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.