Common Dog Questions

When should I spay/neuter my dog?
How long can dogs live?
How can I tell if my dog is sick?
What kind of veterinary care does my dog need?
What do I need to know about heartworm?
Other than heartworm, what other parasites is my dog at risk for?
What kind of flea control does my dog need?
What should I look for in a puppy/dog?
What types of household items are toxic to my dog?

When should I spay/neuter my dog?
Your dog should be neutered (spayed or castrated) at or around 6 months of age. It is best to spay the female dog BEFORE her first heat. This will decrease her chances of developing mammary tumors later on in her life. We do not spay dogs while they are in heat as this increases any of the risks of the surgery. Males should be castrated before they start to exhibit territorialism and signs of dominance.
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How long can dogs live?
The lifespan of dogs varies with the breed and the size of the dog. Sadly, the giant breeds (Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds) can die of old age at as early as 7 years of age, with the average being approximately 9 years. Smaller types can live well into their late teens. Certain breeds are predisposed to certain diseases and cancers. Please ask us about these during your consults.
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How can I tell if my dog is sick?
The major clinical signs of illness are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, a decrease in appetite, an increase in drinking or urination, a poor haircoat and pale gums. You should be aware of your dog’s habits and if there are any changes you should consult our veterinarians immediately. Only they can tell you if there is reason for concern or not, and only they can guide you through any problems.
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What kind of veterinary care does my dog need?
The annual physical examination is very important for your dog. During this complete exam, your dog’s habits willbe reviewed and recommendations may be made in regards to his diet, dental care, exercise regime and so on. At this time, our veterinarians will take the time to discuss with you which vaccines are important for your dog and which are not required. These of course depend on your dog’s risk; for instance, does he go to doggie day care, or is he boarded a lot. In general the vaccines are as follows: at 8 weeks of age they are given Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Coronavirus. A bordetella vaccine is given intranasally if the dog is going to day care or the like. This booster is repeated 2 more times at 4 week intervals ( 12 and 16 weeks). Rabies vaccinations are given at 16 weeks of age. This is of particular importance as Rabies is slowly moving its way into our part of the province. The protection provided by a vaccine gradually declines after a pet is vaccinated. This is the reason that re-vaccination is recommended annually, along with an accompanying complete physical examination.
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What do I need to know about heartworm?
Heartworm disease, although present in cats as well, is much more prominent in dogs. These are spaghetti-like worms that live in the large blood vessels of dogs’ hearts. These worms produce thousands of infective larvae that are carried by mosquitoes and are transmitted by mosquito bites to the next victim. Our veterinarians can diagnose heartworm disease by an examination of a blood sample. If heartworm is detected, treatment is available but it can be fatal. If the test results show that your dog is free from heartworms, we will provide your dog with a preventive medicine that is given once a month, either topically or orally. If your dog lives exclusively in our province, the preventive is usually given from May 1st to October 1st, or for the full mosquito season in wherever your dog finds itself. Prevention is the best medicine. Preventive medicine is safer, very easy and relatively inexpensive. Please ask us more about heartworm disease.
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Other than heartworm, what other parasites is my dog at risk for?
There are a number of other parasites that your dog is at risk of contracting. Most of these have the potential to infect humans as well, so it is important to treat them, even preventively. External parasites include fleas, fungal infections, sarcoptic mange, and earmites. If you suspect any of these, contact us. Treatment for all of these is quite easy these days. Internal parasites are primarily those found in the intestine. These include roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms as well as one-celled parasites such as Giardia and coccidia. These seem to be more common in puppies than in adult dogs. They can be transmitted from a bitch to her puppies or can be picked up from being in contact with other dogs, or remnants of their excrement, as found in parks. The adult parasites produce eggs that are then shed in the stool. Please ask us about the parasites that your dog is at risk for. Also ask for advice on submitting fresh stool samples for laboratory examination on an annual basis and routine deworming schedules.
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What kind of flea control does my dog need?
Fleas, as well as being a nuisance for your pet and you, can also be a health hazard for your pet. The flea season varies with the weather but is usually between the months of April and October. If your pet is not put on a preventive medicine, then fleas can infiltrate your home and then can become a year-long problem. We can recommend safe, effective and easy flea control programs to you. The best one for you will be decided upon after discussing your concerns. These medications are prescription medicines and are safe when used as directed by your veterinarian. Be very careful if using store-bought brands as they can cause serious harm to your pet.
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What should I look for in a puppy/dog?
When you have decided upon adding a dog to your family, make sure that you are aware of the monetary and time requirements that it will involve. Get a dog that suits your lifestyle. Research different breeds by reading up on them. Dogs in Canada is a good resource with reviews of all the registered breeders and information on the breeds. We recommend that you visit local rescue shelters or pounds. Mutts can make wonderful pets! Also, each breed has its own rescue program, where you can find the breed you want and save one that is in desperate need of a home. You save a life as well as saving money.
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What types of household items are toxic to my dog?
There are many products that are dangerous to your pet. These include all types of human medications, cleaning products, and plants. If you think your dog has eaten something that is toxic, call your veterinarian.
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