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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.
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.
It’s important to maintain a healthy skin and coat, and dogs of any age can suffer from arthritis and joint issues. Calming aids can ease anxiety, whether situational or hereditary. It’s always good to have basic first aid and wound care items handy, and dental care products can make regular teeth maintenance easy. For long-term solutions, we even carry syringes and needles, pilling aids, and more to save you too many trips to the vet.
The key method to adopt here is one of positive reinforcement. Firstly, you need to show your pup the area where it should do its business, and each time the pup toilets in the designated area, immediately reward with a treat or verbal praise. In order to prevent mistakes from happening, it is important to both diligently supervise your dog while it is indoors and take it frequently outdoors. This will speed the learning process and prevent any accidents from occurring in the house.
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.
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.
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".
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.
Male dogs are often quite independent and can be a little more difficult to train and control. Males also tend to wander and fight other dogs. Female dogs are more popular as family pets and may cost a little more. By nature females are affectionate and companionable, but unless desexed, will attract male dogs when in season and may reproduce every six months.
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.