Preventive Health Care

Preventive Health

Your best ally in the prevention of health problems is your veterinarian. Make sure you register with a veterinary surgery and find out about the arrangements for appointments and surgery hours. It is advisable to have the telephone number of your veterinarian readily available at all times.

Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on vaccinations, worming, feeding, and the general health care of your dog. In some countries, you can take out insurance cover against veterinary fees, as an accident needing surgery and hospitalisation can be a sudden cost, which may be hard to meet.

Dog proof and first aid

Just like humans, dogs can occasionally injure themselves. Some examples of how dogs can injure themselves include road traffic accidents, cuts and lacerations, stings and bites, poisons and toxins. Other occasions when your dog may require emergency treatment include sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhoea. For a basic first aid kit I would suggest having : cotton balls, paracetomol syrup for fever, an antihistamine or steroid ointment in case of an insect bite, hydrogen peroxide to clean out a wound, bandages to make a muzzle and to protect an injured area, Balanced electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration from vomiting or diarrhoea, a triple antibiotic ointment, a rectal thermometer, and an astringent/gauze pads to help stop bleeding. Remember to always phone your veterinarian for advice before you attempt to do anything to help your pet. Additionally, injured animals are often in pain and this may cause even a normally friendly pet to bite.

Things you may consider harmless household items can be deadly to your puppy. He may tug or chew anything he finds including plants and electrical cords. Candles, burners or coins. Do not leave hazardous items, including Medicines, poisonous plants, detergents and cleaning agents, where you puppy can get to them. Chocolates should be avoided. Make sure that all gates shut securely and that your puppy will not be able to squeeze through or under your gate. Puppies soon learn that not everything in and around your home is for playing with and that some things are just not safe. In the meantime, do everything you can to ensure your puppy has a safe environment to grow up in.

Just like humans, dogs can occasionally injure themselves. Whether this is whilst out enjoying a walk or in the house, you can help minimise problems by following some simple guidelines. Your veterinarian is your best ally in preventing a minor injury turning into a major problem, so make sure you are registered with a veterinary surgery and know about the arrangements for appointments and out of hours emergencies. Your veterinarian may well be able to give you advice over the telephone, so make sure you always have the number to hand.

Some examples of how dogs can injure themselves include road traffic accidents, cuts and lacerations, stings and snake bites, poisons and toxins. Other occasions when your dog may require emergency treatment include sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhoea, choking and seizures. Remember to always phone your veterinarian for advice before you attempt to do anything to help your pet. There is a risk that you could make things worse if you do not get the correct advice first. Additionally, injured animals are often in pain and this may cause even a normally friendly pet to bite.

Your veterinarian may explain that it is preferable to take your dog to the surgery rather than for your veterinarian to come to your house. This is because there is specialised equipment and trained personnel in the practice who can give your pet the best possible care. Remember, do not give your dog anything to eat or drink just in case he requires an anaesthetic. If your pet is not able to walk, gently slide him onto a blanket, which can then be used as a soft stretcher to transfer him to the back seat of the car. If the dog is trying to bite you should try and get a muzzle on him so that the veterinarian can examine him properly.


In the past, infectious diseases such as those caused by parvovirus and distemper virus, have been a significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Vaccination against these and other diseases has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases.

There is some variation according to region and it is important to discuss a suitable vaccination programme with your local veterinarian. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections followed by booster injections at various times throughout your dog’s life.

These booster injections help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check. You can use this opportunity to ask any questions about your dog’s health, but don’t wait until a booster is due before seeking advice for a medical complaint. Remember, always consult your veterinarian if you are in doubt about your dog’s wellbeing


Vaccine Primary Dose


Primary Dose


Booster Recommendation
Distemper 3 doses, 2-3-4 months 2 dose, 3-4 wk apart Annual Highly recommended for all ages
Adenovirus – 2 3 doses, 2-3-4 months 2 dose, 3-4 wk apart Annual Highly recommended for all ages
Parainfluenza 3 doses, 2-3-4 months 2 dose, 3-4 wk apart Annual Highly recommended for all ages
Bordetella bronchiseptica 3 doses, 6-9-12 weeks 2-3 doses 3 wk apart Annual Recommended for dog housed in Kennels, Pounds, etc.
Parvovirus 3 doses, 2-3-4 months 1 dose Annual Highly recommended for all ages.

Optional dose at 5 months- to overcome maternal antibody interference

Lyme Disease : Borrelia burgdorferi


Two doses : may be at 12 and 15 wks 2-3 doses 3 wks apart Annual Optional, has regional prevalence
Corona Virus Begin at 6 weeks & every 3 wks until 12 wks of age 2-3 doses, 3 wks apart Annual Optional. Incidence not known – Routine vaccination to be justified.

MLV not available.

Giardia 8th and 11th wk 2 doses, 3-4 wk apart 6 months ? Optional
Leptospirosis ——–do——– ———-do——— Annual Typically administered in combination with Distemper and ICH
Rabies* 3 months of age 1 dose Annual Booster optional but beneficial, IM route ( depends on local statutes).

Some recommend first dose earlier than 3months in endemic/high exposure area


Worming is an important aspect of looking after your dog. Puppies are particularly susceptible. Gastrointestinal parasites can cause serious disorders in dogs, including life-threatening anemia, loss of proteins from body, loose motion, vomiting, Low glucose in blood, intestinal obstruction, and weight loss.. The most common parasites found in puppies are hookworms, roundworms (ascarids), whipworms, tapeworms and Giardia spp. The method of infection varies with the type of worm but includes transplacental transfer, transmission via the milk while nursing, skin penetration, and oral ingestion. Certain canine parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms, at least three species of tapeworms and several intestinal protozoa including Giardia spp., can be transferred to humans. Therefore caution should be exercised when working with animals and their waste products.

For most puppies, it is sufficient to worm routinely every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age and then as advised by your veterinarian. There are many safe, effective products available which will eliminate these worms.

Tapeworms may also be a problem from time to time. If your dog is infected, you will probably notice the tapeworm segments in his fur around his back end or in the faeces. They look like grains of rice and are often seen to move. Occasionally, you may see a larger segment of the tapeworm, which will be flat and ribbon-like. Fleas transmit one type of tapeworm, and it is therefore wise to treat your dog for fleas if you notice any tapeworms. The ordinary roundworm tablets are not effective against tapeworms and a different form of treatment is required. Some products available for dogs are effective against both round- and tapeworms; please ask your veterinarian for advice.

Administration of Tablets

It is important to practice tablet-giving( eg., Vitamin pill ) from the time you have a puppy. Dogs will take readily some tablets/syrup designed for dogs or kids which are palatable. If crushing the tablet in food or disguised in other ways do not work, open the dog’s mouth with left hand by tilting the head upwards with thumb and index finger pushed in from outside the lips, behind canine tooth. With the opposite hand, open the mouth wide by pressing down on the lower incissiors with your middle two finger, pop the pill on the tongue as far back in the mouth as you can. Close the mouth, and hold it closed while stroking the throat to make the dog swallow. Visit your vet who can help you train giving pills to your pet. You can also try dog pill dispenser available in some pet shops or clinics.

Oral care

Just like people, they need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three.. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell. At this point, without medical intervention, gingivitis or inflammation of the gum takes over. This process leads to bad breath. And worse, it often leads to damage to the jawbones, and loss of teeth. Owners can lightly brush their dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in a toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use tooth pastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews ( Dentastix or schmakos) result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food like Pet food also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

How to brush your dog’s teeth : Start by putting a small amount of the toothpaste on your finger, and gently rubbing it on your dog’s front teeth and gums. After a few times, switch from a finger to a dog’s or a child’s toothbrush, one with soft, rounded bristles. Start by brushing the front teeth only, with a downward motion on the top teeth and upward on the lower teeth—the same way we’re supposed to brush our own teeth. After your dog gets used to this new activity, start doing teeth farther back in the mouth, brushing the premolars, then molars with the same motion you used on the front teeth. Consult your vet for suitable brush and paste.

Rawhides and oral health

There’s no doubt about it—dogs love to chew. And fortunately, chewing provides some real benefits. It can be a great stress reliever and also scrapes away tartar and calculus from your dog’s teeth and gums where harmful bacteria can form. But what is an appropriate chew toy for your dog?

Many people choose “bones” made from rawhide, which is simply the dehydrated skin of a cow. Rawhide tastes similar to beef, which is why dogs find it so irresistible. The downside is these tasty treats can also be hazardous for dogs.

The raw facts about rawhide

As your dog chews and slobbers on his treat, the hide becomes rehydrated, soft and gooey. When it reaches this point, your dog is able to tear away sections from the main bone. Most of the time your pet will simply end up eating the hide and it will pass through his digestive system. However, on rare occasions, larger chunks may be too big to completely swallow, causing your dog to choke. Intestinal blockage can also occur if the chunk of hide is too large to be sufficiently digested and becomes lodged somewhere along the intestinal tract. Surgery may be required to remove it.

Boning up on rawhide safety:

Make sure the chew is large enough so that your dog can’t fit it completely into his mouth.

Give your dog a rawhide chew only when you can be around to keep an eye on him.

Keep two rawhides on hand and trade them when one becomes too soft. The hide will harden as it dries, and you can give it to your dog again when the other chew becomes soft.

Replace your dog’s chew when he has whittled it down far enough to fit in his mouth.

Consider compressed rawhide made from layers of beef hide and formed under extreme pressure to create a very dense bone; it lasts three to five times longer than regular rawhide.

In the end, it’s your decision whether to treat your dog with a rawhide. Just be sure he has something appropriate to chew. Otherwise, he might just decide to go for a table leg or your favorite pair of loafers.

Fleas and Ticks

If your dog has fleas, he may be constantly scratching and biting himself, especially along the back and around the base of the tail. Some individuals are actually allergic to the flea’s saliva and for these dogs, the bite of a single flea is enough to provoke a violent skin reaction. Fleas can be hard to find on a dog. You may see the brownish-black fleas themselves, moving through your dog’s hair or you may notice the presence of dark specks of material – flea dirt (faeces) – in his coat. The female flea lays her eggs in the hair coat of the animal. Because the eggs are not sticky, they tend to fall off the animal into areas where the dog sleeps or plays. The eggs then hatch into very small, worm-like larvae. The larvae feed on organic debris, especially the dried blood droppings (flea dirt) left by adult fleas. The larvae molt and spin cocoons to form pupae that usually emerge as young, hungry adults in about 3 weeks; under certain conditions, however, the pupae can remain dormant for nearly a year. Once emerged, an adult flea can live about 2 weeks before taking a blood meal from a host. Once it begins feeding, it must continue to feed regularly or it will die. Adult females begin laying eggs within 1 to 2 days of feeding.

Ticks lay their eggs (as many as 18,000 in some species) in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Seed ticks hatch from the eggs and climb onto grass to wait for a suitable host. Once on a dog, they attach themselves to the skin and feed on blood, causing painful nodules wherever they attach.

Successful control of ticks and fleas depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control program. Flea and tick control products for adult dogs include a variety of drugs and chemicals available as collars, shampoos, sprays, dips, powders, long lasting topicals , and oral medications.

There are two basic categories of flea/tick control products:

  • Adulticides : These products kill adults fleas and
  • Insect growth regulators (IGRs)/insect development inhibitors (IDIs) : These products prevent fleas/ticks from hatching or maturing.

The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Environmental Control : A complete flea and tick control program also includes a thorough treatment of the pet’s environment. Places where dogs spend most of their time will have the greatest numbers of deposited eggs and newly emerged adult fleas and ticks. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The use of these insecticides must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming; special attention should be paid to the areas under furniture, carpets, near pet bedding, and along moldings. A product containing an IGR and an adulticide should be used as well. Follow label instructions for the proper use of and precautions concerning sprays and shampoos etc. Most products in India are available as liquid concentrate that needs to be diluted in water for use in dogs and environment. Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contact/visit are free from fleas and ticks.

Some popular topical Spot -on products which are available with vets are Promeris, Revolution, Frontline, Advantix or advocate and Vectra 3D. They are safe and applied on the skin once a month. Oral tabs for fleas are programme, Comfortis and Capstar which are given once a month. Likewise we have several concentrated liquid products containing pyrithrins which are diluted in water to 1-2% and used as spray in environment.

Neutering/birth control

The most common surgical methods of contraception are spaying in female dogs or castration in male dogs. Spaying/castration is an irreversible means by which a dog is rendered sterile. The procedure entails complete removal of the uterus and ovaries in females and testicles in male. Surgery is preceded by a fasting period and requires general anaesthesia and hospitalisation. Complications are unusual but may include post surgical haemorrhage, infection, tissue reaction to ligature material, and urinary incontinence. Postoperative care includes restriction of exercise for a week, protection of the incision from contaminants, and daily monitoring of the incision for inflammation or discharge. The incision must stay dry and suture removal is usually performed 7 to 10 days after surgery. There are also hospitals/clinics, which conduct spaying with Keyhole or Laparoscopy methods, with minimum invasive surgery and on out patient basis. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what exactly is involved with the operation and also on the best time for it to be performed. Routine early-age neutering is viewed as an important step in reducing the number of unwanted litters of puppies and also for minimising behavioural problems. Long- term outcomes (Neutering at < 5.5 Months of Age) in a study found that early neutering offers more benefits than risks for male dogs, but increased urinary incontinence suggests a delay until at least 3 months of age for female dogs.

Detect and prevent health problems with monthly home exams

You can play a big role in keeping your dog healthy. This story gives you a five-point monthly health check for examining your dog and making sure he’s in top condition.
You can take a more proactive role in keeping your dog healthy by following this simple, five-point monthly home health check.

“Early warning signals of poor pet health such as a dull coat or increasing or decreasing body weight can often be observed at home,” You become the eyes and ears of your veterinarian between visits. Should change occur, you’ll know to call your veterinarian and obtain treatment before a serious problem develops.”

Signs of illness

Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on age of dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc. for eg., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play while some become lethargic and loose appetite. Therefore regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments. To help you figure this out, here’s a partial list of signs worth reporting to your vet as soon as possible :

  • Collapse or convulsions.
  • Increased frequency of urination, increased amounts of urine produced, or difficulty in urination, urination in the house by a previously house-trained dog.
  • Greatly increased thirst and water intake.
  • Persistent cough or abnormal breathing.
  • Discharge from nostrils, eyes, ears etc
  • Diarrhea , constipation or vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours.
  • Loss of appetite for longer than 24 hours.
  • Weakness or lethargy. Loosing body weight
  • Swelling/lumps anywhere on body
  • Lameness or a change in the way your pet walks or runs.
  • If your dog is in obvious discomfort.
  • Persistent head shaking, excessive scratching, pawing at ears, or rubbing his hindquarters along the ground may be signs of distress.

The five-point health check for dogs

Remember to examine all five areas in your dog:

Weight check

Weigh your dog regularly. Also look for change in body weight by standing above the dog and looking for a slight “waist” behind the animal’s ribs. Place both hands on the dog’s ribs. If he’s at a proper weight, you will be able to feel the ribs, but they should not stick out. Check for pouches of fat in the groin area between the hind legs and under the belly.
If your dog is overweight, discuss the need for a weight reduction program with your veterinarian, cut out all treats and table snacks, and divide the daily feeding allowance into two to four small meals a day. Implement an exercise program for your dog, starting slowly with short activity periods and gradually increasing the exercise time.

Coat and skin

The coat should feel smooth from head to tail. Part the fur near the head and along the spine to check for flakes, scales or cuts. Check for the signs of fleas–black flakes or specks–at the base of the tail and on the rump and stomach. Dogs with a dull or matted coat may not be receiving all necessary nutrients, or may have a disease condition. Fleas can he treated with dips, shampoos and sprays.

Eyes and ears

Gently pull down the lower eyelid to check for a pink color. The whites of the eye should be glossy white with no redness. Look for normal pupil size and responsiveness of the pupil to light. Watch for colored discharge, which can be a sign of infection.

Ears should appear clean, pink in color (not bright pink), and free of debris and strong odors. Check for wax, especially dark wax, which may indicate the presence of ear mites or infection. Problems with eyes and ears should be a reason to visit your veterinarian.

Teeth and gums

Lift your dog’s lips away from his gums, and press a finger firmly over an upper tooth. When taken away, the white color of the finger imprint on the gum should return to pink. Open the dog’s mouth to inspect all his teeth. Beware of tartar build-up, which is yellow to dark brown in color, and can lead to periodontal disease. This should be removed by a veterinarian. Regular veterinary dental cleaning along with specially designed pet toothbrushes and toothpaste and chew snacks designed to eliminate plaque, can help reduce build-up.

Spot checks

Check for unusual lumps or bumps by placing both hands on top of your dog’s head and moving down under the chin. Next, move your hands behind the front legs, under the shoulders, down the back, over the hips, and down the legs. Inspect your dog’s claws and footpads for cuts or cracks. Report unusual lumps to a veterinarian.

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