The expression 'man's best friend' is truly fitting in describing one of man's most loyal and loving four-legged companions. Owning a dog is part of the Australian way of life - providing companionship, loyalty, and bundles of love for people of all ages, dogs are an invaluable addition to the family. Nonetheless, it is important to think carefully about the responsibility of dog ownership before you adopt or purchase a dog.
Puppy Roundworms can infect humans. To prevent this infection, puppies should be wormed regularly throughout their first year of life, and owners should be thorough with their own personal hygiene after having interacted with the dog. Tapeworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms can also infect dogs, and your veterinary surgeon can advise when to worm the dog.
Diarrhoea is similar to vomiting in that it is a clinical sign rather than a disease itself. Diarrhoea can be a sign of a mild digestive upset or of something more serious e.g. food poisoning or ingestion of other toxic materials. Acute and chronic diarrhoea can be life threatening, particularly in puppies or older dogs. If the diarrhoea lasts longer than a couple of hours, contains blood and the dog appears to be in pain and has a fever then veterinary attention is required immediately. Treatment in this case will include identification and appropriate treatment for the underlying condition causing the diarrhoea as well as fluid and electrolyte therapy. Mild cases can be treated at home by removing food for a period of 12 hours and then re-introducing small amounts of bland food (e.g. chicken and rice). Probiotics can also be a useful addition to improve the overall health of the affected dog’s intestines.
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Ideally, dogs should be taken to council-designated areas where they can be safely let off the leash to run free. It is important to use these specifically designated areas not only to ensure their own safety (preventing the risk of being hit by a car) but also the safety of farm livestock and wildlife which can be threatened by a dog let loose in their habitat.
Giardia intestinalis and Giardia duodenalis are single celled protozoan parasites, which inhabit the affected dog’s small intestine, causing clinical signs of Gardiasis. The protozoa attach themselves to the intestines and multiply. They may be directly swept through the intestines and appear in the infected dog’s faeces or they may develop into a tougher more durable ‘cyst’ form, which is again passed in the dogs faeces but is able to survive for long periods in the external environment. Dogs are infected by ingesting the cysts from contaminated water and the environment. Infected dogs may not show any clinical signs of Gardiasis, but they can still shed the protozoa from their systems, spreading the infection to other healthy animals.   Infection and subsequent illness is more commonly seen in younger animals. Signs of infection include: chronic or intermittent diarrhoea that may appear ‘fatty’ and slimy, accompanied by a very foul smell. Weight loss is also possible if left untreated.
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