Just like us humans, dogs need vaccines and medications to protect themselves from common health problems. That’s why bringing your canine friend regularly for checkups and immunizations is important. But if it’s your first time bringing your dog or puppy to a vet’s clinic or if you’re unfamiliar with the procedures, don’t worry.
Your veterinarian will ask you if your dog has had his/her shots. And if not, your vet will recommend these five preventive measures:
Rabies is a severe and often fatal viral infection that your four-legged companion can get from other rabid animals (e.g. stray dogs and cats). It’s usually transmitted through a bite, which can also infect humans when one is not careful with an unvaccinated dog. According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines is one of the top 10 countries with rabies problems. In 2011, around 328,459 persons were bitten by animals—with dogs being the principal reason.
There are two forms of rabies your dog can experience: paralytic and furious. Paralytic rabies is characterized by weakness and loss of coordination, which leads to paralysis. Meanwhile, furious rabies is characterized by extreme changes in your dog’s behavior, like sudden aggression. On top of that, rabies is a fast-moving virus. If your canine buddy is showing the following symptoms, bring her/him to your vet for immediate preventive care:
- Paralysis in the Mandible and Larynx
- Muscular lack of coordination
- Dropped jaw
- Excitability (excessive)
- Frothy Saliva or Excessive Salivation
- Changes in Attitude and Behavior/Constant Irritability
- Pica (Persistent Eating of Non-Food Items Like Feces)
- Inability to Swallow
- Sudden Shyness or Aggression
- Change in Tone of Bark
Vaccinating your dog with an anti-rabies immunization yearly is beneficial for you and your dog. Not only is your four-legged companion immune from carrying the infection, but your dog can’t transmit it to other humans if s/he happens to bite someone.
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Your dog is a type of animal who loves licking, eating, and sniffing things like trash. However, these behaviors can invite several worms and parasites to live in your dog’s intestines. Having these unwanted organisms in your dog’s system can cause her/him to vomit and cough. It may also lead to sudden weight loss and diarrhea.
You can’t stop your dog from being social and curious because that’s what dogs do. However, you can bring your canine buddy to have her/him dewormed. The deworming process begins when the vet gives your dog a “broad-spectrum” drug either by mouth or injection. They’re called “broad-spectrum” because they treat a wide range of parasites such as worms that live in the gut.
After your dog’s been dewormed expect that s/he may experience vomiting, lack of appetite and gastrointestinal upset. Don’t freak out, it just means that the medications are working. Some deworming drugs dissolve the worms in your dog’s system while others paralyze the parasites, which are expelled whenever your dog vomits or defecates.
As for your companion’s next deworming session, your vet will tell you when to drop by. It could be after six months or the next month after your dog’s first deworming appointment.
Though heartworm does have the word “worm” in it, it can’t be treated by deworming. Heartworm is caused by a parasitic nematode (roundworm) that is carried by mosquitoes. When a mosquito with the infective heartworm larvae bites your dog, the larvae migrates from the area of the bite to the heart. This leads to one of three classes of symptoms, with varying severity.
Class 1 heartworm is asymptomatic. Your dog exhibits minimal signs of infection (e.g. occasional coughing), or none at all.
In class 2, your dog exhibits coughing and intolerance to exercise.
Class 3 is the most severe out of the three. Your dog may encounter fainting spells and anemia, and right-sided chronic heart failure if s/he is severely infected.
The symptoms of heartworm are silent and detecting the parasitic nematode in mosquitoes is impossible. That’s why it’s important to get your dog tested for heartworms. It is also necessary to test your companion for heartworm annually.
When testing for heartworm, your vet will take a small blood sample from your dog. If your dog’s test comes out positive, your vet will give your dog with the pre-adult heartworm treatment first, since the treatment only kills adult worms. During the pre-adult treatment, your vet may recommend a course of antibiotics, preventives, and steroids. Once the pre-adult treatment is complete, the actual adult heartworm treatment begins. The treatment takes at least 60 days, consisting of a series of drug injections to kill the worms. Your four-legged friend may have to stay at the vet for further observation to make sure that s/he responds well to the treatment.
Dogs of any age can be diagnosed with the canine parvovarious, or more commonly known as parvo. Parvo is a life-threatening illness that rapidly divides the cells in a dog’s body, most severely attacking the intestinal tract. It is directly transmitted from infected dogs and indirectly whenever your dog sniffs or ingests feces.
Parvo manifests itself in two different forms. The most common form—intestinal—is characterized by:
- Weight Loss
- Lack of Appetite (anorexia)
Cardiac form, which is the least common form, attacks the heart muscles of young puppies. This form often leads to death.
It’s crucial to routinely vaccinate your dog for parvo. The parvo vaccination is administered once a year but your vet can extend the next appointment in 2 or 3 years. This is especially crucial since parvo is a viral infection and there isn’t really a cure for it. Hence, treatment focuses on curing symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections. If your companion has parvo, the vet will administer the following treatments:
- IV Fluids
- Inject Vitamins B & C
The treatments help counter dehydration, prevent septicemia and boosts your dog’s immune system. You also have a role in preventing parvo by practicing proper hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after petting animals, plus always keep your dog’s area clean.
Distemper is a highly infectious and fatal viral disease that attacks your dog’s gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous system. It can be caught from other dogs and humans who have interacted with dogs with distemper. Its initial symptoms include:
- Sudden Vomiting
- Prolonged Fever
- Thick Mucus Coming from Eyes and Nose
- Loss of Appetite
If your canine buddy starts showing signs of distemper, bring her/him to the vet immediately. There is no known medication that can destroy the virus. However, supportive care and treatment exist. When you bring your infected dog to the clinic, your vet can offer IV fluids and antibiotics to ward off dehydration and secondary infections. You can also get your dog vaccinated for distemper once every year.
Dogs who recover from distemper may have seizures or experience central nervous system disorders when they get older. They may be also left with permanent brain and nerve damage. More often than not, dogs who have distemper have to be put down.
As you can see, these five ailments can be fatal. So if you want your dog to live a long, healthy life, it’s important to have it vaccinated as early as possible.