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Maintaining Your Dog’s Health

By Mary Anne Miller

When it comes to the health of your dog, surely you think about flea and tick control, heartworm prevention, parasite control, vaccinations, and the proper food management. But with 150 registered breeds not including the cross-breeds, one of the main concerns of any dog owner should be researching the breed they own, and understanding the different diseases and afflictions that are breed-specific.

For example: Cocker Spaniels are prone to epilepsy. Beagles are susceptible to heart disorders, skin conditions, spinal problems and obesity. Greyhounds, are vulnerable to muscle and tissue damage and limb injuries as well as hemophilia, bloat and eye disease. Pointers can suffer from lymphomas, Boxers from heart disease, and Dobermans from bleeding disorders.  Most breeds are susceptible to genetic diseases or disorders. A responsible pet owner will do the homework to understand the risks and take the proper precautions. If you own a dog that is vulnerable to obesity, then you would increase the exercise, and make sure you feed a nutritional program that does not include table scraps.

Dogs are pack animals. If you own one dog, then you are the pack. You can upset that balance by placing a dog outside with no other companions. Putting a dog on a chain and ignoring the dog except to feed it, although some people call it “having protection” others would term it “abuse.”

In order for your dog to stay healthy and active provide interaction. Prevent boredom by taking your dog for long walks. Dogs love to ride in cars. If you own a truck, be sure your dog rides in a fastened dog kennel, or is securely held by a harness and lead (not by a collar). However, your dog can easily become overheated if left in a closed car on a hot day, while you go “do errands.”

Play with your pet responsibly. Throw sticks in wide open areas like fields or vacant lots, versus a steep hill or a swift-flowing river. Because you are Pack Leader, your dog will trust that you will not bring him into danger. In your home stash away harmful cleaning fluids. Outside your home, police your yard for toxic plants or weeds. Never use over- the-counter remedies on your dog without checking with your veterinarian first.

Make sure your dog is groomed. Matted hair can lead to skin disorders and bacterial infections. Keep to routine vet appointments. Make sure your dog is vaccinated, and follow up with boosters. Talk to your vet about micro-chipping, effective and safe flea and tick control and heartworm prevention.

If your dog is not current on his shots, keep him indoors until he is vaccinated. Taking an unvaccinated dog for a walk opens him up to various diseases passed in urine or fecal matter such as; Parvo, or Canine Distemper. It also exposes him to roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Watch for changes in the behavior, signs of sudden aggression can be a reaction to pain, drinking lots of water can be the onset to diabetes, an unnatural gait can be the early signs of hip dysplasia common in the larger breeds.

This article is not meant to deter anyone away from the joys of owning a dog. There is nothing more satisfying than having a loyal, loving companion in your life. Dogs need to be close to their owners. They are naturally protective of their people.  Being aware of the needs of your dog and maintaining proper care throughout his lifetime will ensure that you and your pet will enjoy a new leash on life.

Mary Anne Miller is a free-lance writer who specializes in the field of cat care and behavior. She is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and is the content editor of one of the largest cat websites on the net, thecatsite.com. Mary Anne is also co-owner and editor of the cat-related directory www.meowhoo.com. In addition to cat writing, Mary Anne also writes content for other websites in various fields, focusing on writing techniques that are most suitable for the web. You may reach Mary Anne at maryanne@thecatsite.com


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