Basic Health Check
Congratulations - you have a new puppy!
You’ve anticipated the 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 pet’s longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him/her with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, clean environment and regular checkups at your veterinary practice.
Neutering your puppy
Many veterinary surgeons believe that neutering not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted pet 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. Plus, sterilisation 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, usually 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 anesthesia, 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 new 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 pup will find learning fun and easy and, with your positive reinforcement, should remember lessons well!
Your Geriatric Dog
When is the best time to start caring for your ageing pet? When he/she ’s 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 pet’s sleeping area clean and warm.
- Groom your pet 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.
How old is your dog?
If your dog is...
In human terms, that's
* Please note, these equivalencies refer to small breeds.
Obesity is a big health risk. 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 heart failure, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems and more. Other changes to nutrition should include increasing fibre, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.
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.
Arthritis severity can range from slight stiffness to debilitation. An exercise program, also 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.
Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures occurs because your dog produces less of the hormones which regulate the body’s normal temperature. Move their bed closer to a heater and bring them indoors on cold days.
Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of infection or tumours. Brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.
Prostate enlargement or Mammary gland tumours are mostly diagnosed in unneutered dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.
Separation Anxiety presents itself when older dogs can’t cope with stress. Aggressive behaviour, noise phobia, increased barking and whining or restless sleep are the signs. Medication combined with behaviour modification techniques are key.
Skin or coat problems in ageing dogs means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the coat’s hair thins and dulls over time. Grooming more often and fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity. Medication may help solve some of these issues.