Dogs are loyal and loving pets, so it is no wonder their human parents adore them. They are such devoted companions, eager to please, and have an unending supply of unconditional love for those they deeply care about. Without a doubt, dogs have the power to lift our mood whenever we are feeling a bit down. They are an essential part of our lives, so much so that when we lose them to a fatal illness or tragic accident, it is sometimes difficult to move on. While we cannot stop certain accidents from happening, we can practice preventive care so that our dogs can live long lives.
What does it mean to give our dogs preventive care? It simply means keeping our dogs physically healthy. Preventive care helps in the early detection and prevention of diseases and other health problems before they become critical.
Signs that your dog is sick
Dogs can not verbally communicate to us if they are in pain or not feeling very well, but fur parents can usually tell through their dog’s body language. If a normally energetic dog has suddenly become lethargic and refuses to eat, chances are something is ailing him. Other signs every fur parent should watch out for are vomiting, hair loss, eye discharge, coughing, sneezing, and diarrhea. These signs could be symptoms of a serious illness and it is always a good decision to take your dog to the vet whenever these symptoms are present.
Canine distemper and parvovirus are highly contagious canine viruses and the outcome is often fatal for the dog. The best way to guard your dog against these viruses is by vaccinating them.
Puppies can have their first 5-in-1 vaccination when they are 6–8 weeks old. The 5-in-1 vaccine protects your dog from Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, and Parainfluenza.
Another important vaccine that your dog should have is the anti-rabies vaccine. Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus, which is transmitted through a bite or saliva from an infected animal. It has a high fatality rate once a dog gets infected and starts exhibiting symptoms. The best way to guard your dogs against the rabies virus is by vaccinating them. Puppies can get their anti-rabies shot when they have reached the age of four months.
Spaying or Neutering your dog
Aside from preventing unplanned pregnancies, having your dog fixed has other health benefits. Spayed or neutered dogs have lower chances of getting breast cancer, pyometra (in female dogs), and testicular cancer (in male dogs). Transmissible venereal tumors (TVTs) are cancerous tumors, and they are highly contagious. The best way to protect your dogs against TVT is by spaying or neutering them.
Heartworm is a serious disease that causes severe organ damage and death in dogs and cats. The worms are transmitted via a mosquito bite. They are called “heartworms” because they settle in an infected dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Once a dog becomes the host, the parasitic worms are then free to mature and develop into adults inside the dog’s body. Monthly chewable pills, topical solutions, and an injectable medicine administered every 6 or 12 months are some of the preventive measures available.
Kennel Cough Prevention
Kennel Cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs. Dogs can get Kennel Cough in places where there are a lot of dogs, such as pet daycare services, dog parks, and dog shows.
If a dog becomes ill with Kennel Cough, isolate the dog immediately and disinfect the kennel for one to two weeks.
For kennel cough prevention, a vaccine against bordetella bacterium, the agent that causes kennel cough, is available. Dog parents can consult their veterinarian.
Diabetes Mellitus Prevention
Although dogs of various shapes and sizes can get diabetes, older dogs are more susceptible to this disease. Dogs with diabetes experience weight loss, are often thirsty, have little appetite, and are prone to infections. Diabetes is manageable, not entirely curable, and dogs diagnosed with the disease can live a normal and happy life.
The best treatment for diabetes is prevention. Although Diabetes in dogs cannot be completely prevented, there are steps that dog parents can take now to maintain their dog’s health in the future. Dog parents can help their dogs avoid diabetes by feeding them a healthy diet, taking them to regular vet checkups, and making sure they get enough exercise.
Researchers for the study “Mortality in North American dogs from 1984 to 2004: an investigation into age-, size-, and breed-related causes of death,” examined 20 years of records from the Veterinary Medical Database, one of the world’s largest veterinary medical data repositories. They found that the number one cause of death among older dogs is cancer. The incidence of cancer peaked in the group of 10-year-old dogs, then declined as the dogs got older.
dogingpost.com says that dog parents can reduce the risk of their dog getting cancer by choosing a chemically-free environment for their dog, making sure their dog’s teeth and mouth are healthy, reducing the use of tick and flea products, and spaying their dog after 18 months of age.
Practicing preventive health care for your dog is part of responsible pet ownership. Dogs are family and we have to safeguard their health and happiness for the rest of their short lives.
About the author: Rowena David is faculty member at College of Computer Science in the University of Makati, is a freelance writer (Tagalog short novels), admin of Philippine Pet Lovers Society Facebook page, an animal rescuer and animal welfare advocate.