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Taking care of your dog's health


Dental Health

       Puppies replace their baby teeth with permanent teeth between four and seven months of age. Clean their teeth with a dog toothpaste or a baking-soda-and water paste once or twice a week. Use a child's soft toothbrush, a gauze pad or a piece of nylon pantyhose stretched over your finger. Some dogs develop periodontal disease, a pocket of infection between the tooth and the gum. This painful condition can result in tooth loss and is a source of infection for the rest of the body. Veterinarians can clean the teeth as a regular part of your dog's health program.

Bad Breath

       While many of us may object to our pet's bad breath, we should pay attention to what it may be telling us before we reach for quick and easy fixes. Bad breath is most commonly an indication that a trip to the veterinarian is needed for a dental check up. Dental plaque caused by bacteria results in a foul smell that requires professional care to treat. It is too late to simply brush the teeth once the odor becomes noticeable. After a professional cleaning, the teeth and gums may be maintained in a healthy state by brushing the teeth regularly, feeding some of the specially formulated dental diets and treats, avoiding table scraps or leaving the food out all day, etc. Your veterinarian can give you more tips on minimizing dental disease and bad breath.


  • Consult a veterinarian about using any over-the-counter or prescription Vaccinations.

  • Vaccines protect animals and people from specific viral and bacterial infections. They are not a treatment. If your pet gets sick because he is not properly vaccinated, the vaccination should be given after your companion animal recovers.

  • Puppies should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a 5 in 1) at 2, 3 and 4 months of age and then once annually. This vaccine protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. A puppy's vaccination program cannot be finished before four months of age. Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and American Staffordshire terriers/pit bulls should be vaccinated until five months of age. If you have an unvaccinated dog older than four or five months, the dog needs a series of two vaccinations given two to three weeks apart, followed by a yearly vaccination. Do not walk your puppy or your unvaccinated dog outside or put her on the floor of an animal hospital until several days after her final vaccination.

  • Since laws vary around the country, contact a local veterinarian for information on rabies vaccination. In New York City, for example, the law requires all pets older than three months of age to be vaccinated for rabies. The first rabies vaccine must be followed by a vaccination a year later and then every three years.

  • Other vaccines for dogs are appropriate in certain situations. Your dog's veterinarian can tell you about these vaccines.

While dental disease may not be too serious if caught early enough, some odors may be indicative of fairly serious, chronic problems. Liver or intestinal diseases may cause foul breath, whereas a sweet, fruity smell may be indicative of diabetes. If the breath smells like ammonia or urine, kidney disease is a possibility. Any time you notice your pet has bad breath accompanied by other signs of ill health such as loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, depression, excessive drinking or urinating, a visit to the veterinarian should be scheduled.

Fleas and Ticks

       Daily inspections of your dog for fleas and ticks during the warm seasons are important. Use a flea comb to find and remove fleas. There are several new methods of flea and tick control. Speak to your veterinarian about these and other options.



      This parasite lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Heartworm infections can be fatal. Your dog should have a blood test for heartworm every spring, because it is important to detect infections from the previous year. A once-a-month pill given during mosquito season (which varies in different areas of the country) will protect your dog. If you travel south with your pet during the winter, your dog should be on the preventive medicine during the trip. In some warmer regions, veterinarians recommend preventive heartworm medication throughout the year.




      Females should be spayed (ovaries and uterus removed) and males neutered (testicles removed) by six months of age. Spaying before maturity significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer, a common and frequently fatal disease of older female dogs. Spaying also eliminates the risk of pyometra (an infected uterus), a very serious problem in older females that requires surgery and intensive medical care. And spaying protects your female pet from having unwanted litters. Neutering males prevents testicular and prostate diseases, some hernias and certain types of aggression (which differ from protectiveness, which this surgery won't affect).

Medicines and Poisons

  • Consult a veterinarian about using any over-the-counter or prescription medication.

  • Do not give your dog chocolate.

  • Make sure your dog does not have access to rat poison or other rodenticides.

  • Call your veterinarian.


Article courtesy: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Printed with permission


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In the beginning, God created man, but seeing him so feeble, He gave him the cat.

- Warren Eckstein


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