In rescue we are often presented with animals that have been awfully neglected. The rescue of Miss Flo, mid last year is a prime example of how neglecting the health of your dog can lead to major complications later. (Read more of Miss Flo's journey click here)
Used as a breeding machine, Miss Flo arrived into care emaciated and presenting with severe eye and ear issues. She had cataracts in both eyes that had left her functionally blind and ears filled with gunk which caused her alot of irration. After many vet visits, her cataracts were removed and she just recently underwent an ear canal ablation in order to greatly reduce the chances of future ear infections.
With everything Miss Flo has been going through it's a timely reminder to check your your dog over at home to avoid or detect small problems that can easily become big problems. If not caught early, these issues become painful and dangerous for your pet, but also costly for you.
Ear infections are a common problem in dogs, especially and more commonly in dogs with floppy ears, brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short muzzles and pushed in faces), dogs that do a lot of swimming and dogs that generally have sensitive skin and/or stomachs.
Most dogs require regular ear cleaning. You can discuss with your vet how often is suitable for your particular dog as they are all different. Having a look and a sniff (yes, a sniff) of your dog’s ears can tell you a lot. If you have a look in your dog’s ears and they are really dirty deep in the ear canal or have a bad smell, it’s time to visit your vet.
Some other signs dogs will show when their ears are bothering them are shaking their head a lot, tilting their head, constantly holding their ears in a way not usual to the dog (eg pinning them back against their head), scratching at them and sometimes they will show they are experiencing pain/discomfort by growling and/or snapping if you try to touch them.
Eyes are a really good indication of overall health. There are many problems that can occur with eyes but some basic signs of problems can include rubbing at the eyes, abnormal discharge, squinting, swollen appearance of the eyes themselves or the eyelids, constant watering, very red ‘whites’ of the eyes, blue tinge or cloudiness of the eyes and suddenly sunken eyes. All of these issues should be spoken about with your vet.
We look at them when our dogs are looking at us with their big adoring smiles but do you ever look more thoroughly at your dog’s teeth?
Often back molars are the first to show issues. Problem teeth can cause all manner of issues from illness to aggression, so it’s important to pay attention to our dogs chompers! Excess build up on teeth, greying teeth, smelly breath, swelling in the jaw and/or face, loss of appetite, excessive drooling and more obvious fractured teeth should all be seen to by a vet.
Better a dental check now than teeth extractions later!
Many dogs hate their claws being clipped, but it's a necessary evil! With most short coated dogs, it’s easy to see if their claws are overgrown and need attention. But with long coated dogs, dogs with dark claws and even elderly dogs, the claw situation can be less obvious or covered in fluff!! Some dogs can become quite snappy if you try to touch their feet and consequently we struggle to cut their claws.
Dogs with overgrown claws will often walk more flat-footed to avoid putting pressure on their toes. Some dogs will lick and chew at their feet constantly and some will hide it so well you have no idea they are uncomfortable. Make sure to regularly check your dog’s feet and claws, including dew claws both front and rear (if they have them).
If you are not confident in trimming your dog’s claws yourself or if your dog is reactive when you try to trim their claws, call your vet. Most vet clinics will cut claws for a very small fee (usually less than a standard consult fee). Be honest about your dog’s behaviour when making a booking so the vet team can take precautions where necessary (yes – a muzzle may be needed to protect the vet team if your dog is very reactive to having their feet handled/claws trimmed).
If you find your dog’s claws have overgrown to such an extent that they are growing into the pad, seek vet attention ASAP to avoid infection. This is something that can occur without being noticed sometimes, especially in long coated breeds.
Regularly check your dog’s skin for lumps, bumps, irritation, hair loss and excess smell. Any new lumps, moles and skin tags should be checked to ensure they’re nothing sinister. Excess oil build up, excess odour, hair loss and redness should also be checked and can be caused by a variety of different issues.
Our furry friends rely on us to pay attention to all aspects of their health and they can be just as good at hiding their discomfort as they are at hiding their delicious bones, so sometimes it takes a little bit of effort and investigating. That time and effort though will help keep your pet healthy and will also save you money on expensive vet visits for issues that could have been avoided.
If you are unsure about any conditions your dog is presenting with, then your local vet team is your best first option. However, if there’s anything you’d like to discuss with one of our team feel free to contact us by clicking the button below.