Summer is just around the corner, and if you haven't done so already, now is a good time to make sure your family dog is ready for the warmer months coming ahead. We all tend to be outdoors more in the spring and summertime, pets and people alike, but along with that outdoors playtime comes the risk of exposure to fleas, ticks and other diseases carried by other animals.
It's important to be sure that your pet is protected from harmful diseases including distemper, rabies and kennel cough. Many vaccines are now combined into a single inoculation, and are generally good for one year. Once a puppy has reached the age of 6 months, it's also imperative that he or she is vaccinated against rabies. Rabies vaccinations are effective for around 3 years, and in the state of New York, this vaccine is required in order to obtain a dog license in your town. When vaccinations are given on time, they are nearly 100% percent effective in preventing common canine illnesses.
Normally, you will only need to take your dog to the vet once a year, following his initial exam, for a wellness checkup and to keep up to date on his vaccinations. During this annual checkup, ask your vet to give your dog a through examination, including checking of his:
- teeth (removing tartar if necessary)
- anal glands (emptying them if necessary)
- nails (clipping them if necessary)
- stool (if you think he may have worms)
Females need more regular attention than males, especially if they are bred. When you wish to travel with your dog, you will be prepared for any state, federal, or international requirement if you ask your vet for a certificate of good health, and make sure that his vaccinations are in order before you leave. Normally, a sound dog needs no more veterinary attention than this. However, you may take him to the vet on other occasions due to accidents or illness.
As you get to know your dog, you will be able to distinguish between passing symptoms of no importance, chronic minor disorders, and the indications of disease and infection. Among the symptoms that warrant a visit to the vet are:
- A temperature over 102 degrees, or under 100 that lasts for more than 24 hours, or a temperature as high as 104, or as low as 99.
- Acute pain for which there is no logical explanation.
- Bloody urine
- Blood in the stool more than once
- A discharge of yellow mucus from the eyes or nose
- Persistent vomiting, coughing, or refusal to ear for more than 24 hours
- If your dog simply looks and acts really sick
When in doubt, it's always safer to err on the side of caution and visit your vet. Not only will it help alleviate any concerns you may have, but your vet is in a much better position to determine whether symptoms could potentially indicate a more serious illness.