Archive for the ‘Canine Health’ Category
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
What is an ear mite? Ear mites are tiny infectious organisms, similar to ticks, that infect the ear canals of dogs and cats. They are so small that to the naked eye, the look like a little white dot. Ear mites feed on the epidermal debris and ear wax. After burrowing into the ear canal, they cause inflammation which leads to the body creating more wax. Ear mites are usually transmitted through physical contact. This means that they are very contagious, so it is important for all of your pets to be treated at the same time. Ear mites are extremely painful and irritating because of the nonstop itching they cause your guard dog. As a result, the first symptom you will see is your dog constantly scratching, itching and shaking their head. A dark, waxy discharge can also be seen in your guard dogs ears after awhile, caused from the ear mites. The amount of symptoms you see will also depend on the severity of the infestation. With more advanced infestations, the ear canals will begin to appear on the outside of your dog’s ear canal.
Ear mites are very common in German Shepherds, but should be taken very seriously anyway. If they are left untreated, it could cause severe damage to the ear canal and possibly even hearing loss. If you see any kinds of signs that your dog could have ear mites, take them to the vet right away. It is always better to be safe, rather than sorry. When your dog is diagnosed, a cotton swab is used to sample the dog’s ear wax. The vet will look for both mites and mite eggs, under a microscope. For treatment it is important to carefully clean out the dogs ears very gently, this goes a long way in trying to fix the problem. Dog ears are very sensitive, so any type of harsh movements could damage the ear drum. Next, a topical medication is applied to the ear. The medication contains anti-inflammatories to soothe the ear, anti-bacterial to minimize any other infection and an anti-paracidicital to kill the mites. This process of cleaning the ears and applying the medicine is usually continued for 7-10 days. The best way to prevent ear mites from every infecting your dog is to keep your guard dog away from any animal that could possible be infected. Most importantly just keep your eyes open for any strange behavior that your dog displays, and be ready to take them the the vet immediately.
Please remember that whether you have German Shepherd guard dog or any other breed of companion dog and they get a case of ear mites it’s nothing to panic about just be sure to make an appointment as soon as you can to prevent any damage to the ear canal.
Friday, November 19th, 2010
If you are the type of owner who is committed to doing everything they can to ensure that their guard dog is completely healthy, it is very important to learn about worm control. Worms, which are also known as parasites can be very detrimental to your dog and can cause many different health problems. There are many different types of worms such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms. Roundworms are the most common type found in dogs, they affect the intestines and cause a pot-belly. Hookworms and whipworms, hook to the inside of the intestine and sucks blood from the dog, causing anemia and possibly death. Tapeworms also infect the intestines and can cause abdominal pain, nervousness, sever itching, vomiting, and weight loss. There are many different causes of dog worms, these are good to know to help prevent the worms in anyway you can. One way is through infected soil, that your dog comes in contact with. The worm eggs often live in this type of environment and can easily stick to human hands, clothing, or the dog itself. A way to prevent this if by having yourself and your family wash their hands each time before coming in from outside. Worms can be transmitted to puppies from their mothers uterus, while milking.
It is important the symptoms of dog worms, so that you know can detect the worms early enough to treat them. Symptoms will vary between each dog, so it is always a good thing to seek help from a veterinarian who knows how to properly take care of worms. Acting quickly is very important when it comes to worms because they will start to take a toll on your guard dog’s immune system, and possibly lead to more health problems. Some worms can be seen visually if a piece of the worm breaks off and you could find it (possibly still moving) around the dog’s anus, its bed, or in its feces. However, many worms are not visible, so it is extremely important to take your guard dog to a regular check up and have the vet test its feces. Over the counter prescriptions are effective but not on all types of worms, other will have to be treated with a dewormer that is given as a oral medicine or injected by the vet. Some basic guidelines for worm prevention are: flea control, keeping your dog from eating feces, avoiding exposure to stray animals, and cleaning its bed or crate with a saltwater solution. Worms are an extremely serious matter and it is important to know what you’re up against to protect your guard dog.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
As with any mammal, there are a wide range of illnesses and diseases that could potentially affect your protection dog. While most dogs will live their lives in relatively good health, there a number of common health problems that can occur in dogs, and should be watched out for. Remember that your protection dog is relying on its health and wellness in order to keep you and your family safe, so it is always in your best interests to ensure that your dog is in peak physical condition.
According to animal health insurance agencies, ear infections are the single most common health problem among canines. This is followed by skin problems, such as pyoderma, and gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. While none of these may seem immediately serious, these health problems can negatively affect the performance of your protection dog. Also, if left unchecked, they can eventually lead to life-threatening complications. Luckily, all three are fairly easy to spot. It’s inadvisable to examine the ears of your dog closely without the help of a veterinarian, but you should be on the lookout for excess wax buildup or discharge that could signal an infection. Also be aware of your dog’s behavior. Dogs with ear infections will show their discomfort by rubbing their ears against carpeting or furniture, scratching their ears excessively, or shaking their heads as if there was water in their ears. To spot skin allergies, or other health problems, you should examine your dog’s skin regularly for lesions or sores. This is also helpful in detecting the presence of certain parasites, such as ticks, which are another very common health problem among dogs. Finally, vomiting and diarrhea will be immediately obvious, but you should pay attention to your dogs eating habits, as changes in appetite may signal less obvious gastrointestinal problems.
Aside from the health problems that are common amongst all breeds, specific breeds sometimes suffer from certain health problems more than others. Due to the size of common working breeds, and the intense physical activity that they’re expected to perform, joint problems are a common occurrence. Hip Dysplasia is a particularly common disorder that occurs often in working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. In most cases, hip dysplasia won’t become obvious until your dog has aged significantly, but you should always be on the look out for changes in your dog’s stride, and any indications that your dog may be experiencing pain in the hips and joints.
Remember that if you are ever in doubt about the health of your personal protection dog, you should never hesitate to contact your veterinarian. With knowledge and perseverance, you can help ensure that your dog will live a long and healthy life.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Bloodlines are very important when breeding dogs; they’ve been refined and specialized over hundreds of years to create the best breeds for a wide variety of purposes. Even today, canine bloodlines are still being refined through selective breeding of only the best dogs. It stands to reason then, that when a breeder happens across a dog that performs exceptionally well, they will want that dog to sire or dam as many litters or possible. Of course, a dog can only be bred so many times in a lifetime, but there are methods that allow one to store a dog’s genetic material for future generations.
For male dogs, semen can be collected and stored for long periods of time through freezing. When first collected, semen will only stay effective in storage for between 3-5 hours. It is important to remember that sperm are essentially alive, and tend to have very short life-spans. However, immediately chilling the semen allows it to remain in storage for a much longer time; when chilled, it can often last as long as 2 days. When properly frozen, the storage-time increases exponentially. Essentially, frozen sperm can last indefinitely, but its quality and effectiveness may still degrade very slowly over time. It is important to note that properly storing frozen semen at the appropriate temperature is a difficult task. It requires temperatures lower than -300°F, and should only be attempted by a professional with proper safety equipment.
Unfortunately, the amount of time a sperm cell spends in storage is inversely proportional to the amount of time it will survive once warmed to body temperature and introduced to the uterus. Fresh semen will typically survive in an intrauterine environment for as many as 5 days, while chilled semen may only survive between 2-3 days. Frozen semen has the shortest intrauterine life-span, and may only last about a day. The chances of pregnancy occurring are directly related to the amount of time that sperm are able to survive within the uterus. This means that fresh semen has the highest chance of successfully leading to pregnancy, while frozen semen has the lowest.
Whether you’re breeding German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies, or Dutch Shepherd puppies, you should keep in mind that fresh semen and natural conception are always the preferred methods. Due to the costs of having semen stored at the appropriate temperature, as well as reduced effectiveness after being frozen, freezing and storing semen should only be done when absolutely necessary.
Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Trimming your dog’s nails is one of the most basic procedures in canine grooming. Your dog’s nails will continue to grow over time, just as human nails do. Unlike human nails, a dog’s nails are in frequent contact with rough surfaces, such as concrete. While this does help to keep them at an appropriate length, they are more likely to break or splinter, which can lead to painful infections. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking against hard floors, they’re probably in need of a trim.
Trimming the nails is very simple to do, but a few considerations should be kept in mind. First of all, be wary of cutting the nails too short. There is a blood vessel that runs down the center of the nail know as “the quick”. Cutting into the quick will cause bleeding. If you see a small black patch in the center of the nail as you cut, you’re hitting the end of quick. Hitting the end of the quick is okay, but be very careful not to cut any shorter. As the nails grow, the quick will grow with them, so it is best to trim the nails regularly to prevent this from happening. Regular clipping will actually cause the quick to become shorter, meaning you’re less likely to hit it.
To clip your dog’s nails, you will want to use canine nail clippers. They are very easy to find, and should be available at any nearby pet store for a reasonable price. Note that human nail clippers, or other sharp devices not intended for canine paws, will not work, and could damage the nail. You will also want to keep an antihemmoragic nearby to stop bleeding, in case you clip too short and hit the quick. Styptic pens or powder will work well for this purpose. You should clip at a 45 degree angle, while holding the paw firmly. If your dog’s nails are dark, and you cannot see the quick visually, you should consider making a series of small clips until you hit the black mark that indicates the end of the quick.
Depending on the amount of time your dog spends on sidewalks and other rough surfaces, your dog’s nails may be kept naturally short. A personal protection dog that spends a lot of time accompanying you on the street may not necessarily need their nails clipped at all. However, it is a good idea to keep your dog accustomed to the routine of clipping. Whether you have a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, or a Dutch Shepherd, the process of nail trimming is more or less the same. It doesn’t take long, and it’s relatively easy to do.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Understandably, the desire to mate is strong among most intact canines. It is an act in which potential sires and dams are usually more than eager to participate in. However, rare circumstances sometimes lead to situations in which natural mating cannot occur. The possible reasons for this are numerous, and vary from aggression between the intended sire and dam, to trying to preserve a strong bloodline from a sire who is too old to continue mating naturally. The solution in such situations is artificial insemination.
Artificial insemination is performed frequently with livestock, often because cattle are too large to mate naturally without risk of injury. However, it is usually left as a last resort among canines. The process involves three main steps: collection and preservation of semen, preparation of the female, and the actual act of insemination.
For collection, a female in heat is often used as a “teaser”, but once the female is mounted, care must be taken to ensure that the intended sire is, for lack of a better term, redirected into the appropriate collection device. Once the semen has been collected, it may be used immediately, chilled for up to 24 hours, or frozen for prolonged storage. It should be noted, however, that while chilling and freezing will help to preserve the semen, the chances of successful fertilization will still degrade over time.
For fertilization to occur, the female must be inseminated at the right time. Typically, attempts at insemination are performed approximately four days before ovulation, and continued every second day until two days after ovulation. Of course, determining the exact date of ovulation can be difficult. Blood tests can determine the date of ovulation by measuring the level of progesterone in the female. However, this method is often expensive and impractical. A far less accurate, but much more cost-effective method is to simply keep track of the female’s cycles to predict when she will next be in heat.
Finally the act of insemination is performed using a specially designed pipette. The male should not be present during this process. The female is held in an upright position, and the semen is deposited at the cervix.
Whether you are breeding German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies or Dutch Shepherd puppies, you should remember that artificial insemination should only be used as a last resort. The natural mating process offers much greater rates of success, and is always the preferred option of artificial insemination
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
The term “whelping” is used to describe the final stages of canine pregnancy and the birthing of litters. As is true for pregnancy in any mammal, a pregnant canine will require care and attention to unsure that the whelping goes smoothly and that the pups are born without difficulty or complication. Unfortunately, some complications are impossible to avoid, but knowing what to expect and when to expect it will help you prepare for the best possible whelping scenario.
Canine pregnancy typically lasts about three months from the date of conception. This varies from breed to breed, but is generally true of most medium-sized dogs, such as the German Shepherd. Mark the expected date of birth on your calendar. The litter may not necessarily be born on this exact date, but it should serve as a good reference for when to start preparing for whelping. One to two weeks before the litter is expected, your dog should be noticeably pregnant, with an enlarged abdomen. You should being taking your dog’s temperature regularly during this time, as changes in body temperature will mark the first signs of labor.
Labor typically begins between 24 and 48 hours before birth. The first stages may not be immediately noticeable, but the temperature of your dog will begin to drop from its regular temperature of about 99-101°F. As her temperature drops, she will begin to pant heavily. She may vomit, or begin shaking, and will likely need to urinate frequently. Her temperature should bottom out at about 98°F, at which point she will begin giving birth within 2-12 hours, depending on whether or not it is her first litter. At this point, your dog will be in her second stage of labor, and will be visibly straining with contractions. Newborn German Shepherd puppies will not be far behind, so be sure not to leave her side during this period.
Of course, having your veterinarian on speed-dial is a necessity during whelping. Complications in whelping can risk the life of the pups as well as the bitch. Be prepared to transport your dog to a veterinary hospital if the need arises. Hopefully, all will go well, and your female German Shepherd will have successfully whelped a healthy litter of German Shepherd puppies.
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
The decision to have a female dog spayed is one that is often made under the assumption that caring for a dog in heat is too much work. For those who’ve decided to keep their female German Shepherd intact, knowledge and preparation are all it takes to keep things under control without it being hassle, and for those who’ve decided to take on the task of breeding, knowing your dog’s cycle becomes key to success.
The first step is being able to predict when your dog is going to be in season. Unlike some animals who enter mating season at specific times of the year, female dogs can be in heat at any time during the year. However, this does not mean that your dog is ready to mate for the entire year. In dogs, mating follows a regular cycle. It varies between breeds, and between individual dogs, but the majority of female German Shepherds will be in season approximately once every six months. Take note of the end of your dog’s last cycle, and you can predict that it will happen again another six months from that time.
You will know that your dog is in season because she will begin menstruating. Bleeding typically lasts about a week, and is followed by about three weeks during which your dog is fertile. Unless you plan on breeding, it is very important that you keep your dog separated from male dogs during this time. Nearing the end of this time, your dog may require more attention and petting than usual.
Whether you’re planning for German Shepherd puppies, or have kept your female German Shepherd intact for other reasons, knowing your dog’s cycle and knowing what to do when your dog is in season are extremely important.
Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Despite the best efforts of a handler to keep his or her protection dog clean, infestations of fleas, ticks or lice are sometimes inevitable. Luckily, lice is fairly uncommon among dogs in North America. However, the possibility of infestation still exists, and it is important to know what to look for, and what steps to take in the event that your dog does get lice.
While lice is commonly known as a human affliction, the type of lice that affect dogs is different, and cannot live off of humans. Just like fleas and ticks, dog lice can cause intense skin irritation and often carry serious diseases. However, unlike energetic fleas, dog lice move slowly and cannot jump or fly. While dog lice is different from the lice that affects humans, the symptoms and methods of treatment are largely the same. A dog with lice will scratch noticeably often, and will often be distracted by the irritation of its skin. Upon parting the dog’s fur, you may find small white particles attached to the strands. These particles are eggs, and are the tell-tale sign of a lice infestation.
Luckily, lice in dogs is fairly easy to treat. An insecticide spray or bath is often enough to rid your protection dog or guard dog of the infestation, although your veterinarian may recommend that you dog have its fur shaved. If you have a German Shepherd puppy, or Belgian Malinois puppy, you should consult your veterinarian for treatment advice before using insecticide sprays or baths. Finally, your dogs bedding and brushes should be replaced in order to prevent risk of reinfection.
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Despite the name, ringworm is actually caused by a form of fungus. Over 35 different species of this fungus exists, but only about four can cause ringworm in dogs. Of these four, Microsporum Canis is the most common. Ringworm is very contagious, and can be passed from dogs to humans. The risk of catching ringworm is especially high in young children. Infection can be spread by direct contact with an infected animal, or by contact with the spores which can live in sheets and carpeting for several months.
Ringworm can take as much as two weeks to develop into visible lesions after initial infection. The fungus grows within hair follicles in the skin, and causes hair in the infected area to break off at the root. As a result, ringworm infections often manifest in dogs as circular patches of missing fur. Many cases of ringworm can be identified by examination under ultra-violet light. However, only two of the four species of fungi that cause ringworm will fluoresce. The most accurate test is to have your veterinarian perform a hair culture on fur from the infected area, although this form of testing can take 2-3 weeks to perform.
If left untreated, ringworm will spread and cause painful sores, but once identified, infection can be treated fairly easily through anti-fungal medications. Unfortunately, ringworm is much more difficult to remove from the home, and reinfection will occur until remaining spores are dealt with. After an infection, it is recommended that you destroy and replace your dog’s bedding, brushes, and other objects which frequently come into close contact with your dog’s fur. Items that cannot be destroyed can be soaked in a mixture of hot water and iodine, and rinsed with water and diluted bleach. Clean the house thoroughly, and have carpets and upholstery steam-cleaned.
While ringworm is not often a dangerous or life-threatening illness, its persistence can make it difficult to deal with. In a guard dog, the skin irritation caused by ringworm can have a detrimental effect on concentration and overall performance. Weather you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, it is important to check your guard dog regularly for signs of ringworm and other signs of skin irritation. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you detect any signs illness.
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