For an owner, this section on dog health will cover everything you need to know about taking care of your best friend.
Your dog depends on you to keep him healthy. This includes a trip to the vet for an annual exam and booster vaccinations, proper dental care, caring for his ears and nails, and preventing pests such as fleas and ticks, among others.
Assuming your dog has received his immunizations as a puppy, he will need to see the vet annually for an exam to make sure he is in good health. Some vaccinations will need to be boosted annually while others are given every two or three years. It’s important to stay current on your dog’s vaccinations, especially rabies. Check with your vet or local laws to see how often a rabies vaccination is required in your area.
Your vet will probably also recommend an annual heartworm test. Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes so if you live in an area where there are mosquitoes in summer (or during any part of the year), it’s a good idea to have this test and to keep your dog on heartworm preventive.
Your vet may also talk to you about proper dental care for your dog. It’s estimated that 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some kind of dental problem. Gingivitis, tartar, plaque, cavities, broken teeth – dogs can have all kinds of dental problems that, left untreated, can become serious. Many dogs will need to have their teeth cleaned at some point during their lives. Or your dog may need to have a tooth pulled at some point, so get used to checking out your dogs teeth. This will help you get a feel for what is going on inside those jaws so you’ll know when something is wrong.
Most dogs (and their owners) will experience fleas at some point. Fleas are a common summer problem. In some areas ticks are also an issue. You can talk to your vet about preventives for both of these, as there are many good flea and tick preventives available today that are easy to apply to your dog. Some of them are monthly treatments, but they can also be topical, chewable, tablets, or part of a heartworm preventive.
At home you should plan to clean your dog’s ears on a weekly basis. This is easy to do with an ear cleaning solution you can purchase at a pet store or online. You should also trim your dog’s nails weekly. Again, you can buy a good nail clipper or a rotary nail sander at a pet store or online. Be careful trimming your dog’s nails so he trusts you and doesn’t become foot shy.
Otherwise, you should groom your dog regularly to remove dead hair and keep him looking nice. You can bathe him as needed. Most dogs will need a bath about once a month if they are active and play outside. You can find a wide selection of dog shampoos and conditioners at pet stores and online.
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