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.
While fleas are annoying, ticks can be deadly. The paralysis tick occurs mainly in spring and summer in Eastern Australia, and is found in long grass and the bush. Tick protection isn't necessary for all dogs and cats, and depending on where you live, may not be needed all year round – your vet can advise you on the situation in your local area. No tick preventative is 100% effective, so you still need to check your pet every day.
During summer, a flea control shampoo and a flea rinse should be used. However, this should by no means substitute a proper monthly flea control regime such as Spot-On, Revolution or Frontline. Consult your vet or chat with the RSPCA's friendly vet nurse team for free advice on flea control for your pet. It's important to remember, after the application of flea treatment be sure to wait 24-48 hours before bathing your dog.
Fleas are most common in warm humid areas, and while more prolific in summer, they are found year-round in many parts of Australia. Flea bites cause discomfort and distress through itching, and some dogs and cats can develop hypersensitivity or an allergy. Fleas also host tapeworms, infecting your pet if they eat them. Most dogs and cats need flea treatment – indoor cats may be an exception.
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Safety is also a consideration. In September 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement warning about the risk of tremors and seizures in animals treated with products containing drugs in the isoxazoline class, which are used to combat fleas and ticks. However, the FDA said it still considers the products "safe and effective".
Combing and brushing dogs regularly is essential, particularly for longhaired breeds. It is best to establish this habit early in a dog’s life so that grooming becomes part of the routine. Grooming removes dust, dead skin, loose hairs, grass seeds, and tangles. It also assists to shorten the coat moult, which occurs every autumn and spring. Brushing helps keep your dog cool in summer months and reduces the amount of hair your dog sheds. Dogs with short coats also require some brushing.
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.