Posts Tagged ‘Canine Health’
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, February 2nd, 2010
Hip and elbow dysplasia can be found in a variety of animals, including humans. However, the disorder is commonly found in, and associated with canines. Larger and especially active dogs are particularly at risk due to the excess stress put on their limbs and joints.
Dysplasia is an inherited disorder, and diagnosis can be tricky. While some sever cases are recognizable in a dog’s infancy, many cases go unnoticed until well into the dog’s adult years. Dysplasia is the most common cause for arthritis in canines. The disorder often worsens as the dog ages and can be both painful and debilitating.
Work as a guard dog often involves rigorous exercise. As a result, flaws in the hip joints affecting balance and posture often become apparent far sooner than in less active dogs. Because dysplasia is inherited, dogs from poorly maintained German Shepherd bloodlines are often at high risk. Working line German Shepherd breeders need to pay special attention to the hips and elbows of their dogs in order to ensure that they are not introducing dysplacia into their bloodlines.
While your guard dog may not show symptoms of hip or elbow dysplasia for the majority of its adult life, there is still a chance that minor deformations in the joints will worsen over the years with standard wear-and-tear caused by the exercise your dog needs. Regular x-rays of your dog’s joints can help you and your vet monitor your guard dog for signs of dysplasia in the joints. For working dogs who may be getting on in their years, signs of hip and elbow dysplasia may be an indicator that it’s time to retire your canine to a less active lifestyle.
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
Although your dog is considered a carnivore, this does not mean that it will eat meat exclusively. In fact, it is very common for dogs to eat a wide variety of things that would not ordinarily be considered a regular part of the canine diet. Unfortunately for some, this may include your prized garden tulips. However, more important than the possible destruction of one’s flowers is the possibility that these plants and flowers are often extremely poisonous to dogs.
Among plants normally consumed by humans, there are a few which are known to be toxic to dogs. These include grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, and rhubarb. Of course, most people would be hesitant to let their dog wander through their garden on any occasion, but owners should be especially cautious if they are growing any of the aforementioned plants.
Aside from plants normally consumed by humans, there are a number common decorative plants that can also be very toxic. Just because they are not edible plants does not mean that your dog will never attempt to eat them. Hunger is the root instinct of any animal, and curiosity is strong among especially intelligent dogs. Either one may cause an otherwise well trained and well behaved canine to being eating surrounding plants. Among the common decorative plants that are toxic to dogs are Aloe Vera, Azalea flowers, Daffodils, most types of Lily, Foxglove flowers, Holly, Hyacinth, most types of Ivy, Mistletoe, Morning Glory, Nightshade, Philodendron, Poinsettia flowers, Tulips, and many varieties of wild mushroom.
Of course, it is impossible to list every single plant which may be toxic to your dog, as there are literally thousands. The most obvious prevention method to keep your dog from eating toxic plants is to ensure they are not left unsupervised in a garden that contains a wide variety of flowers and plants. While being kept outside, it is recommended that your protection dog, guard dog or security dog be kept in a comfortable area that is kept free of weeds and fungus. It is also a good idea to ensure that your dogs are fed from a consistent source, such as a food bowl. Feeding your dog without a bowl encourages it to take food from other sources, and is generally a bad idea. Here at CCK9, all of our German Shepherd puppies, Dutch Shepherd puppies, and Belgian Malinois puppies are fed from bowls the moment we begin feeding them solid food to help enforce this habit.
Monday, December 28th, 2009
Caring for puppies is a rewarding experience, but can also be a difficult one. The health of your puppy can be fragile, especially in their first weeks. One of the most common health problems that can appear in puppies is diarrhea. Diarrhea is, of course, strongly connected to your puppy’s diet, but can also be indicative of other health problems. Although it is not always cause for alarm, it should be taken seriously, as it may mean that your puppy is not getting or not able to properly digest the nutrients it needs to grow up strong and healthy.
The first thing to consider is that your puppy’s stool can vary in appearance from completely liquid to completely solid, and anywhere in between. If the stool is simply soft, but not watery, it may not be a serious. This can occur from improper digestion caused by poor diet, change in diet, stress or over-feeding. While it is most commonly not serious, you should monitor your puppy closely until it’s stool returns to normal consistency.
If the stool is liquid and quite watery, it is a much more serious problem. Firstly, watery diarrhea can cause dehydration. In puppies, dehydration can become life-threatening in as little as 24 hours. A puppy can survive a day without solid food, which may be beneficial in that it helps give the digestive track a rest, but it is absolutely imperative that you give your puppy lots of water. If your puppy will not drink, or has had continued diarrhea for more then 24 hours, you must take it to the vet. Be sure to monitor any diarrhea for signs of blood, as blood is a key indicator that your puppy could be very sick. Do not hesitate for a second to take your puppy to the vet if you see even a tiny drop of blood in the stool. Watery diarrhea and blood in the stool can both be caused by intestinal parasites, or other serious digestive problems. This should not, under any circumstances, be taken lightly.
The majority of dogs will experience some kind of diarrhea at least once in their lives. It’s up to you to know what to do, and when to take your puppy to the vet. Keeping a close eye on your puppy’s health is necessary to ensure that your German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd or Belgian Malinois will grow up to be both strong and healthy.
Monday, December 7th, 2009
Some people may argue that if they feel healthy, then they have no reason to visit the doctor. Unfortunately, many of these people learn the hard way that they are mistaken. Any medical doctor will tell you that regular checkups are crucial to maintaining good health, and especially crucial to the early detection and prevention of disease. Your physician is sometimes able to detect the early signs of disease long before you would feel any pain. The exact same is true of canines, if not more-so. While you are able to verbally communicate any pain you might feel, your dog cannot. By the time your dog becomes visibly ill, it may be too late.
On top of early detection of disease, there are a number of things that should also be taken care of by a vet. First and foremost is immunization shots. Some shots need not be given more than once, but many require an annual booster to maintain their effect. Another important aspect of a visit to the vet is dental and oral health.
The importance of maintaining your canine’s health should be apparent to anyone. A protection dog cannot protect, and a guard dog cannot guard, if it is sick. While the majority of well bred working line dogs will be free of hereditary disease, there are still a number of contagious diseases that your dog can pick up from other dogs. We do our best to ensure that we breed only the strongest and healthiest German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds, but no dog is invincible and there is no excuse to avoid taking your dog to the vet. Early detection and prevention is key in preserving your dogs health. Veterinary check-ups should be performed at least annually.
Friday, May 15th, 2009
Ever go to someone’s house and their dog is frantically running in circles, pacing and chewing inappropriate things- like the furniture? It’s really quite an uncomfortable situation for all involved, especially the dog itself. Fortunately, I was at an acquaintance’s house and I was in the position to be blunt. The problem was easy to solve- the dog needed exercise, ASAP.
Both large and small dogs require structured walks with their handler. Running in the garden or chasing a ball doesn’t fill the requirement. Since domestication has only occurred within a relatively short time frame (about 15,000 years or so), canines still have the instinct to roam. They want and need exercise.
You’ll benefit too. Walking your dog on a leash by your side lets them know that you are their leader; it reinforces your role. The health benefits of a fit dog are obvious as well. However, the benefit you’ll notice in the short term is their balanced, calm state of mind. Inappropriate behavior in the house is often the result of anxiety and the anxiety is often curable with a 20-minute jaunt around the block.
German shepherds and other herding dogs such as Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds need to be walked. Sometimes my clients will see this as a drawback to owning a personal protection dog. Yet once they get into the habit, they view it as a great opportunity to strengthen the bond they share. Exercising with your dog is akin to the human/family bonding ritual of eating dinner together.
Exercise can help a host of behavioral problems in dogs just like it can help reduce anxiety and other health problems in humans. Family members should alternate walking duties. Ideally, two twenty-minute walks or at least one longer walk each day is needed. I know that there are days when you just won’t feel like going for a walk. But just think: as much as you don’t want to, your dog DOES want to…and needs to.
So consider the benefits. Your dog protects you and the family, looks after the home, provides companionship, and makes your life happier and safer. A good way to return the favor? Grab the lead and go.
Monday, May 11th, 2009
A few years ago, a friend of mine called me in a panic. She told me that her German shepherd was whining, attempting to vomit, panting and had a bloated stomach on the left side. I told her to immediately take the dog to her vet. The symptoms were strongly indicative of a life threatening health concern called gastric torsion, or commonly referred to as stomach flipping.
Torsion is most prevalent among large breed dogs. The stomach of the dog will twist or rotate after eating and then engaging in rigorous activity. The problem is further compounded if the dog drinks large amounts of water before or after eating or exercising.
In order to reduce the chances of torsion, never exercise your dog after he or she eats (within 2-3 hours). In fact, after mealtime is the best time to crate your dog. Additionally, do not allow the dog to drink large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercise or eating kibble. Feeding your dog two meals a day instead of one is helpful. If your dog should exhibit bloating and pain, take him or her to the vet immediately since this is a life threatening situation. Some studies have shown that only half of all dogs experiencing gastric torsion survive. The key to survival had to do with the timeliness at which the handler sought medical attention.
Genetics play a role. Do not a purchase a German shepherd or other large dog without inquiring if any relatives of the dog have experienced gastric torsion.
Fortunately, my friend’s dog made it. She has not had a repeat occurrence now that she knows what to do and what not to do. The chances that your dog will experience this health problem are slim. But on the off chance it does happen, your dog will have a higher rate of survival because you now know what to look for.
Knowledge is a powerful thing.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Keeping protection dogs and family pets healthy is always a top concern for owners. But what happens when our good intentions actually end up hurting our best friends? In a recent study at the University of Wisconsin, researchers found that vets and dog owners all over the country may be over-vaccinating dogs and causing health problems. Basically, in an effort to make their pets healthy, people may actually be making them sick.
Dr. Ronald Schultz, a pathobiological scientist at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine has been studying canine vaccines for nearly forty years. In his research, he has found that immunities can last an entire lifetime in canines. This means that quite possibly, people only need to vaccinate their dogs one time, instead of the yearly vaccinations that many family pets and protection dogs now receive.
The annual vaccinations are usually comprised of a single shot that includes vaccines for over 16 different canine diseases such as Lyme disease, parvovirus, distemper and more. The rabies shot is often given every three to five years, but Dr. Schultz’s findings also show that this may be over-vaccinating dogs as well. He has studied the antibody levels in dogs as they progress through their lifetimes, and his data has shown that the dogs retain their immunities to these diseases for many years, sometimes even until natural death.
Over-vaccinating dogs can lead to side effects like skin problems, allergic reactions and even autoimmune disease. Dr. Schultz’s research is becoming widely acknowledged by vets across the country, who are rethinking the annual schedule of vaccinations. His results could lead to cheaper vet visits and healthier pets and protection dogs.
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