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An essential to your dog's health is his/her regular annual checkup with the vet. The vaccinations* which are given to your dog each year ensure your dog's immunity to some common infectious diseases. And when the vet gives the vaccinations*, it's also an excellent opportunity for a thorough physical examination to be carried out, and a time to discuss any minor problems or issues which you feel may be affecting your dog's health or wellbeing. This is a time when your vet may pick up inherited diseases and the like (when your dog is young) so they can be treated early, or just kept an eye on. And as your dog gets older, the vet may find the early signs of more sinister illnesses.
I recently took my dogs for their annual checkup, and for the first time alarms were raised about matters of significant concern - it was thought that Kara might have early stages of lymphoma (cancer) - which, fortunately, tests then proved to be not the case. And Jet apparently has something akin to the early stages of cataracts in humans in her eyes, and according to the vet, Jet is likely to go progressively blind over the next several years. At least knowing this in advance gives me the opportunity to watch for any developing signs and, if and when necessary, adapt her outings and home environment to take into account any sight loss, and most importantly, it has made me realise that vitamin and mineral supplementation in dogs is actually a very wise idea.
Worming and "de-flea-ing" your dog are the commonest forms of health measures which you probably undertake yourself for your dog. Fleas infest almost every dog at some time. Sometimes a lot of the time. Dogs which socialise with other dogs outside the home tend to become infested the most often. Fleas can carry disease and parasites, including tapeworm.
But fleas are extremely irritating for your dog. They often cause intense itching, which in turn can cause your dog to damage his/her skin by vigorous scratching. Some dogs are allergic to flea bites. Even after the fleas have been doused with flea poison and killed, the cycle of itch, scratch, itch, scratch, can remain.
My Rottweiler has been terribly affected two or three times now by this self-perpetuating cycle caused by her allergy to flea bites. Most of the skin damage has been caused by Kara incessantly scratching and injuring herself.
A dog with an infestation of fleas is neither a healthy nor a happy dog. So at the first sign of a flea, it's important to treat your dog for this very common problem. And those pesky fleas don't always readily show themselves. So if your dog is scratching more than usual, the first thing to do is a thorough search through your dog's coat. If you sight even one flea, treat your dog immediately. Some people treat routinely just because it's flea season, and still others actually treat throughout the year. And of course, it goes without saying that if you have more than one animal, you must treat them all at the same time.
This way, you'll ensure that your dog is as healthy and happy as can be!
* There are natural alternatives to vaccinations. For further information, subscribe to the Healthy Happy Dogs newsletter.
(c) 2004, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs
Brigitte Smith is a dog lover with a special interest in natural health for dogs. For your free special report, as well as weekly tips, information, strategies and resources for a healthier happier dog, go to http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com and submit your name and email address. Take a look around the site - http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com - while you're there - you'll find lots of useful information.
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