Dog Health Care Tips

Read these 45 Dog Health Care Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dog tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Should I allow my dog to kiss me?

Dog Kisses

Although it is possible for you to get germs from your canine companion, it's not very likely. As long as you wash your hands after coming into contact with your dog, you should be fine. Very rarely, people can get sick from coming into contact with dog feces or a dog that has rabies. So if you want to let your canine kiss you, go right ahead.

   
What are the signs that I need to take my dog to the vet?

Signs Your Dog
Needs to See a Vet

There are a number of symptoms that can signal that it's time to take your dog to the vet. Some of the more common ailments canines can get include parvovirus, canine distemper, kennel cough, and leptospirosis. Parvovirus is serious disease that damages your dog's intestinal lining and can result in death in young and unvaccinated dogs. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately:

• Fever (103-105 degrees Fahrenheit)
• Weakness
• Poor appetite
• Depression
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea

   
Why has my dog lost interest in eating?

Refusal to Eat

If you find your normally voracious canine has lost his appetite, there may be some cause for concern. Loss of appetite is one of the first signs of illness. Your canine could also be experiencing pain of some sort and therefore refuse to eat. Or it could be possible that your dog has a loss of appetite due to a change in environment such as a new pet or introduction to new food. However, to be safe, if you've ruled out any behavioral issues, take your pooch to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

   
Is there any special care I need to give my dog in the winter?

Winter Foot Care

You may have heard that it's a good idea to wash your automobile as frequently as possible in the winter to prevent corrosion from road salt. If road salt can corrode the metal under your car, just think of the damage it can do to your dog's feet! The salt spread on sidewalks and roads can soak into your dog's footpads, causing drying, irritation, and in some cases painful cracks and sores. After winter strolls in areas where salt may be used, wash your dog's feet in with warm water and apply a balm to help heal dry skin. You'll both be glad you did!

   
How do I give a dog liquid medications?

Giving Liquid
Medications

Many dogs will lap a liquid medication right off a spoon, unless it has a strong taste. If your dog won't take the liquid medication that way, try mixing it into an appealing food such as applesauce or a tasty meat broth. Another option is to put the medication in a syringe dropper. While your dog is sitting, tilt her head back slightly and slowly administer the medication into her mouth.

   
What basic dog care strategies do I need to know?

First Aid Kit

It's always a good idea to have a pet first aid kit handy in case you ever need it. There are commercial kits for canines available, but with a just a bit of work, you can put together your own. Here's what you need:

• Phone numbers to your veterinarian during office hours and during emergency hours
• Phone number to an animal poison control center
• Copy of your dog's medical records
• Sterile non-stick bandages for open wounds
• Roll of gauze bandages and gauze pads to place over a wound
• Adhesive medical tape to secure bandages
• Rounded tip scissors
• Cotton tipped swabs to apply antiseptic
• Antiseptic solution to clean wounds
• Tweezers for thorn removal
• Rectal thermometer for taking temperature

   
How can I create an individual I.D. record for my dog?

Identification Records

It's always a good idea to keep identification records of your dog in the event you should ever need them. Your dog should have a harness or collar with an identification tag with your name, your dog's name, and your contact information. You should also microchip your pet or give her an identification tattoo. Both options are a permanent means of identifying your pet should she ever get lost. Next, keep a current record of your dog's height, weight, coloring, and any identifying marks. Keep a current photo of your dog that you can use on flyers. Being prepared can make the difference in being able to find your pet.

   
How do I clean my dog´s ears?

Clean Those Ears

Cleaning your dog's ears on a regular basis can help prevent infections and allow you to recognize problems quickly if they arise. Check your dog's ears at least once a week for dirt, wax, and debris. If they look fine, then simply leave them alone. If they need cleaning, remove dirt and wax with either a cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide or a commercial ear cleaner for dogs. Thoroughly wipe all visible parts of the outer ear. Avoid using cotton swabs (q-tips) or going into the ear canal, to prevent accidental damage to the eardrum.

   
What plants can be toxic for dogs?

Toxic Items around the House

Unfortunately, many common household products are toxic to your canine. To keep your beloved furry friend safe, do a safety check around the house to make sure that these products are out of your canine's reach:

• Insecticides
• Household cleaners and disinfectants
• Rat Poisons
• Antifreeze
• Human medications
• Chocolate

Animal poisoning by drugs such as aspirin type products is the most common case that poison control centers see. Antifreeze is the most common "outdoor" product. Keep your pooch out of trouble by keeping these and other hazardous products locked away.

   
I have a dog that is housebroken but seems to have no control over its bladder. Any advice?

Loss of Bladder Control in Dogs

The most common cause of the loss of bladder control is a hormonal disorder that occurs in older dogs. Occasionally, spinal degeneration or trauma also causes incontinence. Dogs who have serious seizures may also lose bladder control. Other medical problems include bladder infections, diabetes, and kidney disease. There are medications to address many of these issues.

However, if your dog is relatively healthy, check to make sure that your dog isn't urinating due to separation anxiety, stress, or a change in the environment. Dogs sometimes revert to their pre-housetrained ways with the introduction of a new puppy or baby in the household.

   
What should I do if my dog doesn´t seem to be drinking?

Refusing Water

If your canine refuses to drink any water, it's an indication of a possible health issue. If you are re-hydrating your dog and she has not had water for some time, do so slowly. Drinking excess water after a lapse in hydration could lead to vomiting and a loss of additional fluids. Try letting her lick an ice cube rather than allowing her to drink directly out of a bowl.

Any dog that suffers from serious dehydration including a dry nose, dry mouth, or loss of skin elasticity, should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

   
If my dog has symptoms of heatstroke, what should I do?

Heatstroke Cool Down

If your canine is suffering from heatstroke, get her out of the hot environment immediately and into a cool, breezy area. Cool her down by placing her in a chilled bath or wrapping cold towels around her body. Give her ice cubes or a small amount of liquids to hydrate her as soon as she becomes responsive.

   
How can I tell if my dog has an ear infection?

Cause of Ear Infections

A dog typically gets an ear infection when yeast and bacteria grow in the ear. In order to prevent this, make sure you clean your canine's ears on a regular basis with a cotton ball and hydrogen peroxide or a commercial ear cleaner for dogs. Another way your canine might get an ear infection is through ear mites. These microscopic organisms live in the ear canals of your dog and are very contagious.

   
How can I avoid the risk of getting a disease from my dog?

Keeping It Clean

Although the risk for transmission of a disease from a dog to a person is very minute, if you are concerned, wash your hands after interacting with your canine. Diseases can very rarely, but possibly be transmitted through a dog's stool or a dog that has rabies.

   
Where can I find helpful advice on canine diseases and dog care?

Vet Schools Offer
Online Advice

If you're looking for some up to date research on canine diseases and care, consider going to the online resource of a leading veterinary school website. Information available includes the latest on canine diseases, treatment, surgeries, and basics in daily care.

   
How can I help a runt puppy survive?

Nursing Puppy Problems

Sometimes you find one puppy in a litter is smaller or weaker than his littermates. If his littermates are pushing him away from nursing, you can try supplementing his feeding with a milk replacer or goats milk. A newborn puppy that does not get enough nourishment will not survive. If hand feeding does not resolve the issue, see a veterinarian immediately.

   
How can I find out if my dog is in pain?

Reading Signs of Pain

There are a number of ways to tell if your dog might be in pain. If your dog limps or yelps when touched, she's signaling hurt. If your dog changes behavior from typically friendly and alert to reclusive or irritable, she may be in pain or ill. Some normally mild mannered canines may also become aggressive and bite if they are in a great deal of pain. If your dog will is constantly licking, biting or scratching a particular area, she may also be experiencing discomfort. If you suspect pain, take your dog to your veterinarian for an exam.

   
What are the symptoms or signs of bloat (GDV) Gastric Torsion?

Bloat (GVD) Gastric Torsion - Symptoms

Bloat is a life threatening condition which occurs when air and fluid accumulate in your dog's stomach. This condition requires that you take your dog to the veterinarian immediately to save her life.

Your canine might have bloat if she has the following:

• Gas filled stomach (may sound like an empty drum when pinged)
• Unsuccessful attempts at vomiting
• Restlessness and excessive salivation.

   
Are there any natural ways to prevent hip dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia Alternative Treatment

If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, consider sending her to physical therapy. One type of treatment involves hydrotherapy, which allows a dog to strengthen her muscles through resistance exercises in an underwater treadmill. Another type of treatment is canine massage which helps restore circulation to canine tissues and helps the muscles relax and maintain tone. Canine massage promotes healing by strengthening weakened muscles and dispersing pain.

   
Why do I need to worry about record keeping?

Keep Records

Have a folder dedicated to your pet's health so his information is easy to access. You should keep an organized record of your dog's vaccinations so that you know if he's current on his shots. Keep records of any allergies to medications, names of any medications he may be taking, dates of veterinary exams, medical conditions, and surgeries. Also have the numbers to your dog's veterinarian in an easily visible location in case you need to call in an emergency.

Don't forget if you have pet insurance to keep copies of any claims in case there is ever a discrepancy with your insurance company.

   
When should my pet be wormed?

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites can reside in your dog's body and cause illness. Some, like roundworms can be visible to the naked eye in your dog's stool. Others, like whipworms must be detected under a microscope. Your dog's annual veterinary exam should include a stool sample and this will determine whether your dog needs a deworming.

If you have concern that your dog may get roundworms, he can take a monthly heartworm medication as a preventative measure.

   
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs?

Heatstroke - Symptoms

Heatstroke occurs when your dog has been in a hot environment and lacks enough hydration. This can be from too much exposure to the sun or time spent in a hot car. She'll have a rapid heart beat, very high body temperature, rapid breathing or panting, and may even possibly collapse.

   
What should I do for those nasty hot spots on my dog´s skin?

Hot Spots

If your canine is suffering from an icky oozing skin infection, chances are that he has "hot spots" or "acute moist pyoderma". This is a skin allergy typically started by flea or tick bites that become inflamed. It's a common problem among Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers. Prevention by flea and tick medication and regular bathing is your best bet. But if your dog's already got hot spots, you can treat it by clipping the hair away from the area to help it dry out. Then use an antibiotic which contains a corticosteroid to help with inflammation and itching.

   
What do I need to know about puppy vaccinations?

Vaccinations for Puppies

Puppies are protected against a number of diseases by their mother's antibodies during their first six to eight weeks of life. At about six to eight weeks of age, puppies must start receiving a series of vaccinations against distemper, bordetella, rabies, parvovirus, and Lyme disease. These vaccinations continue until the puppy is sixteen weeks old. An older or adult dog then receives booster shots every twelve months or so.

   
What does it mean when my dog shakes its head a lot?

Symptoms of Ear Infections

If your dog has an ear infection, she may shake her head frequently and scratch at her ears. Look for any redness and pus coming out of your dog's ears. A bad odor may also be another sign of an ear infection.

Be especially careful with breeds like the Cocker Spaniel, Golden retriever, and Basset hound, which are prone to ear infections.

   
How can I get my dog to swallow a pill?

Swallowing Medications

The easiest way to get your canine to swallow a pill is to hide it in her food. If for some reason, you can't do this, then you'll have to place it in her mouth. Start by sitting on the floor in front of your pooch. If your dog is small, you can place her on your lap. Gently open her mouth and place the pill as far back on her tongue as you can. Close her mouth by holding her muzzle, tilt up her chin, and stroke her throat to help her swallow. You can also try blowing lightly on her nose to get her to take a breath and swallow the pill.

   
What is puppy conjunctivitis?

Puppy Conjunctivitis

Occasionally, puppies develop an infection called conjunctivitis before their eyes are ready to open. The eyelids will become red and swollen with possible discharge. In such situations, the eyelids may need to be gently pried apart to drain the pus and allow application of eyewash and an antibacterial ointment. If you think your newborn puppy may have conjunctivitis, please consult your veterinarian. This is a serious condition that can cause blindness if not treated properly.

This inflammation of the eye also affects adult dogs. Possible causes are bacteria, viruses, deficient tear ducts, and foreign objects in the eyes.

   
How can I prevent acne on my dog´s chin?

Prevent Canine Acne

A dog can get acne or bumps on his chin. While a variety of factors including mange can cause acne on your dog, the problem is often an allergic reaction to a plastic dog food bowl or to rancid oils trapped in scratches in the bowl. Dogs with sensitive skin are especially prone to developing an allergic reaction. To stop the problem, feed your dog from a clean stainless steel bowl.

   
How does a veterinarian treat a dog that has broken one or more of its feet?

Feet, legs & joints - you must be the detective & investigative reporter!

Sometimes the hardest thing to diagnose is problems with a dog's feet, legs and joints. A dog that wakes up in the morning stiff and walking with a limp may be perfectly fine by lunch time. The dog owner and the veterinarian have to be keen observers since the dog can't tell them -- with words, anyway -- how he/she is feeling. Because of this inherent problem with communication, the safest thing for any dog owner to do when he/she notices the dog limping is to take it to the vet and get it checked out. Be observant and tell the vet everything you have noticed your dog doing.

For example, if your dog appears to be jumping a bit when he/she walks, there may be damage to the superior articulations. A dog that doesn't want to put weight on a leg may have a fracture. And a dog that puts his leg down very slowly may have a wound of some type. Sensitivity to injuries of the bone also vary by breed; greyhounds, Chihuahuas and Maltese 'feel' these injuries with greater intensity. If you think your dog has been injured, get help before you examine him yourself. Consider a muzzle; he/she may accidentally bite you if your movements cause him/her pain. Ultimately, take the dog to the vet to get the proper care that he/she needs.

   
Why should I neuter my male dog?

Neutering - Defined

Neutering is a surgical procedure that keeps dogs from breeding by removing the testes in male dogs and the ovaries and uterus in female dogs. This procedure is known as spaying when referring to female dogs.

   
What plants are poisonous for dogs?

Poisonous Plants

There are hundreds of plants that can be toxic to your canine. However, almost any plant can leave your pooch feeling ill if he ingests enough of it. Dogs can exhibit symptoms from excessive drooling to vomiting to a state of coma. Some plants to keep away from your canine include begonias, holly, mistletoe, and snapdragons.

   
When should puppies receive vaccinations?

Vaccination Timing

While some veterinarians recommend giving a puppy some of its first shots at six weeks of age, many recommend doing so at eight weeks, with more at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks. The first shots are typically for parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, and Lyme disease. Some shots do vary by region and schedules may vary according to your vet's recommendations. Be sure to talk with your own vet about a preferred schedule for your puppy.

   
How can I help keep my dog healthy?

Be an Observant Owner

Prevention is the key to keeping your dog healthy. Be an observant owner and pay attention to any physical or behavior changes in your pet. Make sure she's eating properly and not overweight or underweight. Take her for a veterinary exam at least once a year and anytime you notice an ailment that's cause for concern. Groom your dog often and do a spot check to make sure she has a healthy coat, clear skin, and bright eyes.

   
Is neutering helpful for my male dog?

Spaying Advantages

When you decide to spay your female pooch, you're not just keeping her from having unwanted pregnancies and puppies. She'll be protected against breast cancer if she's spayed before her first heat. She'll also be protected from other diseases affecting the reproductive system.

   
When do puppies get a rabies vaccination?

Rabies Vaccination

Puppies typically receive vaccinations for diseases such as parvovirus and bordetella as early as six to eight weeks. At nine weeks of age, puppies are also given vaccines for Lyme disease. The rabies vaccination is not given until puppies are 16 weeks old.

Veterinarians may sometimes vary vaccination schedules based on a dog's age, and the geographic area.

   
How can I prevent acne on my dog´s chin?

Some Breeds Get Acne

Canine acne typically shows up on a dog's chin and looks much like the acne that people get. It typically shows up during a dog's adolescence and occasionally continues into adulthood. It most commonly occurs in short coated dogs such as Mastiffs, Doberman pinchers, Great Danes, Boxers, and Rottweilers.

   
What are the advantages of neutering a male dog?

Neutering Advantages

Neutering your dog has advantages beyond reducing unwanted puppies. Your male dog has less chance of suffering from prostate or testicular cancer. In addition neutering reduces aggressiveness, biting, roaming, and the urge to mark territory. Your canine will be reaping the many benefits of this procedure.

   
How will I know if my dog is ill?

Signs of Ill Health

There are a wide variety of symptoms that could indicate illness in your dog. Pay attention to your canine's eating, drinking, and potty habits. In general, she should be eating normally, drinking plenty of fluids, and have normal stools. Changes in her behavior or daily eating habits could indicate a problem.

Remember to take your canine to the veterinarian at least once a year to make sure she is healthy.

   
How do I collect or obtain my dogs urine sample?

Collecting A Urine Sample At Home

Bloody urine can be a sign of a urinary tract infection in a dog. If you suspect that your pooch has an infection, but you're having trouble detecting blood in the urine, here is a simple way to collect a sample.

Arm yourself with a soup ladle or shallow dish and place it in the direction of the stream as soon as your pet starts to urinate. If you're taking the sample to the vet, place it in a clean, sanitized container or sealable bag. Sanitize the bag by washing and rinsing or wiping with alcohol or diluted chlorine.

   
Do I need to keep giving ear drops if my dog is doing better?

Don't Stop the Treatment

If your dog is diagnosed with ear mites or an ear infection, it is very important to complete treatment even if your dog appears recovered. Always continue giving your dog the medication schedule recommended by your veterinarian. Discontinuing medication before completing treatment can lead the bacteria to becoming resistant. This increases the possibility that the infection will reoccur and may require a stronger dosage of medications for a longer period of time.

   
How can I reduce allergy-causing pollen on my dog´s coat?

Reduce Allergens on Dog's Coat

Some people are truly allergic to the dander or saliva of dogs. But in other cases dogs bring in natural allergens such as pollen on their coats, making it appear a person is allergic to the dog itself. During periods of high pollen count, keep a spray bottle and soft cloth at the door in order to spray and wipe down your dog's coat when he comes inside. You'll reduce the amount of pollen on his coat and relieve your allergies in the process.

   
Why does my puppy need booster shots?

Vaccinations Needed

A typical puppy vaccination schedule might occur at eight weeks, twelve weeks, sixteen weeks, and twenty weeks. Vaccinations last for a period of time and then boosters are necessary to renew the shot's effectiveness. Boosters are usually renewed every year to three years depending on what the shot is for and what your veterinarian's stance is. Check with your dog's vet for the recommended booster schedule.

   
When should I take my dog to a university veterinary hospital?

University Veterinary Hospitals

University veterinary hospitals are teaching hospitals that typically specialize in research and innovative ways of care. You might want to consider a university veterinary hospital if you are looking for a specific form of treatment for your canine. Be sure to research the background of the veterinary hospital you are considering to find out if it meets your needs.

   
How can I keep my dog from being poisoned?

Poison Proof Your Home

If you want to keep your beloved canine from being poisoned, prevention is key. Find out what foods he can and can't eat. Some tasty treats for people are toxic to dogs. Do the research on what plants are dangerous to your pooch and keep them out of your back yard or garden. Do a spot check around the house to make sure you have tamper-proof lids on all of your trash cans. Also make sure there are no bite-sized toxic products like batteries lying around the floor. And make sure you have the emergency numbers to your veterinarian and poison control center handy should you ever need them.

   
Why are vaccination records important?

Vaccination Records

It's important that you keep up to date records of your dog's vaccines for a number of reasons. You'll have an accurate record of whether your pooch is up to date on her vaccinations. If you ever need to board her, you will have proof of her shots ready. You'll also be more likely to make sure that she's vaccinated and safe from an array of unwanted canine diseases like parvovirus and bordetella.

   
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