Dogs - Man's Best Friend

Make Dog Ownership Your Pride and Joy...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CANINE VIRAL DISEASES

The incidence of fatal diseases in dogs has luckily been drastically reduced over the last few years thanks to improvements in vaccines, quarantine laws and increased knowledge of what they actually are and consequently how they can be prevented. There are several serious diseases that may prove fatal in dogs but their risk of catching any of these can be greatly reduced by proper vaccination (with the exception of rabies, which is controlled in Australia, Britain and some other countries by strict quarantine regulations).

Canine Hepatitis
This virus is a highly contagious disease transmitted only to dogs and should not be confused with hepatitis in man. Primarily it affects the liver, kidneys and lining of the blood vessels.

Infectious canine hepatitis presents a variety of signs and symptoms that range from those of a mild infection to one of an extreme and rapidly fatal infection. At times it is difficult to distinguish from distemper. A few days after a dog is exposed, the virus multiplies in the dogs tissues and is shed through its stool, saliva and urine, which is extremely infectious to other dogs.

Convalescing dogs or those that have recovered may shed the virus through their urine for several months. Puppies are especially at risk although dogs of all ages are susceptible. In the fatal form affected dogs can suddenly become ill developing bloody diarrhea, collapsing and dying.

In mild cases the dog simply appears lethargic or below normal health and shows a lack of appetite. In acute cases the dog may run a fever reaching 106 degrees F. The dog passes bloody diarrhea, may vomit blood and will refuse to eat. Movement is painful and the dog can show a "tucked-up" belly, which is caused by a painful swelling of the liver. The eyes may be sensitive to light causing squinting.

Canine Distemper
A virus similar to the germ that causes measles in people causes this disease and world-wide it is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in dogs.
The distemper can live for many years in a frozen state. During spring, the virus thaws out perhaps accounting for the higher incidence of distemper during spring months.

Distemper can attack virtually all the dog's body tissues and so has a wide range of symptoms. It is more common in younger animals but can occur at any age. The overall condition of the dog has a lot to do with how sick the dog gets and it is more severe in poorly nourished and ill-kept dogs. Although dogs can, and do, recover they seldom return to normal once the virus has reached the nervous system and brain.
The disease begins with a fever and loss of appetite, with a watery discharge from the eyes and nose, accompanied by coughing, vomiting and/or diarrhea and general lethargy. Fits, nervous twitching and finally paralysis can follow this. Distemper can also cause a hardening of the nose and pads, hence its original name hard pad.

Canine Parvovirus
This disease has a special affinity for attacking rapidly reproducing cells – such as those lining the intestinal tract, bone marrow, lymph nodes and heart. The virus, which is highly contagious, is transmitted from one dog to another via contaminated droplets and faeces.

It can be carried on the dog’s hair and feet, as well as on contaminated cages, shoes and other objects. Dogs of all ages are affected, but the highest mortality occurs among puppies less than five months of age.

Two main syndromes are recognized:
1. Diarrhea Syndrome (Enteritis)
After an incubation period of seven to fourteen days, the first signs are severe depression with loss of appetite, followed by vomiting. The dog appears to be in extreme pain, with a tucked-up abdomen.
Within 24 hours a high fever develops and profuse diarrhea that is frequently bloody. Almost no other disease produces such devastating symptoms.
2. Cardiac Syndrome (Myocarditis)
This form of Parvovirus affects the muscle of the heart, especially in puppies less than 3 months of age. Puppies with myocarditis stop nursing, cry out and gasp for breath. Death can occur suddenly or in a few days. Puppies that recover sometimes develop a chronic form of congestive heart failure that leads to death in weeks or months.

The quarters where an infected is or has been kept should be cleaned and thoroughly disinfected. This is an extremely hardy virus that resists most household cleaners. The best disinfectant is Clorox (one part to thirty parts of water).

Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)
This is a highly contagious disease of dogs that spreads rapidly through a kennel. A harsh dry cough is the characteristic sign of the illness. The cough may persist for many weeks and become a chronic problem due to secondary infection.

A number of viruses have been implicated in the kennel cough complex. Two of these are immunized against through the normal yearly vaccination from your vet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dogs Health - Parasites Control

Parasites can be classified either as external or internal parasites.

External Parasites

FLEAS
Fleas can cause a widespread allergic skin irritation in your dog. Moreover, the ubiquitous flea is part of the life cycle of the tapeworm, so apart from his external problems with fleas, your dog may develop internal parasites as well.

Fleas are happy on other hosts and that may be you! It's always appreciated that fleas spend a lot of time off the dog and they'll snuggle happily into carpets, baseboards, bedding and so on. So you'll have to de-flea not only the dog but also his environment too.

You can often see the fleas (brownish jumping creatures) running around a light colored dog or, more easily, spot their faeces (black specs) in the fur. To deter them, dust the dog with flea powder or use an aerosol. Start at the dog’s extremities and work towards the middle and brush out when the treatment has been applied to the entire dog. Treat regularly to prevent them moving back in! This should include bathing the dog with a combined shampoo/flea control product as well using a flea powder, spray or flea collar. The dog's bedding should also be treated. All instructions should be followed carefully and only those products intended for dogs should be useful. If an irritation persists, then the owner should take the dog to the veterinarian.

TICKS
Ticks can be a problem during the summer months especially for those living near bush land. If left untreated ticks can make your dog very sick, and in some cases can even be fatal.

Ticks that are feeding on a dog look like small grayish warts with tiny legs at the head end. Upon becoming fully engorged they can grow up to one centimeter long and become reddish colored.

Remove ticks with tweezers but ensure you pull the tick out whole. If you suspect your dog has become sick due to ticks, take him to a Veterinarian as soon as possible.

INTERNAL PARASITES

THE ROUNDWORM
Dogs are easily infected with roundworm from their environment, which is often contaminated from other dogs. Puppies are almost invariably born with roundworm infections acquired from their mother during pregnancy. Because of the particular action of this worm, it is very difficult to prevent infection being passed from mother to puppy. However, the problem can be greatly reduced by regularly worming the mother. Worm prior to mating, during pregnancy and while nursing pups, paying particular attention to hygiene. Also start treatment of puppies at an early age.
A heavy infestation of roundworms can make a puppy feel very unwell, with symptoms including coughing, irregularity of bowels, vomiting, pot belly and diarrhea. The worms are grayish white in color and in shape resemble a common earth worm. They can occasionally be seen in the puppy's droppings after worming, but are more usually seen when vomited.

THE HOOKWORM
Although much smaller than the roundworm, the hookworm can have a serious effect on your dog's health. It occurs in the intestine and actually lives on blood, and for this reason a severe infection can cause anemia, weakness and even death of your pet.

Regular treatment of this dangerous worm is vital, as re-infection can occur rapidly and very easily especially during warm humid times of the year and it can be readily passed through milk from mother to puppy.

THE WHIPWORM
Named whipworm because of its resemblance to a stock whip, this worm is only a problem to dogs over 12 weeks of age. Infected dogs periodically develop an unpleasantly smelly diarrhea, which may include blood flecks and may even cause death. The worm is passed via the dog's droppings, and the eggs remain capable of infecting your pet for very long periods.

THE FLEA TAPEWORM
The flea tapeworm infects 70% of dogs. As the name implies, this worm goes through a development stage in the flea. Infection occurs when your dog grooms itself and swallows an infected flea.

This worm is picked up when fleas are common during the warmer months. Irritation to your pet produces "scooting" (rubbing their bottom on the ground). The most effective treatment is to keep your pet free of both fleas and worms.
Pups should be wormed every fourteen days until twelve weeks of age and then monthly until six months. An adult dog should be wormed at least every three months. The feeding of garlic is highly recommended in the control of worms.

HEARTWORM
Heartworm, as the name implies is caused by is a worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The heartworms are found in the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary arteries. The female worm may be up to a foot long; the male is about half that size. One dog may have dozens of worms. Heartworms live up to five years and during this time the females produce millions of larvae called microfilaria. These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, and may be concentrated in the spleen. The larvae go through a series of molts on their way to becoming an adult heartworm. One of the molts occurs in the salivary gland of the mosquito. Larvae cannot complete their entire life cycle in the dog; they must pass through a mosquito on their way to becoming an adult heartworm. Many species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms. The female mosquito bites the infected dog and ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop in the mosquito into the infective stage. The microfilariae are now called infective larvae. At this stage of development they will grow to adulthood when they are passed to a dog. The infective larvae enter the bloodstream of the dog when the mosquito bites it. They grow to adulthood in two to three months and start reproducing, thereby completing the life cycle. It only takes one mosquito carrying larvae to infect a dog with this potentially fatal disease.

Canine heartworm disease occurs worldwide. In the United States, it was once limited to the South. Due to our increased mobility, and people vacationing and wintering in infected areas the problem is now seen wherever there are mosquitoes.

Adult worms restrict the blood flow leaving the heart. They also interfere with the heart valves. The net effect is to reduce circulation to the vital organs. This leads to organ failure and ultimately death. Dogs infected with heartworms do not show signs right away. By the time symptoms develop, the disease is well advanced. The symptoms depend on the number of heartworms present, the duration of the infection, and the extent of damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

Most dogs with heartworm disease have a chronic, dry cough. You may also notice your pet has shortness of breath, weakness, and loss of stamina. The symptoms may be worse following exertion or excitement. The diagnosis of heartworm disease needs to be made by your veterinarian.

Heartworm disease is treated using a drug called caparsolate. This compound contains arsenic, and can be quite toxic to some dogs. The goal is to give enough of the drug to kill the heartworms, but not harm the dog. Caparsolate treatment is widely used and can be safely given if the animal is healthy in all other respects. A newer drug called Immiticide is now available. This compound appears to be safer than caparsolate for some dogs. Both treatment options usually require the dog to be hospitalized for a few days.

Nevertheless, the golden rule of prevention is better than cure should always be adhered to. Medications such as heartgard are available to help prevent your dog from being infected with heartworm.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dog Problems - Jumping Up

I'm sure most of you must have had the experience of your dog jumping up on you or your guest. If it's a big dog, it can most certainly knock you down. There are three good dog training methods, which you can try to get your dog to stop jumping up on you or your guests. If you try one and it fails, try another. One of them should work, provided you practice it consistently for at least six straight weeks whenever the dog jumps up.

Method A: Holding the dog's paws

The following method works best to stop your dog from jumping up on you. (Do not use this method if your dog has shown any aggressive tendencies).
1. Call your dog over to you. If it jumps up, calmly but firmly grasp its front paws, one in each hand, and do not let go. Talk to the dog calmly and do not get emotional, but make sure not to let go.
2. After a few seconds, the dog will want its paws back. Do not let go yet. Just keep talking calmly. Even if it whines or mouths your hands, keep hold.
3. After eight or ten seconds, your dog will be very annoyed and will really want you to release it. At that point, let go and simultaneously say "OFF". When the dog's front feet touch the ground, say "Good Off", and then really praise it.
4. Wait a few minutes, then call the dog over again. If it jumps up on you, repeat the exercise. Most dogs will very quickly learn not to jump on you if you use this method.
5. Have all members of the household practice this method, provided they are strong enough to hold onto the dog's paws. The very young may have difficulty with this.

Method B: Using a spray bottle

For this method, you will need to purchase several plant sprayer bottles. Fill them with water, and adjust them so that they emit a tight stream of water. Place them in areas of the home where they are easily accessible, and where the jumping is most likely to occur.
1. Call your dog over to you (making sure to have a spay bottle in hand). If your dog jumps up on you, immediately spray it in the mouth and nose with the water while saying "OFF" When its front feet touch the floor, say "Good Off", then praise it.
2. Repeat the exercise in a few minutes. Your dog should learn very quickly not to continue jumping up on you.
3. Have all members of the family as well as frequent visitors practice this exercise. Do not allow young children to make a game out of spraying the dog; this would be cruel and counterproductive to the behavioral modification that you are trying to invoke.

Method C: Using a leash and collar

Some dogs will not jump up onto you, but will do so onto others who approach it, particularly during walks. This method works best with these types of dogs.
1. Have a friend wait for you about a block or two down the street.
2. Clip your dog's leash onto its training collar, then go out for a walk.
3. Approach your friend. The moment your dog begins to jump up, give the leash a firm, quick pop toward your knees, while saying "NO, OFF". At the same time, the friend should back away a few steps. Do not become emotional; simply use a firm, commanding tone of voice.
4. Next, ask your dog to sit. As soon as it does, have your friend pet it, and give it a treat. You want your dog to eventually realize that sitting is the proper position to be in when being greeted. Whenever the dog jumps up, correct it with a firm pop on the leash; whenever it sits to be greeted, have your friend praise it. Soon, the dog will be conditioned to perform the behavior that receives the more pleasant response, namely the pet on the head, rather than the "pop" of the leash.
5. An alternative to this method is to have two leashes clipped to the dog's collar when approaching the friend. When you are close to the friend, stop, step on the loose leash so that there is little slack in it, then have the friend come up and pet the dog. If it tries to jump up, the leash you have your foot on will instantly become taut, preventing the dog from jumping up. Be sure to maintain a grip on the other leash, to prevent the dog from running away.

Remember that, whichever technique you choose, it must be practiced consistently for at least six weeks, the period of time it takes to permanently modify a behavior in a dog. If you are diligent, you should be able to stop this annoying habit in its tracks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dog Problems - Aggression

Dogs aggression can be categorized into:
1. aggression towards other dogs,
2. aggression towards visitors,
3. aggression towards moving objects
4. possessive aggression

AGGRESSION TOWARDS OTHER DOGS
• If you see another dog approaching when walking your dog try to get your dog to focus his attention on you by making him work for you in some way. Try to do this before your dog has already eyed up the other dog.
• Do not yell at your dog or the other dog, this will only create aggravation, your dog will only get more worked up and associate this with other dogs. He will immediately start getting upset when he sees another dog anticipating your reaction.
• If you have a large dog, which you feel may attack another dog while on the leash, use a halt to control him.

AGGRESSION TOWARDS VISITORS
• When visitors call, shut your dog in another room until you have achieved control.
• Arrange for someone to visit that you know will not be frightened of the dog and will follow your instructions to assist with training. The first step is to tell this person not to respond to the dog by either yelling at it or making a fuss, either one will get the dog excited which is exactly the opposite reaction you want.
• In the first session put the dog out of the room and bring him in when the 'visitor' has sat down. Talk quietly for a few minutes ignoring the dog then end the visit. Repeat this process a few times until the 'visitor' can be met at the door. It is important that the dog is taught to sit beside you at the door when someone calls, teach him to do this and not bark and jump at the door or rush forward as the visitor walks
• Until you have gained this control each time you get a real visitor put the dog out so that he is only learning from the situation you control.

AGGRESSION TOWARDS MOVING OBJECTS
• Teach him to come when called.
• Intervene as early as possible, he is more likely to obey you when he is close than if he has already started to chase something.

POSSESSIVE AGGRESSION
• Remove the object the dog is possessive about whether it be a chair, a toy or whatever he will not let you touch while he is there.
• Attain dominance over your dog by making him wait for food, attention etc. When you are dominant reintroduce the possessive item, as soon as the dog goes to it, tell him to go and lie down. If he becomes possessive again you have reintroduced the object to quickly.

Dog aggression if not controlled, may pose a serious problem to a dog owner like you. You may want to check out Kingdom of Pets: SitStayFetch for more tips on how to correct your dog aggression problem.

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