Dog Disease - Dog Care Begins at Home

You will be calling on the advice and care of the experts from time to time, but the good health of your dog starts with you. If fact, your home health care – everything from popping a heart-worm pill into her mouth once a month to giving her a regular checkup – is crucial to her well-being. There’s no need to worry about putting your vet out of a job, because you’ll definitely still be needing him, but you don’t have to be rushing off to the clinic every time your dog scratches, sniffs or sneezes.

Watching for Problems:
Your dog will probably spend about 2 hours a year seeing your vet and about 8,700 hours a year with you. That’s seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year. You are the person who knows her favorite food, the amount of exercise that is just right for her, where she hides her rawhide bone and how she greets you when get in at night. You’re the person who knows how she looks and feels and behaves when everything is A-okay with her. That’s makes you the person with the perfect qualifications to recognize when she’s not feeling her usual self. And being able to spot changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance is the most important thing you can do to maintain her good health.

Suppose, for example, you notice a slight limp after she’s been playing in the yard. Or you feel a lump in her skin that wasn’t there a week ago. By noticing changes early, you will be able to take action before anything serious develops. That’s why vets usually recommend that you give your pet a thorough checkup about once a week.

Warning Signs:
There are some obvious telltale signs that will let you know when your dog isn’t feeling well. “Notice if either her appetite or her activity level has changed,” says Katherine Houpt, V.M.D., Ph.D., professor of physiology and director of the behavior clinic at the college of veterinary medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and author of Domestic Animal Behavior. When dogs aren’t feeling well, they often don’t feel like eating a full meal, and they certainly don’t feel like exercising as much as usual. And because eating and exercise are two of her all-time favorite things, if she does not feel like doing them, you’ll know there must be something wrong.