Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Your Dog Healthy

They say that dogs are “man’s best friend,” and indeed, dogs have worked hard as hunting companions and shepherd aids for many millennia. Even today, dogs perform jobs that people cannot so easily do, such as dogs who sniff out bombs or illegal drugs or weapons for the police. Dogs can also serve as emotional support animals (ESA), and in Alaska, they are known to pull sleds as a time-honored art. Not to mention how dogs are roughly tied with cats for the most popular pets in the entire world. Many dog breeds exist, some large, some small, but all dogs need love and care to be healthy and happy. If your dog gets hurt or ill, or just needs a routine checkup, it is time to visit an urgent care clinic for dogs or veterinarian clinics. If dog health issues end up being quite serious for your pet, it is time for emergency care services, and emergency care at a pet hospital can save a four-legged life.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog

Many dog health issues can be prevented or diagnosed early simply through responsible pet ownership, and if you carefully look after your dog and take care of its basic needs, it may only rarely need to visit the vet’s office. Over one thousand different dog breeds exist, and some are known for particular dog health issues or needs with their upbringing. When you are choosing a dog to adopt, it is essential to know what sort of dog health issues may lie ahead, and bear in mind that some dog breeds have different temperaments than others. Some breeds are easy for first-time pet owners, but others are quite challenging and are better suited for experienced pet owners, such as Siberian Huskies.

Just how common are dogs, anyway? Estimates say that around 36% of all American households include at least one dog, and that adds up to around 43.3 million households, and that’s a lot of dogs overall. Other statistic show that the average dog-owning household spends $378 per year on veterinary bills.

A Good Diet Is Important

So, what are some minor dog health issues that can be avoided through diligent and smart pet ownership? You can start with a good diet for your dog, and keep careful track of what it eats and does not, and make sure that everything it eats is healthy. Commercially available dog food comes in different types, based on the age and size of a dog (often divided into weight classes or length of the animal), and some dog food brands are meant for dogs with particular needs. Finding the right food for your dog based on its weight and age should be fairly easy, since dog food bags will have labels for that, but if your dog has allergies or a sensitive stomach, you may need to consult your vet about what kind of food your pet should eat, and how much. Dogs who are very old, or recovering from an illness or surgery, for example, might need very particular food that will satisfy their needs and not distress their system. And of course, make sure that your dog does not eat anything hazardous, such as dead animal matter or worse, rat poison pellets in the home. If you do scatter rat poison pellets to kill off mice and rats, make extremely sure that your pet cannot eat them.

Dog health issues continue with how your dog drinks. All animals need water, and a dog may suffer from dehydration like you would. This problem may be especially acute in dry areas such as Arizona or Texas, or during summer in any state. Make sure that your dog has access to fresh water both indoors and outdoors anytime it needs a drink.

Fur Maintenance Is Crucial

A dog’s care extends to its fur as well. Some dogs have longer or thicker fur than others, and in general, it is a good idea to brush and groom your dog’s fur regularly. This helps it maintain an attractive coat, especially since dogs cannot groom themselves in the same way cats do. Dogs with long fur will definitely need this, and dogs that shed a lot or suffer from heat may need to get brushed to remove excess hairs in summer. This can help your dog stay cooler more easily, and some brushes have metal bristles that can remove excess hairs and fur mats. Just be careful to not apply too much pressure and hurt the dog’s skin, or over-groom it. Preventing fur mats or tangles is another fine benefit to grooming, since mats are uncomfortable for the dog and might even cause skin irritation. That, and mats are unsightly anyway.

External Factors Can Affect Dog Health

Finally, be careful about the time your dog spends outdoors. Whether your dog spends all day outside, or if it only goes out to relieve itself, you ought to keep watch on your dog for its safety. Many dog health issues may strike outdoors, such as exposure to ticks and fleas. Such pests will bite and irritate the dog’s skin greatly, and worse yet, these pests may transmit Lyme Disease, rabies, and other very harmful infections to your pet. A dog with fleas or ticks might even transmit those pests to people or other pets in the household, spreading the problem. Check your dog’s fur for pests during warm weather, and consider getting your dog shots and medicine to prevent infestations. If your dog does fall ill, it’s important to contact your nearest pet urgent care clinic.

Outdoor dog health issues extend to the weather, too. During the cold, strictly limit how long your dog is outside, with the possible exception of breeds bred for winter weather, such as Huskies. Dogs can get hypothermia, and this is even more likely if wet snow gets their fur wet with cold water. Some dog owners even give their dogs a sweater or coat to help it stay warm, and you can easily find one of these in your dog’s size at pet supply retailers or online. Once the dog comes inside, towel it off to dry it and keep cold water from chilling its body. During warm weather, limit how long your dog is outside, and make sure it can access shade and clean water to keep cool. You can give it a dog house from any manufacturer, such as Amish dog houses. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke or exhaustion, just like people.

Research Urgent Care for Pets

Sometimes, your dog may be hurt or ill, it will need to be taken to the vet to get looked over. A variety of dog health issues call for emergency care services, but in other cases, your dog simply needs a regular checkup at the clinic. Why might a dog need this level of care? For one thing, perhaps your dog’s eating habits suddenly changed; most often, it goes two or more days without eating at all, a clear sign of a problem. Perhaps your dog has an upset stomach, or is highly stressed. In some cases, dogs might suddenly start raiding pantries or the garbage for food as a new habit, which may be a sign of illness. A vet will know what to make of this. Or, your dog is incredibly thirsty, and drinks a lot more water than usual. If your dog is vomiting repeatedly, or if you spot blood in the vomit, the dog will need treatment, especially since repeated vomiting will dehydrate it. Vomiting in combination with a fever is another sign of major dog health issues.

A dog’s excrement may be another sign of trouble, such as blood or mucus in the stool, or worms or parasite eggs or diarrhea. Or, your dog seems constipated to some degree, another worrying sign. Finally, cloudy or red eyes or unexplained weight loss or sluggishness can all justify a visit to the vet’s office.

When you take your pet to the vet due to observed dog health issues or just for routine checkups, you might have the option to have your dog on a leash instead of in a crate. Well-behaved dogs are allowed in vet’s office on a leash, but if your dog is aggressive toward others or easily frightened, it may be best that you keep it in a carrying crate, or leave it in the car until it is ready for a checkup. But be careful about how you leave your dog in the car, since a car’s interior can become dangerously hot very fast in sunny and warm weather. Before visiting the clinic, you can take your dog for a short walk and/or let it loose in your backyard, so it can relieve itself and burn off nervous energy beforehand. It’s also a good idea to comfort your pet, such as giving it a familiar blanket or chew toy in the crate or pet it and talk to it. This may make the pet more agreeable when the vet is ready to help.

At any rate, once your dog has its turn with the vet, you can explain any dog health issues you’ve observed, and the vet may do anything from physical exams to blood tests or stool tests to check for infections, parasites, and more. This ranges from examining its teeth, gums, and tongue, down to its anus, ears, eyes, nose, paw pads, and skin and fur. A vet may make a diagnosis from symptoms such as foul breath, rashes, ear inflammation, reddened gums, and the like. Your dog may also be weighed and have its measurements taken, especially growing dogs so the vet can tell if the animal is growing well. A vet may tell you how to adjust your pet’s diet or environment, and they can also give you medicine for your pet. Some medicine may be pills that you add to your pet’s food, or it may be liquid medicine that you can carefully apply to its back. Many dog medicines are meant to kill off parasites and pests (internal and external), and prevent any more from attacking the dog.

Understand When Emergency Care Is Necessary

It may not be pleasant to think about, but sometimes, a dog will be in dire need of 24 hour emergency care, and taking your pet to a vet hospital can save its very life. If a dog is very sick or badly injured, then an ordinary vet clinic cannot help; it is time for an animal hospital, and the surgeons there may be similarly equipped as doctors for people, such as an emergency pager system and an operating room. What might happen, so your dog may need surgery or life support? A dog may experience serious symptoms such as a heat stroke, a seizure, sudden paralysis, fainting, a weak or rapid pulse, or an odd change in body temperature. Any of these may be a dire warning sign that demand emergency care at once.

In other cases, the problem is more obvious, such as a broken bone or a serious wound or puncture. A dog might get into a fight with another pet or wild animal and suffer bites, scratches, or more, and a dog might get injured by stepping on or scraping against nails or other sharp objects. Or, it fell from a great height, or got hit by a vehicle. Dogs often run into the street, and your dog runs serious risks of blunt trauma by running into traffic, even in a calm neighborhood.

You can find emergency pet care options online with an internet search, and you can find 24 hour emergency care vet hospitals if your dog needs help at an odd time of day. Once you get there, the doctors can stabilize your pet, diagnose the problem, and begin treatments. Cuts can be stitched and bandaged as bleeding is controlled, and broken bones can be set and set up with a splint and leg wraps. In some cases, your dog has been poisoned, such as from eating a rat poison pellet, certain foods, or from getting bitten by venomous spiders or snakes. In rare cases, perhaps your dog suffered an allergic reaction to certain medicines it received recently.

Do Your Research on Dog Bite Laws

On a side note, bear in mind that dog bites are a real hazard, and someone bitten by a dog can pursue litigation against the dog’s owner. If you suffered a serious dog bite, you can find a dog bite attorney from a local law firm, and it helps to recount all possible details of the attack and note any injuries you sustained. For example, lacerations, broken bones, a sprain, scarring, heavy bleeding, and even psychological trauma, such as a newfound fear of dogs. Dogs are adorable pets, yes, but they can cause serious injuries if they feel the need, and this threat must be taken seriously.

In short, owning a dog means being constantly vigilant for any hazards that may harm it, from overheating or getting dehydrated to swallowing something poisonous or getting into a serious fight with other animals. Regular checkups, and knowing what to do during canine medical emergencies, can keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy no matter what.