Doctor Dog: Considering that they are known as man’s best friend, its no surprise that people are concerned about a dog's health. The pet health industry is growing annually ($38.4 billion in overall pet industry expenditures in 2006). Today caring for pets includes everything from vet visits to day spas. I guess they hope to take the stress out of a pooch’s life.
Keep it in the family: Most diseases are not transferable from dogs to humans. Rabies, fleas and Leptospirosis are particular areas of concern. Rabies causes deterioration of the brain, often resulting in aggressive behavior. It is nearly always fatal. And dogs that have contracted it are more likely than other dogs to bite, further spreading the disease. In humans, any dog bite must be taken seriously, but if one is unsure of a dog’s background, and possible exposure to rabies, they should see a physician immediately. There is reportedly only one known case of someone surviving rabies after the symptoms began to show. These symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, agitation, and delirium. Death usually comes within 2 to 10 days.
My hips are going: Hip dysplasia is another area of concern. It is a hereditary disease and quite common in dogs, particularly the larger breeds. It is the single greatest cause of arthritis in dogs. Dogs of all ages are subject to Hip dysplasia, although symptoms generally do not appear until later in life. It seems to target purebreds, rather than mixed breeds. They seem to walk and run with some discomfort, tend to show stiffness in the morning or after exercise, and will often develop a limp. The ailment is treatable though, and those dogs prone to Hip dysplasia should be monitored carefully.
Flea Bath: Fleas are one of the more well known of dog ailments, an irritation to both the dog and its owners. The best tool to discover fleas is a flea comb. If any are found they should be killed quickly, and living quarters sanitized. If found throughout the house, the only reliable remedy is an exterminator.
To Long Life and Happiness: Generally, well cared for dogs can expect to live long happy lives. Lifespan varies from breed to breed. Small dogs tend to live longest, while large or giant dogs have shorter lives, sometimes averaging only 7-8 years, their hearts just have to work too hard. Also, the speed with which they grow puts serious stress on their joints, leading to Hip dysplasia.
Watch what you eat: A properly balanced diet is essential for a healthy dog. There is an abundance of different dog foods, for all stages of a dog’s life. Some owners rely on an expert’s opinion, but other claim that since all dogs are different, an owner’s own observation is just as valuable. Dogs are capable of consuming high quantities of vegetables and grains. In the wild, plants can provide them with both important amino acids and other nutrients. If properly balanced, a domestic dog can survive on an entirely vegetarian diet, as can a wild dog, if no meat is available.
Some foods are dangerous for dogs. Chocolate, onions, grapes, gum and certain types of sweeteners should be avoided. Another danger for dogs is antifreeze, because its sweet taste attracts dogs. Dogs must be kept away from any place with even a small spill of antifreeze.
Puppy Love: Puppies grow rather quickly but their stomach can still only handle a certain amount of food. Owners should regulate their eating, 3-4 meals a day is recommended. In adulthood,1-2 is appropriate. Many dogs are highly skilled at charming their owners into receiving snacks, but owners need to be strong. Many dogs are chowhounds, that is, they’ll basically eat anything and too much of it. This leads to obesity and all the problems associated with it.
A Senior Moment: According to the American Kennel Club “old age” begins at about 7-8. This, of course, varies depending on the breed, but this is a decent estimate. Owners may notice some gray hair and a bit of agitation around children and other dogs, as well as a less active pet. Yearly (possibly even bi-yearly) visits to the vet are recommended. Grooming also becomes more important, especially since it provides an opportunity for owners to discover abnormalities on the dog. Also, in old age the dog will require less food to maintain its weight.
But if properly cared for dog owners can expect to have a longtime companion. Many owners consider them part of the family and go to great care for their health.