Caring for Your Puppy or Adult Dog
Owning a dog is an extremely rewarding experience, but it also carries with it responsibilities. We hope this information will give you some help and guidance. Please click on any of the links below for information on caring for your puppy or adult dog:
The diseases vaccines can prevent
What should I feed my puppy?
What can be done about fleas and ticks on my puppy?
Can I trim my puppy's sharp toenails?
What are ear mites?
Should I have my female dog spayed?
Should I have my male dog neutered?
Training your puppy
What type of playing should I expect from a puppy?
Can I discipline a puppy?
Household dangers: puppy-proofing your house
Housbreaking your puppy
For additional information concerning any subject
related to your puppy's health
There are many diseases that are fatal to dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines. In order to be effective these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.
Vaccines contain small quantities of "modified live" or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your cat's immune system to produce disease fighting cells and proteins or antibodies to protect against disease without causing the disease.
There are homeopathic alternatives to vaccinations. However, until there is scientific evidence that any of them actually work, any claims about effective protection should be treated with caution. With vaccines such as the ones which we use, you have the reassurance of a product that has been approved through the FDA. This approval is only granted when all of the claims made for a vaccine 's performance and safety have been rigorously tested and proved in stringent clinical trials.
Dogs may occasionally react adversely to vaccination and appear listless and under the weather for a short time. Such side-effects are very rare and almost always of a fairly minor nature, but if they persist for more than a day or two, you should contact us for advice.
Very occasionally, a puppy is unable to respond to vaccination, usually because its levels of MDA (Maternally Derived Antibody) are too high. This is why puppy vaccines are given in a series. As the puppy matures, the Maternal Antibody diminishes and the puppy has more receptivity to the vaccine. Equally infrequently vaccines may also prove ineffective if the dog 's immune system has been damaged in some way, or, of course, if the disease has already been contracted before the vaccine has been administered or had time to work.
It should be stressed however, that ineffective vaccination and side-effects are both extremely uncommon and such minor drawbacks are far outweighed by the positive benefits of protecting your dog against diseases that could kill.
With the regular vaccination of dogs, the general incidence of disease has been greatly reduced. However, outbreaks are still common in areas where unvaccinated dogs are found. It is vital that your puppy is properly protected against the diseases described here.
Canine parvovirus first appeared in the late seventies, causing the deaths of thousands of dogs and, since then, regular outbreaks have been common in areas where unvaccinated dogs are found. It is transmitted through contact with infected feces and can also be carried on the dog 's hair, feet and feeding utensils. The virus is extremely difficult to eliminate and can persist in the environment for many months. Many normal household disinfectants will not kill the virus. Although dogs of all ages can become infected, puppies are particularly susceptible to the disease, and the symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting, high temperature and foul smelling, bloody diarrhea. Dogs rapidly dehydrate, may collapse and can die within 24 hours of the symptoms appearing, even with hospital treatment. Most affected dogs must be hospitalized and receive intensive treatment with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and antiemetic medications. They will usually recover but some do not survive in spite of the best treatment efforts.
Vaccination is a very effective preventative but must be given to puppies in a series of 3-4 immunizations ending at 4 months or older. This is because the mother's antibodies often last longer (therefore interfering with the vaccine) in parvovirus than with other viruses. The extended series of vaccinations ensures that the vaccine takes effect after the maternal antibodies have dissipated.
Canine hepatitis is a disease that attacks the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs of infected dogs. The disease can develop extremely rapidly, often within 24 to 36 hours, and can cause respiratory failure and death in a significant proportion of cases. Canine hepatitis is spread by direct contact with infected urine, saliva or feces and the symptoms commonly include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Dogs that survive the disease sometimes suffer from clouding of the cornea (commonly referred to as Blue Eye) during recovery. Many will become symptom free carriers of the disease for many months and be a potential threat to every other unvaccinated dog they come into contact with. There are many causes of hepatitis in dog including bacterial and viral infection, parasites, drugs and other toxic substances. The most common cause is the canine adenovirus, and it is this particular, highly contagious form of Hepatitis that vaccines are designed to prevent.
This incurable viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals through bites or any break in the skin. The disease is 100% fatal once symptoms develop therefore prevention is of paramount importance. The usual source of rabies is infected wild animals especially bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks. Clinical signs are related to the nervous system and may take several weeks to develop. The virus migrates along nerve tissue to the brain of the infected animal. Then it migrates to the salivary glands an the animal may then transmit the virus in its saliva.
There is no reliable blood test for rabies in a live animal. The only reliable test is performed on the brain tissue of deceased rabies suspects. If humans are potentially exposed they must be given preventative antibodies and vaccinations before the disease has a chance to develop. Any bite wound from a wild animal or unvaccinated pet must be reported to local animal control and/or public health authorities.
Vaccination of cats is a highly effective preventative measure and is required for all cats and dogs.
Lyme disease causes problems in many parts of the dog's body, including the joints, heart, and kidneys. On rare occasions, it can lead to neurological disorders. Lyme disease most commonly is associated with symptoms such as a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, and a loss of appetite. Dogs get Lyme disease from a tick that passes the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into the animal's bloodstream when it bites. The ticks, called ixodes or deer ticks, are generally found in specific regions of the United States: the northeastern states, the upper Mississippi region, California, and certain areas in the South. Like dogs, people can suffer from Lyme disease - they, too, catch it from ticks carrying the infection. Infected dogs do not transmit the disease to humans. For both canines and humans, the illness is treated by antibiotic medication.
Lyme disease can be a multi-systemic illness, with signs that may include fever, inflamed joints, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, loss of appetite, heart disease, and kidney disease. Disorders of the nervous system, while uncommon, may occur as well. We will be able to determine if a dog has Lyme disease after performing a blood test that will show exposure to the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Unfortunately, these tests do not provide a simple yes or no answer. We must evaluate the results along with the dog's symptoms, and take into account whether the dog has been in an area where Lyme disease is commonly found. There is a vaccine for the prevention of Lyme disease. Quick removal of a tick also may help prevent Lyme disease. We will provide information on the different tick prevention products that are available, as they can be an effective way to help to prevent the disease.
Coronavirus disease, sometimes called "corona," is a viral intestinal infection of dogs which causes diarrhea and is usually of short duration. However, it may cause considerable discomfort to the dog for a few days. Humans are not affected by the canine coronavirus. Infected dogs usually shed the virus in their feces (and possibly saliva) for one to two weeks, sometimes even longer. The virus is then ingested from contaminated food bowls or by direct contact with the infected dog. The incubation period (from ingestion to clinical signs) is one to five days. The virus can be severe, particularly in young puppies. Mixed infections, for instance with the parvovirus, may intensify the disease. The diarrhea is typically sudden in onset, accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. The stool is loose and orange tinted. It may contain blood or mucus.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which is spread in the urine of infected animals (usually rodents and other wild animals). Dogs are exposed to the bacteria in the environment. The disease can cause liver and/or kidney disease in dogs which is often quite severe. Leptospirosis can also be fatal. There are many strains or varieties of the bacteria which make it difficult to diagnose and treat with certainty. Blood tests for the antibodies takes time to confirm exposure to the bacteria. Often the treatment is based on supportive care and antibiotics if the disease is suspected.
Vaccines are available and have been improved to include more of the strains of the bacteria, however dogs may still become infected with other strains. This disease may also affect humans Precautions should be taken to avoid exposure to contaminated urine.
Although many people assume distemper is a thing of the past, localized outbreaks still occur sporadically, with the disease spreading rapidly through unvaccinated dogs. The disease is transmitted through moisture droplets, with dogs usually picking it up when sniffing where infected dogs have been. Since the incubation period can be as long as three weeks, it is usually too late to vaccinate once an outbreak has begun. The symptoms include a wet cough, diarrhea, high temperature, loss of appetite, sore eyes and a runny nose. In some instances, the dog 's nose and foot pads can become hard and cracked. In severe cases, the disease can lead to pneumonia, fits, muscle spasms and paralysis.
Distemper is often fatal and even those dogs that survive can be left with brain damage and permanent disabilities such as deformed teeth, nervous twitches, epileptic fits and complete changes of personality
Despite the name, kennel cough (infectious tracheitis) can be contracted in any situation where dogs are brought together - obedience classes, boarding facilities, dog parks, camp sites, dog shows. It is caused by a variety of infectious agents - including canine parainfluenza virus and the bordetella bacterium - and is passed on by breathing in contaminated airborne droplets or direct contact with infected dogs. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through any area where infected dogs are present. The main symptom of kennel cough is a harsh, dry cough without mucus or phlegm and one of the most typical signs is gagging or retching as though the dog has something stuck in its throat. This may last for any period from a few days to several weeks, and during this time secondary infections may also lead to pneumonia. The is often treated with antibiotics and cough medications to lessen the discomfort and prevent more severe infections.
Vaccines are available that help prevent the most common causes of kennel cough.
The vaccines for kennel cough can be given as drops down the nose or as an injection. Many boarding kennels now insist on vaccination before accepting dogs. Immunity from the vaccine only lasts for 6 months - so it is best given nearer the time of kenneling, but at least 5 days before.
Heartworm prevention is essential as heartworms are potentially fatal to dogs. Prevention involves an annual blood test to determine whether the parasite is present and regular dosing with preventive medication. Heartworm infestation is dangerous; untreated dogs may die and treated dogs may go through weeks of discomfort while the worms are killed and expelled from their bodies.
Parasites go through several life stages before emergence as adults and need two hosts to complete the cycle. In heartworms, a mosquito serves as the intermediate host for the larval stage of the worm, also known as the microfilariae. The mosquito ingests the larva when it bites an infected dog and deposits its cargo in an uninfected dog when seeking another blood meal. The microfilariae burrow into the dog and undergo several changes to reach adult form, then travel to the right side of the heart through a vein and await the opportunity to reproduce. Adult heartworms can reach 12 inches in length and can remain in the dog's heart for several years.
The first sign of heartworm infestation may not manifest for a year after infection, and even then the soft cough that increases with exercise may be dismissed as unimportant by the owner. But the cough worsens and the dog may have difficulty with exertion; he may tire easily, become weak and listless, lose weight and condition, and may cough up blood. Breathing may become more difficult as the disease progresses and can result in congestive heart failure and eventual death.
Intestinal worms are common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with worms in utero before they are born or later in her milk. Modern worming preparations are safe and effective and we recommend that puppies be dewormed and a fecal sample (to look for the microscopic eggs) checked along with the regular vaccination series. A fecal sample will determine if the deworming has been effective and will check for other parasites such as coccidia or giardia which are not worms but protozoa. It is important that the medication be repeated since it is only the adult worms that are killed. Within 3-4 weeks the larval stages will have matured and will need to be treated again. If coccidia or giardia are found they are treated with the appropriate medication. It is a good practice to check fecal samples and/or deworm your adult dog once per year.
Tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs. Dogs become infected with them when they swallow fleas. The eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea. When the puppy chews or licks it 's skin as a flea bites, the flea may be swallowed. The flea is digested within the dog 's intestine; the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Exposure to fleas may result in a new infection; this can occur in as little as two weeks. Tapeworm eggs seldom are seen in fecal samples since they are passed in the segments. They are often only discovered by the observant owner or during an exam. Dogs infected with tapeworms will pass the small segments of the worms in their feces. The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice. They are about 3 mm (1/8 in) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the feces. They may also stick to the hair under the tail. If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in color.
There are two main types of mange in dogs, demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange (scabies). Both are caused by mites which live in the skin of the dog.
Demodectic mange is found in two forms - localized and generalized. The localized form is often found in puppies whose immune system is still developing. Usually the mange causes areas of alopecia (hair loss) which may progress to skin irritation and infection. The mite is diagnosed by doing skin scrapings and seeing the mites under the microscope. This mange does not usually cause itching.
The generalized form of mange is more severe an extensive. It is also more likely to cause secondary infections, crusting and irritation of the skin. Severe generalized demodex in adult dogs is often associated with other underlying diseases and has a poorer prognosis.
Treatments vary depending on the severity of the case. Very mild lesions may heal spontaneously. Ointments, dips and insecticides may be needed in more severe cases. This type of mange is not contagious to humans.
Scabies is a type of mange that produces severe itching on the host dog and in some cases very severe irritation and infection. The mites are more difficult to find on the skin scrapings because they are fewer in number than in demodectic mange. Often treatment is begun in suspected cases even if the mites can't be seen. This disease can be transmitted to humans and causes severe itching. Dogs are treated with various dips and medications and usually respond well.
Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a puppy's life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy.
Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive form, and can be left in the dog 's bowl without spoiling. Canned food contains about 75% water compared with only 10% in dry food: so dry food usually works out to be less expensive. With only a 10% moisture content in a dry food, compared with 70-80% in a canned food, your puppy will appear to drink more if fed a dry food.
Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable. However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food. They often are more appealing to the dog 's taste however, they are not more nutritious. If you feed a very tasty food, you are running the risk of creating a dog with a finicky appetite. In addition, the semi-moist foods are high in sugar.
Table foods are not recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food. We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most dogs prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them. Do not feel guilty if your dog is happy to just eat one food day after day, week after week.
Commercials for dog food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that media commercials promote dog food on one basis, TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the "gourmet" foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive. If your dog eats a gourmet food for any length of time it will probably not be happy with other foods. If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it. We do not encourage feeding gourmet dog foods.
Ticks are small spider-like arthropods and fleas are insects. They are both parasites that feed on your dog's blood and can cause discomfort and more serious health problems. Flea bites may go unnoticed in some pets, cause slight irritation in others and produce extensive itching, red lesions, hair loss and even ulcers in those animals with flea allergy dermatitis, which is the result of extreme sensitivity to flea saliva. Severe flea infestations can cause anemia, especially in puppies and kittens. Fleas can also transmit several diseases as well as tapeworm. Ticks are "vectors" or carriers of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever which can be transmitted to humans.
The best way to control flea and tick problems is to prevent them from happening.
Many effective flea and tick control preparations for use on adult dogs are not suitable for use on puppies so please consult us regarding appropriate products. Today there are new, innovative products which are suitable for use on even very young puppies.
Puppies have very sharp toenails. They can be blunted and shortened using an emery board or a piece of carpenter 's fine sandpaper. They can also be trimmed with nail scissors or with clippers made for dogs and cats. However if you remove too much nail, you will cut the quick and cause bleeding and pain. If the puppy has clear or light colored nails it is possible to see the quick as a pink line running through the nail. With black nails this is more difficult and therefore these should be trimmed a little bit at a time until the puppy is beginning to resent it: at which time it is likely you are getting very near to the quick and should stop. It is useful to have a shaving styptic pencil available so that if you inadvertently cut the quick you can stop the bleeding without causing pain or discomfort to the puppy. We will be happy demonstrate how to trim your puppy's nails or do it for you at any time.
Ear mites (otodectes cyanotis) are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs (and cats). The most common sign of ear mite infection is scratching and shaking of the ears. Sometimes the ears will appear dirty because of a black discharge in the ear canal. Sometimes, we can find the mites by taking a small amount of the discharge from the ear canal and examining it with a microscope. Transmission is by direct contact between animals and the mites can be transmitted between dogs and cats. Ear mites are common in litters of puppies if the mother is infected or has been brought in contact with a cat with mites. Many ear infections are caused by bacterial or fungal (yeast) infections. There are different treatments and medications that can be prescribed for the various causes of ear infections.
Spaying offers several advantages. The female 's heat results in about 2-3 weeks of vaginal bleeding. This can be difficult if your dog is kept indoors. During this period she is attractive to male dogs and this can be a considerable nuisance. In some cases, despite your best efforts, the female will become pregnant. Your female will have a heat about every 6-12 months. Spaying is the removal of uterus and ovaries. Heat periods (and their associated problems) no longer occur and unplanned litters of puppies are prevented. It has been shown that as the female gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying - ideally before her first heat - will help to avoid these problems. If you do not plan to breed your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed at approximately 5-6 months of age.
Neutering offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will "wander" to get to her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and can cause difficulty with urinating and defecating.
Intact males are also susceptible to anal tumors and testicular tumors. Neutering will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems. The surgery can be performed any time after the dog is 5-6 months old.
Responsible ownership involves having a well-trained dog and this training should be commenced as soon as the puppy is acquired. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open and responsible breeders will ensure that the elements of training have commenced long before you acquire the puppy at 6-8 weeks of age. Remember training is not some formal process but should occur all the time that you are together with your puppy. Training and socialization are intermixed. A well socialized dog is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. So puppies should be socialized. They should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible and be introduced to other dogs and puppies, as soon as they are vaccinated.
Stimulating play is important during the first week. Stalking and pouncing are important play behavior in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. If given a sufficient outlet for this behavior with toys, your puppy will be less likely to use family members for these activities. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.
Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behavior threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided. Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior. However, many trainers prefer remote punishment. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the "punisher" to stop the problem. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you. We recommend professional trainers to help you with the proper disciplining techniques particularly for new pet owners.
Just as parents "childproof" their homes, pet owners should "puppy proof" their. The following are tips to help ensure that your pet enjoys and long, happy, accident-free life in your care:
Puppy housebreaking can be accomplished by many different methods. Keep in mind that puppies are unable to fully control their bowels until they are a few months old. You will have some success during the early months; however you should expect a few accidents. To avoid difficult clean-ups, keep puppies supervised at all times until you are certain that your puppy is housebroken. Once you allow your puppy to urinate in the house, he is likely to return to the same spot the next time he has to relieve himself.
Your puppy should be let outside to relieve himself just before you retire for the night. Likewise, as soon as he wakes up in the morning, the first thing your puppy will need to do is relieve himself. You should waste no time in taking him outside as soon as he awakes. When your pup hears you get up in the morning, it will be his signal to wake, so attend to him before going about your morning routine. Some pups may cry that they need to go outside at the first sign of light, and if you want a dry floor it is usually necessary to immediately respond to their needs. Your pup will also have to relieve himself shortly after a meal, and will need to urinate more often during the summer when his water intake is higher. As soon as your puppy finishes dinner, place him outside for several minutes until he relieves himself. At other times, you may notice your pup sniffing the floor for a suitable place to relieve himself. He may whimper or start to squat. Scoop him up immediately and place him outside.
Puppy housebreaking may be quickened if your pup sleeps in his crate. Dogs dislike sleeping in a soiled area, and your pup will soon learn to wait until you let him out of his crate to do his business. Of course, it may take a few months before your pup is able to hold his bowels all night. As he gets older, he will have fewer and fewer accidents. Expect this, and never scold him for accidentally soiling his area at night.
If your puppy does have an accident during the day, only scold him if you catch him in the act. If you scold him even a minute or two after he has soiled, it will confuse him because he will not know why he is being scolded. If, however, you catch him in the act of relieving himself in the house, pick him up and say "No" in a firm voice. Do not yell at the pup. Immediately take him to the outside area where you want him to go. Never rub his nose in the mess or hit him; this will cause him to fear you and will make future obedience training more difficult. Be sure to clean the soiled area with a product intended for housebreaking accidents. It should be formulated to remove both the stain and the odor so your pup will not be tempted to soil the same spot.
For additional information concerning any subject
related to your dog's health