Dog Articles 2

Vaccinating Your Dog

Vaccinations can protect your dog against serious infectious illnesses, but they arent one size fits all. Your veterinarian will help you select the vaccines your dog needs based on age, health status, lifestyle and other risk factors. Even though he may not need vaccines that often, your dog should have a veterinary checkup...

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Vaccinating Your Dog

Vaccinations can protect your dog against serious infectious illnesses, but they arent one size fits all. Your veterinarian will help you select the vaccines your dog needs based on age, health status, lifestyle and other risk factors. Even though he may not need vaccines that often, your dog should have a veterinary checkup every six to twelve months.

Core Vaccines
Core vaccines are those recommended for nearly every dog. Core vaccines for dogs are Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus-2, Parvovirus, and Rabies. The first three are usually combined in a single injection given to puppies starting at 6-8 weeks of age and boostered every 3-4 weeks until at least sixteen weeks of age. Thereafter, the combination vaccine is repeated every 1-3 years. Rabies vaccination is given first at 12 to 16 weeks of age and boostered one year later. After that, the Rabies vaccine is repeated every one to three years depending on the laws in your area.

Canine Distemper is a serious, highly contagious disease. It weakens the immune system, leaving infected dogs vulnerable to other infections. Symptoms include fever, coughing, green nasal and eye discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, loss of appetite, thickened toe pads, muscle twitching, seizures, and blindness. Puppies are most susceptible. Distemper is fatal in up to 90% of cases. Fortunately, the vaccination is very effective if given prior to the dogs exposure.

There are two forms of Canine Adenovirus, CAV-1 and CAV-2. Vaccination with CAV-2 provides protection against both. CAV-1 is the cause of Infectious Canine Hepatitis, which damages the liver. CAV-2 is one of several organisms that can cause Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, or Kennel Cough. Just as you would expect, the main sign is a persistent cough. Its spread mainly in places where large numbers of dogs are in close proximity, such as kennels, shelters, grooming facilities, or dog shows.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious disease affecting the digestive system. It can also weaken the immune system and damage the heart. Signs include fever, lethargy, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and loss of appetite. It can be fatal, especially in puppies born to un-vaccinated mothers. Parvovirus treatment usually requires hospitalization.

Rabies is an incurable disease of the nervous system that is nearly always fatal. Worse yet, it is transmitted between most animal species, including humans. Although rabies transmission requires direct body fluid contact, even indoor pets can be at risk since sick wild animals may enter homes. Regular rabies vaccination is mandated by law in most states.

Non-Core Vaccines
A myriad of other vaccines are available for dogs. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right ones for your dog.

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) is a treatable respiratory illness. It can be caused by CAV-2, Canine Para influenza, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. The combination vaccine normally given to dogs includes CAV-2 and Para influenza. Dogs at high risk of exposure to kennel cough can receive a more potent vaccine, given as nose drops or as an injection that protects against Bordetella as well. This is recommended for dogs that are boarded, groomed professionally, or taken to dog shows.

Leptospirosis is a serious illness that damages the kidneys and liver and can be transmitted to people. Unfortunately, the vaccine provides only moderate protection and can cause allergic reactions. Therefore, some veterinarians do not recommend vaccinating every dog. Dogs at highest risk of exposure are those that are exposed to water that may be contaminated by urine from wild animals or farm animals.

Lyme Disease causes sore joints, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. It is transmitted by ticks and can infect people too. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics if caught early. Vaccination for Lyme Disease is recommended for tick-exposed dogs in areas where the disease is common, such as the northeastern U.S.

Canine Coronavirus causes gastrointestinal illness similar to parvovirus, but milder. Because infection is mild and relatively uncommon in many areas, the vaccine is not recommended for all dogs.

Giardia is a parasitic organism that causes diarrhea and can infect other animals and people as well as dogs. Dogs that drink water contaminated by wild animal feces are at highest risk. The vaccine, however, provides only partial protection. Giardia infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Preventive Health Care Beyond Vaccinations
Preventive health care for your dog means more than just vaccinations. Checkups every six to twelve months can catch many health problems while they are easily treatable. Parasite control, good nutrition, and regular dental care are other keys to keeping your dog healthy for years to come.

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Viral Papillomas in Dogs

Younger dogs, usually less than two years of age, can sometimes develop wart-like growths on the lips, gums, and tongue as a result of contracting the canine papillomavirus from another dog. The warts caused by this virus are unrelated to the non-viral papillomas that appear on the skin of many geriatric canines. Viral papillomas are technically benign, meaning they cause ...

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Viral Papillomas in Dogs

Younger dogs, usually less than two years of age, can sometimes develop wart-like growths on the lips, gums, and tongue as a result of contracting the canine papillomavirus from another dog. The warts caused by this virus are unrelated to the non-viral papillomas that appear on the skin of many geriatric canines. Viral papillomas are technically benign, meaning they cause no illness themselves; however, they tend to grow in large clusters, are susceptible to becoming ulcerated and infected, and may cause discomfort while eating. Because it may be difficult to differentiate a viral papilloma from other masses that occur in the mouth, a biopsy and histological examination by a pathologist may be recommended to identify the mass. In most cases, viral papillomas of young dogs resolve on their own over time without treatment.

The canine papillomavirus is transmitted by contact with the lesions of an infected dog. Young dogs are susceptible because of their underdeveloped immune systems. Papillomavirus may survive outside the body for as long as 2 months in cooler temperatures; therefore, exposure by contact with feeding and water bowls or chew toys may be a possibility. The virus incubates in the recipient animal for 1 or 2 months before warts begin to emerge, so the source animal may not always be identified. This canine-specific virus does not spread to humans or other species of animals.

Viral warts may rarely affect the other mucous membranes of the dog’s body, such as the eyes, ears, anus, genitals, and between the toes. In these cases, the masses may not possess a typical appearance common to the viral warts that occur in the mouth. A surgical biopsy and tissue analysis should be performed to rule out malignancies (cancerous growths). This would be especially true for dogs over two years.

Typically, viral warts of the lips, mouth, and tongue will regress over several months as the dog’s immune system develops and produces antibodies against the virus. Papillomas on other parts of the body may take significantly longer to resolve. In the case that the oral warts become injured or infected, the pet’s owner may notice blood or an odor from the mouth. The mass should be removed and antibiotics started to prevent further complications. The veterinarian may employ a scalpel, electrosurgical device, or cryogenic freezing technique to remove the warts. Canned food, rather than kibble, may be fed for a couple of weeks after surgery to allow the tissue to heal without delay.

The only way to prevent viral papillomas is to prevent exposure to infected dogs. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether a carrier must have active, visible lesions in order to be contagious. Puppies should only be exposed to other dogs whose history of exposure is fairly certain.

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Worms and Internal Parasites

The Parasite Problem
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your dog, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Some pet parasites can cause problems for people too, so keeping them out of your home is also good for you and ...

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Worms and Internal Parasites

The Parasite Problem
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your dog, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Some pet parasites can cause problems for people too, so keeping them out of your home is also good for you and your family.

The most common internal parasites of dogs live in the gastrointestinal tract. You may see some of these organisms in your pets feces, but a fecal analysis by your veterinarian is more reliable. Some parasites live in the bloodstream or other parts of the body. Blood tests may be required to detect these. Most internal parasites can be treated with medication available from your veterinarian.

Roundworms Almost all puppies acquire roundworms from their mothers. The worms look like curly pieces of spaghetti and may be several inches long. Heavy infestation with roundworms may cause a dull hair coat and pot-bellied appearance. Roundworms can also cause disease in children, so all puppies should be routinely tested and treated. The treatment is a simple oral medication, but it must be repeated two or more times. It is important to follow label directions exactly. You can help prevent the spread of roundworms by cleaning up animal feces as soon as possible, especially in your yard.

Tapeworms Tapeworms are one type of worm you may very likely see in your pets stool. The worms are long and flat (like a narrow piece of tape), but you will rarely see the entire worm. Small segments, resembling grains of rice or sesame seeds, break off periodically and appear in the feces or on the hair around your pets anus. Tapeworms are spread when your pet swallows an infected flea while grooming himself, or when he eats an infected animal, such as a mouse. Tapeworms may cause anal irritation, and some types can cause problems in children. You can prevent your pet from being exposed to tapeworms by controlling fleas and discouraging hunting. Your dog can be treated for tapeworms with an oral or injectable medication.

Hookworms Hookworms look similar to roundworms, but are smaller. Hookworms live in the small intestine where they feed on blood. They can cause severe anemia and even death in puppies. Hookworm larvae live in the soil, especially in warm, humid areas. They can cause skin infections in humans. Hookworms can be treated with an oral medication. Picking up animal feces immediately can also help with prevention.

Whipworms Whipworms get their name because part of the worm is short and thick, like the handle of a whip, while the rest is long and slender, like the lash. They are common in dogs. Whipworms can cause diarrhea and colitis. Treatment and prevention are similar to that for roundworms and hookworms.

Protozoa Protozoan parasites of the intestine include Giardia and Coccidia. All are microscopic. Giardia and Coccidia often cause diarrhea in puppies. Giardia can be spread to humans as well. Oral medications are available to treat for these organisms.

Heartworm Heartworms are worms that look very similar to roundworms, but live in the heart. Their microscopic larvae circulate in the blood and are spread by mosquitoes. Heartworms are common in dogs. Without treatment, heartworm infection causes damage to the heart and lungs and is often fatal. Therefore, prevention is crucial. A variety of convenient preventive medications are available from your veterinarian. Routine blood tests are recommended annually or more often if preventive treatment has been interrupted. Once infected, dogs can be successfully treated for heartworms, but the treatment is much more involved than that for intestinal worms.

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Zoonotic Diseases

Most organisms and viruses that cause diseases are very specialized to the species that they infect. Diseases that can affect multiple species are overall fairly rare. The ones that can be passed from animal to man are called zoonoses (zoe-uh-noe-sees). Rabies is the most well known of the zoonotic diseases; and for good reason – there is no cure for rabies. Thanks to mandated...

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Zoonotic Diseases

Most organisms and viruses that cause diseases are very specialized to the species that they infect. Diseases that can affect multiple species are overall fairly rare. The ones that can be passed from animal to man are called zoonoses (zoe-uh-noe-sees). Rabies is the most well known of the zoonotic diseases; and for good reason – there is no cure for rabies. Thanks to mandated vaccination strategies, rabies cases in domestic dogs and cats have been all but eliminated. Un-vaccinated strays are still at risk from the feral canine and feline populations that act as a reservoir for the virus. Other zoonotic diseases are less well known, but can be equally dangerous to infected people. Appropriate vaccination protocols, parasite screening, and preventive medicine are key to reducing exposures to these preventable diseases.

There are a few canine intestinal parasites that can infect humans. People can become infected by roundworms by accidental ingestion of contaminated soil. Children are especially at risk. Infection of people by roundworms is usually mild or undetected, but can cause permanent damage if it leads to ocular or visceral larval migrans. These conditions are caused by the larvae migrating through the eyes and organs. While rare, ocular larval migrans can lead to blindness. Hookworms can cause abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. They also migrate through tissue and cause rashes at the sight of infection. Good hygiene practices and routine parasite screening of pets can reduce the risk of human parasitism.

Ticks are common parasites that carry rickettsial organisms that can cause debilitating illness in people and dogs. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), and Ehrlichia are among these types of infections. They can cause acute and chronic disease including fever, joint pain, bleeding, and anemia. It is possible to become infected by handling a tick that carries the organism even if it does not attach to the skin. There are safe monthly topical treatments that will keep your pet free of ticks. Always check yourself and your children for ticks after camping, hunting, and hiking trips.

Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection that causes kidney and other organ damage. It is spread by contact with the urine of an infected animal. Raccoons are the most significant vector for dog lepto cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human lepto cases come from contact with infected dogs, swimming in contaminated waters, and rodents. The organism can live outside the host in soil and water for months in ideal conditions. There is an effective vaccine available for dogs in endemic areas.

Ringworm isn’t a worm at all. It is a fungal infection of the skin. While the fungus that causes ringworm in dogs is somewhat species specific, it can cause rashes and itching on susceptible people. Another skin parasite that may infect people is called sarcoptic mange (scabies). Scabies is a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin causing itching, redness, and rashes.

Immuno-compromised people like those with HIV, cancer patients, and the elderly are especially at risk for canine zoonoses. Children who have not learned proper hygiene are also susceptible. Parasite prevention, vaccination strategies, and wellness examinations can reduce the chance that our dogs may become sources of human disease. Awareness and hygiene can reduce the risk of exposure from already infected pets.

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Vestibular Disease

Vestibular Disease is an interruption of the normal mechanisms that control balance and coordination. The receptors responsible for telling the brain which way is up and down, how to right one’s self, and move along terrain without falling are located in the inner ear. Fluid in the semicircular canals moves like the bubble in a...

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Vestibular Disease

Vestibular Disease is an interruption of the normal mechanisms that control balance and coordination. The receptors responsible for telling the brain which way is up and down, how to right one’s self, and move along terrain without falling are located in the inner ear. Fluid in the semicircular canals moves like the bubble in a carpenter’s level as the body changes position in relation to the earth. Tiny hairs detect this movement and send nerve impulses to the brain and limbs to coordinate motor function. A disconnect sometimes occurs between these systems causing dizziness, stumbling, and a head tilt (the brain’s attempt to correct for loss of balance). Nausea commonly follows. Vestibular Disease can be caused by infection and tumors; however, in older dogs it is commonly an inflammatory process that may occur and resolve spontaneously. This condition is referred to as Idiopathic Vestibular Disease (of an unknown origin) and is the most common form.

 

Nystagmus (repetitive eye movement) is a common indicator of vestibular problems. The mechanisms that are involved in the perception of orientation directly communicate with the visual system. The ability to fix sight on the surrounding environment is diminished in vestibular disease. The eyes will attempt to compensate and “catch up” with the seemingly moving surroundings. These eye movements can be observed and may help the veterinarian to categorize the type of disease as peripheral or central. A peripheral vestibular lesion involves the inner ear, and a central lesion involves the brain itself. Vertical nystagmus (eye movements are up and down, rather than side to side) is almost always associated with central vestibular disease. Horizontal nystagmus, while not diagnostic, is typical of peripheral lesions. Peripheral vestibular disease has in general a better prognosis (expected outcome) than vestibular disease caused by primary brain lesions.

 

Other symptoms seen with Vestibular Disease, while they do not help to determine the cause or prognosis, include head tilt, staggering, circling in one direction, falling to one side, and vomiting secondary to dizziness.

 

Vestibular Disease is further categorized as idiopathic (unknown cause) by ruling out primary brain lesions and other causes of ataxia (incoordination). A complete blood count, chemistry profile, thyroid panel, survey radiograph (x-ray), and urinalysis are used to reveal underlying metabolic and infectious disease processes. Ear infections can cause inflammation of the vestibular system, so they must be ruled out as well. Special imaging with x-rays, MRI, and CT scans can help evaluate the bulla (middle ear cavity), inner ear, and brain to detect occult lesions responsible for symptoms.

 

The symptoms of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease may spontaneously resolve as quickly as they occur. Nystagmus will generally subside and walking without falling will be possible within 3 to 5 days. The dog may be completely normal within a week or two. Occasionally, the head tilt may persist longer. A head tilt that remains longer than a couple of months is likely to be permanent.

 

In the past, corticosteroids were given for Idiopathic Vestibular Disease; however, it has been shown that they are of no benefit in speeding recovery. Steroids could be contraindicated in the case of occult infection; therefore they are generally avoided in current treatment protocols for this illness. Symptoms of dizziness and nausea may be improved with the use of anti-vertigo medications such as meclizine (Antivert) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Never give any medication without first consulting a veterinarian. Confining the dog to a small area may help avoid injury from falling, and darkening the room may help with symptoms of dizziness.

 

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Von Willebrand’s Disease

In 1924, a Finnish doctor by the name of Erik Adolf von Willebrand documented and studied a rare bleeding disorder in an isolated group of people; he showed that the disease was heritable as opposed to infectious in nature. Later researchers discovered that the physiological mechanism responsible for this form of coagulopathy – a dysfunction in the blood’s clotting...

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Von Willebrand’s Disease

In 1924, a Finnish doctor by the name of Erik Adolf von Willebrand documented and studied a rare bleeding disorder in an isolated group of people; he showed that the disease was heritable as opposed to infectious in nature. Later researchers discovered that the physiological mechanism responsible for this form of coagulopathy – a dysfunction in the blood’s clotting ability – was due to a deficit or defect in a complex of plasma proteins, subsequently named for von Willebrand. Von Willebrand’s factor (vWf) is a group of numerous proteins involved in the “blood clotting cascade”, the process by which the blood forms clots to stop active bleeding. Dogs may also inherit a deficiency in von Willebrand’s factor, and breeds that are genetically predisposed to von Willebrand’s Disease include German Shepherds, German Short-Haired Pointers, the Rottweiler, Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Standard Poodles, Scottish Terriers, Shelties, and Miniature Schnauzers.

When bleeding occurs due to a wound or vascular trauma, specialized cells called thrombocytes (platelets) are chemically activated to collect at the site of the injury and begin to form a blood clot. Furthermore, clotting factors such as von Willebrand’s and other associated proteins are necessary for, binding the platelets and forming fibrin, the structural matrix of scabs and scar tissue. In cases of von Willebrand’s disease, the deficiency or defect in the von Willebrand’s factor prevents the formation of the blood clot, and bleeding persists. This condition is referred to as a platelet dysfunction syndrome.

There are three types of von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) in dogs. In Type I vWD, there is a marked decrease in the amount of all of the von Willebrand’s proteins. Type II vWD is caused by an absence of the larger proteins in the von Willebrand’s complex. In the most severe type, Type III vWD, there is a complete absence of all the von Willebrand’s proteins.

All dogs regardless of breed that exhibit symptoms of prolonged bleeding times or spontaneous bleeding may be tested for plasma levels of vWf to confirm a diagnosis. In humans, the gene that is linked to this type of clotting defect is recessive and affects more women than men; this is not as true for dogs, as males and females are equally susceptible to inheriting the disease. Therefore, predisposed breeds of either sex should be screened for von Willebrand’s disease before being considered for breeding. Positive dogs should never be bred.

Plasma vWf levels are compared to “normal” dog levels and are expressed in terms of a percentage of normal. “Normal” is an average of all dogs that have been tested over time; therefore, it is possible to have a result higher than 100%. Depending on the laboratory running the test, a carrier of von Willebrand’s (positive for the disease) will usually have a vWf plasma level of less than 50%. A borderline or equivocal result will return in the 50 to 70% range. A normal (negative for disease) result will be greater than 70% and as high as 180%. There is available a test called electrophoresis to determine the specific type of Von Willebrand’s disease, but the treatment protocol will be the same in any case.

In addition to the plasma vWf test, a complete blood count will be used to detect subsequent anemia that may result from bleeding. A blood chemistry panel and urinalysis will assess the health of all organ systems in the body, and rule out coincidental or contributing disease processes.

The treatment for von Willebrand’s Disease, in the case of active bleeding or as a preventive measure before surgery, requires the administration of von Willebrand’s factor. There is not currently a synthetic replacement for vWf; the best source is from a plasma transfusion. Blood is collected from a donor dog that has been screened for von Willebrand’s and other diseases, and the plasma (the protein rich portion of whole blood) is then centrifuged, collected, and transferred into an administration bag. Plasma is available frozen from animal blood banks. The patient will then receive the plasma transfusion through a slow IV drip. If anemia is present, whole blood or concentrated red blood cells as well as plasma may be given. Ultimately, bleeding will persist until the von Willebrand’s factor is replaced.

A hormone called Desmopressin Acetate (DDAVP) has been used successfully to stimulate the release of von Willebrand’s factor in positive animals. It has a relatively short period of activity, about 2 to 3 hours, where it may help to control bleeding.

A von Willebrand’s positive dog may be susceptible to recurrence of bleeding even after treatment. The best way to prevent this life-threatening disease in future populations of dogs is through screening before breeding.

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Your Aging Dog

With advancements in nutrition, vaccinations, and preventive medicine, dogs can live a lot longer than they did in previous decades. Older dogs can exhibit subtle symptoms that are easily written off as part of the normal aging...

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Your Aging Dog

With advancements in nutrition, vaccinations, and preventive medicine, dogs can live a lot longer than they did in previous decades. Older dogs can exhibit subtle symptoms that are easily written off as part of the normal aging process. It is often overlooked that there are physical causes of these changes, and when recognized early, the deteriorative effects of disease can be significantly delayed. Early detection and treatment of age related problems can not only extend a dog’s life but also improve the quality of life in the older years.

Wellness examination is the veterinary term for preventive medicine. In human healthcare, preventive medicine is a very important tool for detecting underlying disease such as diabetes, heart failure, and liver dysfunction. It only makes sense that as responsible and loving dog owners, we give our pets the same benefit. Twice-yearly wellness checkups are recommended for all geriatric (over seven) dogs.

When you take your dog in for a wellness exam, the veterinarian will want to know about any changes you’ve noticed in your dog’s behavior. Changes in water consumption, appetite, activity, loose stools, and amount of urine production are all very important to discuss with the doctor.

Weight loss or redistribution of weight is very common in older dogs, even when no changes in appetite have been noticed. Underlying disease processes that can contribute to muscle wasting and weight loss include diabetes, renal (kidney) failure, and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). These illnesses are all associated with increased water consumption, urine production, and incidence of infection. Dogs with Cushing’s disease will lose muscle mass despite an increase in appetite.

Weight gain occurs with Hypothyroidism. The reduction in circulating levels of thyroid hormone causes slowed metabolism and an increased susceptibility to skin infections and alopecia (hair loss).

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is more common in older dogs as well. Symptoms begin with an increased frequency in bowel movements, followed by straining, diarrhea, and weight loss. Intermittent or persistent fresh red blood on normal stools is a common early indicator of IBD.

Other common diseases seen in older dogs include cardiomyopathy (heart disease), arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and periodontal infections. These problems are much more easily managed and treated when detected early in their progression.

Along with a thorough history and examination, your veterinarian will recommend routine screening for age related diseases. Blood chemistry panels include measurements of kidney and liver function, thyroid levels, and indicators of metabolic disorders like diabetes and adrenal gland disease. EKGs and blood pressure readings, as well as chest x-rays, can also reveal underlying disease.

Vaccinations
Just as he did when he was younger, your dog continues to benefit from the protection of regular vaccinations against infectious disease. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccine program tailored to your dog’s age, lifestyle, and health status.

Nutrition
Healthy older dogs require a diet that is lower in calories, while still rich in essential nutrients such as high quality proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Special diets are available to address the more specific requirements of dogs with medical conditions. Your veterinarian is your best advisor in selecting a diet that will keep your dogs tail wagging.

Exercise
Your dog may be slowing down, but he still needs exercise. Regular exercise can help keep him limber and prevent obesity. Be sure to tell your veterinarian if your dog has pain when he stands up, walks, or goes up and down stairs. There may be medication available to keep him more comfortable.

Dental Care
Keeping your dogs teeth and gums healthy is critical to his well being. Dental disease is painful and can lead to infection in the internal organs, such as the kidneys and heart. Your veterinarian should check your dog’s teeth regularly. He will let you know when your dog needs a professional dental cleaning. Under general anesthesia, all of the plaque, tartar, and bacteria are removed from the teeth. After your dog’s teeth are clean, it is your job to keep them healthy. Tooth brushing, dental diets and soft chew toys are highly effective.

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FIND US

Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365

Email. texaswestvet@gmail.com