Looking After Your Puppy/Dog
It is indeed these first weeks of life together which, to a large extent, will set the pattern for your pet´s behaviour in future years.
In particular, you must avoid two big mistakes:
- thinking of the animal as a human being as far as intellectual and emotional capacities are concerned
- or, on the contrary, acting as though it were no more than a machine, devoid of feeling and of understanding
Your dog is a living creature. In their natural environment, dogs live in groups with complex hierarchical social rules. Its development is based on attachment, and the first weeks are crucial for the rest of its life. This is when it learns the basic features of its environment, and how to control itself. The very long period of its dependence on its mother (or human tutors) goes with its considerable learning capacity. It is able to acquire social rituals favouring the harmony of the group and to forge individual bonds with one or other members of it.
For dogs, communication involves all of the senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch). It represents a blend of instinctive messages, reflexes and more complex learned sequences combining posture, vocalisation and emission.
- Like all mammals, a dog will adapt- several times in the course of its life, if need be- to very different conditions, families and environments. But do not forget that, whatever the circumstances, your companion is always going to react as a dog, with a dog´s understanding and a dog´s reflexes.
- Nor should you forget that your pet is unique- an individual moulded by its parents, birth, early environment, time spent with the mother, and all its various experiences of life.
All of the general rules which you are going to be given here will need to be adapted to each individual case.
So are you aware now of your dog´s complexity, richness and limits? If so, then, let us see a few important points so as to avoid getting off on the wrong foot.
Your puppy has no doubt only just left its mother, the primary object of its attachment.
- If it is less than 6 months old, then it is going to need someone to replace her. And so it will choose a person who can provide warmth and comfort. It will try to be always as close as possible to this person, whose contact is a source of calm for it. It is vital that this new attachment should be formed, for the pup to be able to set off to discover this new world of yours.
- At about the age of 6 months, the time of puberty, you will need to detach your baby dog from you- not that this in any way means ceasing to love it! What it means is simply helping it to replace its primary attachment, which was necessary at the beginning, by an attachment to the group as a whole, which will be vital for the rest of its life. For this, what you need to do is to make sure that, in the contacts between you and the little dog, the initiative comes from you and not from the puppy. This will enable it to put up with your being absent. And in this way it will not fall prey to a certain all too common pathology: separation anxiety, causing the dog to howl and ravage or foul the house when you are not there. This pathology is now well known and easy to treat.
Things To Be Learnt
Adopting a little dog means accepting that you are going to be using a floor-mop for a certain time. At the ideal age for adoption- around 8 or 9 weeks- toilet-trained puppies are few and far between!
To expedite matters, there are a few rules to follow, and especially some mistakes to avoid making.
- Spot the right moment: in very young pups, each and every meal, drink and awakening triggers the need to “do its business”. If you take your dog out right then, you stand a good chance of being able to hand out a bit of reinforcement (strokes) for business done in a place of your choosing.
- Reward works better than punishment! It does not need to be systematic in order to be efficacious.
- Never punish your puppy if you have not caught it “on the job”. It might get afraid of you. “Putting its nose in it” is not a punishment at all (you will see that dogs quite happily do as much by themselves!) and would not help it to know what you´re so cross about. It will, of course, put on its “hang-dog” look – but so would it if you scolded it when it had done nothing at all! It reacts to your expression rather than to any fault it may have committed itself.
- Don´t use the “newspaper method”! Learning twice over is just twice as hard. Take your puppy out, as soon as it has been vaccinated. That way, it will soon learn, and will never be afraid in the street.
- Don´t clean up its business in front of it. It´s going to take that as a sign of interest on your part.
If you are going to get on well with your dog, you will need to train it in two types of command: call and stop.
- Many a dog has been saved from an accident by being able to obey these very simple commands. In both cases, you should begin training your new friend very early on. Education begins as soon as the puppy arrives in your home.
- Use simple words, and always the same ones. “Heel, Fido!” or “Rex, come!” will do just as well one as the other, as long as you do not change them.
- The younger the puppy, the more the training needs to be playful, and the shorter the sessions should be: 5 minutes at a stretch for a 3 month-old.
- Rewarding is always more effective.
- Disobedience is very often due to not understanding. Words mean little to a dog, so you should back them up with clear accompanying gestures which it can learn and interpret more quickly.
- As regards the call, never stand in front of your dog pointing at it and calling to heel!
For the first lessons, crouch, face away and call softly, tapping your thigh, “Come, boy!”. This makes you attractive for your puppy, who will come, and be delighted to get a vigorous stroking as a reward.
Walking on a lead
Walking on a lead does not mean much to a dog. You are going to have to teach it this new relationship which binds it to its master or mistress.
- At first, you could put the collar and lead on your puppy, and let it get used to this little constraint.
- When you pull on the lead, do so gently. Give some little tugs, calling your dog´s attention by clicking your tongue. As soon as it follows the direction of the lead, be it only for a yard or two, reward it with some vigorous strokes.
- Once the puppy begins to frisk alongside you on its lead, go on catching its attention with lots of little sound signals, so as to get it used to making regular visual contact with you. In this way, the physical leash is backed up by a vocal tether.
- Keep the lead slack: as soon as the puppy pulls, bring it back sharply to heel and slacken the lead straight away again, accompanying your gesture with always the same command: “Spot, here!” or “Flash, heel!”. As soon as the dog goes a few yards without tugging, give it a stroke.
A tight leash is a transmission line for emotions and may trigger undesirable reactions, such as aggressiveness towards other dogs.
Taking your dog out
- While taking all necessary precautions not to expose it to pointless risks (places soiled by animals you do not know and contact with unvaccinated animals), do walk your dog as soon as possible. In all likelihood, it is going to be spending its daily life in a completely different environment from that in which it was born and spent the first few weeks. To be truly at ease in its world, the puppy needs to encounter it regularly by its 13th week (i.e., its 3 months).
- By walking your dog, you thus let it avoid falling victim to the “deprivation syndrome”. This all too common behavioural affliction consists in severe difficulty in adapting to urban life and intense fear when in contact with strangers.
- Should your dog seem unduly afraid when you first take it out, do not stroke it for reassurance: you would be rewarding, and so reinforcing, its fear! Just act as though nothing is wrong and start a game with it by way of distraction. If this is just too hard and your puppy is unable to respond to you in this way, do not hesitate to talk things over with the Vet.
Nowadays we are all convinced of the truth of the slogan, “One day, our food will be our best medicine.”
To have a good and handsome dog later on, correct food needs providing from the earliest age. Canine nutritional science has made strides – puppies´ nutritional requirements are known precisely, so that industrial manufacturers can now supply perfectly balanced foodstuffs.
A puppy´s nutritional requirements vary with its size. Thus, puppies can be seen to put on weight very quickly at first. This then slows down, at between 4 and 6 months (4 months for small dogs and 6 months for large ones).
As in everything else, excess and deficiency are both harmful. A puppy which is too fat is liable to be obese later on. Being overweight moreover predisposes to bone and joint disorders in large-framed animals. Hence the importance of weighing your puppy regularly, to check that growth is proceeding smoothly.
Industrial or home-made food?
Dog-owners believe they are doing the right thing by feeding their dog with the leftovers of the table, whereas dogs´ nutritional requirements have got nothing to do humans´. All the same, it is true that we have the choice between two ways of feeding our dogs: home-made or industrial food.
Industrial – tins or dog-biscuits?
Dogfood manufacturers provide puppies with product-ranges adapted to size. These are perfectly balanced, which means that no extras are needed. The choice then is between dry rations (biscuits) and wet (tins). The former is often more practical and cheaper. You must make sure that the puppy always has fresh water at its disposal.
The choice of industrial food is based on an idea of quality: Vets supply “premium” and “superpremium” food. These high quality products may sometimes be a bit more expensive than down-market ranges, but the repercussions in terms of your dog´s health and its fur´s beauty are striking. The price difference mainly comes from the quality of the raw materials used, notably as regards proteins. Moreover, these products are very appetising, so that your puppy will be eager to eat.
Finally, certain owners wonder whether they should vary their animal´s food. The answer is no. Dogs do not need variety and may quite happily consume one type of food all life long. Not only that, but sudden changes in diet can cause digestive complications.
The amount of food to be given is shown on the packaging. However, you should check your puppy´s weight regularly and adjust the amount of food in line with its ideal weight.
Your Vet is also a nutritionist, and can help you find the ideal food for your puppy.
There are those who remain unconvinced of the advantages of shop food. You can make your animal´s meals yourself. There are several types of rations which must absolutely be topped up in calcium and phosphorus (seek advice from your Vet).
Here is a possible menu (for 1kg of rations):
- red meat: 450 g
- cooked and drained rice: 400 g
- cooked and drained veg (carrots, french beans): 85 g
- salad oil (soy, rape or sunflower): 35 g
- extra minerals and vitamins: 30 g
For an adult dog, one meal a day is enough. For puppies, 4 meals a day are generally advised at first, the frequency to be gradually reduced.
More or less, clean water should be constantly available. Water requirements vary greatly with food, weight and climate (e.g., a 25kg 6 month old pup, eating 500 grammes of dog-biscuits per day, needs 2 litres of water). The requirements will obviously be lower for a puppy feeding on tinned or household food.
Beware of treats!
Ideally, your puppy should only ever get meals. But it sometimes is hard not to go soft! Then, at least, no sweets: shop treats are better adapted to a puppy´s nutritional requirements. Also, your puppy should not be allowed to “beg” at the table – not only for nutritional but also behavioural reasons: sharing a meal is a sign of dominance in a dog pack. Dogs should eat after their masters and never get food during meals.
Our four-footed friends are governed physiologically by major vital functions, including that of reproduction.
This function aims at the perpetuation of the species. But let us be clear about one thing: a dog, male or female, has no need to reproduce during its life in order to be happy and in good physical and mental health.
Male or female castration may even in some cases have a good effect on health.
Puberty begins at an age which varies from race to race and according to the size of the dog. It generally happens at between 6 and 12 months.
In males, it features changes in behaviour: The dog cocks its leg to urinate, and is attracted by the scent of females in heat.
In bitches, reproduction is cyclical. Every 6 months on average, the bitch will go into “heat”. This phase, corresponding to ovule maturation and ovulation, features a swelling of the vulva, uterine bleeding (visible at the vulva labial commissure) and attraction to males. N.B.: this is not your dog´s “periods”, but normal bleeding for this species prior to ovulation.
During the average of three weeks in heat, the bitch is fertile for only some 48 hours.
The optimum coupling time for having puppies tends to lie between the 8th and the 25th day, although two thirds of bitches are “ready” from the 10th to the 15th day of heat.
Your vet can help you identify the right time.
Gestation lasts an average of 2 months, and delivery 3 to 4 hours- 12 hours or more in case of a large litter.
Lactation lasts between 5 and 7 weeks. The pups, gradually weaned, then live independently.
It is advised not to have a bitch breed after 6 or 7 years of age, for fear of delivery complications. The rhythm generally advised is of three or four litters at most in a lifetime, with at least one year´s rest period between each delivery.
It is possible to avoid your bitch coming into heat by administering hormones in the form of injections or tablets. In bitches not intended for breeding, however, it is preferable to think in terms of contraceptive surgery than to have to administer hormones all life long.
Females operated early run less risk of developing mammary cancer later on. And this disease is one of the most common causes of mortality in female dogs. As for males, castration – widespread in the English-speaking world – has nothing to be said against it: castrated dogs are calmer, stray less and are just as affectionate if not more so.
Emergencies: knowing what to do
As the owner of a puppy, you may come up against emergencies.
Knowing what they are is being better able to foresee them, but also being able to do the right thing and make the right decision.
Here are a few recommendations to follow in case of trauma, insect bites, poisoning, electrocution, infection or heat-stroke.
Puppies are lively, easily distracted, and often fail to answer their master´s commands. They are all the more liable to get run over by a car.
Confronted by this kind of accident, you need to keep calm and try to assess the observable injuries. Your puppy´s pain and shock may make them behave abnormally, be cautious when assessing their injuries.
If your dog is bleeding profusely: press the wound with a finger, or, better still, with a clean cloth, to encourage coagulation. If your dog cannot get up, handle it with great care, trying to keep it horizontal. Spinal injuries may have been sustained, too much manipulation might aggravate this type of injury. If any bone is visible, do not touch it but cover with a cloth to stop any more germs getting in. Finally, regarding injuries to the muzzle, if there are blood or saliva clots interfering with breathing, remove them with a towel, taking care not to put your fingers between its teeth: it might unintentionally bite you under the effect of pain and shock.
If you dog appears unharmed after a traumatic accident: you must still consult your vet. Serious lesions can be invisible.
These recommendations obviously apply to any trauma : falling from a window, fights, etc..
Being young, your puppy is especially sensitive to infectious diseases, and notably gastrointestinal ones. These may be caused by parasites, viruses or bacteria. In the most serious cases, they can cause severe dehydration and death in a matter of hours. In less severe cases, a twelve hour fast, with water constantly available, may be enough for a cure. Fasting should not be prolonged, due to the danger of hypoglycemia.
If your dog´s condition worsens or the symptoms persist, you should consult your Vet.
Insect bites and other venoms
Insect bites cause swelling of the paw or muzzle, but can also lead to breathing difficulties or allergic shock.
Try to extract the sting with tweezers if you can see it, and take your puppy to see the Vet, who will administer an anti-inflammatory treatment to halt allergic reaction.
If your dog has attacked an electric wire and got itself electrocuted, there may only appear local burns at first; all the same, you must take it to the Vet´s, as a serious lung oedema may ensue.
Young pups also tend to bite and swallow almost anything.
In case of poison, it is no use giving your dog milk or anything else to drink, or putting your fingers in its throat to make it vomit (failure almost assured!). You need to take it straight away to the Vet´s, who will administer something to provoke vomiting before the poison gets digested.
In case of convulsions, do not put your fingers in its mouth to take hold of the tongue: again, you might get bitten. Bear in mind also that not all substances have an immediate effect: good health for the first few hours is not the same thing as no toxic effect (e.g., anticoagulant rat poison).
Don´t forget to take the package of the poison, where the composition is mentioned: this will help treatment.
Simply, never leave your puppy in the car: in the sun, the inside temperature can reach 60 or 70C, causing dehydration and a state of shock in a matter of minutes (remember that the sun “goes round”, and the shade shifts). In such a case, your dog needs to be cooled down as quickly as possible: douse it with cold water and take it urgently to the Vet´s. Do not try leaving the window ajar: your dog could stick its head through and get stuck and hung in the door.
Keep your puppy out of harm´s way! It is just amazing how many dangers a house or a flat contains. Think about it, before anything happens. Keep everything tidy:
- Your medicines: your dog could tear up a box and swallow the contents.
- Chocolate: nice, but easily toxic… for a dog, because of the theobromine.
- Cleaning products: caustic, and can cause burns (e.g., bleach).
- Electric wires: electrocution!
- String: blocked intestines.
- Sewing baskets: needles.
- Razor blades and knives: cut hazard
- Any boiling liquid or even hot bath-water.
- Cocktails left on the coffee-table have alcohol in them.
- In the garage, antifreeze, apparently, tastes nice and sweet. Also highly toxic.
- In the garden shed, pesticides, weed-killer and rat poison are best stored at a height, out of reach. If your dog swallows any, go straight to see the Vet, who will do what is necessary.
Finally, beware of beautiful plants. Indoor plants are nice for you to see, and for your dog to nibble! E.g., Diffenbachia, philodendron, poinsettia, holly and ivy. Water containing fertiliser has an exotic taste and could send your dog to the veterinary clinic.
You know that your puppy is in good health. You feed it properly, and have it vaccinated, wormed and treated for parasites according to plan: fine … You can still show all your love, in various little ways of daily care and comfort. You alone can save it from the dangers of life; Its health and well-being depend on you.
Brushing, for your dog´s pleasure and your own
Brush every day, if you have a long- or medium-haired dog (Yorkshire terrier, collie or golden retriever), twice weekly for woolly or tough fur (poodle or fox terrier), and once a month for short-haired dogs (dachshund or boxer). Talk to your dog during these moments of conviviality, and finish up with a reward.
If your dog spends more time walking on carpet than on hard floors, teach it to give you its paw to have its claws cut or filed. Your vet can advise you as to the right tool, and how far to go.
When you find mucus in the corner of your dog´s eyes, or even a slight watering, you need to take a sterile compress soaked in a special ophthalmic solution for dogs (or cats). Press your hand, with the compress, against the skull and clean directly. In case of blood-shot eyes or persistent watering, consult your Vet without delay. Eyes are precious jewels.
So far as possible: always at the same time of day, regularly ,and at least three times a day, take your dog out on its lead. The lead can become a symbol of enjoyment. More-or-less always take exactly the same route, for the sake of habit and the dog´s intellectual comfort: they hate change.
So long as your dog´s ears are clean and odourless, leave them alone and they will stay perfect. Some dogs do have too many hairs in their ears, and gentle depilation is required (done by your Vet, your groom- or yourself: they can show you how). Many puppies have too much black or dark brown earwax, causing them to shake and scratch their heads. If your Vet diagnoses ear-mange, you will be told what course to follow so as to clear up this form of parasitosis once and for all within a month.
Shining white teeth.
Scales, of mineral salts contained in the saliva, all too quickly form on the dental plaque, especially in certain small-sized races.
Use a brush or special finger-stall to brush the teeth with a special dogs´ toothpaste. No joke! It´s the one way to ensure healthy adult teeth which will last all life long, with sweet breath and better health into the bargain.
If scaling occurs all the same, the teeth risk coming loose. Regular de-scaling- by ultrasound, of course- is the optimal solution.
Generally speaking, you need quite hot water, at around 39C, and to get it all over with in 5 minutes, then dry your dog thoroughly (towels and hair-dryer).
Some dogs do not need washing more than once a year.
Shampoos for humans are a little different for those carefully developed for dogs. Your Vet will advise as to the rhythm and special product to use in case of problems: sebum or allergy, for example.
Finally, don´t forget that, during most anti-parasite treatments (for fleas, or tics, etc.), it is recommended not to bathe the dog for 48 hours prior to and after treatment.
One morning, your dog just stays on its cushion, in its basket or its kennel without the usual celebrations…
Muzzle warm or cold?
It makes no difference, unless it is abnormally dry, crackled or oozing. Your dog may have a 40°C fever and a cool muzzle, or vice-versa. The only thing that counts is the intra-rectal temperature.
The normal average temperature is 38.5C, ranging between 38C and 39C.
You need a medical thermometer, electronic preferably rather than the old mercury ones, well-lubricated and gently slipped into the rectum for a sufficiently long time. Infections are often accompanied by fever (temperature above 39C, accelerated breathing and heart-rate, and prostration). Illness may be free of fever and just as dangerous as an infection.
Your dog is uninterested by its first meal; well, okay… But is it playful, lively and alert? Yes? Then just pick up its platter of dog-biscuits, tinned dog-food, home-made meal or whatever. Do not give it something different. Serve it up again at the next meal-time. If it eats it, that´s fine. If the hunger-strike persists, phone the Vet for guidance.
What has it vomited?
- Grass? Nothing more normal, up to a certain point.
- A little bile? Nothing unusual.
- The previous day´s meal? Does it otherwise still seem fit and well? If it eats at its usual time and nothing else happens, it´s probably not serious.
- Your dog is “off colour”? Consult straight away: it could be the beginnings of gastro-enteritis or of some other trouble. Best treat immediately.
Soft or liquid stools?
With a diet adapted to its stage of life, properly wormed and vaccinated, and if the cause is not too serious (there could be so many!), it will recover with a 24 hour cure of drinking tap-water and rice-water. Resume feeding gradually. If diarrhoea is accompanied by bleeding and a generally altered condition, consult as soon as possible.
Coughing at night?
Kennel cough is highly contagious, and your dog may not have been vaccinated against this.
If your dog is coughing for some other reason, your Vet will be able to find out what it is and to treat it too, shortening the duration of the cough and avoiding complications.
Siestas aside, particularly in hot weather – even if sleeping sickness does not exist for dogs, something else may be incubating. Your Vet will be able to find out what. So get along there.
Always drinking, and urinating to match?
With modern dog-biscuits (20% liquid), your dog needs to drink more than with tinned foods at 80% water-content. In hot weather, with exercise, water requirements go up. Never deprive your dog of water, but monitor how much it is needing each day and let your Vet know if it is excessive.
Your dog is your best friend
We know that you care for your dog and want to ensure that he remains happy and healthy throughout his life and will do all you can to achieve this.
One easy way in which you can help to ensure that your dog is protected from infectious diseases is to ensure that he is vaccinated as a puppy and regularly throughout his adult life.
Why Vaccination is important
Dogs can and do become seriously ill or die from infectious diseases that could have been prevented through vaccination every year.
Regular vaccination can protect your dog from infectious diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, canine parainfluenza and rabies.
This page contains information on each of these diseases. By preventing these diseases you ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy.
Why you need to vaccinate your dog regularly
For the first few weeks of life, puppies are usually protected against disease from the immunity they receive in their mother´s milk. However, this maternal immunity may also neutralise any vaccine given at this time. Gradually this protection decreases, and the maternal immunity declines to a sufficiently low level for the animal to no longer be protected. This also allows the animal to respond to vaccination and so at this stage it is possible to start the vaccination programme.
Your veterinary surgeon will suggest a programme of vaccinations to fit in with your pet´s particular needs and the local disease pattern.
Many people believe that if they have their pet vaccinated when they are puppies the immunity they receive will protect them for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately this is not the case.
After the last injection, the immune level reaches a peak and then begins to decline. After a year, the level of protection offered to your pet may no longer be sufficient.
Revaccination stimulates the immune response so that protection is maintained for another year. Without these yearly vaccinations, your pet´s immune system may not be able to protect it from serious, often fatal disease.
How vaccines work
Vaccines work by training the white blood cells in your dog´s body to recognise and attack the viruses or bacteria contained in the vaccine. This should prevent infection with that particular organism if your dog comes into contact with it again.
Fatal diseases of dogs
There are four major infectious diseases affecting dogs today. Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis and Leptospirosis. All are highly contagious and difficult and expensive to treat.
Parvovirus is perhaps the most common canine infectious disease.
Parvovirus was first recognised in the late 1970´s and rapidly became an epidemic. Many hundreds of dogs died before an effective vaccine could be produced. Sadly, this disease remains a major problem. Outbreaks still occur regularly across the country.
The disease is usually seen as bloody diarrhoea in young animals, with a characteristic offensive odour and severe dehydration. Many will die within hours of the onset of symptoms.
Once a dog becomes infected by parvovirus, the virus invades the intestines and bone marrow. This leads to sudden and severe bleeding into the gut, resulting in dehydration and shock and damage to the immune system. Death is common and frequently rapid unless emergency veterinary treatment is received.
Canine distemper, sometimes referred to as ´Hard Pad´, is caused by a virus very similar to the measles virus, although it is not a risk to humans.
Although less common than it was 20 or 30 years ago, outbreaks still occur, mainly in urban areas where a large unvaccinated population of dogs and foxes exists. These tend to be ´explosive´ in nature, causing death or permanent brain damage. Transmission of the virus is by inhalation and direct contact.
The distemper virus attacks most parts of the body, including the spleen and bone marrow. This makes it easier to catch secondary infections. As the disease progresses, the virus spreads to the lungs and gut, the eyes, skin and brain.
The classical signs are of a dog with a high temperature, a discharge from the eyes and nose, a cough, vomiting and diarrhoea. Hardening of the skin may occur, in particular the nose and pads, hence the term ´Hard Pad´. The virus can reach the brain causing permanent damage, ranging from involuntary twitches to fits. Dogs that recover may be left with some permanent disability such as cracked pads and nose, epilepsy, and damage to teeth enamel.
Once again, treatment is lengthy, expensive and most importantly, often unsuccessful. As the incubation period is long – often about three weeks – it is usually too late to vaccinate when an outbreak occurs.
As the name suggests, canine hepatitis attacks the liver. Some dogs may become infected but show no obvious signs, but in acute cases the death of your pet can occur within 24-36 hours.
The disease is spread by direct contact and from faeces, saliva and urine from infected dogs. The virus is carried to the liver and the blood vessels where the major signs of the disease appear.
The symptoms are very variable depending on the severity of the infection. Some animals may show a slight temperature and at the other extreme may die suddenly. Intermediate cases exhibit fever, vomiting, pale gums, jaundice, abdominal pain and internal bleeding. The less severe form of the disease has been associated with “Fading Puppy Syndrome”.
Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that is spread in the urine of infected animals.
Two major forms of the disease exist in dogs. One (L.icterohaemorrhagiae) causes acute illness and jaundice and is usually caught from rats – either by the animal being bitten or coming into contact with rat urine. L. icterohaemorrhagiae infection usually produces a sudden disease with fever, vomiting and diarrhoae, thirst, bleeding, and jaundice. The outcome is usually fatal and death can occur within a few hours.
The other type (L. canicola) can also cause acute disease but frequently takes a more prolonged form. This leads to the slow destruction of the kidneys and renal failure can occur many years after the original infection. Even animals that show no signs of illness may still go on to develop chronic disease.
Other major diseases of dogs
Other major diseases of dogs include:
This virus is one of the pathogens responsible for the disease known as ´kennel cough´.
Dogs with this disease suffer from a harsh, dry cough that can last for many weeks, causing distress for both the dog and owner.
Rabies Vaccination and the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS)
Rabies is a fatal disease, which affects both dogs and humans. Rabies was eradicated from this country many years ago and strict systems are in place to make sure that it is never seen again.
If you are intending to take your dog to another European country and return to the UK with it you must ensure that it is protected by having it vaccinated against rabies.
Your dog must be at least 3 months old before it can be vaccinated against rabies. It can then be vaccinated any time after it has been fitted with a microchip. Before vaccinating your dog, the vet will check its microchip number and enter it onto your pet´s vaccination record.
If your dog is vaccinated against rabies before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be fitted with a microchip and vaccinated again. This is to make sure that your pet is correctly identified when it is vaccinated.
In order to prevent future complications please discuss the PETS Scheme in advance with your veterinary surgeon.
After your pet has been vaccinated, it will need regular booster vaccinations. Your vet will advise you further. You must make sure that your pet is given its booster on time otherwise it will not meet the conditions of the scheme and would have to be vaccinated and blood tested again. It would have to wait another six months before being able to enter the UK.
Please discuss with your vet vaccination of your puppy and dog throughout its life, the important infectious diseases and how you can help keep your dog healthy and happy.
Frequently Asked Vaccination Questions & Answers
Q. When should my puppy receive his first vaccination?
Primary Vaccination: For the first few weeks of life, puppies are usually protected against disease by the immunity they receive in their mother´s milk. Gradually this protection decreases until the animal is no longer protected.
Your veterinary surgeon will suggest a programme of vaccinations to fit in with your pet´s particular needs and the local disease pattern.
Q. People are not vaccinated every year, so why does my dog need annual boosters?
Annual Booster Vaccination: People in the UK are not vaccinated every year because the risk of disease is relatively low, and because large numbers of people are vaccinated at the same time, e.g. at school. Unfortunately, only about 50% of dogs and cats are properly vaccinated, and therefore the risk of disease outbreaks in pets is much higher. Dogs can also become infected from the urine and faeces of rats and foxes.
In some countries of the world where killer diseases are still common, human vaccinations are given much more frequently than in the UK.
Revaccination stimulates the immune response so that protection is maintained for another year. Without these yearly vaccinations, your pet´s immune system may not be able to protect it from serious, often fatal disease.
In addition, an annual health check is an important opportunity to have your pet thoroughly examined, and to discuss any concerns and questions with your vet. In this way any emerging problems can be identified early, and often treated more effectively.
Q. What is in the vaccine?
There are several major infectious diseases affecting dogs today. All are highly contagious and difficult and expensive to treat.
Parvovirus is perhaps the most common canine infectious disease. Outbreaks still occur regularly across the country. The disease is usually seen as bloody diarrhoea in young animals, with a characteristic offensive odour and severe dehydration. Many will die within hours of the onset of symptoms.
Distemper virus attacks most parts of the body, including the spleen and bone marrow. As the disease progresses, the virus spreads to the lungs and gut, the eyes, skin and brain. As the incubation period is long – often about three weeks – it is usually too late to vaccinate when an outbreak occurs.
As the name suggests, canine hepatitis attacks the liver. Some dogs may become infected but show no obvious signs, but in severe cases the death of your pet can occur within 24-36 hours.
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that spread in the urine of infected animals. The disease may be caught from rats or other dogs. The disease can either cause severe liver damage and death in just a few days, or slow destruction of the kidneys over months or years.
This virus is one of the organisms responsible for the disease known as �kennel cough´. Dogs with this disease suffer from a harsh, dry cough that can last for many weeks, causing distress for both the dog and owner.
Q. Is vaccination safe?
In a word, YES: a number of scare stories have been written about pets developing problems such as anaemia following vaccination. Several large and independent surveys have been conducted in the last few years, and all have shown that vaccinated animals are at no greater risk of developing such diseases than unvaccinated animals. As with any product, including food, a tiny proportion of animals may have a reaction to the vaccine, but this must always be balanced against the much greater risk of fatal disease.
Even as we enter the new millennium children in Europe are dying of measles, a disease that should have been eradicated long ago, because parents have been put off routine vaccinations. Protect your pets as you would your children.