Keep your dog busy by prolonging his mealtime with a number of interactive toys such as Kongs, treatballs, or Bustercubes (treats can be easily pushed in but will engage your dog for hours trying to get them out). Also try hiding part of his meal around the yard to stimulate his natural foraging instincts. Treats and toys are available at the RSPCA online shop.
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.
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.
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.
Regular socialisation and training, from as early as eight weeks of age, is an important factor in raising a well-behaved and socially acceptable dog. New puppy owners will benefit from enrolling their pups in a Puppy Pre-school class as soon as they bring their four-legged friend home. The RSPCA Pet Dog Manners class may also benefit your 4 legged friend!
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.
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.
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The simplest and most economical diet consists of a mixture of meat (raw, cooked or canned) and dry food. Premium dry food such as Hill's Science Diet (available at RSPCA clinics and shelters) are balanced and also good for your dog’s teeth. In order to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a mixture of both soft and hard food should be provided.What is wrong with just feeding my dog meat?
Pedigree or purebred dogs are more expensive to buy if purchased from a breeder and their nature and appearance is generally predictable (as they should conform to a breed standard). Crossbreeds (or 'designer dogs') are dogs of mixed ancestry. They are robust and often make great pets. Keep in mind though, that when you purchase a crossbred puppy it might be difficult to accurately predict how these puppies will develop. Both purebred and crossbred puppies and adult dogs are available at RSPCA Adoption Centres.
If you are not home during the day, your dog should be kept secure in a dog-proof fenced yard and should never be left unsupervised when tethered. In the case of larger properties where this is not possible, then an appropriately fenced dog-run should be constructed, and the dog kennel, along with a plentiful supply of fresh water, should be placed within the run.
Bones are necessary to keep your dogs teeth healthy and clean and also provide lots of fun for your canine friend if you are away. A large marrowbone cleans their teeth, massages their gums, and often becomes your dog's most treasured possession. You should provide your dog with a regular supply of bones for mouth and dental hygiene (raw chicken wings/necks are best). Never give your dog cooked bones, as these could be more brittle and easily splinter, causing harm to your dog. You should also ensure that there is always plenty of fresh and clean water for your dog. Sometimes bowls get knocked over and therefore to be safe it is recommended that you always provide two. In the summer months, like people, dogs need a lot more water to keep hydrated so make sure there water bowls are always full and kept in the shade.
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.
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.