lead to heart failure. Signs may take several years to manifest and include soft cough, tiredness, weakness, loss of weight and condition.

Ear & Eye Conditions

Your dog’s ears and eyes can be at risk of infection. Monitoring any changes and talking to your vet if you spot any signs for concern will help protect your dog’s sight and hearing. The dog’s long ear canal can be vulnerable to bacterial infection. Watch out for any redness or discharge such as yellow pus which can be a sign of an allergy or infection. Changes to the eye, such as redness or watery discharge should be checked with your vet as they can both be the signs of infection that needs treatment or even a more serious condition that may lead to blindness.
 

Dry Eye

Dry-eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a common condition which reduces and eventually stops tear production. One in 22 dogs is affected and this figure is even higher for certain breeds.

What breeds are most at risk of dry-eye?

  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Shih-Tzu

However, any breed, at any age, can be affected

What causes dry-eye in dogs?

The condition is almost always caused by destruction of the tear glands by the dog's own immune system. Damage to the tear gland is irreversible, and eventually it is destroyed completely. This means the animal cannot produce enough tears. Dry-eye is a painful and potentially blinding eye disease, and needs lifelong treatment.

What are the symptoms of dry-eye?

  • Eyes red and inflamed
  • Uncomfortable eyes - your dog may rub its eyes, blink excessively or keep the eyes closed
  • Discharge from the eyes, seen in the corner or over the surface of the eye
  • Dry looking eyes
  • Pigment on the surface of the eye
  • Frequent eye infection or defects in the surface of the eye known as ulceration (more than two per year)

Testing dogs for dry-eye

However, in many cases the eyes can look quite normal despite very low tear production, and on-going destruction of the tear glands. For this reason, it is important to test dogs showing any of the signs above, and to test commonly affected breeds regularly. It is very important to diagnose the condition early, as treatments are less effective in advanced cases and fewer changes to the eye will have developed.

Diagnosis of dry-eye is generally straight forward and is based on measuring tear production with a simple Schirmer Tear Test. This is a simple test which does not require an anaesthetic and the results are available immediately.

How is dry-eye treated?

Your dog must have treatment for dry-eye for the rest of its life, to prevent discomfort and undesirable changes developing, including blindness. Regular check-ups with your vet are an important part of this treatment.

Your vet may prescribe a treatment which prevents further autoimmune destruction of the tear glands (and so preserves their natural function of producing tears) and also increases the production of natural tears and reduces painful inflammation.

If you think your dog is showing any of the signs above or may have dry-eye, book a check-up now by contacting your vet.

For further information, visit www.dog-dry-eye.co.uk.
 

Eye Care

A healthy dog's eyes should be clear, bright and free from dirt, discharge and inflammation (redness) and the whites of the eye should be white not red or yellow.

What are the symptoms of eye problems in dogs?

Common symptoms of eye problems in dogs include:

  • Red inner eyelids
  • Matter 'stuck' on the surface or in the corners of the eye
  • Cloudiness within the eyeball
  • A dull eye surface
  • The 'third eyelid' coming across the eye which looks like a pink curtain or fold of membrane
  • Excessive tearing or unusual discharges
  • Tear-stained fur around the eyes

Eye tests used to diagnose eye problems in dogs include:

  • Fluorescein stain to identify the presence of corneal ulcers or defects in the surface of the eye
  • Schirmer Tear Test to determine the level of tear production
  • Ocular pressure to detect glaucoma
  • Ophthalmoscope to see in the eye chamber
  • Common eye conditions in dogs
  • Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the inner lining of the eyelids. This inflammation may extend to involve the white of the eye. It may be caused by allergies or by bacterial, fungal or viral infections.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca ('Dry eye') occurs when the tear glands do not produce enough tears. This results in recurrent or chronic conjunctivitis - persistently sore eyes - and if left untreated, may eventually lead to blindness. The sooner your dog is treated the better the prognosis so get them to the vet sooner rather than later. Certain breeds, such as West Highland White Terriers, Cavalier King Charles and Cocker Spaniels, seem to be more prone to this problem, though any dog may be affected.
  • Dogs which have been diagnosed with diabetes are a prime suspect if they have sore eyes.
  • Corneal Ulceration can occur when the shiny surface of the cornea is scratched or damaged leading to defects in the eye which are not always visible to the naked eye. Ulceration can be dangerous as it could lead to complete perforation of the surface of the eye, therefore it is always important to get your dog to a vet if they have sore eyes.
  • Epiphora occurs If your cat's eyes constantly "weep",due to an increased tear production or the normal tear flow through the tear duct is blocked. The fur around the eyes becomes "stained"due to the constant wetting effect which is often the sign that owners notice more often as a consequence of the problem.
  • Cataracts & Glaucoma Dogs, just like humans, can have these serious eye diseases. Cataracts, which cloud the lens inside the eye can sometimes be seen in elderly dogs. A thorough evaluation by your veterinary surgeon is necessary as surgery is the only treatment.
  • Glaucoma stems from too much pressure being exerted upon the eye's interior as a result of a decrease in the amount of fluid draining from it. This increased pressure can damage the sensitive retina inside the eye which can lead to blindness.

How to put eye drops into your dog's eyes

  • In some cases you may need to muzzle your dog.
  • Remove any discharge from around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with warm water.
  • See the instructions on the bottle for dosage. Shake if necessary.
  • Use one hand to hold the bottle between thumb and index finger and place the other under your dog's jaw to support the head.
  • Tilt the head back and, to prevent blinking, use your free fingers to hold the eyelids open.
  • Hold the bottle close to the eye but DON'T touch the eye's surface.
  • Squeeze the drops onto the eye and once the drops are in, release the head.
  • Your dog will blink, spreading the medication over the eye's surface.
  • Make a fuss or give your dog a treat after application

How to put eye ointment into your dog's eyes

  • In some cases you may need to muzzle your dog.
  • Remove any discharge from around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with warm water.
  • Check the instructions on the tube for dosage.
  • Gently pull back upper and lower eyelids.
  • Holding the tube parallel to the lower eyelid, squeeze the ointment on to its edge. DON'T let the tube touch the eye's surface.
  • Lightly massage upper and lower eyelids together to spread the medication.
  • Release the head. Let your dog blink.
  • Make a fuss or give your dog a treat after application


Ear Disease

Ear disease or Otitis Externa means inflammation of the outer part of the ear passage (also known as the external ear canal). It is a very common condition and particularly so in dogs. However it is a complex disease which is often due to a number of triggers.

How to detect an ear infection in your dog

Unfortunately our pets can't tell us when they have a problem, so it is the responsibility of all of us, the owners, to recognise signs of ill health.

Ear disease can manifest itself in many ways:

  • Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear and head
  • Rubbing the head on the floor or sofa
  • Unpleasant odour
  • Sensitivity to the touch - may cry out when ear touched
  • Shaking of the head or tilting head to one side
  • Black or yellow discharge in the ear
  • Accumulation of dark brown wax
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap
  • Changes in behaviour such as lethargy, depression or irritability
  • Loss of hearing or balance and disorientation
  • Bleeding from the ear

So what causes ear disease in dogs?

The ear canal provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeasts. However these organisms in their own right do not actually cause ear disease. They are what we term opportunists and they make the most of the situation created by other factors.

There are many causes of ear disease. Common triggers include:

  • Anatomy of the Ear - especially droopy 'spaniel type' ears
  • Foreign bodies - grass seeds in the summer
  • Ear mites - more common in cats
  • Tumours
  • Allergic skin disease. Atopy triggered by a sensitivity to aeroallergens such as house dust mites and pollens is one example in which the ears are one of the body regions which are particularly prone to inflammation and itch
  • Swimming can lead to wetting of the ear canal. Recurrent wetting will change the microclimate to favour infection.
  • Bathing with the introduction of water into the ear canal. Always avoid the ears at bath time.

How is ear disease in dogs treated?

Ear disease is treated in a number of ways Ð dependant on the underlying cause and how long-standing it is. Your vet will recommend an appropriate regime that will best suit your pet. This may include an ear cleaner as well as a topical medication to use at home.

Recurrent and neglected cases may require surgery to help manage the problems so it is always wise to attend to ear problems as soon as they are noted. A really important aspect of maintaining healthy ears is keeping your dog's ears clean.

Animals that are prone to ear disease can really benefit from regular cleaning of their ears. This does not need to be performed any more frequently than every 48 hours. Your vet can advise you of the correct regime for your pet.

Sancerum is a cleaner that can be used to maintain healthy ears. It helps to break down the wax and debris that can develop in your pet's ears. It also has a drying agent which stops the ears from getting soggy - this helps to keep the numbers of bacteria and yeasts under control.

Other common ear problems in dogs

Grass seeds stuck in the ears
Grass seeds can be troublesome in the summer months. They can easily work their way down the ear canal and become trapped. They cause your pet considerable pain and discomfort as well as allowing bacteria and yeasts to invade. This then causes further pain and distress and the cycle continues.

Other factors include ear mites which are found in the external ear canal, especially in cats, and cause considerable irritation and itching. Tumours can block the canal allowing wax and debris to accumulate. Swimming dogs get dirty water in their ears which results in a bacteria rich moist environment.

Ear mites in dogs
Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious, often spreading from dog to dog. Excessive itching is the most common sign. Ear mites create dark, crumbly debris that look like coffee grinds.

Haematoma
A Haematoma of the ear flap means blood has accumulated in the ear flap (pinna) due to vigorous head shaking or trauma to the ear flap which causes the small blood vessels to leak. This may be due to an underlying inflammatory or itchy condition either related to the ear or elsewhere on the body. Fleas are always an important consideration in such cases.

Deafness in dogs
Deafness is usually brought on by age, trauma, loud noise or infection but can also be hereditary or congenital. Unfortunately, once diagnosed in your dog, clinical deafness is a lifelong condition.

Contact your vet

If you notice any of these signs then you should contact the practice to make an appointment with one of the vets. It is very important that a vet examines inside your pet's ears to check the canal thoroughly. Putting drops into the ears without them having been checked by a vet can cause further complications if for example the ear drum has ruptured or there is a foreign body present.


Ear Care

Healthy ears should be clean, odour-free, pale pink in colour and with a minimal accumulation of wax. You should check your dog's ears regularly.

Ear disease in dogs

Some breeds of dog are more susceptible to ear infection than others, including dogs with pendulous ears, for example the cocker spaniel, or dogs with hairy inner ear flaps. Dogs prone to allergies are also at risk.

Unlike the human ear, your pet's ear canal is an L shape - deep and curved. This means the dirt and wax can accumulate and moisture becomes trapped. This is further complicated by heavy droopy ears - such as those seen in Springer Spaniels, as it is difficult for air to circulate. This provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeasts.

Preventing ear problems in dogs

Using an ear cleaning solution on an appropriate basis can be helpful in keeping your dog's ears healthy although this should be only done with guidance from your veterinarian as this could make an ear condition worse in some instances!

How to put ear drops or ointment in your dog's ears

  • Clean the external ear thoroughly with a moistened cotton ball using a veterinary-recommended solution - never use water or a non-veterinary approved product
  • Gently pull the ear flap towards you and over the head in order to straighten the ear canal prior to applying the medication
  • Drop the medication into the lowest opening of the ear canal. Always ensure the right amount of medication is applied as insufficient amounts may not treat a condition properly.
  • Gently massage the ear area to help work the medication deeper into the ear canal. If there is enough medication in the ear, you will just begin to hear a 'squishing' noise as you massage. If you don't hear this noise then you have not applied enough medication.

General Care

We all love our dogs and want to do the very best to keep them happy and healthy. Having a dog in your life also brings responsibilities and if you are thinking of buying a dog, you need to weigh up the time and commitment involved. Our dogs are protect under the law within the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which means that anyone caring for a dog, even temporarily, has a duty to care for him or her properly. The Act covers the five welfare needs of our animals, which are the:

  • Need for a suitable environment
  • Need for a suitable diet
  • Need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • Need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
  • Nnd the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
     

Household Dangers

Just as parents 'childproof' their home, so should dog owners 'petproof' theirs. Just like infants and small children, four-legged members of the family are naturally curious and love to explore their environment with their paws, claws and mouths.

But they can't know what is dangerous and what is not, so it's up to you to make your home a safe haven. The following tips can help ensure that your dog enjoys a long, happy and accident-free life in your care.

How to make your home safe for your dog:

  • Screen windows to guard against falls
  • Don't let young dogs out on balconies, upper porches or high decks
  • Many house plants, including dieffenbachia, elephant ear, spider plants and more are poisonous if eaten
  • Remove them or put them out of reach in hanging baskets
  • Puppies love to chew when they're teething, so unplug, remove or cover electrical cords
  • Don't leave a room where a fire is lit or a heater is being used unattended
  • Plastic bags may be fun to play with, but they can cause suffocation
  • Don't leave small, sharp, easily swallowed objects lying around

In the garage

  • Dogs like the smell and taste of antifreeze but ingestion is likely to prove fatal
  • Tightly cover containers and wipe up any spills
  • Paint, fuel and other dangerous chemicals should be stored out of reach

In the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom

  • Never leave ovens or irons on unattended
  • Dangerous household chemicals such as bleach and ammonia should be stored out of your dog's reach
  • Close washer and dryer doors - your dog might climb in and become trapped
  • Keep toilet lids down - small dogs can drown if they fall in
  • Make sure your dog can't get hold of medicines, shampoo, suntan lotions and other personal care items

In the garden

Some outdoor plants, like ivy and oleander, can be poisonous to dogs.
Keep your dog away from lawns and gardens treated with chemicals.
Store garden tools and chemicals securely. Keep garden sheds locked.
Cover pools and ponds - your dog might fall in and not be able to get out.

Avoiding catastrophes

  • Eliminate hooks or similar objects placed at your dog's shoulder height - the collar or harness could become tangled and he/she could choke
  • A tall perimeter fence around your property will minimise the risk of your dog running out into traffic or roaming far from home

At Christmas time

  • Tinsel and icicles, Christmas tree lights and glass ornaments will be sure to tempt your pet's curiosity - but all could be harmful if chewed or swallowed
  • Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to your pets
  • Raisins and chocolate are poisonous to dogs. Fatalities have been recorded when large quantities have been eaten


Medication

Just like you, your dog is going to get sick occasionally and you may come home from the veterinary practice with some medication to administer. Learning how to do it right will make the process easier both for you and your dog.

Always follow the instructions given by your veterinary surgeon. Be sure to administer the full amount of medication over the number of days instructed by your veterinary surgeon.

How to administer tablets or capsules to your dog

  • Step 1: Place the pill between the thumb and the index finger of one hand. Firmly grasp the upper jaw with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.
  • Step 2: Gently fold the upper lip over the teeth as you open the mouth. This will reduce the chance of being bitten.
  • Step 3: Rotate your wrist to tilt the head upwards. Use your middle finger to slowly open the lower jaw.
  • Step 4: Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth and deposit the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Immediately close the mouth. Keeping your hand over the mouth, put the head down to facilitate swallowing.
  • Step 5: Stroke the throat or blow on the nose to encourage swallowing.

How to administer liquids or syrups to your dog

  • Step 1: Firmly grasp the dog's muzzle with one hand while holding the syringe or dropper with the other hand.
  • Step 2: Gently squirt the medication into the pouch between the teeth and check.
  • Step 3: Hold the dog's jaw closed and tilt the head back slightly. Stroke the throat or blow on his/her nose to encourage swallowing.
  • Step 4: Should your dog gag or cough out the medication, lower their head and calm them down. Wait a few minutes and then try again

Medicating your dog - top tips:

  • Always read the label instructions carefully
  • Ask your veterinary surgeon if the medication can be given with food or must be given on an empty stomach. If it can be given with food, just put the pill into a small piece of meat
  • Get a friend or family member to help
  • Medicate your dog on the floor or on a table with a non-slip surface
  • When administering medication stay calm - your pet can sense if you are nervous making it more difficult to apply the treatment. Always praise and reward your pet with a treat


Surgery

Due to illness, disease or trauma, your dog may one day require surgery. While always stressful (for both you and your dog) there are a few basic guidelines that you can follow that will make the process as complication-free as possible and put your pet on the fast road to recovery.

Depending on the type of surgery, whether minor or major, your veterinary surgeon will advise you when your dog can resume a normal lifestyle.

Caring for your dog before surgery

  • Your veterinary surgeon will do a check-up on your dog before the surgery to determine if there are any pre-existing conditions that may interfere with the surgical procedure.
  • Make sure your dog is up-to-date with annual vaccinations.
  • Your veterinary surgeon may suggest a blood test to screen for disease not apparent from a physical exam.
  • You may need to administer antibiotics prior to surgery to help control pre-existing infection for certain procedures. Speak with your veterinary surgeon to find out what are the restrictions for food and water.

Caring for your dog after surgery

  • Chances are your dog will be weak or groggy after surgery. Do not let him/her get too excited.
  • Restrain your dog with a lead or put him/her in a carrier when leaving the hospital. This will protect him/her from additional injury.
  • Provide only small amounts of food and water until your dog readjusts to being at home and is recovering. Too much food and water can lead to upset stomachs or vomiting.
  • If a special post-surgical diet has been prescribed, follow all instructions carefully.
  • Limit your dog's exercise. Climbing stairs, jumping or running may open up sutures or cause nausea.
  • Make sure the sleeping area is clean, warm and free of draughts.
  • Your veterinary surgeon may prescribe medication to administer during your dog's recovery. Follow all label instructions carefully.
  • Sutures are usually removed approximately 10 days after surgery. Check the area around the incision daily for redness, swelling or drainage. If you detect any irritation, contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.
  • Try to keep your dog from licking or chewing on the wound. If this is difficult to do, you might want to provide a physical barrier like a bandage or tee-shirt or by placing an 'Elizabethan collar' around the head.


Travelling

Before you plan a holiday with your dog, ask yourself will my dog be comfortable and happy on a trip? Some animals simply prefer to stay at home a 'homesick', possibly motion-sick pet will ruin everyone's trip. In such a case it's probably wiser to leave your dog with a friend, relative or hire a Ôdog sitter'. If that is not possible, you might consider boarding them atÊa clean, well-run kennel.

Going abroad with your dog? Always plan ahead!

If you do decide to take your dog along, you must take as much care with the preparation of your pet's trip as your own. If you plan to travel by plane, bus, train or boat, find out if your pet will be welcome and what kind of reservations and transport arrangements must be made.

If you'll be staying at hotels or campsites, you must check if animals are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If you're staying with friends or family, make sure your dog is also invited.

Travelling abroad with your dog

Check the DEFRA website for the latest information on requirements for travelling for pets from the UK.

Travelling by plane with your dog

  • Contact the airline with which you wish to fly well in advance - each has its own regulations and reservations for your pet will be necessary.
  • Be sure to ask about the airline's rules for dog crates or carriers.
  • Try to book a direct flight or one with a minimum of stops.
  • The airline may allow your dog in the passenger cabin if your crate or carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. If your dog must travel in the cargo hold, be at the airport early, place them in a travel crate yourself and pick them up promptly when you land.

Travelling by car with your dog

  • If your dog is not used to being in a car, take him/her for a few short rides before your trip.
  • Dogs should NEVER be allowed to put their heads outside the window when riding in a car. It is dangerous for you, your pet and potentially other road users.
  • If you're taking a long drive plan 'snacks', exercise and rest stops about every two hours.
  • Always allow good provision of water.
  • Give the main meal at the end of the day. Dry food is more convenient but if your dog needs canned food, dispose of any unused portions if they cannot be refrigerated.
  • It is not recommended to leave your dog in a parked car for a prolonged period of time. If you must leave your pet in a parked car, lock all doors and open windows enough to provide good ventilation, without allowing them enough room to jump out or get their head caught. Remember, on hot days, the temperature in a parked car can rise to dangerous levels in just minutes and your dog could die of heat stroke.

Travelling by bus and train with your dog

Not all bus/rail companies allow you to travel with your dog, so phone ahead for information.

Top travel tips for travelling with your dog

  • Ensure your dog ALWAYS wears a collar with identification.
  • Pack their favourite food, toys, dishes, cool water and a lead.
  • Have your dog examined and vaccinated, if necessary, by your veterinary surgeon before a long trip.
  • If your dog must travel in a crate or carrier, make sure it is strong, large enough for them to stand up and turn around, has a place for food and water, is well ventilated, has a leak-proof bottom and closes securely.
  • If you are planning a trip abroad with your dog, contact your vet practice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for advice, as the health and vaccination regulations of different destinations vary greatly. Click here to find out more on the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
  • Consider whether there may be special health risks where your dog is travelling too- your vet will be able to advise on any additional precautions that you need to take.

Joint Problems

Canine osteoarthritis

If your dog doesn't jump to greet you on your return home each evening, there may be a good reason - he or she may have developed canine osteoarthritis.

Which dogs are at risk of canine osteoarthritis?

A chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, osteoarthritis mainly strikes dogs in their middle and senior years. However, younger animals can also be affected. In fact, studies show that approximately 20% of dogs have the condition in some form and, even though they are less prone, cats can also suffer from it.

It can be heart-breaking to see your once lively, always active best friend begin to limp, or notice his or her obvious pain or stiffness when moving around. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, if it is treated promptly, there is a great deal that you and your veterinary surgeon can do to decrease your pet's discomfort and increase his or her mobility.

What are the early warning signs of osteoarthritis in dogs?

  • Difficulty in walking, climbing stairs
  • Reluctance to jump onto the sofa or into the car
  • An overall decrease in activity, especially play
  • Resting more than usual
  • Slowness in getting up from a lying position
  • Dogs that "bunny hop" with the hind legs, rather than running normally
  • Slow or stiff movements upon waking, after a rest, or in cold weather which improves with continued movement
  • Beginning to limp
  • Swollen joint(s) that is/are warm to the touch and have a limited or painful range of movement
  • Licking at a joint
  • Personality change - your pet no longer likes to be touched or played with

If you notice any of the signs above, don't just think that your pet is "slowing down with age". Take him or her to see your vet. The faster osteoarthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pet's quality of life will be.

What causes osteoarthritis in dogs?

There are many causes of osteoarthritis in dogs, but practically all can be grouped into two main categories:

1. Abnormal stress on normal joints

  • An injury that damages a joint
  • "Wear and tear" where joints are subjected to repeated loads or stress
  • Obesity: an excessive load is put on joints

2. Normal stress on abnormal joints

  • Developmental defects that alter the shape or stability of a joint
  • Poor limb configuration: bow legs or knock knees can cause an uneven load on a joint
  • Genetic predisposition: some breeds of dogs are just more prone to osteoarthritis than others

Hip dysplasia: Normal stresses on a dysplastic (malformed) joint will lead to arthritis. Whatever the specific cause, stress on a joint can begin a destructive cycle of inflammation of the joint area and damage to the cartilage that leads to pain for your pet. Some breeds are more predisposed to this condition than others, for example the German Shepherd dog and Labrador.

What is the treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs?

1. Weight control: Dogs that suffer from chronic pain caused by conditions like osteoarthritis often become inactive, which can result in obesity. Controlling your pet's weight will lighten the load on arthritic joints and make it less difficult to move around. Just as for humans, weight loss for animals involves both a well-balanced, calorie-reduced diet and regular exercise. Ask your veterinary surgeon for advice on the proper diet for your dog or cat.

2. Exercise: Exercise is essential because it contributes to strengthening the muscles that support joints. Daily, moderate amounts of low-impact exercise also improves joint mobility and can help get a lethargic, arthritic pet active again. Dogs will benefit from such activities as walking and swimming just as cats can profit from play that keeps them moving without excessive jumping. Consult your veterinary surgeon about what amount and type of exercise would be best for your pet.

Also, be aware that your dog or cat's osteoarthritic pain may be more severe at certain times than others. If this is the case, let your pet take a break from his or her exercise routine for a few days, until the painful flare-up subsides.

3. Anti-inflammatory drugs: These combat inflammation in the joints, thus relieving pain, and increasing mobility. As joint pain may vary according to the amount of exercise, the weather or season, or for other, unknown factors, your veterinary surgeon may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as treatment.

Newer NSAID drugs are proving to be especially effective in reducing inflammation and pain to improve mobility without the significant side effects - including gastrointestinal problems - previously associated with NSAID use. Ask your veterinary surgeon for more information. Never be tempted to medicate your dog with human painkillers.

4. Physical therapy: In addition to the above, your veterinary surgeon may also suggest physical therapy, cold or hot packs and baths, massage or acupuncture as well as glucosamine/chondroitin and omega 3 and 6 diet supplements as an aid to maintaining joint health. In occasional cases surgery may also be considered to be indicated to achieve the best outcome.

5. Surgery: Rarely, surgery may also be considered to achieve the best outcome.

6. Bedding: Thick and supportive bedding in a warm environment helps to alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

How will osteoarthritis affect my dog?

Osteoarthritis may progress very slowly (over several years) or very quickly (you might notice a major change in just a few weeks or months). It all depends on your pet's age, his or her activity level, the joints involved and the underlying cause. Some pets' pain and loss of mobility can be kept to a minimum for long periods of time with a simple regimen of weight control, moderate, regular exercise and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs if flare-ups occur.

For others, severe damage to the joints may occur rapidly and require long-term medication and other therapy. In either case, your veterinary surgeon can determine the best course of treatment for your pet's particular condition.

There is no reason why, with your loving attention and committed care, as well as your veterinary surgeon's guidance, your osteoarthritic pet cannot have a happy, healthy and comfortable life for many years to come.

Puppy Care

Hopefully you'll have anticipated your new arrival by 'puppy proofing' your home, and had lots of fun choosing the bed, blanket, toys and other supplies they will need. This frisky little creature is sure to bring you much joy. In return, you can make a major contribution to your puppy's longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him or her with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, clean environment and regular check-ups at your veterinary practice.

Neutering your puppy

Many veterinary surgeons believe that neutering not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted dog overpopulation but also makes for friendlier, easier-to-live-with pets. Spayed female dogs are more relaxed, while neutered males are less likely to roam, 'spray' or urine-mark their territory, or fight with other males.

Sterilisation also has health benefits - it helps to minimize the risk of cancers of the reproductive organs and the mammary glands in females and reduces the incidence of prostate and testicular cancer problems in males

Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female dog, often around the age of six months. A major surgical procedure, it is performed under general anaesthesia. Complications are rare and recovery normally is complete within two weeks.

Castration, also carried out under general anaesthesia, removes the testicles of a male dog through an incision at the base of the scrotum. Usually performed when the puppy is about six months old, it necessitates only a brief hospital stay. Full recovery takes about seven to ten days.

Your puppy's basic health check

Your new puppy should visit a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. The first visit will probably include:

  • A thorough physical examination to determine his/her state of health.
  • Check for parasites (fleas, ticks, lice, ear mites, worms).
  • Initial vaccination and/or a discussion of the types of vaccinations your puppy needs and when they should be scheduled.
  • Discussion about whether your puppy should be neutered and when.

This first health check will give your veterinary surgeon the information needed to advise you on your puppy's immediate diet and care. Plus, it will create a "knowledge base" from which, on subsequent checkups throughout your pup's life, he/she can better evaluate, monitor and manage your pet's health.

Make your puppy feel at home

Show your puppy the special places where he/she can eat, sleep and go to the toilet and, since they're probably quite overwhelmed, give them some quiet time to adjust to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of the new home.

If there are young children in the home, make sure that they are taught that a puppy is not a toy but a living creature who must be treated with gentleness and respect.

As early as 8 weeks old, your puppy is capable of learning specific lessons - so start home training and teaching simple obedience commands the day you bring them home. Your veterinary surgeon can suggest the best training methods and, if you wish, recommend a good obedience school. Your puppy will find learning fun and easy and, with your positive reinforcement, should remember lessons well.

Giving your puppy the best start

When is the best time to start caring for an ageing pet? When he or she is a puppy. Starting off your dog's life with good nutrition, regular exercise, scheduled veterinary appointments and a happy home life sets the blueprint for a high quality of life in older years. However, as your dog ages, much like humans, changes to the metabolism will occur. Paying attention to your dog's behaviour will make detecting problems easier.

What you can do at home

  • Check your dog's mouth, eyes and ears regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharge.
  • Keep your dog's sleeping area clean and warm.
  • Groom your dog often. You'll detect any unusual sores or lumps and keep his/her coat healthy.
  • Make fresh water available at all times.
  • Maintain a regime of proper nutrition, exercise and loving attention.

Senior Dogs

Looking after an old dog

As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, dogs are now living much longer, healthier lives. But, just as for humans, the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky pet seems to have slowed down a bit.

Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your dog becomes older, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your dog's life to the fullest.

How and when will I know when my dog is getting "old"?

As dogs move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of ageing humans: hair can turn grey, their bodies are not as supple and reflexes not as sharp as they once were.

Hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate and energy levels, as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly.

Such signs may begin to manifest themselves before 8 years in large breeds like Great Danes, while smaller breeds can remain youthful until 12 years and even longer.

Furthermore, a healthy dog will most likely age later than one that has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Again, as with humans, the ageing process will vary with the individual. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to judge when it's time to consider your dog a "senior."

Check-up time now comes twice a year

As your dog ages, regular checkups at your veterinary practice become more important than ever. In fact, at this stage of your dog's life, it is recommended that he or she receive a thorough examination every 6 months, as adult dogs can age as much as 3 years (in human terms) within the period of one calendar year. Besides the usual complete physical examination, your veterinary surgeon may conduct a urine and faecal analysis as well as an ultrasound or other imaging tests.

Furthermore, many vets now recommend minimum yearly blood screens for senior pets.

Keep your vet informed

Most importantly, you should tell your veterinary surgeon about any noticeable change in your dog's physical condition or behaviour. A problem that you may assume is simply related to your pet's advanced age may actually be the result of a treatable medical condition.

For example, your dog's reluctance to exercise may not stem from the normal decrease in energy that comes with age, but from arthritis or a heart condition - both of which can be managed with the proper treatment.

Regular, semi-annual checkups can thus help your veterinary surgeon work out a suitable preventative health program for your pet and catch any problems sufficiently early to provide effective treatment. Working together, you can both ensure that your dog's senior years will be healthy and happy ones.

Feeding an old dog

As your pet ages, your dog's nutritional needs may also change. You may find that, although your pet is eating less, he/she still puts on weight. This could be due to a slowdown of metabolism or a decrease in activity. Excess weight can aggravate many canine medical conditions, including heart, respiratory, skin and joint problems.

To help a portly pet slim down, try feeding smaller quantities of food or gradually switch to a diet that is lower in calories. Other dogs have entirely the opposite problem - they lose weight as they age, sometimes as the result of heart or periodontal disease or diabetes. In either case, ask your veterinary surgeon for advice about your pet's individual nutritional requirements.

Put comfort on the menu

You should also ensure that your dog is comfortable while eating. Most pet owners place food dishes and water bowls on the floor, but this may be a source of discomfort for a large or overweight dog, or for one whose arthritis makes it difficult - or even painful - to bend down.

Many pet supply outlets have eating tables that are specially designed with cut-outs for food and water containers and available in various heights to suit various sizes of dogs. Or you can fashion your own inexpensive solution to this problem: for example, a plastic crate covered in a towel to absorb spills.

Common problems

Obesity in dogs
Obesity is a big health risk to pets as it is to humans. An older dog is a less active dog, so adjustments to your pet's diet to reduce caloric intake are imperative. This will relieve pressure on the joints as well as manage the risks of a range of diseases as well as making a massive difference to an overweight dogs quality of life.

A range of diets facilitating weight loss are available which modify ingredients with for example increased fibre, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.

Diabetes in dogs
Diabetes is common especially in older dogs. It is a disease in which your dog's pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin. More information can be found by clicking on the Diabetes section link on the right.

Arthritis in dogs
Arthritis' severity can range from slight stiffness and lameness, difficulty in rising to inability to exercise without pain and ultimately debilitation. Keeping animals as comfortable as possible is vital. Exercise is important to maintain muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to his/her condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve the pain. Your veterinary surgeon will prescribe any necessary medication.

Dogs and intolerance to the cold
Intolerance to cold temperatures is more likely as dogs age. There can be a range of explanations including heart and respiratory disease, as well has metabolic and hormone problems to name just a few . Move the dog bed closer to a heat-source and bring them indoors on cold days.

Tooth loss or decay in dogs
Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of other potentially serious health problems problems. Care with diet, the use of dental chews as well as brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.

Tumours
Prostate enlargement and mammary gland tumours are mostly diagnosed in unneutered dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.

Separation anxiety in dogs
Separation Anxiety presents itself when older dogs can't cope with stress. A range of behaviours including barking and other vocalisatiom, destruction of the home, and loss of toilet control are common signs Appropriate advice on this issue including a range of management techniques designed to accustom the dog to being comfortable left alone. In some cases medication, supplements or pheromone products may be helpful in facilitating behavioural changes.

Dog skin and coat problems
Skin or coat problems in ageing dogs means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the fur can thin develop scurf or dandruff and become dry, dull or oily over time. This may occur as part of ageing but can also reflect underlying skin, metabolic or hormone problems. Veterinary advice should always be sought should such a change be noted. Regular grooming, appropriate bathing with suitable dog shampoos and essential fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.

Canine cognitive dysfunction
This manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity. Medication may help manage some of these issues.

Skin Conditions

Canine atopy, or allergic dermatitis, is the most common skin condition found in dogs.

What is canine atopy?

Atopy is an allergic skin disease. An allergy is an 'over-reaction' of the immune system to something it encounters, known as the allergen. In an ideal world, we would simply avoid the allergen. Unfortunately for dogs with Atopy, the allergen is usually something which is difficult to avoid.

What causes allergic skin disease in dogs?

House dust mites and pollens are usually the most common causes of canine atopy. Some dogs have a seasonal pattern to their atopy which can for example be worse in the summer months. For others, it can be a year-round problem.

What are the symptoms of atopy?

The allergic response to the allergen affecting your dog causes inflammation of the skin and itching. Commonly, the itching is worse around the face (especially the ears), front legs, paws and tummy. In some cases, the allergy leads to recurring ear disease. Repeated licking sometimes causes a pink discolouration to the area, as saliva may affect coat colour. This is often seen on the feet of affected individuals that habitually lick themselves.

Hair loss and open skin wounds

Persistent scratching can worsen the condition, leading to hair loss and open skin wounds that may become infected. This can be very distressing for both dog and owner.

How is canine atopy treated?

Like other allergies, treatment is difficult and many options may need to be explored before the best regime for your individual pet is found. Where possible, efforts to limit or avoid exposure should be tried, however this may prove problematic. There are many different treatments that can provide relief including shampoos, ear treatments, dietary supplements and products to modify your dog's immune response.

Regular flea control

Often pets need a combination of more than one product for optimal control of itching. In addition, dogs with atopy need regular flea control as well as good control of secondary skin infections.

Contact your vet

If you think your dog is showing any of the signs above or may have canine atopy, book a check-up now by phoning your local veterinary practice. There are many causes of redness and itchy skin, and your vet will recommend the best course of action for your dog.

Vaccinations

One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against both common and serious canine infectious diseases.

Your dog's mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it's up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinary surgeon, to provide that protection.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your dog's immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins - or antibodies - to protect against disease.

When should my dog be vaccinated?

The immunity that a puppy has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in two doses, the first dose at around the age of 6-8 weeks and the second about 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, your dog will require annual 'booster' vaccinations for the rest of his/her life to maintain protection.

Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinary surgeon - if there is too long an interval between vaccinations, your dog may no longer be fully protected.

Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Infectious Tracheobronchitis (also known as kennel cough).

Rabies may also be essential if your dog is travelling abroad - check with the practice and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinary surgeon's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog's particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.

How effective is vaccination?

Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, the success of a vaccination cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and good hygiene, vaccination is clearly your pet's best defence against disease.

Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.

What diseases can you vaccinate your dog against?

Canine Parvovirus
Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, Canine Parvovirus emerged in many parts of the world in 1978. Spread through infected faeces, the highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for many months.

Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and blood-stained diarrhoea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.

Canine Distemper
Vaccination against Canine Distemper, which is often fatal and hard to treat, is essential. Though very rare in the UK thanks to vaccination, Canine Distemper is still widespread in some parts of the world and continued vigilance with vaccination is needed to prevent the UKÕs dog population from becoming susceptible to the disease.

Highly contagious, it is spread by discharge from the noses and eyes of infected dogs.

Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Convulsions and paralysis may occur in the final stages of Canine Distemper. Sometimes the disease is also known as ÔhardpadÕ on account of the thickened fissured footpads that develop over time as a result of the infection. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Caused by canine adenovirus type I, Infectious Canine Hepatitis is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions such as saliva, infected urine or faeces.

The virus commonly attacks the liver, and also can potentially cause eye damage. The course of Infectious Canine Hepatitus can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.

A second virus, canine adenovirus 2 contributes as one of the possible causes of infectious tracheobronchitis (or kennel cough).

Leptospirosis
The most common form of the bacteria causing Leptospirosis is widespread in rats and spread in their urine into the environment where it survives well in damp conditions and in water courses, ponds and lakes. It can occur so suddenly that there is little chance of effective antibiotic therapy.

Dogs infected acutely with Leptospirosis can suffer liver or kidney damage and will need a long period of treatment if they are to fully recover.

Of just as much concern is the lower grade disease which may go undiagnosed. It is also a disease that can infect and prove fatal in humans so maintaining the best protection by vaccinating annually specifically against this disease is highly advisable.

Kennel Cough (Canine Tracheobronchitis)
Just as with contagious human respiratory disease kennel cough is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come into contact with other dogs in such situations as obedience training, the groomers, boarding at a kennel, neighbours pets or even just playing in the park.

The disease is caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses. Bordetella bronchisepticais one of the main causes of this disease and together with the most common viral cause, parainfluenza, can be protected against with a separate intra-nasal vaccine administered as drops up the nose.

The first sign in your dog will be a dry, hacking cough that sounds as if an object has got stuck in the throat.

Other vaccinations

After evaluating your dog's particular situation and risk factors, your veterinary surgeon may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:

Canine Coronavirus
This virus attacks the intestinal system and occasionally proves fatal to puppies. Symptoms may develop quickly and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite and depression.

Rabies
This incurable and fatal viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals through bites or any break in the skin. Though not present in the UK, this disease occurs widely throughout many other countries of the world.

Practice information

Haughley Surgery

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  • Mon
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Tue
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Wed
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Thu
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Fri
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Sat
    8:30am - 10:30am
  • Sun
    Closed

Emergency Details

Please call:

01449 673366
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Find us here:

63 Old Street Haughley Stowmarket IP14 3NT
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Please call this number for emergencies:

01449 673366

Thurston Surgery

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  • Mon
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Tue
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Wed
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Thu
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Fri
    8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Sat
    2:30pm - 5:00pm
  • Sun
    Closed

Emergency Details

Please call:

01359 232200
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Find us here:

58 Barton Road Thurston IP31 3PD
get directions with Google Maps
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Please call this number for emergencies:

01359 232200