Dog - Caring for your Adult Dog (age 1 year to 7 years)
Harmony Veterinary Center Recommendations
Your dog should visit us yearly for a wellness exam and blood tests. It is only through a thorough exam that our veterinarians can detect problems like dental disease, ear infections, or other hidden issues before they become larger disorders. We can also design individualized nutrition, exercise, vaccination, and parasite control plans as well as answer any questions you may have about your canine friend.
Whether it is a fecal exam, x-rays or blood test, regular and consistent diagnostic testing throughout your dog’s life establishes a normal range, or baseline for your dog. Knowing the baseline trends for your dog allows you to make informed decisions that keep your best friend active and healthy for years to come. Consistent diagnostic testing can also detect abnormalities before outward signs of illness can be observed, providing you and your pet with valuable time to treat disease early when it is easier and less costly to manage. Our team will work with you and your dog to determine the appropriate testing to keep your dog happy and healthy throughout his or her life.
As your dog gets older, vaccinations may be needed less frequently depending on your dog’s lifestyle and exposure to diseases. Our doctors can guide you in designing a vaccination schedule that is safe and protective for your dog. To learn more about vaccinations and how they work, read the Harmony Veterinary CenterVaccination Philosophy article in our website library and visit our resource page to find other informative links.
With so many pet foods on the market, how do you know what is best? Here are a few guidelines:
- Avoid fillers and non-essential ingredients. Dogs are omnivores and can utilize a variety of nutrients. However, foods containing high amounts of corn, wheat or soy are usually short on overall nutrition.
- Avoid chemicals. Not all chemicals are bad, but in general avoid foods with things you can’t begin to pronounce. This includes ethoxyquin and nitrites, preservatives that are known carcinogens.
- Measure the amount you feed. Obesity is becoming an epidemic in our pets. To avoid overfeeding, measure the amount of food you put in the dish so you know exactly what your dog is eating. We can help you determine if the amount needs to be adjusted up or down based on your dog’s weight.
- Treats. Treats are critical in our relationship with our dogs. Just remember every treat adds calories, and consider this when determining how much food to feed. A “little bite” here or there can really add up, especially in a 10# dog.
Regular oral health care can add years to your dog’s life. Unfortunately, dogs don’t brush their teeth daily and most people don’t do it for them. Even with the best preventative home care, bacteria can accumulate at the gumline, ultimately hardening into tartar. Brushing, oral rinses, and dental control treats can help slow this process. Just as we need our teeth cleaned regularly, so do our dogs. Lack of dental cleanings can ultimately allow bacteria to gain access to the bloodstream, affecting the heart, kidneys, joints and other internal organs. Teeth can also become abscessed and painful. Our veterinarians can advise you on when your dog should have a thorough professional cleaning and what preventative home care may be best for your companion.
Regular exercise is important for musculoskeletal strength, cardiovascular health, maintaining coordination, weight control, and a variety of other physical factors. But the mental health benefits of exercise may be even more important. Play sessions, walks, and other activities allow a dog to explore new environments, learn new skills, and get rid of excess energy. Check out the resource page on our website for links to local dog parks, activities and hiking trails.
Training and Behavior Problems
As much as dogs are members of our families, they are not in fact human. When it comes to behavior, dogs are driven by dog instincts and social structure. Most behavior “problems” come when we humans fail to understand what motivates our dogs and don’t teach them the rules of living with people. If you are having issues with your dog, call us. Our staff and doctors can help you work through these issues, or get you in touch with a trainer for more one-on-one assistance. Check out our library for articles on common behavior problems and our resource page for links to local trainers.
Even if their stools are normal, dogs can harbor intestinal parasites, many of which can be passed to people (especially children). Since these parasites in people can cause serious problems (such as blindness), we recommend all dogs have an annual fecal exam for intestinal worms and parasites. Please bring a fresh stool sample to your dog’s yearly visit.
Dogs can also get heartworm infection. Spread by mosquitos, these worms can go to the heart and create serious issues. While Colorado has less problem with heartworm than other parts of the country, we still see cases every year. Our doctors can help you with a heartworm prevention plan that is right for you, your dog, and your family.
Accidents and Illness
Even the healthiest, best cared for dog can become sick or injured. Signs of illness in dogs include:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Changes in behavior
- Aggression in a dog that is normally not aggressive
- Changes in urination habits, straining to urinate
- Loss of housetraining
- Excess drooling
- Excess shedding or bald spots
- Crying or anxiety
- Increased or decreased affection for family or other pets
- Hiding or other changes in behavior or routine
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Shaking the head
- Licking obsessively at one spot
- Excess panting or labored breathing
- Inability to keep up on walks, not wanting to play
- Changes in appetite or water consumption
Should you see any of these symptoms, call us for an appointment.
Should your dog get sick or injured, a little first aid may be required until you can get him or her to the hospital. Check out the “Pet First Aid” article in our website library for more information.
Dogs are prone to distraction and can wander away from home. While collars and name tags can help, the best form of identification for your dog is a microchip. About the size of a grain of rice, a microchip is injected under a pet’s skin as a permanent form of id. If the dog is found and taken to a vet or shelter, the chip can be scanned and checked against a database to find the owner’s information and get him or her home the same day.
In our busy lives, it is often necessary for us to travel away from home. If you decide to take your dog with you, be sure to consider the following:
- Does your dog travel well? If not, consider leaving him at home with a sitter.
- Will your dog have a place to stay once you are at your destination? Many hotels don’t allow pets, so be sure to check first. Make sure your dog is welcome if you are staying with friends.
- Take food, toys, beds, and kennels that your dog is used to.
- Your dog should be current on vaccinations, whether you are flying or driving. Always bring your proof of Rabies vaccination, as well as our phone number, with you when you travel.
- Consider calming treats to ease your dog’s travel anxiety.
- Dogs flying on a commercial flight need a health certificate signed by a veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
- Certain areas of the country see diseases we don’t see in Colorado. Be sure to call us if you are traveling out of state so we can advise you on appropriate vaccination, external parasite control, and other hazards.
Leaving your dog at home? Pet sitters are a great option because your canine friend gets to stay in her own environment, which generally means less stress. If you have to board her in a kennel, be sure to visit the kennel first. Ask about exercise, staff to dog ratios, bringing personal belongings like beds and toys, and what vaccinations are required to board your dog there. Kennels with daycare programs can provide social dogs with playtime and interaction during the day, making the whole boarding experience much more pleasant. Please call if you have questions about boarding your pet at a kennel.
Pet Insurance or Medical Savings Plan
We never know when an unexpected accident or illness may occur. Approximately one in every three dogs and cats visit a veterinary hospital each year due to an illness or accident. Pet insurance combined with a medical savings fund for your pet can help you offset many unexpected expense.
Pet insurance is primarily designed to cover emergency situations, and some plans are now covering more routine care. Medical savings funds are something you set aside each month in a savings account specifically for your pet’s health care. The hardest choice you will ever make will be to proceed with a lifesaving procedure or not because of financial constraints. Taking the financial responsibility to have health insurance, a savings plan, or both for your pet will give you peace of mind if your pet has an emergency or illness.
Insurance companies our clients recommend: VPI, Pet’s Best Insurance, and Embrace. Coverage varies and it is always best to do your own research. Harmony Veterinary Center accepts all pet health insurance.
© 2013 Harmony Veterinary Center, LLC.