Small Dog Health --

What Should You Watch Out For?

Prevention of disease and catching possible difficulties in your small dog early is not only cost effective, it can also mean the difference between having your buddy long into old age or losing him as a relative youngster. At the core of small dog health is prevention.

Once a week you should check you buddy for possible problems, specifically:

Mouth – check for pale gums, gum disease and tartar, broken teeth and bad breath
Eyes – check for mucus, redness or dullness
Nose – check for thick discharge
Skin – check for parasites, hair loss, redness and bumps
Feet – check for cuts or foreign objects between the pads
Anal region – check for redness or fecal matter
Mammary glands – check for lumps
Penis or vulva – check for discharge

Consult with your vet if you find anything worrisome.

For optimum small dog health, the following should be treated on an ongoing basis:

Heartworms – These are worms that your small dog gets when bit by a mosquito. The larvae migrates through the blood to the heart where the worms can grow to an impressive length and eventually shut down the circulatory system. Treatment is draconian and not always effective.

Far better is a monthly medication containing Ivomectin, which prevents the problem. The prevention is easy, and is a must for small dog health.

Fleas and Ticks – Totally aside from the chaos fleas and ticks can cause in your small dog's coat, fleas and ticks are a health menace. Fleas can carry worm larvae and ticks can carry Lyme disease. Treat your dog monthly with a spot on product, making sure not to bathe him for a week after.

Whips, Pins and Roundworms – the Center for Disease Control has done (human) studies on these worms and found that while the populations can greatly be reduced with preventative treatment, they can never be totally eliminated.

Such worms bring down small dog health and open your buddy up for other illnesses. Treat on a monthly basis with a fenbendazole product (usually sold as Panacur). Visit The Wonderful World of Worms to get the full post on this. Keeping the population down to a minimum is vital for small dog health.

There are two main reasons why your small dog is suddenly trying to rub his bottom along the floor. It's itchy back there because:

His anal glands are impacted or infected. A dog has a gland on each side of his anus. These can become full and impacted, needing to be emptied manually. Your vet or groomer can show you how.

He has tape worms. These are worms your dog has received from fleas. When your small dog bites at a flea, he often swallows it, also swallowing the tapeworm larvae. Tape worms leave small rice like egg casings in your dog's feces. Tapeworms require a special medication which can be purchased from your vet. Getting them out of the way can definitely help small dog health.

Watch out for the following:

Lethargy, including decreased appetite – if your small dog just doesn't seem to have the vigor he once did, and especially if he is eating considerably less, consult your vet. All too often lethargy is considered just one of those things that happens as a dog gets older. This is not necessarily true; it can be linked to a treatable or at least a manageable condition.

Increased appetite/thirst – these are also pretty clear indications that something is wrong. Your vet will be able to discover the cause. Thirst can be the effect of heat, but can also be an indicator of several serious medical conditions.

Elevated temperature – normal canine temperature is 99.5 to 102.5 degrees. If excited a healthy dog can go as high as 103. If the temperature is above 103, call your vet; above 105 is an emergency. If it is 98 or lower, start warming your dog, using blankets that have been warmed in the dryer. Call your vet; below 96 is an emergency.

Vomiting – dogs will eat the darnedest things, and small dogs are no exception. This is not a cause for concern unless:

1. the vomitus contains blood (it will look like coffee grounds) or fecal matter
2. It's projectile, indicating an obstruction. An obstruction would also be indicated if your dog vomited right after eating.Repeated vomiting could indicate that your dog has eaten spoiled food or has swallowed indigestible objects. Consult your vet if the vomiting continues more than 24 hours, especially if acts depressed or has diarrhea as well.

Sporadic vomiting is a clue to either worms in the system or a more serious disease. Consult your vet if this goes on more than a few days.

Vomiting, especially when accompanied by diarrhea, is the fastest way for a small dog to become dehydrated.

Removal of all food is essential to give your dog's system a chance to recouperate. If your small dog can't keep down water, he needs to be on IV fluids.

Diarrhea – Diarrhea can happen for lots of reasons, many of them requiring no treatment other than a dose or two of human medication. Kaopectate, for example, is mild and soothing. But consult your vet if you notice bloody or black diarrhea, diarrhea with vomiting, with an elevated temperature or diarrhea lasting more than a day.

Repeated vomiting, diarrhea or overheating can cause dehydration, which can be especially dangerous in small breeds.

To tell if your dog is dehydrated, pick up his upper lip. The gums should be wet, pink and warm. If they are tacky and pale, he is dehydrated.

Give him a drink of water. If he is severely dehydrated, he may need intravenous liquids. Consult your vet.

You think your dog may have a temperature. How do you take it?Instant thermometers are not a good idea for small dogs. They wiggle too much and the result isn't always accurate. The best way is a rectal thermometer. Wipe the business end of the thermometer down well with petroleum jelly.

If you have a grooming arm, put your small dog in it. Slide the thermometer gently in. Your dog will generally have a second of surprise and disbelief and then accept the inevitable. Leave the thermometer in for at least 1 minute.Make sure you have put it in all the way, or else the temperature will read low.

Small dog health lies more than anything else in each and every dog owners' hands. Once you know what to look for, you will be able to tell if you need to take off for the vet at a run, or hold off and keep an eye on things, or laugh at your small dog drama queen and tell her to get over herself.

What Else?

Okay, now you know what to watch out for to. But what else do you need to know? 

Check out this great website: Speaking for Spot. It's loaded with information that helps you stay ahead of the eight ball regarding your buddy's health. Additionally, check out these links:

Dog Shots

Joint Pain, Joint Relief

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