“Mans best friend” is a title that has been worn with pride by millions of dogs throughout the history of mankind and our journey through this plain has been made even more interesting, compassionate, secure, and let’s face it fun with thanks to our goofy, furry companions. So it makes sense then, that as a nation we’re obsessed with making sure that your fur-babies are well-groomed and well taken care of. As it happens, this past year Americans spent a staggering $99Billion, on pet care.
So we’re going to take a little journey through some of the most important considerations you should keep in mind that will make sure you remain the best possible pet-parent and live to enjoy many years of happy and responsible dog ownership. If you feel like you have any pressing issues or if your little guy isn’t quite as glossy as he used to be, always check in with your vet as a starting point. We know it can get a little costly sometimes, but it’s always better to know than be surprised.
THE TOP TEN HEALTH CONDITIONS IN DOGS
Although the range of illnesses or conditions that could have an impact on your dog’s overall healthcare is as varied and complex as their humans are, there are still some common problems that your pooch could be confronted with.
Ear infections, skin allergies, skin infections or “hot spots”, vomiting, diarrhea, bladder infections, arthritis, soft-tissue trauma, noncancerous tumors, and eye infections. These conditions are relatively easy to diagnose at home (except for the tumors, those should always be checked out and diagnosed by your vet), but you’ll usually be able to find some good advice for minor issues.
When these issues persist beyond a couple of days, it’s time to get your dog to the vet. It’s never too early to get pet insurance, but sadly – it could be too late, so take a look at various options and see what you can best afford.
AGE-APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
Let’s start at the beginning when you first bring your puppy home. As a new furball, your puppy is going to need a lot of attention so if you’re not the family that can handle all of that energy, you may want to consider a slightly older dog. Remember, that puppies are delicate little things and they’re going to need an environment that has been relatively puppy-proofed before they get home.
Some of the common illnesses and injuries that your puppy may face include Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Parvovirus, and Kennel Cough. All of these can be treated fairly easily by your vet and you should make sure that your new puppy’s home is warm, comfortable, and well ventilated. The danger with issues like CDV is that it can often be mistaken as a basic respiratory sickness and if left untreated, can become a much more serious infection of the respiratory system.
A runny nose, a little sneeze, and a cough can quickly turn ugly, so monitor your new puppy and if symptoms persist for more than a few days, don’t waste time – get to the vet.
MIDDLE-AGED DOG HEALTH CARE
As your dig hits 7 years of age, they’ve officially transitioned into “middle age” and they’re going to need a different approach to healthcare. It is still very important that you keep your dog active and stimulated as they still have a lot of mileage left in them. But just as you keep an eye on your puppy, you also have to keep an eye on your “teenager” pooch. Here is where you could start spotting signs of joint pain or arthritis, lowering energy levels, and less “agile” bounding when they’re out and about on their daily “sniff-ari”. Regular check-ups at your vet will keep your dog shiny and healthy and now is the time to start asking for “body scans”. This is where your vet will order a range of blood tests as well as physical examinations to give your dog a thorough once over.
It’s also time to pay a little more attention to diet (easy on those treats!). As your dog matures they’re going to need a diet that has a greater variance in nutrients and if your vet has picked up something, they may need more specialist dietary guidance too.
As your hound ages over 7 years of age (could be earlier for smaller breeds), they will begin their transition into “senior dog” or “mature dog” status and they’re going to need a whole new regimen of healthcare protocols.
The 8 most common illnesses and health issues to look out for in your senior dogs are:
Hearing and vision loss, joint problems, dementia, cancer, heart problems, obesity, gastrointestinal Issues, and incontinence. All of these issues can be managed fairly well if detected in time, so it is not more important than ever to make sure that your dog gets regular checkups at the vet. With that being said, it is still important to keep your senior dog active and stimulated, even though they may be physically slowing down, they’re still mentally believing that they’re charged with your protection and so will continue to be faithful right until they’re no longer with you.
GREAT WAYS TO SHOW YOUR DOG HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM
Instead of patting your puppy on the head (which could cause anxiety and feelings of irritation), rub your dog behind their ears and then get prepared for all sorts of doggy awesomeness! This is because rubbing your dog’s ears stimulates endorphins in their brains and this offers feelings of pleasure and pain relief.
Snuggling with your dog is a wonderful way of showing them that you love them and this is because dogs are pack animals by design. Close contact makes them feel secure and safe and when you allow your dog to sleep with you, that’s the first prize when it comes to bonding with your pooch and establishing trust and loyalty. Also, it’s awesome.
Spending time with your dog is a great way of showing him that you love him. Dogs respond so well to a trip to the beach, the park, or a game of frisbee in the backyard. This is how they know you care about them when you do something that they clearly enjoy.
DEADLY DOG DISEASES
Although not as common as the illnesses we discussed earlier in this post, there are still a few big ones that you need to watch out for and if left untreated could have disastrous implications for your pooch.
Kidney disease, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease are canine killers and yet can be treated if detected early enough.
There are also rarer but equally devastating conditions that could cause your dog terrible illness, pain, and even death, and none more so than Degenerative Myelopathy. This is a disease affecting the spinal cord that results in slow and progressive hind limb weakness and paralysis. You can learn more about DM in dogs in this article.
ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY HEALTHCARE FOR DOGS
If you thought it was only humans that were getting in on the action when it comes to overall wellness and health through alternative healthcare, you’re wrong. There is a burgeoning industry that’s springing up all over the United States that offers wonderful alternatives to traditional medicine for your pooch.
Acupuncture, herbal and botanical medicine, and homeopathy have all yielded many positive results in the treatment of a range of illnesses and physical disabilities. Now remember though, your pet can’t talk (at least not the way we’re talking now), so be sure to monitor your dog carefully while they’re undergoing natural, softer alternatives to traditional medicine and you don’t see signs of improvement in condition or better pain management responses, then it’s time to get your dog back to the vet and before you stop a current regimen that your pet may be on, check with your vet first as the sudden cessation of medicine or treatment could lead to complications that you may not know about.
Acupuncture, in particular, has shown impressive results in the treatment of joint pain and arthritis in senior dogs and the release of endorphins has a calming and relaxing effect on your hound, much like in the human variety, acupuncture in animals can be used to treat a host of different ailments and illnesses.
We all love and adore our four-legged family members (sometimes more than the two-legged kind), and with regular maintenance and care you can ensure long-lasting and happy life for both you and your dog. It’s no secret that dogs have an inbuilt “puppy magic maker” that is having outstanding impacts on the lives of the aged in frail care or for those senior members of the human variety that are experiencing dementia or memory loss. It’s really quite astounding just how deep the levels of doggy intelligence run, so when you take care of your dog, you’ll be getting spades back more in return and just like humans, boy do they love getting gifts! Go on, you know you want to 🙂