A quick guide all about dogs and their care. If you have any concerns about the health of your dog, please call us.
What causes dogs to gain weight?
Weight gain is usually the result of an increase in body fat. Eating too much usually doesn’t help, especially when combined with lack of exercise. But there can be other contributing factors:
- age: older pets are usually less active so require fewer calories
- breed: some breeds are more prone to weight gain.
- medical problems: occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.
How can I tell if my dog is overweight?
- the ribs cannot be easily felt when running your hands along the side of the body
- you need to loosen the collar!
- difficulty in walking and exercising
- slow movements
- shortness of breath
- loss of an obvious waist
How can I help my dog to lose weight?
Weight problems are very common and these can be successfully managed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Combining a change in diet with increased exercise is the most effective way of achieving a healthy weight. All dogs need exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Some breeds are high energy and need to run off the lead. Lack of exercise can also cause behavioural issues as well as weight gain. Enjoy regular walks with your dog – walking at a constant pace will help, and taking your dog for walks on different surfaces, such as sand also helps (this will provide extra resistant which will be more effort). Encourage play in the home and garden and encourage your dog to follow you around the house. Swimming (in safe water) is generally a great exercise for dogs.
Dog vaccinations protect against these diseases:
- Canine Parvovirus
- Canine Distemper Virus
- Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
- Canine Para Influenza Virus
Kennel cough can be a serious illness. The vaccine for kennel cough provides twelve months cover and this should be done at least 72 hours before going into kennels or when mixing with lots of other dogs (i.e. in training classes or at shows) to be effective.
Sometimes allergy conditions can be related to poor diets and flea infestation. Environmental allergens such as pollen, mould, and house dust mites are also frequent causes. Your dog can be also sensitive to one or more ingredients in their food. We have specific canine tests to screen for allergies with a simple blood test.
Call St Helens Vets for an appointment for a health check for your dog.
The time required and the cost of professional grooming is an important consideration when deciding on the breed of dog you choose as a pet. Neglecting simple grooming procedures for some long-haired breeds can cause distress and discomfort. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to check for parasites such as worms and fleas.
Call St Helens Vets to arrange an appointment with our professional dog groomer.
Flea-related diseases account for some of the skin problems that are seen in the surgery. Fleas favour warm and humid conditions, so warm weather brings an increase in numbers. However, fleas can be a year round problem for dogs living in centrally heated houses. You may notice your pet scratching more than usual and may see a flea, or small specks of black flea droppings if you part the hair. As well as treating your dog, you will need to treat their bedding, your upholstery, and carpets – wherever your pet goes.
Treatment products are available from us here at the surgery. Vacuuming and washing of bedding will help. Fleas can also pass tapeworm larvae to your pet, so regular worming is also important in safeguarding your pet’s health. We are able to advise you on the best flea control treatments for you and your dog.
We often recommend a flea and mite control product for dogs that also helps control lungworm infection. Lungworm is a parasite that is spreading in the UK and is not prevented or treated by the usual worming treatments. Left untreated it can prove dangerous to the health of your dog or even fatal. This product is available from the surgery.
Save money and help spread the cost of routine flea treatments at St Helens Vets by joining our Pet Health Club. Call St Helens Vets for your flea treatments and to find out more about the Pet Health Club.
Roundworm can be passed from animal to animal and are long, thin, wiry and pale coloured. Humans can be infested if the eggs are accidentally swallowed by putting dirty hands into the mouth after playing or grooming, or by letting dogs lick the face and mouth. In children, roundworm can cause serious health problems such as blindness.
Please call St Helens Vets for worming advice and treatments.
Join the St Helens Vets Pet Health Club to save money and spread the cost of treatments. We do not recommend wormers from supermarkets or pet shops.
Regular checks at Petcare St Helens Surgery are helpful to monitor this as the bacteria associated with dental disease can also cause other serious health problems.
St Helens Vets sell nutritious and specially formulated dog food to help you to care for your dog’s teeth as well as our recommended types of dental chews. Dogs can also be given raw bones under supervision. Never feed cooked bones as they can splinter and cause intestinal obstruction.
We can also teach you how to brush your dog’s teeth! Signs of dental disease in your pet can include
- Bad breath
- Bleeding and inflamed gums
- Build-up of yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
- Difficulty chewing food
- Loss of interest in food
- Pawing at the mouth or drooling
- Tooth loss
- Subdued behaviour
- Not wanting to be touched on the head
It is best not to try and clean your pet’s ears other than around the entrance to the ear, as cleaning further inside the ear may cause damage and pain, the ear canal lining tissue is very delicate. If a foreign body has made its way into the ear canal do not try to get it out yourself, contact us as anaesthesia may be needed to remove the object.
Infections can be due to ear mites, bacteria or yeast. Some bacterial infections can perforate the eardrum so seek help straight away.
Call St Helens Vets for an appointment to have your pet’s ears checked.
Spaying prevents unwanted puppies. Female dogs can be spayed at any time in life after six months of age. There are two different times you can spay your bitch when she is young. Pre-season spay – we can advise you on the best time but it is generally between the ages of six to nine months, depending on the breed of your dog. Your bitch will then never come into season. Post-season spay – this is done two months after the first season has finished. Call St Helens Vets to make an appointment so we can advise you on spaying.
Winter – Small, thin and fine coated breed dogs may need dog coats as they find it much harder to conserve body heat. Be aware of hazards such as frozen ponds and lakes! Take extra care and effort to ensure dogs kept outside are warm, have appropriate shelter and access to fresh water.
We need to make sure your pet is properly identified with a microchip. Before undertaking any trip abroad, please call us at Petcare St Helens to check that all the required vaccinations are up-to-date and your pet is healthy to travel. You will also need to get a pet passport from us. Call St Helens Vets to make an appointment for a pet passport or microchipping.
Plan your trip carefully if taking your pet. Holidays are a wonderful time and it’s great to be taking your dog with you. Take some familiar things to make your pet feel at home, like their blanket, food dish and toys.
St Helens Pets have a Travel Pack for dogs comprising:
- A well-designed, non-spill, unbreakable bowl
- A cover for tinned food
- A floating ball for the seaside or lakeside
- A waterproof bag.
In addition we can include tick, flea and worming treatment and a sandfly collar for overseas trips, do not leave home without them!
To help prevent your dog from being involved in a traffic accident, always keep your pet on a lead near roads. Check boundary fences for escape routes and make people aware of not leaving gates and doors open.