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Older Dog

  Some General Health Needs

     A new puppy or dog should be taken to the vet within the first week of arrival to his new home or as soon as possible. You should set up an inoculation schedule and get a complete checkup done. Bring any shot information and a small stool sample so your dog can be checked for the presence of worms. Worms are common in puppies and although they sound bad can in most cases be eradicated easily.

Kennel Cough: (Tracheobronchitis) Kennel Cough is a contagious respiratory infection in dogs. It takes its name from the fact that dogs often catch it while boarding at a kennel where they are exposed to other dog who either have the disease or are carries of it. It is mentioned here because many a puppy that goes through the shipping process can be exposed to the virus.  Although breeders may have inoculated, there are no inoculations totally effective due to the many different strains. They may also be totally unaware of the presence of this airborne virus in their kennel. Kennel Cough will generally run its course in a week or two. Over the counter cough suppressants or honey are often used to relieve the irritation along with antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.

Parasites:You should inspect your puppy or dog routinely for the presence of ticks, fleas and worms.

Ticks can visibly be seen clinging to the dogs skin and can be removed with a pair of tweezers. Disinfect the area with alcohol after removal.

Fleas will make your dog scratch like crazy and can cause red "hot spots" that need to be treated immediately. The first sign is a thinning of the hair in the neck area or base of the tail. It becomes very inflamed and red, quickly developing an intense itch that scabs over causing bare spots in that area. Most over the counter products do not work in the control of fleas once they take hold. The dog, bedding and living area must be treated simultaneously with Vet strength flea preparations to effectively remove the problem.

Worms The general signs that your dog may have worms are change in appetite, lack luster in their coat, change in stool with possible diarrhea, fresh blood and anemia. Some worms can be seen in the dogs' stool like round or tapeworms and will be unmistakable because they move. Roundworms look like spaghetti and tapeworms look like flat pieces of rice. Hook and Whipworms usually cause fresh blood in the stool and are less likely to be seen. At some point in a dog's life they will get worms. It is not necessarily due to lack of care or unthrifty conditions but part of a dog's life. Dogs get worms in many ways, some can enter the skin by a dog walking through an infected area, by sniffing up the eggs of the worm or by swallowing an infected host such as the flea that carry tapeworm eggs. All worms can be treated effectively with preparations available through your veterinarian.

Special Note:The presence of worms in your dog can change your dogs' behavior. The discomfort can make your dog nippy, aggressive, diggers, object eaters and exhibit other eradicate behavior.

Bathing: Puppies and dogs should be bathed with a soap that is pH balanced and made for their coats. Over bathing is not recommended, usually no more than twice a month is sufficient. To many baths can  lead to a dried out coat and itchy skin. Many preparations are readily available in Pet Supply Stores.

Coat: Coat care in the Rat Terrier is fairly easy, a daily brushing is all that is needed. This removes any dead hair and keeps the coat shiny and healthy. The amount of shedding that your dog does is dependent upon how your dog is kept. Dogs that go outside on a regular basis will generally shed twice a year. In early Spring they will loose their winter undercoat and then in late fall they will push out their coat and develop their winter one. If he is kept in the house most of the time he will shed his coat constantly. This can be controlled by the use of over the counter products like Mirra Coat and Linatone or by adding a teaspoon of Olive, Corn oil or Omega 3 to his daily diet. A cooked scrambled egg once a week added to his food also gives a nice shine to the coat.

Teeth:  Puppies have 28 teeth and the adult dog has 42 teeth. At four months of age their baby teeth will begin to fall out and the teething process begins lasting through the next several months until their adult teeth are fully in. Brushing of the teeth should be started at a young age with one of the many products on the market. Dogs will actually enjoy having their teeth brushed if they learn it at a young age.  Good chew toys for keeping their gums and teeth healthy are Nyla-bone products, packaged sterile natural bones, rope toys and new fangled dental toys that are purchased at a pet supply store. They massage the gums and scrap tartar off their teeth. Avoid raw hide bones and table scrap bones as these can splinter or break off and get lodged in your dogs stomach or intestines.

Nails: Accustom your dog to routine nail cutting if he lives primarily in the house. Start accustoming him to having his feet touched early. A dog can become very difficult if he is not use to having his feet touched or nails trimmed. If they run outside a lot they usually trim their nails down naturally and require fewer trimmings.

Play Toys: Most hard rubber or latex toys are safe for your dog. Avoid furry stuffed animals and cloth bones  because the fur, fibers and string can and will get lodged in the dogs throat causing irritation and worse. Choose a toy by what is safe for your dog not for what you think looks cute.


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