There are various intestinal worms that can infect dogs and cats, with hook worms, round worms (ascarids), whip worms (mainly in dogs) and tapeworms being the main groups. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, bloody stools, weight loss, anaemia, pot belly, dry hair and/or general poor appearance. If left untreated, worm infestations can be fatal. Worms can be picked up from the mother (either in utero or via milk), from the environment (infected stools), from eating infected prey (lizard or mouse), or, in the case of tapeworms, from fleas. Worms can also be transmitted to humans.
As a dog owner you are fully and legally responsible for any harm or damages caused by your dog. If your dog bites a human, kills wildlife, damages property, causes a traffic accident, creates noise or other pollution, or is the direct cause of any other damage to the community, you may have to shoulder a substantial financial (if not legal) penalty. It is in your best interest then to always keep a vigilant eye on your dog in public and provide him with the obedience training and socialisation skills necessary to become a well-mannered and socially well-adjusted dog.
As mentioned above, puppies respond well to positive-reinforcement based training. It is important to acknowledge that dogs cannot possibly know which behaviours are right and which are wrong - it will be up to you to teach them. Take the time to show your puppy what you want them to do and reward them with a treat, praise, or a game each time they do the right thing.
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.
Vomiting is not a disease or disorder in itself; it is a clinical sign of some type of digestive disturbance or as a result of another disease or disorder. Occasional bouts of vomiting can be considered normal but if the vomiting persists and is accompanied by severe or bloody diarrhoea, lethargy, weakness, depression, pain or fever then this is a sign that something is seriously wrong and veterinary attention is required. Vomiting can be caused by something the dog has eaten (e.g. rotten food), ingestion of toxins, adverse reactions to drugs or an allergic reaction to something in the environment.
If your puppy is behaving inappropriately you should attempt to re-direct them to something else and reward them when they begin to engage in more appropriate behaviour. For example, if your puppy is chewing on the furniture, re-direct him to an appropriate alternative such as a chew toy. Alternately, you may find that ignoring the undesirable behaviour and rewarding the correct one can also be a very effective way to train your puppy.
It is important to buy your dog from a reputable source. Purchase your dog from a reputable dog breeder, visit an RSPCA Adoption Centre or a local animal welfare shelter such as the RSPCA where lots of happy and healthy dogs are looking for loving new homes. If you are looking to adopt a dog from a breeder, make sure you read our Smart Puppy Buyers Guide.
Lungworm larvae may be present in slugs and snails, and if eaten, pets may be infected with worms that make their way to the lungs, where they block airways and make breathing difficult. Most dog wormers don't claim to treat lungworm, although some cat wormers do. Research conducted internationally has found moxidectin, which is found in some heartworm treatments for dogs, to be effective against lungworm, but this claim can't be made for dogs on packaging in Australia. Check with your vet as to whether it's an issue in your area, and discuss the best preventative treatment.
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.