Many illnesses can be prevented, or can be cured by early intervention. Teach yourself to recognise signs of illness.
health rules that help prevent illness:
the dog well
up the dog poos daily & dispose of them out of the yard.
the dog out for daily walks will improve his physical & mental health. (And your
Attend to regular de-worming, inoculations and tick and flea control.
AIDS Cats can get AIDS from other cats, in the same way as one human can transmit it to another. It destroys the immune system, making the cat vulnerable to any illness.
can be allergic to many things eg grass, nylon carpets, food additives. A skin
rash can sometimes be soothed with petroleum jelly. Try to find the cause of the
allergy by elimination. Try a different kind of food for a month to see if there
is any improvement. A flea bite can cause an allergic reaction, so make sure
your dog is always protected against fleas. Internal worms can also cause
irritations so deworm your dog regularly.
illness. Always protect your dog from ticks, especially in hot, wet
weather. Not every tick that bites your dog makes it sick - but don't become
complacent! Some ticks carry a smaller organism which passes into the dog's
blood stream causing anaemia, loss of appetite, white gums, swollen stomach and
be caused by
tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria breeding in the dog's mouth can spread
to infect his vital organs. Ask your vet to check teeth every time you go. Dogs
over the age of three years start to get tooth trouble. Bad breath can also be
caused by whatever food has been eaten. Sometimes a change of diet helps.
Crunching dry biscuits can help to scrape the tartar of the teeth.
sting can be fatal. Keep a close watch on your dog if stung. If his tongue or
nose swells he may be unable to breathe. Be ready to rush him to the vet.
is caused by ticks. It can be prevented by applying Frontline or similar every
month. When a tick bites a dog, cat, or other animal, it injects a micro-organism into the dog's
bloodstream. This eats the red blood cells, causing anemia, which is detected by
white or pale gums & eyeballs. In females the whiteness can also be seen by
opening the vulva. The dog becomes weaker, unable to eat, may vomit & have
diarrhea. Inability to walk & distended stomach may follow. Complications
like jaundice may follow. (yellow gums). Often the dog may be worse after
treatment while the battle rages. If caught in time, the dog can be saved.
Feeding liver may help recovery.
injured, a dog can produce an alarming amount of blood! Avoid places
where there may be broken glass, rusty tins, and thorns. A small cut should heal
by itself. The dog keeps it clean and germ-free by licking it. But if the
bleeding does not stop, stitches may be required. The vet may administer
antibiotics to prevent infection in the wound. Slow clotting and von
Willebrand’s disease can lead to the dog loosing too much blood, so do not
leave a dog alone if the bleeding is profuse.
eyesight by moving your hand at each side of his head to see if he notices
movement. Some dogs become "night blind" and cannot see well at
night. This may be caused by damage to the retina. It sometimes progresses to
total blindness. Always place the food dishes in the same spot so the dog can
find them. Blind dogs can live a happy, contented life in a familiar
swollen stomach can be due to a blockage in the intestines. A vet described
bloat this way: the stomach was almost like
when a dog has a swollen tummy, the dog tries to vomit and nothing comes out. He
has a dreamy look. This can be caused by worm infestation. Deworming may work
wonders. A swollen spleen can be a sign of biliary.
If in doubt, ask the vet without delay. A swollen stomach is serious! See
Bone trouble. Keep the dog's weight down, and avoid steps and jumping. Gentle exercise is OK. A cheerful atmosphere in the home will help to keep a dog healthy! (and all the members of the family.) "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, & good news gives health to the bones." King Solomon of Israel. Proverbs 15, 30
bronchitis, characterised by a cough,
can be highly infectious. The dog must be isolated from other dogs and allowed
to rest. The vet may prescribe a cough suppressant and antibiotics. Viruses
attack the windpipe and lungs causing an irritating cough. Inoculations
can prevent this illness.
said to be the most common cause of death in dogs. Black pigmentation in the
skin helps to prevent skin cancer but shade is still vital. White dogs are prone
to skin cancer, especially those who sunbathe lying on their backs with tummy
spots on a baby pup’s nose could become sunburned, but they normally become
darker on maturity.
is not the same as human hepatitis. A dog can be dead within 24 hours of our
noticing that it is sick. It starts with diarrhea and vomiting. Another sign is
a blue, cloudy, far-away look in the dog’s eyes. (When breeds normally have
brown eyes, a baby puppy’s eyes are sometimes blue at birth but they should
turn brown by 7 weeks approximately.)
feed the dog prior to going in the car. Always carry newspaper and cloths to
clean up any mess. It can be helpful to put the dog in a travel crate. Try to
get the dog accustomed to the car by taking him for short trips to pleasant
places like a park. Vomiting can be triggered by fear.
red cyst-like growth on the rim of the eyelid that looks like a cherry needs to
be removed surgically as it can grow bigger until it obscures the eyesight and
causes blindness. If the tear duct is prolapsed, it may need the skill of an eye
specialist as removal of the duct will result in dry eye: the eyelid sticks to
Coccidiosis Minute internal parasites can cause diarrhoea, loss of appetite, thinness, and anorexia. Blood is often seen in the stool.
Ask the vet for a high fibre diet food for the dog. If this does not work, here
are some home remedies you can try mixing with the food: bran, pumpkin or other
vegetables, apple sauce or stewed apples (not too much or it can make matters
worse!) Try wetting the dry dog pellets. Make sure the dog has plenty
clean water and gets lots of exercise. Constant straining can cause perineal
will need to be operated on. Straining can also be caused by a blockage in
the intestine. The dog may have swallowed a stone, bone, or toy. Worms can block
the intestine so try a dose of worm medicine.
your dog is eating faeces (dog poo) he will probably come to no harm except in
the event of the poos being from a sick animal. Dogs sometimes detect some
nutritional stuff that has not been digested and have a second meal of food that
has passed through the body. Dogs usually grow out of this habit. Make sure your
dog is getting enough to eat. Giving the dog something to gnaw on may also
satisfy his desire to eat. Remember to deworm your dog regularly as worms sap a
dog's strength, causing him to need more food. Sprinkling curry powder on fresh
faeces may give him a nasty shock and put him off trying to eat them in future.
is a contagious illness, the signs of which are coughing, fever, gagging and
runny nose. It can be deadly if not treated promptly with antibiotics. The dog
should be isolated from other dogs as germs can be spread through coughing, in
the same way that humans spread flu to each other. Hands should be washed after
handling a sick dog. Germs can also be carried on clothes and shoes.
is commonly called "Kennel Cough," though it has nothing to do with
kennels! It is spread by a germ which the dog can get anywhere. In places where
kennels are indoors, with air conditioning, it's something that the owners of
boarding kennels dread. If a dog that has a cough is admitted to the kennel, all
the dogs can get it! Dogs catch it when they go to places where they mix with
other dogs, like parks, etc. All inoculations should be up to date before the
dog is taken to a boarding kennel to ensure that the dog is protected from other
dogs' germs and viruses. There is a vaccine to prevent kennel cough. It is
sometimes called bordetella as it is
caused by the bordetalla bronchiseptica bacteria.
Disinfect the dog's environment twice daily with water & disinfectant. Mop
up any accidents at once.
Coughing is not always a sign of illness. A dog may cough to dislodge something
from its throat or stomach. Try offering something interesting to drink to wash
the impediment out. If the dog won't drink, a piece of dry bread may dislodge
the foreign body from the throat. Never force-feed, though!
dog may eat grass and cough it up again to clean out the stomach. It may cough
up yellow bile or froth. These things are natural.
dogs start coughing when excited. This is not an illness. But a persistent cough
may be a sign of illness. It can be a sign of heart trouble. Tonsillitis
can also cause a gagging cough. So can a collapsing trachea - usually in small
Dogs sometimes get cataracts over the eyes, same as humans. These can be removed
in Dogs When
too little insulin is present, the body can't use glucose for energy. It is
forced to break down fat for energy. The body produces ketones (acids) and
releases them into the blood and urine. When animals with diabetes do not take
enough insulin, especially in times of stress or illness, ketones are produced.
Ketones warn the diabetes may be out of control.
have water at all times.
can live for years on insulin.
can be a sign of many illnesses. It can be caused by fear or stress. If the dog
is normal in every other way, try offering mashed pumpkin or yoghurt to settle
the tummy. Cooked, deboned chicken & boiled rice may tempt a picky eater.
Never force-feed. If the diarrhea persists then get a vet. Puppies are
especially at risk from dehydration. There is no time to loose in the case of a
the dogs are shaking their heads constantly, they could have ear mites. Mites
can breed inside dogs' ears (and cats' ears) and cause itchiness. Mites leave a
dark, gritty discharge in the ear. They can only be seen with a microscope.
Mites can travel from pet to pet, so treat all your pets if one has mites.
little wax inside the ear is nothing to worry about. Don't poke things inside
the ear as it may damage the eardrum.
with the head tilted to one side, or walking in circles, may indicate ear
trouble, like vestibular
causes dizziness disorientation, and nausea. Restless eyeballs is another
indication of this. But it could also have been caused by a stroke or brain
outward turning eyelids. Entropion
inward-turning eyelids. Your vet may advise a minor operation to correct these
conditions, which commonly occur in dogs.
infection If eyes get
an infection, yellow matter might be seen coming from the eye. This can often be
cured easily with eye ointment from the pharmacy.
matter might be a sign of something else, though, like worms, ticks, fleas or a
cold. Wipe the matter off the eyes with wet cotton wool or soft tissue. Use a
separate tissue for each eye to prevent the spread of infection.
It could also be caused by
an irritation. Peel back the eyelids to see if there is a hair growing towards
the eyeball, or a small growth like a pimple. A small op can save years of
irritation and possible loss of sight.
is spread by fleas and can be transmitted to humans. Some dogs are allergic to
flea bites and come out in a rash. Fortunately there are many products on the
market to keep fleas at bay. The kennel and bedding need to be treated as
well as the dog.
- feline urinary syndrome
is often easily treated with the amino acid 'methionine' which restores Ph in
the urine and prevents the build up of crystals.
caused by an internal parasite. This parasite likes wet conditions, so keep the
dog kennel dry and the garden as puddle-free as possible.
an eye illness caused by fluid build-up in the eyeball. It leads to blindness. A
dog with glaucoma should not be bred from, as it can be hereditary.
leave a dog in a parked car. The shade moves and the car heats up fast and can
kill. Don't exercise the dog in hot weather.
must be provided in the garden.
a dog over-heats, damage to internal organs may occur. The dog may collapse,
pant, and have a wild look in his eyes. Douse him down with a hosepipe or plunge
him into cool or cold water. Wet the groin. Ice will cause the arteries to
contract and is to be avoided. The dog may lie on a wet towel, but don't cover
him with the towel. It is better to allow the water to evaporate which has a
with short noses, like pugs & bulldogs are prone to heat-stroke. So are fat
& old dogs.
see Canine Hepatitis.
or loose hip or elbow joints) is common in large, active breeds like German
Shepherds. Movement becomes gradually more and more painful. Good
nutrition from puppyhood can help. Special foods have been developed for large
breeds. This condition may or may not be hereditary, so some breeders have their
dogs tested and get a certificate to show that their breeding stock is HD free.
Hip replacement surgery is available.
Never give pets human medicine. An animal's metabolism is different to ours and
human medicine can make matters worse. Never give aspirin to cats. Throw away
medicine that is past the expiry date.
Beagles, and other dogs sometimes develop underactive thyroids, making them slow
and lacking in energy. They dislike the cold as they cannot heat themselves. The
hair may fall out. It can also cause reproductive problems. A hormone prescribed
by a vet easily rectifies this.
living conditions contribute to pyoderma in puppies, so change puppy
litter often and disinfect whelping boxes. Pick up all excrement from the garden
or wherever puppies go. Signs include abscesses & pimples inside ears and on
face. The head may swell. Pus may be seen inside ears. The throat or nose may
swell and cause breathing difficulties, hence the other name for the condition
"puppy strangles." Juvenile pyoderma is contagious. It can be
transferred to other pups, but not adult dogs. Any pup with pyoderma should be
separated from other puppies. The signs should clear up after a few weeks with
the aid of antibiotics, but it can be an indication that the puppy has a poor
immune system. Pups who have had puppy strangles should not be used for
Leptospirosis (Lepto) Dogs, cattle, pigs & humans can get Leptospirosis from the urine of wild animals like mice. It is a bacterial infection which can take up to 26 days to incubate. Signs can include loss of appetite, fever, muscle pain, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea,jaundice, sore stomach, and bleeding. It is difficult to diagnose! It can be fatal, but can be cured with antibiotics if caught in time. There are various strains of lepto, so some vets feel that inoculations are ineffective.
is caused by mites. Bald patches may appear. The dog may scratch and break the
skin which can then become infected. Sores may develop. The vet can take a
skin scraping to determine which kind of mange it is. Demodetic mange is a mite
that is transferred usually only around the time of nursing and weaning. The
mite lives naturally on dogs (a similar mite lives on humans.) This mite rarely
becomes a problem in adult dogs unless immune compromised.
vet can supply a special dip to treat mange. The dip should not be rinsed off.
The dipping may need to be continued for 5 weeks. Antibiotics may be required if
infection has set in. A weekly antibacterial shampoo will help. Shampoo the dog
on a different day to dipping. Use left-over dip to soak the dog bedding &
to wash kennels. Kennels & bed can be sprayed with insecticide.
short) The dog may limp and have pain in one leg. The pain may then shift to
another leg. It is often noticed in puppies aged from 6 to 18 months. We say the
pup has growing pains. Avoid unnecessary stress on the legs, like going up &
down stairs, jumping off furniture & beds. Rest should help. It may be
helpful to contain the puppy in a crate to ensure adequate rest. Do not let the
dog become overweight.
Dogs from smoking families have presented with malignant nasal tumours. Dogs
(especially puppies) will eat cigarettes and cigarette ends dropped in the
garden, so do consider pets before deciding to smoke.
pills easily. Pop it in the mouth, keep mouth shut and the pill is gone! Other
dogs refuse to swallow and it may help to hide a pill in tasty food. Test to see
if pet will eat the food before putting the pill in it. marshmallows, cream
cheese or ordinary cheese, tinned dog food, sandwiches, wors/sausage, peanut butter, or macaroni.
If the dog spits the pill out, crush it and mix it with food.
If food is too wet, the pill becomes soggy & can't be used again if spat
out, so the drier the better.
If food is too wet, the pill becomes soggy & can't be used again if spat out, so the drier the better.
Poison Many household & garden products are toxic to pets, eg chocolate & cocoa garden mulch.
See Juvenile Pyoderma
growth on eyelid see Cherry
snakes, like puff adder, are poisonous and one bite can kill a dog. If you are
unable to identify the snake, take the dead snake with you to the vet. Treatment
differs according to the type of snake. A poisonous snakebite is an emergency.
The dog must be rushed to the vet and may have to be hospitalised. If you think
the snake is harmless, keep a close watch on the dog for several hours to make
sure the dog is recovering.
This can be caused by prolonged medication, or other causes. Black stools,
sometimes tarry in appearance, vomiting blood, and lethargy are signs.
characterised by a hard, swollen stomach. It is very dangerous and can be fatal.
To avoid torsion, feed the dog two small meals, morning and evening instead of
giving one large meal. Avoid exercise and horse-play after eating. See
in the urine is a bad sign. Loss of
appetite, increase in water intake, increase in frequency of urinating, and
vomiting, can be signs of kidney trouble. This can be fatal if not treated.
dogs become incontinent. Consider installing a doggy door so the dog can get
outside quickly. Incontinence may be caused by UTI, urinary tract infection.
Antibiotics should help. If the dog is unable to pass urine, the bladder could
burst. The urethra may be blocked with kidney/bladder stones. A vet should be
consulted without delay. A special diet may help prevent this.
Willebrand's Disease. Some
dog's suffer from a bleeding disorder. The blood is slow to clot and they loose
a lot of blood if injured. Avoid exercising the dog in places where there may be
broken glass, rusty tins, thorns, barbed wire, or other dogs that may fight. The
condition is hereditary and affected dogs must not breed.
are host to several types of worms. A tasteless worm medicine can be bought at
the supermarket. It is mixed with the dog’s food. There are different
strengths for dogs of different weights. To weigh your dog, first weigh
yourself, then pick up the dog and weigh yourself and the dog together. The
difference is the weight of the dog. If in doubt, let the vet deworm the dog.
Worms may become immune if the same brand is always used. Your vet can supply
you with different brands.
can block a dog’s intestine and some can be transferred to humans, especially
Zoonotic illnesses are those that can be passed from cats, dogs, birds etc, to humans.