The RSPCA recommends that you do not purchase a dog from markets or places where large numbers of dogs are kept for sale. Dogs sold from these establishments are very rarely examined by a veterinarian, and therefore may not be entirely healthy. Never purchase a puppy that looks unwell and if you are concerned about the welfare of the animal, contact the RSPCA Inspectorate.
Dogs frequently suffer from infestations of intestinal parasites – commonly known as worms. The most common types are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Each different type of worm has its own specific lifecycle and can damage a dog’s health in different ways. Clinical signs of an excessive worm burden include: diarrhoea, vomiting, poor coat condition, weight loss and general lethargy. Some types of worms can remain in a dogs system and no outward signs of infestation will be apparent. Intestinal worms can be treated with anthelmintics (de-worming medication). Regular use of appropriate anthelmintics every 3 months is recommended.
Most poisoning of dogs is accidental. Garden poisons, such as snail baits, are the main cause. If your dog is known to eat just about anything, then be particularly careful to store poisons where they will not be accessible to him. Dogs found foaming at the mouth, with muscle tremors or staggering gait, or unable to stand, should receive immediate veterinary treatment.
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Fleas are a common external parasite associated with dogs. They cause severe itching and inflammation of the skin, leading to dermatitis. They are the intermediate host for the Tapeworm most common in dogs. If fleas are a problem, it is necessary to treat all animals in the household (both cats and dogs) to clean the environment. You may also want to ‘flea bomb’ the house to remove any eggs and to stop the cycle. Preventative programs are best achieved using “spot on” products that have a prolonged residual effect, usually 30 days. However it is strongly advised to consult your Vet or chat with the RSPCA's friendly Vet nurse team for free advice about the most suitable product for your pet.
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It is also important that dogs are socialised with people and other dogs from an early age. There are a range of activities dog owners and their four-legged friends can get involved in such as fly ball, agility and lure coursing. Consult your local council about activities available in your area. RSPCA training and information sessions on pet behaviour are also regularly staged at Burwood East.
However, if you decide to keep your dog outdoors, it is important to consider how you'll ensure it receives the appropriate amount of human contact (particularly during those cold winter months in which we'd all much rather stay snuggled inside rather than playing fetch with our pals in the cold!). An option could be to enlist the service of a dog walker. Also, if you work long hours or are sometimes forced to take overnight trips, it may be useful to consider "doggy day care" facilities to ensure that your dog receives the TLC and companionship it will need in your absence.
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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.
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.
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