Archive for the ‘Canine Health’ Category
Thursday, July 1st, 2010
It is believed by many that a cold and wet nose is a sign of good health in a dog. While this is true to an extent, the health of your dog is not so black and white that it can be determined from a simple touch of the nose. A protection dog cannot speak, so it is up to the handler to look for other signs of good or poor health.
Concerning a dog’s nose, it is not necessarily true that a dog with a warm or dry nose will always be sick, nor is it true that a dog with a cool and wet nose will always be healthy. In many mammals, humans included, the purpose of the nose is to help clean and condition the air we breath in order to reduce the stress on our lungs and passageways. To a certain extent, the moisture from a dog’s nose helps humidify the air that they breath in. However, this humidifying effect has much more to do with the inside of your dog’s nose than the outside. Truthfully, the primary reason that a dog’s nose will be wet is because dogs frequently lick their noses.Certain breeds of dog, such as the bulldog, often have dry noses due simply to the fact that the dog’s tongue cannot reach its nose. Similarly, your own dog’s nose may be dry during certain times of the day when less licking occurs, such as while it sleeps. Neither of these cases indicate a dog that is sick or unhealthy.
However, many dogs avoid licking their noses when they become ill. While a dry or warm nose by itself is certainly no indication of sickness, it may be one symptom accompanying a number of others, such as lethargy or difficulty breathing. As a general rule, you should always consult your veterinarian if your dog shows any other signs of illness, regardless of whether its nose is wet or dry. In rare cases, your dogs nose may not only become dry, but will begin to crack or produce sores. Excessive dryness lasting more than a day, or the appearance of sores on the nose should both be examined immediately by your veterinarian.
Whether you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, knowing the signs and symptoms of sickness in your protection dog is the most important step in ensuring it a long and healthy life. When in doubt, you should never hesitate to seek the advice of a trained and licenced veterinarian.
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Healthy growing pups normally have incredible appetites for their size, so when your puppy stops eating, it can be cause for great concern. Knowing what to look for and how to respond is the first step in ensuring a strong and healthy German Shepherd puppy with a strong appetite.
As a general preventative measure, it is good to maintain a strict feeding schedule and build proper eating habits with your pup. Try to feed your puppy at consistent times from day to day, don’t feed it scraps from the table, always place the food in your pup’s dish, and remove the dish after 20 or 30 minutes have passed in order to help condition your puppy to eat at the proper times.
Assuming you’ve been maintaining a good schedule, and your puppy has been eating regularly, there are a number of reasons why your puppy may suddenly stop eating. One of the most common reasons is due to teething. Do what you can to reduce the discomfort from teething and ensure meals are eaten.
Unfortunately, other reasons your pup may stop eating could much more severe. Digestive illness, injury to the abdomen or parasites may all prevent your puppy from eating properly. As well, regardless of the cause, lack of food for extended periods of time can be fatal. Whether you have a German Shepherd puppy, Dutch Shepherd puppy, or Belgian Malinois puppy, you should always consult the expertise of your veterinarian if your puppy has gone more than 24 hours without eating, or shows any symptoms of illness.
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
In German Shepherds, standing ears have been a staple of the breed’s appearance since the very first were bred in the early 1900′s. Unlike other breeds whose ears must be painfully cropped, the German Shepherd has been bred for ears that stand naturally, without the need for unnecessary surgery. Not only do standing ears give the appearance of alertness, but they more effectively channel sound, and are less prone to dirt and infection.
Many people take it for granted that a German Shepherd’s ears have always stood erect. However, German Shepherd puppies go through a process of growth in which the cartilage in their ears firms up, allowing them to stand. When the puppies are first born, their ears are much too soft to stand on their own. In the majority of puppies, the ears will naturally begin to stand between about 3 to 6 months with no extra help. Unfortunately, some puppies are born with softer ears than others, or cartilage that does not firm up enough for the ears to stand. The process of taping ensures that their ears will set properly, in the shape which was intended for the breed. It should be stressed that the majority of pups will have ears that stand naturally. Ear taping should only be used on pups who have shown no signs of standing ears after about 5 or 6 months.
The process of ear taping should not be left too late. In many cases, starting taping at 7 or 8 months may already be too late. It is important to monitor the growth of your dog’s ears, and how they react to noise. Making noise and giving commands will encourage the pup to work the muscles around their ears, and encourage standing. If, by the 5th month, your pups ears have not shown signs of beginning to stand, you should consider taping. While it is recommended to have a vet tape the ears, it can be done at home as well. The most important consideration is to make sure that the right type of tape is used. Only clean surgical tape should be used. Any other type of tape, such as duct tape or scotch tape, can seriously damage your dog’s ears. It is also important to purchase a safe adhesive, specifically designed for use on skin. The process of taping the dog’s ears is fairly simple. You will need some form of soft cylindrical form to place in the ear-flap. The foam inside of hair-rollers, with the hard plastic parts removed, often work well. Apply the skin-bond glue to the foam, being careful not to apply excessive glue, allow the glue to contact your own skin, or allow the glue to drip into the ear of the dog. Gently place the foam along the inside flap of the ear, in an upright fashion. Leave space between the foam and the ear canal. Tape the ear around the foam in a cylindrical fashion, starting from the bottom. Be careful not to tape too loosely or too tightly, and you should be done.
Whether you have a police dog, a guard dog or a personal protection dog, healthy ears are an important part of your German Shepherd puppy‘s development. If, at any time, you are in doubt about the health your puppy, you should never hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice.
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Sensitivity to environmental substances is incredibly common among human beings. While severe reactions to substances occur in many people, mild allergies to pollen or dust mites are much more prevalent. However, humans are not the only mammals affected by these strange sensitivities. Canines are just as likely to have allergies as humans are. However, the way in which these allergies present themselves can be very different. It is important to know what signs to look for in your protection dog, and what actions to take if you suspect your dog may be having an allergic reaction.
Unlike in humans, where mild allergies to pollen or mold manifest as a stuffy nose, or watery eyes, dogs with these types of allergies often suffer from skin irritation, especially around the ears, paws, flanks and groin. While this is often nothing to be overly concerned about, excessive licking and scratching can create sores in the skin that may become infected.
It is also possible for your dog to have a food allergy. In severe cases, vomiting, diarrhea or even seizures may occur, but often the symptoms are harder to spot. Flatulence, sneezing, and general irritation of the mouth, throat, or intestinal tract may all result from a food allergy.
Finally, canines can sometimes be sensitive to certain types of insect bytes. This is especially true of dogs who have previously had very little contact with this type of insect. A dog with an allergy to flea bytes may suffer from irritated skin and itchiness in the area for as long as a week after the byte.
Detecting and pin-pointing allergies can be a very difficult task. It is common for allergies to develop over time rather than being present for birth, which makes the task of narrowing down possible allergens even more difficult. In all cases, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian if your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois is suffering from any of the above symptoms. Every case is different, so it is up to you and your veterinarian to pin-point possible allergies. Of course, knowing what symptoms to look for is the first step in keeping your personal protection dog happy and healthy.
Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Just as it can be with humans, hyperthermia, or heat stroke, can be a very serious and potentially life-threatening problem. All warm-blooded mammals produce natural body heat which is dissipated in a number of ways. Humans dissipate heat by sweating, which helps keep the body’s core temperature at about 98.6 ° Fahrenheit. As many people know, dogs cannot sweat, but instead dissipate heat through panting. A healthy dog’s core body temperature should be between 101 ° and 102.5 ° F. In all mammals, once the core body temperature rises above a certain point, damage can occur to the brain and other organs, resulting in heat stroke. For canines, a core body temperature of 105 ° F or higher is enough to cause serious problems.
There are a number of reasons why a dog may be unable to properly dissipate heat. For dogs with an undercoat, such as the German Shepherd, failure to properly brush and remove the loose undercoat as the warmer seasons come can put your dog at risk. Walking on dark asphalt on a hot day can also raise your dog’s core temperature considerably, as the heat from the ground is radiating directly towards the chest and abdomen of your canine. Working protection dogs and police dogs are at even greater risk due to higher levels of exertion combined with activities such as tracking that require your dog’s mouth to remain closed, thus preventing proper heat dissipation through panting. Lack of proper hydration, as well as muzzles or anything else that may prevent proper panting can leave your dog at risk for heat stroke as well. Finally, never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Even on a relatively mild day, the temperature inside your vehicle can quickly raise to dangerous levels.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, there are a number of indicators to look out for. Frantic panting, rapid heart beat, dizziness and staggering, refusal to obey commands, inability to sit up or stand, and collapse or unconsciousness are all signs of potential heat stroke. In the event that your dog is suffering from hyperthermia, your first action should be to cool the dog down by whatever means necessary, be they water, air conditioning or even ice packs. Immersing or dousing your dog in cool water is an excellent way to cool it down, but avoid cold water, as the drastic change in temperature can be a shock to the dog’s system and produce further complications. If you have a thermometer on hand, keep track of your dog’s temperature. Once it drops back down to about 103 ° F you should discontinue cooling and head immediately to your veterinarian, or the nearest veterinary hospital. If no thermometer is available, look for other signs that your dog’s core temperature has dropped, such as a reduced panting and distress.
In almost all cases, heat stroke is preventable. Proper grooming, hydration and care are all it takes to keep your protection dog or guard dog cool and healthy on a hot day.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
While many people simply choose the veterinary clinic closest to their homes, the quality of the service they receive can vary greatly between veterinarians. Even if the location isn’t ideal, finding a good veterinarian is just as important to the health and comfort of your protection dog as finding a good doctor would be to you. It goes without saying that your veterinarian should be fully licensed. However, there are a number of other factors that make the difference between a comfortable, efficient and productive visit, versus a difficult and time-consuming experience.
Your first step should be to gather information on surrounding clinics. Word of mouth is not always reliable, but asking around the neighbourhood is a good starting point. Introduce yourself to other dog owners in the area to see if they have any recommendations. Doing research online is also a good way to gather information and read client testimonials. Not every opinion online will be accurate or trustworthy, but large numbers of negative reviews may help you steer clear of a poorly run clinic.
Once you have assembled a list of potential clinics in the area, you should call each one. It is good to ask questions regarding the facility and services provided. Ask if the veterinarian is on-call for emergencies, or if the clinic has an ultrasound machine. If these services are not provided, it does necessarily mean that it is a poor clinic. However, you will need to know the location of the nearest animal hospital that can provide these services in the event of an emergency. While most veterinarians practise on a wide variety of animals, it is beneficial to try to find a veterinarian who is especially experienced in dealing with dogs, or better yet, working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. Just as a professional athlete would look for a specialist in joint and muscle stress, you will want to look for a veterinarian who has experience dealing with the stresses that are put on the joints and muscles of working dogs.
Finally, your should narrow your choices down to only a couple of clinics. Make appointments for a first-time visit, and take not of the experience. Watch for cleanliness in the facility, the veterinarians ability to communicate problems clearly, whether or not the experience is rushed, and professional service at reception. During the examination, try asking the veterinarian to explain some of what they are doing. A good veterinarian should answer your questions clearly and professionally.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010
Considering the reputation of dogs and their willingness to eat just about anything, it seems unlikely that your protection dog would be a picky eater. However, sudden changes in the main source of your dog’s diet can produce unexpected health problems.
Whether you are switching from one brand of dog food to another, upgrading to a better quality of dog food, or putting your dog on an entirely raw food diet, the introduction of a new diet should always be done as gradually as possible. Switching over abruptly from one diet to another often causes problems with digestion such as stomach cramps, heartburn, indigestion or, in rare cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
Switching over from one diet to another can be accomplished in about a week. However, the more gradual the change is, the easier it will be for your dog’s digestive system to adapt. The new food can be gradually introduced by mixing it with the old food. Start with about one quarter of the new food mixed with three quarters of the old. After no less than two days, you can switch to a mixture of about half and half. Continue in increments of two or more days for the half and half mixture, followed by three quarters new with one quarter old, and finally a diet consisting entirely of the new food.
No matter what diet you choose for your German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd, it is important that you keep it consistent. While some owners may be tempted to pick up different brands of dog food on sale, your personal protection dog will not appreciate the sudden change. You should only switch the diet of your protection dog if you feel that it would benefit your dog’s health, or if a change of diet is recommended by your veterinarian.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
While we rely on our protection dogs for safety and security, they rely on us to ensure that they are kept strong and healthy. Of course, a dog cannot verbally communicate any pain or discomfort they may be in. However, your canine can still communicate in a variety of different ways. Knowing what signs to look for will help ensure that any minor injuries or illnesses are taken care of before they grow into more serious problems.
It is a good idea to check your dogs regularly for bumps, cuts or scrapes. Consider the environments in which your dog has been. While an open field may be a good place to go for regular excessive, it may also hide ticks, thorns, metal scraps or any number of potentially harmful insects and debris. An untreated cut or tick bite has the potential to grow into a serious infection. Also be on the look-out for any tender areas. If your dog winces as you run your hand across its leg, it could be indicative of a sprained or injured joint.
Many diseases and illnesses can be tricky to spot. Keeping track of the amount your dog eats, drinks and sleeps is important. Eating less, drinking unusual amounts of water, and excessive lameness are all signs of potential health problems. Of course, vomiting and diarrhea are much easier to spot, and should be looked out for as well. If you are considering the purchase of a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois as a protection dog, it is important that you purchase from a reputable breeder. Dogs purchased from less reputable sources may be at greater risk of developing hip dysplasia. Pay close attention to the gait and stride of your protection dog, especially in its senior years. An unusual gait or limp may be caused by pain experienced from hip or joint problems.
Any signs or symptoms of potential health problems should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian immediately. As well as keeping an eye out for problems yourself, regular check ups from your veterinarian are necessary.
Friday, March 12th, 2010
As humans, oral health and dental hygiene are a large part of lives. Healthy teeth and gums are essential not only to the longevity of our lives, but to social interaction as well. However, healthy teeth and gums is just as important for canines as it is for humans. For a guard dog, healthy teeth makes all the difference in maintaining a strong, confident bite. Maintaining healthy teeth becomes especially important as a dog ages.
There are a variety of store-bought products available to assist in cleaning your dog’s teeth; however, we have found that the best solution is most often the natural solution. When you give your dog a bone, you’re offering more than just a tasty treat. The act of chewing the bone actually helps to clean the teeth by scraping plaque off the surface as well as helping to strengthen the gums. To keep your dog’s teeth their strongest, one bone every other day, or about three to four bones per week is recommended. The best time to do this would be during your own meal times, when the family is sitting down and relaxed.
Preparation is simple: the bone should be raw, with at least a small amount of meat still attached. It is recommended that you do not give your dog a cooked bone, as the process of cooking will soften it and cause splintering which could hurt your dog’s mouth or cause choking. Freezing the bone before-hand is an effective way of killing any harmful bacteria that may have collected on the surface, but let the bone thaw before giving it to your dog. The size of the bone is, of course, relative to the size of your dog. For medium-sized working breeds such as German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherds, we recommend a bone that is no larger than the size of your clenched fist.
On a day-to-day basis, a raw bone is all your protection dog or guard dog needs to keep its teeth clean, strong and healthy. For long-term care, most veterinarians perform short oral examinations as a part of your dog’s regular check ups. Your veterinarian should inform you when an extensive cleaning is necessary, or if any serious problems with the teeth and gums are apparent.
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Protection dogs that get selected for breeding should always be the pick of their litter, and the best of their bloodlines. However, even the strongest and sturdiest protection dog will need special attention during pregnancy. This article will offer tips on how to ease the process of pregnancy and prepare your canine for labor and whelping.
After conception, the newborn puppies should arrive in about 54-72 days. The average is about 62 days, but you should always be prepared at least a week in advance. Unlike humans, the hormone levels do not change in a dog during pregnancy. Because of this, the only way to determine if your canine is pregnant is through an ultrasound. Puppies should be detectable through ultrasound after about 25 days from conception. After about 45 days, the skeletons of the pups should be visible through x-ray. While an x-ray it is not required, it can help to know the number and size of the pups beforehand in order to be better prepared for any problems during whelping.
During pregnancy, you should avoid giving your dog nutritional supplements. High quality dog food should be enough to give your dog and her pups the vitamins and calories they need. You should also start taking your dog’s temperature. The average rectal temperature of a dog is between 100 to 102.5 degrees, Fahrenheit. Approximately 24 hours prior to whelping, your canine’s temperature will drop by a couple degrees. This should be a good indicator that she is very close to giving birth
About a week before whelping is expected, you should prepare a suitable area for the whelping to occur. Encourage the Dam to sleep in this area in order to allow her to get comfortable with it. It is important that this area be a safe, quiet place, away from activity and noise. The purpose of the whelping box is to help keep the puppies warm and safe. The box can be built out of plywood or cardboard. The sides of the whelping box should be high enough to protect the puppies from drafts, but leave the front open to allow the Dam to enter and leave the box comfortably.
Regardless of whether your dog is a Protection Dog, Guard Dog or Security Dog, the above steps will help the pregnancy of your German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd go as smoothly and comfortably as possible.
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