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Dog Health


An abscess is a localised collection of pus and may occur in any part of the body as a result of infection .by a pusproducing organism. It usually results from a penetrating wound such as those caused by the teeth of another dog or by a foreign body such as a stick, thorn or grass seed.

Characteristic symptoms are pain, heat and swelling of tlie infected area. The dog may have a high temperature. The abscess should be brought to a head by using h. fomentations or poultices. This is done by bathing the area using a rag soaked in warm water to which has been added a tablespoon of epsom salts per litre. When the abscess is ripe the centre feels soft; it will often burst of its own accord. Lancing may be necessary to evacuate the contents however. The condition is usually painful. Once the contents have been evacuated, the opening should be enlarged so that the abscess doesn't heal over too quickly, and it should be irrigated with a 50 per cent peroxide and water solution three times daily for three days. After three da\ irrigate with clean water from a hose. If at any stage the edges cannot be separated easily it may be necessary to reopen the site. The abscess must heal from the inside outwards. If the skin closes too quickly, pockets of infection may remain and the abscess grow to a head again. Where the abscess is small and only one is present, antibiotic treatment is often not necessary; but where a number of abscesses occur, veterinary advice and treatment is essential.

Abdominal Pian (Colic)

Usually the dog is reluctant to walk, and when it does it has a tucked-up appearance with an arched back. If the pain is very severe the dog may adopt a praying attitude—that is. with the chest on the ground and the hindquarters raised.

The animal usually objects to the abdomen being touched. The causes of abdominal pain are many, and because treatment is dependent on the cause, it is important that a correct diagnosis is made. Always consult a vet. In some cases the dog's condition may be very serious, and its life may be in peril—for example, from torsion (twisting) of the stomach or a twisted bowel. In these cases, the animal usually exhibits excruciating pain, and rolls and may vomit constantly.


Abortion or miscarriage does not often occur in the bitch. Its causes are gross fatigue, injury or infection. Sometimes it can be caused by hormonal dysfunction. Rare chronic infections cause repeated abortions. and it is inadvisable to continue breeding from the bitch—a hysterectomy may be recommended.


Abrasions are sore areas of skin resulting from injury to the surface layers. Usually this kind of injury does not penetrate the skin. (If an injury does penetrate the skin layers and reveal the flesh, it should be sutured by a vet.) Ordinary abrasions can be treated at home. Remove the surface debris and any discharge by washing the wound gently with water from a garden hose.

If the dog will allow it, clean the wound with cotton-wool dipped in warm water, and disinfect with 50 per cent peroxide and water. Once the wound is clean, apply an astringent agent such as gentian violet, mercurochrome or triple dye twice daily. If necessary, cut the surrounding hair away so that medications can be applied for 1 centimetre beyond the edge of the wound.

Alternatively, antibiotic powders may be applied to the surface. Abrasions recover better if left open to the air, so don't try to bandage them. Don't worry if the dog licks the wound.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions can be divided into two categories: anaphylactic shock, and urticaria.

Anaphylactic shock is an immediate hypersensitive reaction, in which death may rapidly occur following respiratory and circulatory collapse. The condition usually develops from human interference, although it may also result from a bee or wasp sting. The condition is often attributed to the effect of histamines on the body. Signs are restlessness, diarrhoea, vomiting, collapse, sometimes convulsions, followed by a period of calm, then death. The agents that may cause anaphylactic shock include penicillin and other antibiotics, vaccines (though rarely), tranquillisers, vitamins and sometimes certain foods.

Treatment involves the intravenous administration of an antihistamine. so the dog should be taken to a vet immediately. On the way, ensure its air passages are clear by extending the dog's neck, putting a peg on its tongue and pulling the tongue forward. Bee or wasp stings rarely cause death. Urticaria is characterised by a swelling of the soft tissues of the head and body. It nearly always affects the eyes. mouth and ears. A discharge may develop from the eyes. and the animal frequently rubs its mouth and eyes with its paws or on the ground. The animal takes on a very old appearance. This type of allergic reaction may develop within fifteen to twenty minutes after contact with the causative agent. It very rarely causes serious damage to the animal and is usually the result of food allergies, ingestion of spoiled protein material, insect bites or contact with certain chemicals. Insect bites are probably the most common cause.

Any skin allergy may, however, become an emergency situation because of selfmutilation from excessive itching and scratching. In such a case the dog requires antihistamine injections from the vet. If possible, find out what food, place or substance seems to induce the attack.

All-meat syndrome (Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. N.S.H.)

This is still an important problem, although it is becoming less common as meat prices rise and more dog owners switch to commercial foods which are properly balanced in calcium and phosphorus. It is more frequently seen in puppies of the larger breeds. N.S.H. is caused by feeding a mainly meat diet with incorrect calcium supplementation. Meat not only contains very little calcium (approximately 10 milligrams per 100 grams) but has a marked imbalance of calcium and phosphorus. In meat the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 1 : 20 —in a normal diet it should be approximately 1 : 1.

The abnormal diet leads to altered levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which stimulate the parathyroid gland. The hormone released leads to correction of the blood levels, by resorbing calcium from the bones. Fractures may develop. These appear more frequently in the hind-limbs, and pelvic fractures are commonly seen. They often result in narrowing of the pelvis, problems with constipation and an extra problem in whelping. Sometimes the vertebral column may show deformities resulting in pressure on the spinal cord, giving rise to neurological disturbances. Treatment is to correct the diet by using a calcium supplement. Half ateaspoon of calcium carbonate should be given with each 100 grams of meat fed. Other calcium supplements can be given but the quantities need to be increased to provide a balance.

Calciostelein injections are an unsatisfactory and inadequate method of treatment. N.S.H. can be prevented by feeding young puppies one of the complete, prepared foods that make supplementation unnecessary. The following conditions occur as a result of overfeeding together with inherited components


Anaemia is a condition in which the blood's ability to carry oxygen is reduced. It can be caused by blood loss from a haemorrhage or by blood-sucking parasites—for example, hookworms in young puppies. A reduction in the number of blood cells able to carry oxygen is also caused by disease, parasites or nutritional deficiencies.

Anaemia due to blood loss is normally quickly corrected by the body as long as the haemorrhage is controlled. The addition of iron and vitamin B to the diet will assist this process. Where anaemia is due to infection, the condition must be corrected and treated before the anaemia can be rectified, but again, supplements of vitamin B and iron assist recovery. Parasitic conditions should be treated with worming preparations and the resultant anaemia corrected by supplementation.

Nutritional deficiencies resulting in anaemia are usually related to lack of iron, cobalt or vitamin B12. Raw liver or liver extracts are very good for correcting anaemic situations. The diet should be well-balanced, nourishing and contain red meat.

Anal Adenoma

This is a small tumour that appears at the anus in both male dogs and bitches. It is a condition of old age, usually brought to the owner's attention by the dog constantly licking the anal area. Treatment is either surgical to remove the tumour, or cryosurgical, to freeze it out. Alternatively, hormone therapy will reduce the growth.

Anal glands, infected

On either side of the dog's anus are glands called anal glands, which secrete a foul-smelling lubricating fluid intended to be emptied into the anus each time the dog passes a motion. In many dogs the anal glands have outlived their usefulness, as modern feeding patterns result in motions too soft to require the special fluid. Unfortunately, changing the diet to help the glands may make the dog constipated. The result is that the glands fill and become impacted. The impaction can become infected, forming an abscess which can recur constantly. The first sign of trouble comes with the dog dragging its hindquarters over the grass or the carpet (`scooting').

In other cases, the dog may be lying quietly when it suddenly squeals and rushes forward. Sometimes the dog may lick the anal area. suddenly looking at the tail base and putting the tail between its legs as though stung. In a simple case of impaction. all that is required is to squeeze the glands by pressing them upwards and forwards, to evacuate the contents. In some dogs the glands may require attention every three or four weeks. If the condition persists and causes the dog continual trouble, the glands can be removed surgically.

If an abscess forms in a gland. the dog shows signs of acute pain, especially wnen attempting to pass a motion. It may squeal or bite when its tail or hindquarters are handled. If the tail is elevated, a large, painful-looking swelling can be seen on one side of the anus. Sometimes the dog's temperature is elevated to about 40°C. In these cases the inflammation is so painful that any attempt to empty the glands by pressing them will be unsuccessful. The abscess will either have to be treated by antibiotics for a few days or lanced surgically. This is a job for the vet.

Anal irritation

Treatment depends on the case, which may be worms, enlarged prostate glands, anal gland conditions, anal fissure, chronic diarrhoea or even a foreign body, usually a bone lodged in the rectum

Anal occlusion

Occlusion of the anus is a condition usually seen in longhaired breeds. The anal opening is completely blocked by a mass of dried faeces attached to the hairs around the anus.

The dog suffers great discomfort and the smell is unmistakable. The best method of removal is to use curved. blunt-ended scissors to cut off the hair at skin level. Care must be taken not to cut the skin. Sometimes soaking the mass in warm water before attempting its removal makes it easier for the dog.

Anal prolapse

anus is seen mostly in young puppies. being kmuse..-1 persistent diarrhoea which in turn is often caused by heavy roundworm infestation. Sometimes it may be caused by constipation or overfeeding.

One sign of a prolapsed anus is a finger-like projection of mucous membrane from the anus. The pup is usually in considerable distress and licks the protrusion incessantly. Treatment of this condition. by replacing the prolapse and suturing it into position. is best left to the vet.


Anti-coagulants, such as warfarin, are commonly used in modern rodenticides (rat poisons). Symptoms of poisoning include anaemia from blood loss, persistent nose bleeding, bloody urine, laboured breathing, bloody diarrhoea and increased redness of the skin and the conjunctiva (eye membranes).

It is unusual for a dog to suffer any problem from eating one poisoned rat—usually the dog must eat several poisoned rats over a number of days before an anticoagulant will have any detrimental effect on the dog. It is advisable to have the dog checked by a vet.

Appetite, decreased

Decreased dog's appetite appears to have decreased, it is impLIftant to distinguish between an actual loss of appetite and the inability to eat. The latter may be because of some 7--iinful condition in the mouth or throat—for example, bad teeth. inflammation of the gums, ulceration of the mouth, a bone caught between the teeth, a cracked tooth or inflamed and sore lips. Old age, injury and ill health often produce a decreased appetite. In old age, a lack of appetite is often because of some other underlying problem and if allowed to continue it will frequently result in a loss of weight and condition. Toy breeds invariably eat very little. Sometimes the dog has been fed a selective diet from weaning and will not touch anything else placed before it. In addition, urban dogs are usually overfed and underexercised, so it is quite feasible for them to go a day or two without eating anything. Ill health. particularly where fever is involved, invariably produces a decreased appetite. This is very common in disease situations such as SEPTICAEMIA, TOXAEMIA, and SHOCK.

Appetite, depraved

With a depraved appetite the dog may eat stones, coal, manure or dirt. Possible causes include teething, worms, indigestion and deficiencies in salt, minerals or vitamins.

Sometimes it can be because of actual hunger. Puppies exhibit this symptom more than adult dogs, and frequently they have a history of an all-meat diet. When this symptom occurs. treat the animal for worms and ensure that its diet contains a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement, particularly calcium. It is common and normal for dogs to eat grass. which is said to provide a fresh source of vitamins.

Other authorities claim that grass-eating induces vomiting to rid the stomach of old, stale food. Dogs frequently bury food and then eat it when it is rotten. The eating of 'aged' meat is quite normal for the dog—though it sometimes cases vomiting—so don't be alarmed.

Appetite, increased

Increased appetite has three forms:

(a) A normal situation where the increase is because of lactation, cold, increased work. food of poor biological value, or growth. The animal maintains its condition and weight.

(b) Increased appetite coupled with loss of weight—as in pancreatic disease, sugar diabetes or internal parasites.

(c) Increased appetite coupled with weight gain—this can be caused by hormonal imbalance. tumours or overindulgent owners who expect the dog to eat three meals a day just because they do.


Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of a joint or a disease involving a joint. It may be caused by the effects of injury, infection or malfunction of the joint. It can be classified as acute or chronic.

The joint is usually swollen and painful and the dog avoids using it. There are many different types of arthritis, the most common in the dog being hip dysplasia—an inflammatory condition of the hip joints. Relief from arthritis is best achieved by rest and warmth. Pain-relieving drugs and anti-inflammatory agents are often used.

If infection exists, antibiotic treatment is necessary. Temporary relief can be given by administering a quarter of a 300-milligram tablet of soluble aspirin every four hours. In many cases the arthritic condition is exacerbated by obesity, and dieting may help.

Avascular necrosis of the hip

Avascular necrosis of the hip is well recognised in breeds such as Yorkshire, Highland, Cairn and Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Chihuahuas and Shih Tzu.

It causes hind-limb lameness in dogs four to nine months, on one or both sides. Pain is localised in the hip joint; associated muscle deterioration is well recognised. Surgical treatment appears to provide a more rapid return to normal than conservative treatment.


Babesiosis is a disease caused by a blood parasite from the bite of an infected tick. It is widespread in all parts of the world.

The dog usually suffers from a high temperature, depression, rapid breathing, loss of appetite, weakness and staggering. Anaemia develops and jaundice may be present.

A blood sample is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Veterinary advice is essential.


The dog with a backache is unwilling to move or to turn round, climb stairs or jump in and out of cars. The condition usually occurs in long-backed dogs such as Corgis and Dachshunds. The dog may cry out in pain without being touched. Sometimes the dog will remain on the ground. unwilling to get up; when it does, it moves stiffly.

The causes may be actual physical injury, a disc protrusion, infection or, in some cases, abdominal pain. Various tests, including X-rays, are needed to pin-point the condition.

Where hack conditions are suspected, particularly in longbacked dogs, it is advisable to keep the dog on a flat surface for at least three weeks, otherwise the condition may progress to paralysis of the back legs.


Loss of balance is caused by conditions affecting the central nervous system, such as distemper, encephalitis, meningitis, space-occupying lesions (such as tumours), tick bite or snake bite. It can also be caused by middle ear infections. This is a problem for the vet


Balanitis is an inflammatory condition of the foreskin (the prepuce). It is a normal condition in most dogs, is commonly seen as a pus-filled discharge from the eye of the penis, and is very difficult to clear up. The prepucial cavity (the fleshy housing of the penis) is warm and moist, an ideal environment for bacteria. Sexual frustration is a contributing factor; the dog continually licks himself as a form of masturbation, so reinfecting the area.

Treatment can be instituted by syringing out the cavity and squirting an antibiotic cream into it two or three times a day for a five-day period. However, once medication ceases, reinfection is likely. As balanitis causes the dog so little trouble, it is regarded as an almost-normal condition and should only lead to a visit to the vet if the discharge becomes bloody, signifying an injury or inflammation of the sexual glands.

Behavioural problems

Many of the behavioural abnormalities exhibited by dogs are the result of neuroses induced by urban dwelling. The most serious problem facing the urban dog is severe territorial restriction—particularly upsetting to the larger breeds. Almost invariably it is the large male dog who becomes involved in wandering, biting, fighting other dogs, chasing cars, barking excessively and destroying furniture.

It is rare to see female dogs or dogs of small breeds wandering far from their homes, as their territorial requirements are more easily satisfied.

Overcrowding in urban areas results in dogfights over territory, particularly between males. Exercise your dog daily.

If your male dog is still a nuisance, castration is recommended. Hormone therapy using progesterone has recently proven successful in correcting abnormal behavioural traits

Dermatitis of the scrotum

Dermatitis of the scrotum is particularly common in Old English Sheepdogs and Chows and is extremely irritating. Treatment is by astringent agents such as mercurochrome, triple dye or any other antibacterial dermatological agent. Apply to the scrotal surface three times daily for about five days. Try to stop the dog licking the area by using an Elizabethan collar. In cases that continually recur or don't clear up, castration is the only solution.

Bleeding from the mouth.

Bleeding in the mouth is usually due to cuts or other physical injuries. Usually the dog has pierced one of the major veins under the tongue with a bone or a piece of wood. Other causes of bleeding from the mouth include inflamed gums

Bleeding from the rectum

Rectal bleeding is usually the result of an inflammatory condition in the intestines caused by either bacteria or parasites. Bleeding of this nature is very serious and the dog should be taken to a veterinary surgeon urgently.

If bleeding is due to a cut or ulcerated tongue, or a cut on the inside of the cheek. Take the dog to the vet.

Bleeding from the Surface of the Body

Surface bleeding can in many cases be stopped by bandaging a pad of cotton-wool into position over the area. Pressure bandaging is the most important thing to do to reduce haemorrhage. Where bleeding is heavy, it can be controlled by applying direct pressure over the injured vessel or to the spot where the blood is escaping.

This can be done with the fingers or by applying a tourniquet. Where sizeable vessels, particularly arteries, are spurting blood, a tourniquet is essential. This should be slackened for a few seconds every three or four minutes.

A tourniquet can he left in place for up to three-quarters of an hour without consequent problems. If the dog has lost a lot of blood it should be taken to a veterinary surgeon for treatment to overcome shock and loss of blood, and to restore normal blood pressure

Bleeding Internally

Bleeding internally Internal loss of blood usually follows a car accident or other injury. It can be detected by signs of bodily weakness, pallor of the mucous membranes (the eye membranes and mouth appear pale), a weak pulse and coldness of the extremities (the limbs and ears). Place the dog in a headdown position at an angle of about 30 degrees. Keep it warm and take it to a vet as soon as possible

Bleeding nose

Nose bleeds may result from injury, violent sneezing, a growth, ulcers or parasites in the nasal cavities.

Ice placed over the nose will often help reduce bleeding.

Ensure that any bleeding does not interrupt the dog's respiration and ascertain the cause of bleeding, taking the dog to the vet if necessary. Reduce excitement and exercise for a day or two after the bleeding stops

Bleeding Tail

Injuries to the tip of the tail often cause bleeding that is difficult to control because the dog wags its tail and knocks it on various objects. Pressure bandaging with an adhesive tape is advised or cautery of the blood vessel.

Biood in urine

Bleeding can originate from the urinary system—that is, from the kidney or the bladder—or from the reproductive system. If the bleeding is not the normal discharge that occurs when a bitch is in season, take the dog to the vet.

Bone problems of growing dogs

The following conditions affect dogs during their growing period, most frequently the larger breeds. Before discussing the various problems it is necessary to understand the basic anatomy of the growing bone as it will be frequently referred to.

Limb bones basically grow from their ends at special sites known as growth plates. Most bones have growth plates at either end. though some have them at only one end. Although one might expect the bones to grow equally from both ends, this is not necessarily so.

The difference between the growth of the two ends is of little significance except in the forelimbs where the radius and ulna must grow as a pair for the forelimbs to remain straight. Many of the deformities of the forelimbs of larger breeds are due to a disproportionate growth of the radius and ulna.

Car sickness

The car-sick dog will first salivate profusely and then vomit if it has food in its stomach. For most dogs the problem can be overcome by taking them on short trips on an empty stomach to accustom them to car travel. Put the dog on the floor of the car rather than on the seat where it can see.

Medication for car sickness includes tranquillisation and specific anti-sickness tablets available from your vet.

Coat conditions

A glossy coat indicates a healthy dog. Poor coat condition—dry and dull—can indicate illness or dietary deficiency. Diet supplementation with butter or margarine at the rate of a tablespoon per day, or the addition of a vitamin or fatty acid supplement, will often bring out the gloss in the coat.


Colic simply means pain in the abdomen and can have numerous causes, such as indigestion, flatulence, constipation, a swallowed foreign body causing pain, gastric torsion, twisting of the bowel, distension of the stomach, enteritis (inflammation of the bowel wall), kidney disease, hepatitis, and so on. If the cause is not obvious, consult your vet.


Coma is a complete loss of consciousness often accompanied by heavy breathing and dilated pupils. Coma may be caused by injuries to the head, a stroke, heart attack, circulatory failure, poisoning, drug intoxication, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, lack of calcium in the blood, septicaemia, shock or epilepsy. It may sometimes be caused by very low or very high temperatures, brain haemorrhage, abscesses, bruising or tumours.

In many illnesses it is also the last stage before death. Ensure that the dog is lying comfortably without restriction to the throat, chest or abdomen. Extend the head, pull the tongue out as far as possible and ensure a good supply of fresh air. Keep the animal still and warm, using blankets and hot-water bottles. Turn the dog over every three to four hours to aid circulation. Provide subdued light and quiet surroundings to reduce disturbance. Veterinary assistance is essential.


The dog has difficulty passing the hard droppings and may eventually get to the point where it strains without passing a stool. Sometimes the abdomen may appear swollen. The causes:

Nervous system Dogs with a history of slipped discs, paralysis of the back legs or weakness in the back legs are prone to constipation.

Mechanical obstruction The obstruction can be caused by enlargement of the prostate gland in male dogs, diverticulitis in the bov.fel walls, a fractured pelvis healing to high bone content in the diet. When bones make up more than 10 per cent of the diet they can cause constipation. Painful anal area This can be due to cuts, matted long hair, infected anal glands or other conditions of the anal sphincter.

If the dog to be treated has been on a home diet, first try a canned food, which will sometimes loosen the dog's motions. The next step is to give the dog paraffin oil orally at the rate of 5-15 millilitres twice daily, depending on the weight of the dog and the subsequent consistency of the droppings.

Faecal softener medications or warm soapy enemas may be helpful. Prevention is best instituted by correcting the diet. Increase the vegetable fibre content of the diet. Add liver and decrease the bones. Dogs which continue to strain need veterinary attention.


A cough is an important indication of disease. Excessive coughing is physically exhausting and harmful. Coughs can be caused by:

Infectious agents—such as bacteria or viruses which cause tonsillitis or laryngitis. The most common virus is `kennel cough' which is a contagious disease usually contracted when a dog has been kept in close proximity to other dogs. Symptoms are a dry, loud, harsh cough, with the dog sometimes bringing up phlegm. The dog may be depressed and slightly off its food. The condition can last for five to seven days, during which period the dog will produce an immunity to the virus. Although 'kennel cough' in itself is rarely serious, the dog should be put on a course of antibiotics to stop any secondary infection producing pneumonia. For home treatment, a child's cough medicine given as for a child is often helpful. A mixture of equal parts of raw egg white, honey and water can be given every half hour at the rate of 5-15 millilitres (1-3 teaspoons). Affected dogs should be protected from cold and damp and not be overexercised.

Parasites—such as roundworms or hookworms. which may cause bronchitis and pneumonia in young puppies.

Chemical irritants—such as smoke, spray, gases and fine dust.

Obstructions—such as tight collars, tumours. and congestion from chronic heart failure (which is particularly common in Poodles), from tonsillitis and from pharyngitis. In these cases coughing occurs whenever the dog becomes excited or takes exercise.

Heartworm—causes coughing from a mechanical blockage of the heart.


Debarking is an operation in which the vocal cords are cut to reduce the amount of noise produced by the dog. The operation is illegal in many countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom.


In dehydration the body tissues contain insufficient fluid to carry out their normal function. It can be caused by fever, high environmental temperatures, chronic vomiting, increased urinary output because of disease, diarrhoea or decreased drinking in severe illnesses. Dehydration deve.

In smaller animals. The s.yrn.qtams are tacky mucous membranes, a dry harsh coat, slow return of the skin when it is lifted. and glazed eyes. Treatment is to correct the underlying cause of the condition and institute quid therapy with electrolytes. Prolonged dehydration is Always take the dog to the vet to determine the t :ause.


Depression usually happened because of the underlying infectious process or disease. Check for obvious symptom and the dog should be handled by a veterinary surgeon.

Diabetes mellitus (Sugar dahetes)

Sugar diabetes occurs more commonly in obese bitches and also in certain breeds of dogs, particularly Dachshunds and Poodles. A diabetic animal is constantly hungry and despite an increased food intake loses weight. The other common manifestation of sugar diabetes is excessive thirst.

Left untreated, the continued rapid breakdown of the animal's fat reserves results in the accumulation of toxic products in the blood, and the animal becomes depressed, loses its appetite and vomits frequently. Because it is still losing vast amounts of water in the urine, it rapidly becomes dehydrated. This combination is fatal unless treated promptly by insulin injection. The animal's daily food and exercise routine must be adjusted so that the maximum insulin effect coincides with the periods of high glucose concentration. The type of food should be kept constant.

If a regular amount is given at a regular time, the control of this illness is more easily achieved. Carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum, and vitamin C should be supplied in large quantities. The insulin must be continued daily for the rest of the dog's life. Diabetes may cause cataracts.


Diarrhoea has many causes including bacterial and viral infections, worms, gut tumours, hepatitis, distemper, leptospirosis, poisoning, coccidiosis, overeating, food allergies, bad foods, sudden dietary changes, abnormal pancreatic secretions, chronic liver disease and nervousness.

Diarrhoea may take several forms: it may be acute or chronic; it may affect the dog generally by causing a raised temperature and depression, or the dog may be healthy in every other respect. Acute diarrhoea is seen as a watery, sometimes bloody stool in a previously healthy animal. If this is accompanied by elevated temperature, depression and failure to eat, the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed and bleeding. The dog should be taken to a vet immediately.

Even in mild cases of diarrhoea where the dog is clinically normal, it is wise not to let the condition proceed for more than twenty-four hours without seeking veterinary advice.

Apparently normal diets can cause diarrhoea; the constituents of milk may be at fault, or canned foods, too much vegetable matter, liver or oils. Diarrhoea in young pups can be caused by cow's milk. Replace the milk with water for three or four days and give the animal Kaomagma at the rate of 1 millilitre for every kilogram body-weight (to a maximum of 10 millilitres) every six hours.

After a few days reintroduce cows milk to the pup's diet but dilute it with water, 50 per cent milk : 50 per cent water, for three to four weeks. Gradually increase the concentration of the milk each three weeks by 10 per cent.

Alternatively, enquire from your pharmacist about a human baby milk product that is lactose free. Worms, particularly roundworms, may cause diarrhoea in young pups.

Changes of diet should always be introduced slowly—sudden switches of food, particularly if they require minimal digestion, encourage diarrhoea. In acute cases of vomiting and diarrhoea, withhold food and water for twenty-four hours to give the gut a rest. Feed the dog for a short time on the following mixture (the quantities given are for a I2-kg dog for one day). Boil one cup of dried rice in two cups of water, then add either 115 grams of cottage cheese or the same quantity of cooked lean meat. Potatoes may replace the rice and cooked eggs may replace the cottage cheese.

Feed small amounts every four hours for two to three days. Where home treatment does not cure the problem within twelve hours, veterinary advice should be sought. When taking a dog suffering from diarrhoea to the vet, be prepared to tell the vet about its diet and appetite, duration of any current and previous illnesses, environmental changes, vaccination history, past treatments for diarrhoea, worming history and daily number of bowel movements. It is advisable to take a sample of the diarrhoea (about one tablespoon) to the vet in a clean container.

If this is impossible, examine the faeces to determine the consistency, colour, odour and any presence of blood or mucus. Diarrhoea is one of the principal causes of dehydration in young animals and must be rectified early.

Ear disorders


Cropping is the procedure of reshaping the ear flap by surgical amputation. It is prohibited in many countries including Australia and the United Kingdom. It is allowed in most States of America.


This can be a congenital abnormality (White Bull Terriers and Poodles) but is common in aged dogs. There is no treatment, although the dog's ears should be checked by your vet to ensure that debris is not causing the problem. Deaf dogs are at risk with traffic, particularly if they like to lie on the road.

Fly bite

Fly bite from blood-sucking flies can cause the tips of the ears to become ulcerated. The dog will shake its head constantly, which may lead to a HAEMATOMA on the ear flap.

The best treatment is to apply ointment containing fly repellant to the ears twice daily. If possible, keep the dog in a fly-proof area during daylight hours. To prevent further fly bites, use ordinary insect repellant sprayed on a piece of cloth.

• Blood-sucking flies attack the ears causing dermatitis.

Foreign bodies in the ear

Foreign bodies in the ear include grass seeds, pieces of twig or even insects, all of which cause the dog extreme distress. If a dog holds its head on one side or paws wildly at the ear, see if you can remove the offending object. If not, see your vet.

A swollen ear-flap indicates haematoma.


A soft swelling on the ear flap could be a haematoma (caused by blood that has effused from a broken blood vessel). It is usually brought on by violent head shaking.

The shaking whiplashes a blood vessel which bursts and allows blood to seep between the cartilage and the skin of the ear. The condition should be treated as soon as possible as the weight of the blood in the ear irritates the dog and leads to further head shaking—this allows enlargement of the haematoma which can quickly involve the whole ear flap. The haematoma can be drained but is very likely to fill up again. A more permanent cure is achieved by suturing the ear flap.

Otitis (Canker)

Otitis (or canker) is an infection of the ear canal. It is more common in dogs with long, floppy, hairy ears which do not allow proper air circulation into the ear canal and hence provide a moist environment suited to the growth of organisms.

The signs of ear infection are usually a discharge, a foul smell or head shaking. Sometimes the dog will hold its head on one side. Quite frequently the initiating cause is ear mites which can lie dormant in the pup from birth, at a later stage multiplying to the point where they inflame the ear canal and allow secondary infections to move in.

Infections of the ear canal can also be caused by bacteria or fungi. Treatment involves cleaning the ear with a 50 per cent peroxide and water solution. plucking out any hair in the ear canal to increase air circulation, and treating with ear drops. As most ear drops contain a local anaesthetic to dull the pain, it is important to complete the course of medication and not stop after a few days when the dog appears comfortable, as this may just be the local anaesthetic working. Where possible, try to remove any debris from the ear canal daily with cotton buds before applying medication. It is safe to gently work down the ear canal, as the dog's ear takes a right-angled bend at the bottom before the ear drum. In chronic cases of ear infections, surgery to open the ear canal further to the air can give good results.

An ear-resection operation to expose the ear canal and dry it out.

Dogs often receive injuries to the edges of their ear flaps. These may bleed profusely, and although not serious they can be very difficult to heal, as the dog scratches and shakes its head. The best home treatment is to apply cotton-wool packs to the top of the head, lay the ear flap back on to this and bandage it. Apply acriflavin or a healing ointment to the bleeding area. The bandage holding the flap to the head should be left on for a week to ten days until the wound has completely healed. Failing this, cautery will stop the bleeding.

Elizabethan collar

A device to prevent the dog licking/biting wounds on the body. It also stops the dog scratching the head and ears.


This means putting your pet to death painlessly. There are several reasons why people ask a vet to perform euthanasia on their pet. Unacceptable reasons, in my opinion, include going on holidays or going overseas, getting married, moving from a ground-floor home to a unit or flat, grooming becoming too time-consuming, or the breed becoming 'un- fashionable'. Legitimate reasons include old age, severe disease. accident victims with severe injuries, prolonged injury and disposing of strays.

The best and most common method of euthanasia used by vets is an intravenous overdose of anaesthetic. This is a painless procedure and the pet dies within six to seven seconds. It is the only method that I can recommend. When the condition of a sick pet is gave, it is important to control emotional attachment to the animal and listen to the vet's advice. The vet knows how much sickness and pain an animal can take and how it should recover; if the advice is euthanasia, consider it seriously and do not let emotional involvement with the pet affect your decision. I believe pets have an advantage over humans at this point in their lives—the availability of euthanasia—so do not be selfish.

Eye disorders


Blindness can occur from not treating any of the conditions described in this section. The most common cause, however. is crystallisation of the lens in old age, which reduces or stops the light rays passing through. Senile cataracts, which develop as the dog ages, are seen as a blue haze deep in the dog's eye. The dog may also bark at known persons some distance away but will quieten when the person moves closer to and is recognised by the dog. Dogs are usually nine or ten years old when the condition begins.

Very little can be done except to be extra careful with the dog in strange surroundings, particularly in traffic. Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are particularly susceptible to this condition. When crystallisation is complete, there is a white, pearly, circular centre in the eye which allows little light through to the retina. If these dogs are left in familiar surroundings they can live a happy life. It is possible, depending on eye tests, to remove the lens and return about 40-50 per cent vision.

Pearly-white eyes due to cataracts.


Cataracts can be congenital or can be caused by diabetes mellitus.


Conjunctivitis is an inflammatory condition of the eye and has several causes: An acute injury—caused by a scratch from a piece of grass or twig brushing the cornea. This condition is painful; the dog closes the eye and the eye weeps.

Infection—taking the form of pus appearing in the corners of the eyes. If the pus appears only in one eye, the inflammation is usually caused by a local infection in that eye. (If both eyes are affected, it may indicate distemper or some other general disease.)

Conjunctivitis indicated by red mucous membranes. A blockage of the tear duct—the tear duct usually drains tears from the eye to the inside of the nose. The abscessed root of a molar tooth—in this case the conjunctivitis is usually accompanied by a lump just below the eye on the dog's face; sometimes the lump has a discharge. Conjunctivitis is a painful condition for which it is wise to seek veterinary advice. Normal eye-washes are usually not strong enough to be an effective cure.

• Corneal dermoid

Corneal dermoid—a plate of epithelial tissue on the surface of the cornea—is an island of skin that usually grows hairs from its surface which grow toward and irritate the cornea. It can be removed surgically.

• Dry eye

Dry eye refers to the absence of the normal tear film covering the corneal surface. It gives the cornea a dry and lustreless appearance. It is seen in all breeds but particularly Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas and Cocker Spaniels.

It may be caused by severe conjunctivitis, distemper, old age or accidental damage to the tear gland. Once an eye becomes dry, the tear film must be replaced by artificial tears immediately or permanent damage can occur. A surgical technique in which a salivary duct is moved from the mouth to the eye gives satisfactory results.


Ectropion is eversion or sagging of the lower eyelid. Breeds commonly affected are Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, St Bernards, Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels. Ectropion can predispose the eye to excessive drying and the easy entrance of foreign material into the conjunctival sac, which results in conjunctivitis or corneal infection. Rectification is by surgery.


Entropion is inversion of the eyelid margin. The inherited form of this condition is seen most commonly in King Charles Spaniels, St Bernards, Cocker Spaniels, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters and English Bulldogs.

It may be noticed when the puppies are born but usually doesn't cause any outward signs of disease until the dog is a few months old. In the mild form, the disease may correct itself as the dog ages. Mechanical damage is caused by the eyelashes rubbing on the eyeball. Treatment of entropion is by surgically excising an elliptical piece of skin from the eyelid to evert the eyelid margin. This plastic surgery is usually successful.

• Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an increase in the normal pressure of the fluid within the eye. The usual signs are blueness of the lens, and conjunctivitis. Medications can control it.

• Pupil constriction

Constriction of the pupils occurs normally in bright light; it may also occur when the dog has ingested a toxin or poison.

• Pupil dilation

Pupil dilation occurs normally in dull light, but it also occurs in tick poisoning and sickness.

• Strabismus

Strabismus—in-turning or out-turning of the eye—is usually seen in the broad-headed or short-headed breeds such as the Pekinese or Pug.

• Third eyelid deformities

Most animals have a 'third eyelid'—a nictitating membrane—in the inner corner of the eye, controlled by an involuntary muscle. It acts to lubricate the eye, particularly in dry, dusty conditions. However, when the dog is ill, or under the influence of a tranquillising agent, the muscle controlling the lid may relax, allowing the membrane to cover one-third of the eye. Pet owners often refer to this as a 'skin growing over the eye'.

Deformities of the third eyelid—an inwards-to-outwards rolling of third eyelid margin—is usually seen in large breeds of dogs, having its highest incidence in Great Danes, German Shepherds, St Bernards, Old English Sheepdogs and Afghans. The condition usually appears before the animal is one year old and causes a mild form of corneal irritation. It can be corrected surgically.

Trichiasis — an extra row of eyelashes.


Trichiasis—an extra row of eyelashes—causes irritation of the cornea. It occurs most frequently in Pekinese, French Poodles, Boxers, English Bulldogs and Cocker Spaniels.

The eyelashes can be removed by depilation.


Tumours—for example, wart-like growths—can occur on the margin of the eyelid and can develop to a point where they physically and mechanically damage the cornea. They should be removed surgically.


Examine the stools regularly for the presence of adult worms or segments of adult parasites. The most common is tapeworm segments which are the size of cucurr - - seeds, a greyish-pink colour, and active. They are usu__ on the outside of the stool. Roundworms are very comm: in puppies' stools—they are white, coiled, 5-8 centime::: long, the thickness of a pencil-lead, and pointed at ends.

The presence of blood, undigested meat or fat glob_ in the stool indicates illness. Note the odour from the st,z _ The colour may also be of great clinical significance. T1-._ usual colour is brown because of pigments excreted in faeces from the liver. A dark brown to black stool ma indicate either that the animal is on a high meat diet or the blood pigments are present. Greyish-white or cla-, coloured stools may indicate bile obstruction. Light brow or tan-coloured stools are frequently seen in nursin puppies and dogs on a diet high in milk. A green stock containing undigested material indicates a liver problem. A red stool may indicate a recent bleeding attack in the lowe bowel or rectum.

Normal stools contain only a small amount of mucus. but chronic enteritis, chronic irritants, malabsorption c: high doses of oral antibiotics over long periods may lead to excessive mucus. For further examination of the stop: microscopically, a sample of about one dessertspoonful ( millilitres) should be taken in a clean, labelled container tc your veterinary surgeon.


The dog's feet are often presented with problems—unclad they come into contact with broken glass, sharp tins, nail: tar, acids, detergents and other harmful materials.

Cut pads or webbing

Cuts in the pads or in the webbing between the toes bleed profusely as this area is very vascular. Bleeding can be stopped initially by the application of a tourniquet and/c a firm bandage around the foot. Where the cut has gone right through the pad or skin, it is best to have the wound sutured, as sensitive tissues underneath the pad's surface would otherwise cause the dog prolonged irritation whe they touch sand and gravel.

Fish hooks

Fish hooks are commonly found in the feet (and also in th e lips after fish bait has been eaten). Do not try to pull a hook back against the barb. Instead, the shank of the hook should be cut and the passage of the barb continued through the skin. This may require a general anaesthetic.

Foreign bodies between the toes

Foreign bodies between the toes are usually grass seeds. thorns or pieces of stick. Sometimes the skin may heal over the site of the wound and days later an abscess will form. A chronically draining sinus may be the first symptom.

Often a general anaesthetic has to be given while a probe is used to find the foreign body. If possible, where there is a hole in the skin, irrigate with 50 per cent peroxide and water for several days. The foreign body may wash out

Interdigital cysts

These are swellings that appear between the toes and are caused by a blockage of the sweat glands in the feet. Soak the foot in a bowl of warm water with salt, at the rate of one tablespoon per litre. This will bring the cyst to a head. When it ruptures, clean the area with warm water and salt (1 tablespoon salt per litre) three or four times a day. Occasionally the swelling may have to be lanced by a vet.

Sometimes a foreign body (for example, a grass seed or splinter) causes the problem.

Inter digital dermatitis

Interdigital dermatitis is an inflammatory, irritating derma titis between the toes. It is usually precipitated by an a] lergic reaction to a grass which causes the dog to lick between the toes. The licking combined with the allergic re action allows bacteria to multiply between the claws. Ap- plications of astringent agents such as mercurochrome, triple dye or gentian violet will dry out the areas. The dog should be prevented from licking the areas by use of an Elizabethan collar or a bucket. Sometimes antibiotics and antihistamine injections may be necessary.

Female disorders

By far the highest incidence of the female disorders listed below occur in undesexed mature bitches not being used for breeding. The incidence of these disorders in bitches desexed before they have a litter and under one year of age is practically zero.

Mammary tumours

Mammary tumour is the hard lump surrounding the nipple. Mammary tumours are one of the problems of older bitches, usually undesexed bitches which have not had a litter and which suffer from pseudopregnancy. There are even the smaler rheumsatoid type, should always be removed surgically as soon as they are detected. ne longer the tumour is airowed to remain, the greater the danger of secondary growths appearing, not only in the mammary gland, but also in the lymphatic glands within the abdomen. It is important to take the bitch to a vet as soon as any mammary lump is detected.


Mastitis is hot, swollen mammary glands caused by bacterial infection. Mastitis means inflammation of the mammary gland. It is caused by bacterial infection, the bacteria usually gaining entry through scratches or wounds in the teats. These wounds are caused by hungry pups, most often when the bitch is short of milk because of an inadequate diet. The first signs are restlessness, possibly an elevated temperature, and loss of appetite. Examination will show a hot, painful and markedly swollen gland. If the condition is not brought under control quickly, all the milk will disappear and her entire litter may die. Fortunately, mastitis in the bitch responds rapidly to modem antibiotic therapy and prompt treatment is invariably successful. Hot fomentation together with manual stripping of the gland will help the condition resolve quickly.

Metritis/pyometron: pus discharging from the vulva.


Metritis is an inflammation of the womb which most often occurs after whelping. It can be caused by the presence of dead pups, unexvelied afterbirth, injury during, whelping, istration of hormones to prevent oestrus. The first signs are usually ayurulent discharse from the vulva, loss of ai?etite and a high temperature. This condition is very serious and requires immediate veterinary attention and antibiotic treatment. Treatment is usually successful, but occasionally a pyometron (womb full of pus) may develop. In these cases, a hysterectomy is needed


Polyps are wart-like growths on long stalks which form in the uterus. Hard lumps can be felt in the uterus. There may be a bloody discharge, but the bitch is otherwise completely normal. The only effective treatment is a complete hysterectomy.

• Prolapse

Prolapse describes the condition where the cervix and the vagina fold back on themselves and protrude from the vagina. Sometimes the bladder is included in the prolapse and very occasionally the uterus as well. It appears as a red inflamed mass protruding from the vulva which the bitch licks incessantly. Treatment is to replace the prolapse surgically under general anaesthetic and suture the organs in place.


Vaginitis means an inflammation of the lining of the vagina. It is usually caused by bacteria infecting an injury caused by mating or a difficult whelping. The bitch shows considerable discomfort and may repeatedly strain as though in labour. There may be a red or yellow discharge. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics together with daily insertion of a pessary.


Normal body temperature of a dog is 38.5°C. Body temperatures higher than 41°C for prolonged periods can cause permanent brain damage. Temperatures above 43°C are associated with high mortality.

The pet with a fever is usually depressed, off its food and lethargic; some will appear to be cold and shivery. Feverish dogs usually seek out a cool place such as a lino or tile floor. The dog's nose may be wet or dry. The causes are Overexertion from excitement or an overactive thyroid gland.

Obstructions to the panting or heat-loss mechanisms. Obstructions in the air passages of the short-faced breeds—Pugs, for example.

Paralysis—for example, because of ticks. Confinement in a hot, humid, poorly ventilated area. Septicaemia and infectious diseases.

Where the animal has a high temperature, it is important to reduce the temperature or at least stop it getting higher. Place wet towels over the dog, keep it in a cool place, place it before a fan, administer half a tablet of aspirin, and seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.


Whatever you do, don't try to stop a dog fight with your bare hands. Use water, or hoses or garbage cans. If you are quick and have presence of mind, grab a tail and fling the dog away.

Poisoning First aid

Poisons may be absorbed internally or through the skin or via the respiratory tract. If the animal was in physical contact with toxic or corrosive material, wash its skin clean with large quantities of water.

If the dog has eaten a poison, induce vomiting by administering orally a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to a quarter of a cup of water, or 5 millilitres of hydrogen peroxide.

If the dog is excited or convulsing, try to protect it from injuring itself.

In all cases, after the first aid measures (given above) have been carried out, take the dog immediately to a vet. Don't forget to take a sample of the suspected poison and its container along to the vet with the animal. This is important because the medications the vet must use will depend on the type of poison the dog has ingested. The vet will also be able to give the dog any necessary supportive treatment using medications and treatment which you will not have available at home.

Should a vet not be handy, try to induce vomiting (see above). Remember, these solutions should only be given in an emergency when there is no vet available, as neither solution is particularly efficient in making the animal vomit. It is also possible that such fluids given orally will pass through the stomach and wash the poison into the small intestines where it will be absorbed more rapidly.

Most poisons produce early gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting, and progress rapidly to fits and weakness in the legs. Others will cause neurological signs such as fainting or trembling. Urine colour can sometimes help in the diagnosis: the carbamate in one snail bait produces a bright blue urine; the metaldehyde in another snail bait produces a light green urine.

There are so many potentially toxic substances now on the market that it is impossible to mention them all. Only the most common problems will be covered here.


The number of things that could be kept in an emergency first aid box is limitless. The following is a basic list.

A roll of 5-centimetre wide adhesive bandage, such as


Two rolls of conforming gauze bandage or clean white cloth


Antiseptic wash (e.g. chlorhexidine)

Hydrogen peroxide 3%

A tape to muzzle the dog


Guillotine-type nail cutters

50 millilitres liquid paraffin



Acriflavin, mercurochrome, triple dye, zinc cream

Wound dressing powder (preferably one containing an antibiotic)

Soluble aspirin

Bicarbonate of soda

Antibiotic/cortisone skin ointment

Antibiotic dispenser

Antibiotic eye ointment

Eye wash

Flea powder

Flea rinse


When the dog starts to have a fit, leave it in a dark room and keep it quiet. If possible, place a peg or other wooden object between the dog's teeth and pull out the tongue. The fit usually lasts only two or three minutes. Afterwards the dog will be exhausted.

If the fit continues longer than three minutes, causes other than epilepsy, such as POISONING, should be suspected. Among the most common causes of poisoning are snail bait and strychnine. Other common causes are insecticidal rinses used on dogs to control fleas and ticks. If this is the case, wash the dog immediately, use copious amounts of water and soap to prevent further absorption of the toxic material. In the case of snail bait and strychnine, take the dog to a vet immediately so that an injection can be given to make it vomit. If you are a long way from a vet, try to induce vomiting by administering a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to a quarter cup of water. These poisons can quickly be fatal.

Fits can be caused by epilepsy, poisoning by insectic._ insecticidal chemicals used in washing dogs, strych-_-_ - snail bait, distemper, rabies, meningitis or low gL_ levels in the blood to the brain.

Epilepsy in pups usually occurs when they are cu:: - teeth, from two to six months, particularly if they _ _ heavily infested with roundworms. A roundworm-info, pup is typically pot-bellied. The actual cause in these cast-, is not understood.

Toy breeds are particularly susceptible to fits, but oft= medication will help them to grow out of the fits by six OT seven months of age. In young puppies the exact causes of the fits are not understood, but it may be due to pressure on the developing brain from the cranial cavity. It is rare for this type of fit to continue through to middle age.

When it occurs in older dogs, the cause can be shock. fear, injury, sexual excitement, pain or stress. Sometimes a sudden change of temperature can bring on attacks. T he fit can be small (petit mal), where the dog remains on its feet. chomps its jaws and froths at the mouth, or it can be a major fit (grand mal), where the dog collapses to its side. partly unconscious, with its legs extended rigidly from its body. The head is usually turned back and the dog ma-, urinate or defecate.

In older dogs, fits may also be due to brain tumours or other pathological space-occupying lesions within the cranial cavity.

Pregnant or whelping bitches may suffer from fits, shaking or twitching because of low sugar or calcium levels. In these cases, stop the pups suckling, administer calcium tablets, give the bitch milk to drink, and take her immediately to the vet


Flatulence occurring in bottle-fed pups is serious. It ma:. be because of overfeeding, the use of unsterile feedin: equipment, or feeding a formula that is too high in carbchydrate. The signs are an acute stress condition and a distended stomach. Prompt attention by a veterinary surgeon is vital.

Chronic intestinal flatulence and anal release is common in adult dogs, particularly the large breeds, though it can be embarrassing to owners. Flatulence is an indication of excessive bacterial fermentation in the bowel and is usually caused by feeding a high carbohydrate diet—potatoes. other root vegetables, beans, cauliflowers, cabbage an,: onions may be at fault. Cereals, milk and sweets can cause upsets. Some of the commercial rations with a high carbohydrate content may cause the problem. Dogs that tend to eat their food too fast and gulp air may also suffer from the problem. Change the dog's diet to a protein-type ration, ensure it is not constipated and have it treated with a wide-spectrum intestinal antibiotic to reduce the population of fermenting bacteria in the bowel.


This is a common condition in warmer countries during the summer months and is caused by flies biting the dog It particularly affects dogs that are chained or have restricted access to sheltered areas. The flies bite prominent spots such as the tips of the ears or the highest fold in the ear. Long-haired dogs can also be flyblown around the crutch area and wherever there are sores protected by matted long hair.

Long hair should be cut away and any maggots physically removed. Douse the area with an insecticidal rinse. Where the animal cannot be placed in a fly-proofed area, use insecticidal ointments or sprays for protection. If the dog does not like the sound of the pressure pack, spray the insecticide on to a cloth and wipe it over the ears. This should be done at least twice a day.

Fracture of the penis

The male dog has a small bone in his penis. Occasionally this bone is fractured (usually during attempted mating). Clinical signs are a severe swelling and acute pain. Diagnosis is by X-ray.


Frostbite is uncommon in dogs, but it can affect the ears and the feet. Treat quickly with warmth and massage. Sudden heat should not be applied. The area should be wrapped in cotton-wool after being dressed with an astringent agent such as acriflavin. The dog should be offered warm milk, and all parts of its body should be rubbed and massaged. Veterinary attention is essential if the part of the body is to be saved


Gangrene is the death of body tissues following degeneration of the tissues involved. Restricted circulation in an area because of tight bandages or plaster casts can sometimes result in gangrene. Fortunately these days, with modern antibiotics, gangrene is rarely seen.

Glandular Enlargement

The dog has a large number of lymph nodes situated throughout the body. These have several functions, the most important being to filter the blood to remove infection from local areas as well as certain other unwanted matter. When infection is present, the glands may swell

Grass eating

Grass eating is common in dogs. It is generally used as a mechanism to stimulate vomiting to rid the stomach of stale food and may also be a symptom of gastritis, digestive discomfort or worm infestation. Another theory is that dogs eat grass as a source of vitamins.

Heart disease

The heart can be considered as a four-chambered pump with valves between the chambers. Disease may affect any one of the chambers, the valves, the muscles that make the heart function or the nerve centres that control the heart movement and beat.

For any heart disease, veterinary attention is essential. For first aid when the dog has a heart attack, it should be kept as quiet as possible in a darkened room, and stimuli of any type should be avoided. Where the dog suffers from a continuous cough, and veterinary advice is not immediately obtainable, a small amount (1 to 5 millilitres, or up to a teaspoon) of brandy or whisky may be given in milk, depending on the size of the dog, and a quarter to one codeine tablet as additional treatment while waiting for veterinary advice.

The most common heart condition in dogs is congestive heart failure. It is particularly common in Poodles. The initial clinical sign of this condition is a cough, sometimes referred to as a cardiac cough, which is stimulated by exercise or excitement. This is due to the congestive nature of the heart failure. Subsequent signs include difficulty in breathing, reduced tolerance to physical exercise, enlargement of the liver and a filling of the abdomen with fluid (this gives the dog a pregnant look). Treatment is aimed at eliminating the fluid accumulation by decreasing the work of the heart, reducing salt intake in the food and encouraging cardiac compensation by means of drugs.

Cardiovascular disease in dogs is not closely associated with diet problems, except for the consideration of salt in congested heart failure. A low salt diet should be considered only as an adjunct to other medical therapy and only when clinical signs of congestive heart failure are present.

A fluid-filled abdomen, usually due to chronic heart failure. A dog with a circulatory condition requires food with a low sodium content and a fairly high level of protein and carbohydrate. Such a dog usually cannot excrete sodium, which encourages the fluid within the body to stay in the tissues, which in turn impedes the circulation. A low salt diet can be formulated from boiled beef or chicken (discard the water used for boiling), together with rice, oatmeal or macaroni, and low-salt, bulk-forming vegetables such as corn, squash, beans or peas. Vegetable oils and honey are low in salt and seasoning agents such as garlic or onion powder may tempt the dog's appetite. Avoid the standard commercial pet foods, canned or prepared meat, dairy products, cheese and pastries and 'treat' titbits such as crackers, chips and salted nuts. It is difficult to create a palatable low salt diet.

Heartworm is also a common cause of mechanical congestive heart failure.


Heatstroke eatstroke is a problem in Pekinese, Pugs and Boxers, those breeds with pushed-in faces; as well as in the readily excitable breeds such as Poodles and Terriers. In the former group, it is a problem of deficient respiration, whereas in the latter group it is a result of physical activity in hot or humid environments. All dogs, irrespective of breed, are susceptible to heatstroke if confined in hot conditions—for example, in a closed car.

Heatstroke is relatively rapid in onset. The patient pants incessantly and drools saliva, yelps with distress, and champs the saliva into large bubbles which adhere to the face and forelegs as a froth or foam. There is a staring expression of apprehension and concern. The patient becomes excited with the discomfort and moves constantly to change position. This excessive muscular activity generates an increase in body temperature which further worsens the condition. Muscular weakness with distinct tremors and later spasms will be evident from the onset of distress. The heatstroke patient in a collapsed condition with muscular spasms will invariably die. Vomiting is a frequent symptom, and persistent vomiting increases the risk of death. A body temperature of 42-43°C is usually fatal, even when present for less than one hour.

First aid for heatstroke Since excess body temperature and reduced ability to lose body heat are the primary problems, any first aid measures should be directed at resolving these problems quickly. Remove the patient from any confined space to facilitate an airflow in the general vicinity.

Spray the dog with cold water from a hose or iced water and place it in front of a large electric fan. Ice packs may be applied to the head and neck. Cold-water enemas are also of value in lowering internal body temperature. Massage the legs to aid general circulation and heat loss from the skin. Do not give sedatives to an overexcited dog, as they have an adverse effect on its blood pressure. When the patient's temperature has fallen to the normal level, about 38.5°C, it is usually safe to dispense with first aid temporarily and seek veterinary assistance. This will involve intravenous infusions, therapy against secondary infection and monitoring the kidneys for damage.

Preventing heatstroke Ensure that whenever dogs must be confined in a restricted space, they are protected from the direct rays of the sun. Adequate ventilation and plenty of cold drinking water are essential. Feeding times should be changed to early morning or late evening in hot weather, as the digestion of food results in a higher body temperature. Clipping the coat, contrary to popular belief, is not necessary, since the coat provides an insulation against the rays of the sun in a normal, healthy outdoor dog.


Hernia is the protrusion of an organ or part of an organ outside the space it normally occupies, while it is still enclosed in the membrane lining the cavity in which the organ is normally contained—that is, the protruding part is enclosed in a sac of lining membrane when it enters the incorrect position. The commonest forms of hernias are diaphragmatic, inguinal, perineal and umbilical.

• Diaphragmatic hernia

Although the name hernia is used, this condition is strictly speaking a rupture. It is seen in dogs that have suffered from a severe accident or fall. The diaphragm is torn and parts of the abdominal organs enter the chest cavity. Respiration is restricted as the lungs become squashed, es- pecially if the dog has its hindlegs higher than its fc: Surgical repair is necessary.

• Inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernias are seen most commonly in adult d _ ar either sex. A swelling occurs in the groin, usually on side only, as part of the intestines press down throug:- -Jr weakened muscle wall. In the male, the hernia may ins the scrotum, in which case it is often termed as scr: hernia. Surgical repair is necessary.

• Perineal hernia

Perineal hernia, seen mainly in elderly dogs, is a soft sv. ing on one side of the anus. This type of hernia is not to repair, but surgery is often attempted.

• Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia is usually seen in puppies, where _- umbilical ring does not close or is damaged. A Sr: bubble of fat forms in the opening—it may be pressed b _ into the abdomen but will reappear. An umbilical . can sometimes be caused by premature or careless tea:-__: of the umbilical cord at birth. These hernias should - repaired where possible to prevent a piece of an ori_: strangulating in the hernia and causing the death of the dog.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition in which the ball and socket joint of the hip does not fit properly, the resultant irritation causing arthritis. It can be difficult to diagnose, as dogs that are clinically normal can be found to have hip dysplasia on radiographic examination. Puppies bred from parents and grandparents that are radiographically free from hip dysplasia may still develop the condition, although the chances of it occurring are greatly reduced. It is most common in breeds that grow to more than 15 kilograms at three months of age. Breeds most likely to be affected are Golden Labradors, Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, German Short-haired Pointers, Dobermans, Great Danes and St Bernards. The condition is very rarely seen in greyhounds, however, as selective breeding has operated to eliminate affected dogs (which race poorly) from breeding programmes.

The symptoms of hip dysplasia include reluctance to rise from the sitting position. The affected dog usually takes two or three awkward steps before the hip joint war:: allowing the dog to walk normally. Affected dogs e:. a 'roly-poly' action when viewed from the rear. The - dition may prevent a dog from walking as early as siy seven months or as late as old age. Most Labradors some degree of hip dysplasia; by the time they are nine ten years old, it is rare to find a Labrador who can SU:- up quickly and walk without hesitation.

Dogs cannot be certified free of hip dysplasia by X-7. until twelve months of age. Treatment is by surgery. T: involves cutting the muscles inside the legs or removing I: hip joints. Alternatively, anti-inflammatory tablets a:- pain-killers may be used. The best prevention is not breed from affected dogs.


Incontinence is the unexpected passing of urine. In puppies this is usually because of nervousness and wears off in time.

In older dogs the causes are quite varied, including kidney disease, bladder disease, paralysis of the nerve supplying the bladder, bladder stones, tumours, enlarged prostate glands in the male and hormonal deficiencies in desexed females. Because the condition has a number of causes, it is best to take a 30-millilitre sample of urine along to the vet, together with an exact history of when and where the dog passes the urine. Where the incontinence is caused by the bladder becoming overfull and the excess dripping out, it is essential to ensure that the bladder is emptied twice a day using gentle pressure on the flanks if this is possible. Long-backed dogs that have had a back problem are often incontinent. Hormone therapy is useful for desexed females.


Inco-ordination can be the result of tick paralysis, central nervous system diseases, back problems, conditions of the middle ear, meningitis and encephalitis.


Infection is caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. The infection can be generalised (for example, septicaemia) or localised (for example, an abscess).

Infectious diseases

Diseases may be caused by many different viruses, and a single virus may produce many different manifestations of disease, for example, distemper. Viral diseases cannot be cured because few antibiotics or other drugs will kill the virus. However, they may often be prevented by quarantine, good hygiene and management and by vaccination.

• Canine parvoviral enteritis

The signs of the parvovirus are vomiting and diarrhoea of short duration. It may occur in an isolated dog or appear in an outbreak form in a kennel, affecting both puppies and adults simultaneously. Some dogs will cease eating and vomit for twenty-four to forty-eight hours and recover without treatment. Other dogs may have prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea, and if treatment is not instituted they may die of the combined effects of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. A third variation is the dog with prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea with a severe bloody diarrhoea developing. The dog will die within twenty-four hours.

The cause of this disease is a virus. There is no specific cure, but correction of the dehydration and electrolyte imbalance quickly and vigorously by the use of intravenous fluids is important. Veterinary attention is essential. Prevention is by vaccination.

• Distemper

Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease which is universal in dog populations and is transmitted through contaminated objects or by close contact. The incubation period is about nine days, the first signs being a high temperature for one to three days; the temperature may fluctuate from high to normal for a week. Pus accumulates in the corners of the eyes, which squint.

Sometimes there is a nasal discharge. The dog is usually depressed, off its food and develops diarrhoea. Coughing may precede fatal pneumonia. A dog may recover from these symptoms and then succumb to further complications about four weeks later. These include nervous signs involving convulsive seizures, inability to stand, jerking movements of the head and jaws and paddling motions of the legs.

Sometimes there is a trembling of the muscles in the temple, just in front of the ear. The dog may wander aimlessly, unaware of its surroundings. Attacks of distemper vary from an apparently mild infection to obviously serious disease. The disease can last as little as ten days but more often will be prolonged for several weeks or months, with intervening periods of apparent improvement followed by regression. A typical distemper case is not difficult to diagnose, although many cases do not present the signs until the condition has advanced. Distemper should be suspected in all sick puppies, particularly if fever is present and there is no other apparent cause. Distemper is often confused with canine hepatitis and leptospirosis.

Prevention is best achieved by immunising the pregnant bitch halfway through the pregnancy to give the puppies an increased immunity at birth. All puppies should be immunised at six weeks and again at sixteen weeks. Because the condition is caused by a viral agent, treatment is not always effective. It is, however, always preferable to treat the dog because even the most serious cases can sometimes show a remarkable improvement.

• Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a contagious viral disease characterised by a slight temperature, congestion of the mucous membranes and severe depression. Dogs of all ages are susceptible.

The disease is transmitted through urine and droppings.

The incubation period is six to nine days, with the virus localising in the liver and kidneys. The degree of severity varies from a slight fever to fatal illness. The first sign is an increased temperature, lasting for one to six days and usually fluctuating between quite high and near normal.

General signs are apathy, loss of appetite, thirst and conjunctivitis, accompanied by discharge from the eyes, mouth and nose. The mucous membranes and tonsils become congested and there will be signs of abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting. After the period of general illness ends, the animal eats well but regains weight slowly. Some 25 per cent of sufferers develop a redness in the eyes seven to ten days after the disappearance of the acute stage of the illness. Although the disease can be fatal, there is a fair recovery rate. Vaccination, combined with distemper immunisation, is very effective in preventing the disease. The mother should be vaccinated halfway through her pregnancy and the pups at six and sixteen weeks. Live hepatitis vaccines may cause keratitis

• Herpes virus

Herpes virus is a newly recognised, yet fairly common, fatal viral disease which occurs in pups under a month old. The virus kills the tissues in the liver and kidneys and causes pneumonia. The pups usually die within twentyfour hours. There is no vaccine.

• Kennel cough.

• Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is caused by an organism called a spirochaete, which can be transmitted to humans. Nearly half the rat population carries it, and dogs become infected after eating food contaminated by rat urine or by eating infected rats. Dogs of all ages are affected, males being more susceptible than females.

After an incubation period of five to fifteen days, the disease may have a sudden onset characterised by slight weakness, refusal to eat, vomiting, high temperature and often mild congestion in the eye. Within two days the tern- perature drops sharply, depression is more pronounced, breathing becomes laboured and thirst develops. Muscular soreness and stiffness develop, particularly in the hindlegs.

The mucous membranes of the mouth first show patches like a graze or burn, which later dry out and drop off in sections. In some cases the tongue may show dead patches of skin and the entire tip may drop off.

Prevention is by vaccination. Always keep your dog on a leash when in an area frequented by other dogs. A constant supply of fresh water should be available to discourage random drinking. Garbage, pools and fishponds are often contaminated and are prime sources of infection. It is essential in all cases to administer an antibiotic combination for at least ten days. Dehydration and acidosis can be treated with fluid therapy at the vet's surgery.

• Myocarditis

The usual sign of myocarditis is that puppies three to seven weeks of age are found dead or dying following a brief period of difficult breathing. Those affected are usually vigorous, healthy puppies with no prior indication of any illness. The mortality rate within a litter may vary from 30 to 100 per cent with deaths occurring over a period of two to three weeks and in some cases up to six weeks. The cause is at present unknown but it is strongly suspected that it is caused by a virus. Treatment is non-specific.

• Rabies

Rabies is a virus disease of all mammals, including humans, which is spread by the saliva of an infected animal entering the bloodstream of another animal, usually by a bite. The period of incubation varies from two weeks to six months, and depends on the site of infection. The virus has to travel to the brain from the point where it entered the body; therefore the further from the head the bite occurred, the longer the incubation period. Symptoms are basically a change of temperament followed by a period of great excitement. Finally, if the dog survives long enough, a period of paralysis follows. The excitement stage is characterised by the dog attacking, without fear, anything that moves or makes a noise. The dog may run for miles. In the paralytic stage the dog shows symptoms of paralysis of the lower jaw and limbs. Collapse quickly follows, then death.

Any person bitten by such a dog should report to their doctor as soon as possible. The dog suspected of suffering from rabies should not be killed but should be confined in a safe area from which escape is impossible. This is necessary for correct diagnosis of the disease. As rabies is fatal and can infect humans, it is essential that all control measures be rigidly enforced and that suspected cases be 7.: immediately. Check with your veterinarian if vaccina necessary in your area.

Insecticide rinses

Organo-phosphate compounds are the common active ingredient in many flea collars, liquid dog washes, aerosols and flea powders. Poisoning with insecticidal rinses is usually due to incorrect concentration. Sometimes the correct concentration of solution will have a detrimental effect in very young, aged or debilitated animals.

Poisoning is by absorption through the skin or by licking. The symptoms vary depending on the drug, dose received and individual sensitivity, but the usual symptoms are salivation, muscle tremor, shivering, weakness in the hindlegs, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhoea and constriction of the pupils followed by dilation. Immediately this form of poisoning is recognised, wash the dog in copious quantities of fresh water to prevent further absorption of insecticides, then take it to the vet.


A jaundiced condition develops where there is an concentration of bile pigment in the blood, prozaa. ing yellowish staining of the white of the eye, the membrane of the mouth and, in severe cases, the self. It may be caused by: leptospirosis; the after-effe:i a blood transfusion; sclerosis and liver tumours; bile duct obstruction. If your dog appears jaundice is best to consult a vet.

Kidney disease (Nephritis)

Nephritis simply means inflammation of the kidneys. a common and serious disease in ageing dogs, and car_ - difficult to treat. It always requires the attention of a

The first sign is an increased thirst and the passim excess urine. While the dog's appetite may be good, it lose weight. Some dogs will have foul breath. The dog 7.- _ vomit, particularly in the morning, and especially af drinking water. In advanced cases the dog may colla-L:

The cause is usually an infection of the kidney tics _ and veterinary attention should be sought immediatei;. avoid irreversible damage to the delicate and corr.: structure of the kidney. A 30-millilitre sample of - should accompany the dog to the vet. This is best collecit _ by confining the dog overnight with water, then taking dog on a lead into the garden and quietly collecting :- urine in a clean shallow vessel. Once the dog has recei-. t _ appropriate treatment, it should be fed a special diet.

A dog with severe kidney trouble often excretes a lot _ protein in its urine, so extra protein should be supple: preferably white meat (rabbit or chicken) or fish. Ot?.. suitable foods include cereal, milk, egg custard, cheese small quantities), hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, boiled . - and rice pudding. Extra vitamin B should be supplie: - yeast tablet two or three times a week is ideal.

disorder. Hip dysplasia is one of the most common causes. Acutely lame dogs may be suffering from ruptured cruciate ligaments in the stifle joint, dislocated hips after a car accident, or fractures of main bones. The foot pads and webbing should be searched for foreign bodies such as thorns and glass.

Long backs

Corgis and Dachshunds are the main sufferers of back trouble, which may lead to paralysis of the hind legs. Bassets rarely have trouble with their backs. Paralysis of the back legs may be of a temporary nature, lasting one or two weeks, or it may become permanent, necessitating euthanasia.

Milk fevar or Enclampsia

Milk fever is a calcium deficiency in the blood of the bitch, caused by loss of calcium in the milk to the pups. It is more commonly seen in smaller breeds with large litters but can occur in any breed. Milk fever most commonly occurs two or three weeks after the birth of the pups, although it can happen much earlier, and can be rapidly fatal if immediate treatment is not given by a vet. The first symptoms are weakness and trembling of the limbs; it then progresses to convulsions, paralysis and heart failure. An all-meat diet will aggravate the condition because of :he low calcium and high phosphorus content of meat.

Giving the bitch milk to drink helps by supplying calcium, but a balanced dry food diet is more helpful in preventing calcium deficiency. It also provides the calories necessary to make milk. There is some evidence that heavy oral calcium supplementation before lactation may actually increase the likelihood of calcium deficiency during lactation, as it causes a depression of the mechanism whereby the bitch dissolves the calcium in her bones to supply the calcium in her blood.

Mouth disoreers

Dogs do not sweat through the skin. They exchange most of their heat through the mouth, and can extend the tongue to increase the surface exposed to the air.

Most young puppies up to six months of age bite and chew a lot in the process of cutting their teeth. Some exercise on sticks, others on shoes, slippers, socks and even furniture if they get the chance. One method of satisfying a pup's requirements is to give it several 'chews', which are pieces of rolled-up, dehydrated cattle hide. Use these with caution, as small pieces may rehydrate in the intestine and cause a blockage. Another solution is to give the pup large ox shank bones from the butcher. These shanks have sheaths of meat and tissue which are good for the dog to chew and tear. Make sure that the bone is not one that can fracture into sharp pieces.

• Bad breath

Foul breath can be caused by eating raw meat, or meat buried too long, by tartar build-up on the teeth, or inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). This causes the gums to fall away from the teeth, allowing food to be trapped and then decay. Ulcers, viral attacks and bacterial infection can all cause bad breath. Bacterial infections of tonsils or lymph glands of the mouth can lead to tonsillitis, pharyngitis or laryngitis, all of which give bad breath. Other causes may be gastrointestinal upsets or kidney trouble. In sugar diabetes there is a distinct smell of acetone.

• Bad breath is commonly caused by tartar on the teeth and infected gums.

Spaniels often suffer from an extremely unpleasant mouth odour which arises from ulceration of the outer surface of the lower lip. This occurs in the deep creases seen in this breed which fill with saliva and then become infected. Creases so affected should be cleaned, washed -.- Phisohex soap, or a 50 per cent hydrogen peroxide/«a:_- solution, dried and powdered with a wound dressing powder, or one of the astringent dyes.

• Bleeding

Bleeding can occur in small quantities from ulcerated inflamed gums, or from the sockets of bad teeth. The mouth can also bleed from trauma and from cuts receive: from sticks or from car accidents. As the mouth contains many blood vessels, with a particularly large pair under tongue, dogs playing with sharp sticks or bones can eas:i-. lacerate a vein. Bleeding from the mouth is difficult tc :r: _ without an anaesthetic. Dogs rarely suffer a fatal bleecl don't panic—but do see the vet.

Typical gap in the roof of the mouth formation of cleft palate.

• Cleft palate

This is a congenital abnormality in which the roof of the mouth fails to join down the centre, leaving a gap through which food can pass into the respiratory sinuses. subsequently causing pneumonia. Puppies with this abnormality rarely reach maturity because of pneumonia. It car_ be corrected surgically in some cases.

• Gums

The normal colour of ,a dog's gums is pink. Pale gums are a symptom of anaemia or shock. If the dog suffers from anaemia, the cause should be identified. If the anaemia could be caused by shock after an accident_ have the dog examined by a vet to make sure it is not bleeding internally. Then offer warm milk and keep the animal in a head-down position. Keep the animal warm. Red gums, particularly around the margins between the gums and the teeth, indicate gingivitis, caused by excess tartar which should be scraped off while the dog is under anaesthetic.

A generalised redness of the gums indicates a toxic condition of the blood.

Tumours of the gum, not usually malignant, need only be removed by the vet if they appear to give the dog mechanical discomfort. They are particularly common in Boxers.

• Salivation

The most common cause of excessive salivation is car sickness. Anti-sickness tablets are available. Salivation can also be caused by poisons such as Baysol, Defender and Malathion.

• Teeth

Normally the dog has forty-two teeth, twenty in the upper jaw and twenty-two in the lower. The six front teeth in the upper and lower jaws are called incisors. Behind these are the single-pointed canines. The premolars and molars are the big grinding teeth at the back of the jaw.

At birth the puppy has no teeth; later temporary (milk teeth) appear. From three to four weeks after birth the incisors erupt, the temporary canines appearing at about the same time. The three temporary premolars appear at about six to nine weeks. During the eruption period, the dog's teeth should be examined once a week, to check whether there is space for the erupting teeth and whether the adult teeth are appearing before the temporary teeth are shed. Overcrowding of the mouth is particularly common in the pushed-in face breeds such as Maltese Terriers, Chihuahuas, Pekinese, Pugs and Boxers. In the toy breeds, supernumerary or retained deciduous teeth, especially the canines, may be seen at about six months of age. Supernumerary or retained teeth should be extracted.

The retained temporary canine is immediately behind the whiter, shorter less pointed permanent tooth.

Dental decay is on the increase, as more and more owners feed soft prepared foods to their pets. Large bones or hard biscuits help to reduce tartar accumulation. Some breeds, such as Poodles, are particularly susceptible to bad teeth. Once tartar has formed in the margins of the teeth, tooth decay and bad breath quickly follow. If your dog is docile, it is possible to clean the tartar from the teeth with a metallic object or hard plastic, or even to brush the teeth with a hard toothbrush. If the tartar persists or the dog won't co-operate, it will need its teeth descaled while under a general anaesthetic.

• Tongue

The natural colour of a dog's tongue is pink—except the Chow's, which is purple. The tongue is very vascular (that is, it contains many blood vessels) because it is the point of exchange of heat for dogs. Dogs that play with sharp objects can easily lacerate some of the large vessels in the tongue. If this happens, the dog should be taken immediately to the vet.

Nervous conditions Chorea

In dogs chorea is usually a legacy of the distemper virus. Viral and bacterial infections affect the central nervous system, k"O.Y17, the dog \14‘rk,k1 persistent and uncontrollable twitch. This can be in the temporal muscles between the eye and the ears, over the forehead, or it may affect a leg or the whole body. Because the central nervous system does not regenerate, the best that can be hoped for is that the twitch will not get worse.

If the dog begins to have fits or becomes paralysed, the future is hopeless. Where only a limb is involved, the animal can sometimes live a reasonable life.

Facial paralysis

This is usually due to a traumatic knock to the head which injures the facial nerve. The mouth becomes twisted and the tongue lolls to one side. Usually the nerve repairs and the dog's future is good—with patience and time the only cure.


An hysterical dog appears to go mad, racing around blindly, howling, oblivious of all attempts to calm it. An attack is usually triggered by excitement or sudden noise. It may last for several minutes or half an hour. At the end, the animal may fall down in a fit or convulsion. The condition is common in toy breeds and in some instances is due to a dietary deficiency of vitamin B I. Treat the dog as for FITS.


The most common form of paralysis (apart from radial paralysis—see below) is paralysis of the hindlegs. This can be caused by ticks, severance of the spinal cord in motor vehicle accidents, or disc protrusion in long-backed dogs such as Corgis and Dachshunds. It is important to seek veterinary advice.

Radial paralysis

The radial nerve provides both motor and sensory functions to the forelimbs. It is particularly susceptible to mechanical damage as it lies just under the skin on top of the bone in the front leg. Traumatic damage to this nerve results in radial paralysis and prevents the dog elevating its foot from the ground. Consequently, the elbow drops and there is a slight curling of the leg from the wrist down. The dog has no feeling in the toes and drags its leg along the ground. In many cases the tops of the toes will be abraided to the point where the bone may show. Treatment and recovery depend on whether the nerve is bruised or actually severed. If the nerve is bruised, there is a possibility of recovery over a three-week period and the toes should be bandaged to prevent further damage. If there is no improvement after three or four weeks, it can be assumed that the nerve is permanently damaged and amputation is advised. Dogs can exist very happily on three legs.


A stroke is caused by the rupture of one of the smaller blood vessels in the brain, generally in older dogs. The dog is usually brought to the vet with a history of staggering; the head rolls from side to side. Treatment depends on the part of the body that is affected but invariably requires a long convalescence and much loving care from the owner. If the legs are involved, they should be massaged to prevent muscle atrophy or wasting.

• Nose troublies

A normal, healthy dog has a cold, moist nose. This may become dry and warm from stress, ill health or merely from excessive exercise.

• Bleeding

Bleeding from the nose may occur after an accident, from a tumour, poisoning, constant sneezing from sinusitis or after violent exercise.

• Changes in colour

Changes in the colour of pigmentation of the nose are common but do not seem to indicate disease.

• Crusting

Crusting on top of the nose can be due to distemper or a fungal dermatitis.

• Discharges

A yellow discharge from both nostrils usually indicates an infection lower in the respiratory tract, such as pneumonia. This could result from distemper or the inhalation of medication into the lung.

Pus in both nostrils could also indicate a generalised infection of the sinus cavities of the head. Pus coming from one nostril indicates a local infection of the sinus on that side of the head, a decaying tumour in one of the sinuses or even a decaying tooth root. Offensive discharges often indicate that bony tissues are involved.


Many urban dogs suffer from overweight problems. This is the result of the excellent diets provided by the pet food industry coupled with the small territorial space allowed for most dogs. A vicious cycle is established once the dog begins to get fat. The overweight dog is lethargic, and later develops other health problems. These further discourage the exercise which would normally keep the dog slim by burning up energy.

In the wild, overweight animals would not survive as they would not be fast enough to catch their prey. As with human dieting, a rapid reduction in weight is dangerous. Record the weight of the dog by carrying it onto the bathroom scales and then subtracting your own weight. Establish the correct weight for your dog by contacting a breed society or your vet. Do not try to reduce the dog's weight by more than half a kilogram per week.

The following routine should be successful:

Give the dog access to plenty of water.

Seek out a balanced, good quality commercial dog foot that your dog does not find very palatable. Remember, the more moisture it has the more palatable it is. Dry dog foods (unmoistened) may therefore be your answer.

Feed one meal per day of this food, and nothing else. If the dog continues to overeat on the dry food diet, keep changing brands until you find a less palatable food, c: keep the dog's intake restricted.

Be sure the dog is not 'eating out' at the neighbour's place. Increase the dog's exercise—but slowly.

Keep the dog away from kitchens at meal-times and don': give any 'treats'.

Old Age

A dog's lifespan varies with the breed and weight of the dog. Larger breeds live shorter lives, usually eight to twelve years. Smaller breeds live between fifteen and twen-.. years, although toy dogs are relatively short-lived. There 1- no accurate method for determining the age of a dog afte: six months, when it has acquired a full set of teeth.

• Diet

In old age the number of calories required by the dog is reduced, but the preparation of the food becomes more important. The amount of calcium and phosphorus ma:. need to be increased to maintain the health of the dog's bones. Protein is essential. Carbohydrates should be cooked to break down the starch granules to help digestion, while vitamin supplements should be increased. Fe: the older dog you could prepare a diet of cooked cerea_ (oatmeal, wheat or rice), plus cooked meat, cottage cheese or boiled egg for added vitamins, but there is no need :_ change a dog to this diet unless it is not eating its norm., food. If the dog is ageing, losing its appetite and becoming thinner, it is important to upgrade the appeal of the diet

This can be done by adding more fresh meat. If the dog is fed on commercial rations, convert the dog to a tinned food rather than a dried food. Fats should be supplied onl\ in very small quantities. Good foods for old dogs include meat (especially white meat), fish, cottage cheese, poultry, cooked eggs and cooked cereals. These should be given as small, frequent meals, rather than one daily feed. In the same way, clean water should be offered frequently.

• Geriatric medicines

There are several medications available from your veterinary surgeon which will give the dog a lift in older age. Thee are particularly helpful for dogs suffering from geriatric conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, and cardiac and kidney troubles.

• Illness in old age

Large breeds in old age are often affected by arthritis and kidney troubles, more noticeably in cold climates. The dog may initially have difficulty rising, but after a few strides the gait becomes normal. In the early stages of illness the dog can be made more comfortable by keeping it in warm surroundings and possibly by the judicious use of analgesic or anti-inflammatory agents. Speak to your vet.

Many of the small toy breeds, such as Poodles and Cocker Spaniels, develop severe eye troubles in later life. Providing the dog is in its own familiar surroundings, it is usually able to lead a normal life. Care should be taken where the dog may be able to venture on to the road. Some eye conditions can be treated to return a little eyesight.

Heart conditions are particularly common in Poodles and Cocker Spaniels, and usually involve congestive heart failure. The signs exhibited by the dog are a cardiac cough brought on by excitement or exercise. Sometimes the dog may have an increased thirst and its abdomen appears to swell.

Signs of a kidney complaint are an increased thirst with frequent urination. The dog may also be lethargic.


Orchitis is an inflammatory condition of the testicles, usually caused by an injury, a kick or bruise; very occasionally it may be due to an infection by bacteria. The testicles are hot and painful, and the dog resents them being examined. If an abscess has formed, the dog's temperature may be elevated to about 40°C. As a first aid measure, the testicles may be fomented with epsom salts and warm water at the rate of a tablespoon to 6 litres. It is best to have the condition treated by a veterinary surgeon—usually with long-acting antibiotics and an antiinflammatory agent.


Osteochondrosis is an arthritic condition due to an abnc. mality in bone development which causes a delay in conversion of cartilage to bone. Sites commonly affecte... are the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hock joint.

Osteochondrosis has a breed and familial tendency, and is more common in overweight males. Breeds affected include Labradors, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, St Bernards, Retrievers, Irish Wolfhounds and English Setters. Clinical signs include a low-grade progressive lameness at four to eight months. There is usually pain on manipulation of the elbow and there may be reduced flexion of the joint. Surgical treatment appears to be helpful and prevents further progression of the osteoarthritis.

Patella luxation (Knee-cap dislocation)

Most cases of luxated patella in small breeds are due to displacement of the knee-cap towards the inside. The problem affects many small breeds, generally appearing at four to eight months. Initially the lameness is intermittent, but eventually the patella dislocates permanently and the lameness becomes persistent. Surgical correction is best


Pain is one of the earliest signs of disease. The pet may become restless, move constantly, refuse to stay in one place, roam and whimper. It may have a frightened expression, resent handling or forced movement of painful' parts.

• Acute pain

Sharp pain is usually associated with fractures, ruptures or torsion twisting of internal organs.

• Slowly developing pain

Gradually developing pain is associated with arthritis, tumours and inflammation, and here your observations may help the vet to make a diagnosis.

Although a dog may 'nurse' one part of the body—for example, a leg—it does not necessarily mean that the dog is in severe pain. Dogs can get along quite well on three legs, and sometimes even a minor complaint will make a dog carry its leg. However, it is always best to have a vet look at the dog to determine whether anything can be done for the injury or whether it is best left to rest. In some conditions, particularly after surgery, it is best that the dog does not use the affected part and therefore pain-killing drugs will not be used


Peritonitis is an inflammatory and sometimes infectious disease problem of the lining of organs and the internal abdominal wall. It is usually caused by septic penetration from either the gastrointestinal tract or the outside abdominal wall.

The animal will resent palpation of the abdomen, arch its back, be reluctant to move, have a fever and be off its food. In all cases the dog should be taken to the vet


Pleurisy is an inflammatory and infectious condition of the lining of the lungs and the wall of the thorax. The inflamed linings rub together during respiration and cause extreme pain. The problem requires veterinary attention.


Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs caused by infection, injury or by migration of parasites, especially in young animals. Signs of pneumonia include shivering, high temperature, loss of appetite, difficulty in breathing and a grunting sound with each breath. It is often possible to hear a 'grating' sound if you listen closely to the chest. Veterinary attention is essential.


The prostate gland is an accessory sexual gland in male dogs. When this becomes inflamed and enlarged, the condition is known as prostatitis. The dog, usually middle aged or older, has difficulty in passing motions; he squats for prolonged periods without success and often strains. He may be 'off' his food and tend to vomit.

The vet can confirm the diagnosis by rectal examination and institute treatment with injections of female hormones. Sometimes the enlargement is caused by a cancerous growth triggered off by ageing male hormones. Large doses of the female hormone reverse the process in the majority of cases. To avoid recurrences it is advisable to have the dog castrated.


Inflammation of a bitch's womb can result in a more serious disorder, pyometron, in which the womb is filled Pyometron Inflammation of a bitch's womb can result in a more serious disorder, pyometron.

Respiration rate increase

An increase in the respiratory rate occurs during fever, increased environmental temperature, pneumonia, pleurisy, congestion of the lungs caused by ticks or chronic heart failure, space-occupying lesions such as tumours or diaphragmatic hernia, where some of the abdominal contents may be in the thorax.


Rickets is a very rare disease, yet the term is frequently, but incorrectly, used to describe bone problems in larger breeds. Rickets is due to a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium and/or phosphorus. Provided an affected dog is given correct quantities of calcium and phosphorus, the condition can be somewhat alleviated.

It is rare in countries with plenty of sunlight, more prevalent in the northern hemisphere. Dogs with rickets develop abnormalities of their limbs, with the growth plates becoming enlarged and prominent. Affected dogs are inactive.


Excessive salivation can be caused by poisons, fits, car sickness or medications taken orally which can stimulate saliva production.


`Scooting' is the term used to describe the action of a dog as it pulls itself along the ground in a sitting position to relieve an irritation in the anal area. The irritation is caused by tapeworm fragments , compacted anal glands or itchiness around the anal sphincter.

The contents of infected anal glands may be forced out by holding the dog's tail in the left hand and, with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand held at eight o'clock and four o'clock positions over a pad of cotton-wool, squeezing inwards and upwards. Anal itchiness can be treated with calamine lotion, gentian violet, mercurochrome or triple dye.


Septicaemia is a condition where bacteria entering the bloodstream, sometimes from the gut or another infected source in the body, cause a generalised infection of the body. Localisation of the infection occurs in the joints, lungs, liver and kidneys. This is a very serious disease. The dog is obviously unwell, will have a fever, tends to lie in a cool place and will not eat or drink. Veterinary treatment must be given at once. Antibiotics are normally given intravenously initially to obtain a quick response to suppress the organisms circulating in the body.


Shivering is an involuntary movement of the muscles. It can be caused by cold, fever, eclampsia (milk fever), the initial stages of poisoning or fright.


Shock is a failure of the circulatory system resulting from injury or illness. It is commonly seen after motor vehicle accidents where there is severe internal or external bleeding.

It is a serious condition from which the animal rarely recovers without intensive veterinary care. Symptoms are weakness, loss piratory difficulty or failure, an particularly of the gums and Keep the animal warm and cc Stop external bleeding.

Skin Disorders

Skin problems in dogs are am yet most difficult areas of vete ysts Sebaceous cysts are formed in t upplies grease to a hair becom hese cysts often appear `chees: expressed or removed surgicalli worry the dog, there is no real FEET DISORDERS: INTERDIGITAL Eczema

Eczema is a general term used he skin. There are five commot allergic eczema, digital eczem eczema.

Acute moist eczema (hot spots. mer weather. The dog begins tc because of fleas or mites or, ir hydrate diet (bread, potatoes, p and bite at the area. Finally th( bacteria are able to establish a ation reveals an acute and pa This can occur within twentys devoid of hair, but sometim termingled with hair. These s rapidly; light-coloured dogs s Golden Retrievers, Corgis and particularly susceptible. Comm dog can scratch or lick—for ex around the jaw and on the hii alter the diet to eliminate any arbohydrate content, and tx ausative agents such as fleas, i. gland irritation. The affected thoroughly with an antibacteri, times. Each time, keep the shl for about fifteen minutes to Clip the surrounding hair so th gentian violet, mercurochrome to the area. Sometimes the les an irritate the dog severely. Staphylococcal dermatitis of the abdomen. vn position at 30 degrees to ong the most common and rinary practice.

Eczema appeared on the skin when the gland that is blocked.

Eczema is an inflammation of 3 types: acute moist eczema, dry eczema and scrotal ) that occurs in hot, humid sumscratch in a particular area some cases, a high carboorridge). If it can, it will lick skin is broken and surface moist dermatitis. Examininful circular moist patch. four hours. Usually the area es there may be a scab, ino- called 'hot spots' spread ch as Golden Labradors, golden-coloured Pugs are on sites are those where the ample, the base of the ears, -idquarters. Treatment is to possible allergies to a high- 3 eliminate any irritating nfections o f the ears or anal area should be washed al shampoo or soap several mpoo on the affected area 1 the staphylococcal germs. at an astringent dye such as or triple dye can be applied ions can be very large and n these cases a veterinary examination is warranted. Anti-inflammatory injections, together with antibiotics, may be necessary. Allergic eczema is one of the most common skin problems in warm countries. The allergic reaction may be because of fleas, mites, environmental vegetation such as grasses, or diet. Allergies to plants are the most troublesome; they may flare 'up every time the pet roams in the garden or only at certain times of the year. The types of vegetation most likely to cause allergies are wandering jew, paspalum, kikuyu and buffalo grass. Lesser irritations can result from allergies to straw, wool or nylon. Low-slung breeds such as Dachshunds, Corgis and Cocker Spaniels are more susceptible. An acute red rash will appear suddenly on the undercarriage, sometimes with angry pimples or larger infected areas. The dog scratches the affected area incessantly, setting up a self-inflicted cycle of injury. Treatment has two aims: to eliminate the allergic cause, and to break the self-inflicting cycle of events by the administration of antihistamine injections or tablets and the topical application of ointments or astringents.

Digital eczema This frequently occurs between the toes, where the dog licks because of some initiating cause, usually a grass allergy. The moisture and natural bacteria from the dog's tongue set up an inflammatory process. Sometimes the inflammation may be transferred to the muzzle. Frequently the pads become swollen, sore and painful. Treatment is the same as for allergic eczema Dry eczema This is one of the most difficult skin conditions to diagnose. The causes are often obscure and it seems to be more common in pedigreed dogs. Sometimes a diet high in starch or carbohydrate can be at fault. Symptoms are persistent scratching producing a dry, scaly area. Veterinary examination will be required to eliminate other possible causes such as mange mites, fleas and lice. Treatment is usually by anti-inflammatory injections and ointments, plus any other remedial measures prescribed by the veterinarian.

• Scrotal eczema

This is a moist dermatitis of the skin of the scrotum, seen particularly in Old English Sheepdogs and Chows. The large pendulous testicles in these breeds cause the overlying skin to stretch to a point where circulation is impaired, allowing dermatitis to become established. Treatment is the same as for acute moist eczema. If this is not effective castration is recommended.

• Fleas

Flea bite allergy is one of the main causes of skin problems in small animals. Fleas are wingless insects with legs adapted for jumping. They are not host-specific and go from one animal to another. Fleas are also the intermediate host for the flea tapeworm. The eggs are laid on the host animal from where they soon fall to the ground and infest the dog's environment. Depending on weather conditions, the egg can hatch in a few days to a few weeks. Vibration is needed for hatching, which explains why houses that have been empty for some time often suffer massive flea problems when they are reoccupied. The adult female flea can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifetime, which is usually two years. All dogs can play host to fleas, but ungroomed animals, particularly long-haired dogs, provide the ideal environment for fleas to congregate. The most common site for fleas is the base of the tail and forward along the back line, but in severe cases fleas will be seen all over the body. Flea bite allergic dermatitis: Note the black spots which are flea faeces.

Many animals become hypersensitive to the irritating bites. Symptoms of flea bite dermatitis include partial hair loss, red skin, flaky scaling and intense irritation, and in the later stages the hair becomes bristly around the tail area rather than soft. In severe cases the dog may be partially bald over the tail and back area with few hairs, and the skin becomes elephant-like. Large numbers of fleas and their droppings (little black spots) will be found if you `back-comb' the hair over the tail area. The dog also has an unpleasant smell.

Fleas breed in dust, debris and bedding material. It is essential for control to treat both the host and its surroundings. Other hosts such as rats and mice should be eradicated. Dogs should be clipped prior to treatment. Flea powders containing carbaryl, amitraz or Malathion should be used—the powder should be brushed into the dog's coat twice a week and any debris burnt. Alternatively, flea rinses may be used on a weekly basis. Flea collars are 95 per cent effective for periods of up to five months but they are rendered ineffective by immersion in water. Oral insecticides given in the form of tablets or liquids are also available—these are administered every third or fourth day.

Use only one of the above treatments at any one time. In general fleas spend only short periods on the host and therefore it is extremely important to treat the environment of the affected animals. In some cases it may be necessary to employ professional fumigators. Fleas can be controlled indoors by thorough vacuum cleaning to remove all debris and thorough spraying with an insecticide of all places offering shelter for adult fleas and larvae. This can be achieved by using a residual insecticidal spray around the skirting boards and under furniture. Fumigation may be carried out by placing flaked naphthalene on the floor at the rate of 2 kilograms per 10 square metres and leaving treated areas sealed for forty-eight hours.

Stables, kennels and the ground underneath the house should be treated for fleas. Treat all animals and eradicate rats and mice, clean up dust and burn surface litter. Sprinkle coarse salt on the soil and keep damp for two to three weeks. Spray lower walls and places that would provide shelter for fleas with insecticidal preparations.

• Mites

Several species of flies will attack dogs, the most trouble- some being the stable-fly' which is a particular nuisance during summer and autumn. It is a blood sucker, has a painful bite and is fond of ear tips. The usual signs are black, crusty sores on the tips and folds of the ear, with loss of hair over the affected areas. Fly-repellant ointments and lotions should be applied twice daily. Where possible keep your dog in a fly-proofed area during daylight hours. The ears should be cleaned and mercurochrome or triple dye applied to the ears twice daily

Once the initiating cause is eliminated the ears will heal. Long-haired dogs sometimes harbour maggots around the anal area or around infected wounds. Hair should be clipped away and the area cleaned. Visible maggots should be removed and the area dusted with insecticidal powder. Sertoli cell testicular tumour causing extensive hair loss in this terrier.

• Hair loss due to Cushing's Disease.

• Hormonal baldness

Hormonal baldness can occur in young pups at birth, often as the result of thyroid deficiency through lack of iodine in the mother's food. Supplementation of the pup's food with thyroid extract tablets, combined with small doses of iodine, is often effective.

The same condition can occur in females and is due to failure of the thyroid gland to produce sufficient thyroxin. The animal seems dull, the coat harsh, and bare patches appear under the throat, on the flanks and behind the thighs. Various tablets are available to rectify this problem. In whelping bitches a hormonal deficiency may cause the coat to fall out in patches especially around the rear. There is no itching. Hormonal injections may be used, but multihormone tablets give a good result.

In middle-aged to old-aged male dogs the hair may fall out along the back and sides, and the dog may become attracted to others of its own sex. This may be due to a sertoli cell tumour of the testicle. Sometimes all of the hair will fall out. The best cure is castration. A completely new coat often grows in twelve to fourteen weeks. In Cushing's disease, too much cortisone is produced by the body and the animal loses hair.

• Lice

Lice are small wingless insects (1-3 millimetres long) which live as permanent dwellers on the skin of the dog. They spread from dog to dog mainly by contact and are very host-specific. The females glue their eggs to hair fibres. Lice can be found on all parts of the body but prefer areas where the skin is folded, so the pendent ears of Spaniels and similar breeds are often infested. Usual signs are itchiness, redness of the skin, hair loss and trauma caused by the dog scratching. Biting lice are most common in puppies and in dogs that cannot groom themselves, while sucking lice are more prevalent in long-haired dogs.

Eradication of lice is easy because the complete life cycle is spent on the host. In a long-haired breed, clip the dog's coat back to the skin all over and wash the dog once a week with an insecticidal rinse, such as Malathion, Seven or Diazinon, -for four weeks.

Lick granuloma always occurs on the limbs in a convenient position for licking.

• Lick granuloma

This condition is brought on by the dog constantly licking a particular part of the body and causing ulceration. The most common sites are the forelegs and the outside of the hock region of the hindlegs. These are the areas which can be licked at leisure when the dog is lying down. The irritation can start from a small scratch or abrasion. Certain breeds such as Labradors, Boxers, Great Danes and Fox Terriers are particularly susceptible to this condition. As licking starts and perpetuates the problem, the first step is to prevent the dog licking the area. This can be done by bandaging, or by using an Elizabethan collar or a bucket over the dog's head. Treatment includes corticosteroid ointments, corticosteroid injections into the lesion, and in some cases cryothcrapy, where the skin over the affected area is deep frozen for several minutes. Sometimes surgical excision or radiation of the lesion is successful. Frequently these conditions are the result of boredom.

• Lumps under the skin

All lumps under the skin should be checked by a vet, particularly if they are increasing in size. Sometimes they are due to tumour formation but in many cases a fatty lump may appear in an obese dog. The latter are usually not harmful and in some cases can even fluctuate in size.

• Mites

These are found on or just below the skin surface. The most common are demodectic mange mites and sarcoptic mange mites (or scabies).

Demodectic mange mites These are microscopic mites which complete their life cycle deep in the sweat glands and hair follicles of the skin. Demodectic mange usually occurs in dogs under a year old, usually in short-haired breeds. Infection is by direct contact, so a bitch can transfer the mites to her pups during suckling. The most common lesion occurs around the eyes. The dog loses hair around the eyelids giving a bespectacled appearance. Other lesions can occur around the muzzle and back of the legs. There are two forms of demodectic mange: squamous, and pustular.

In the squamous form the hair falls out in patches and dry lesions appear which become inflamed and swollen. These patches appear as local areas around the eyes, muzzle folds, elbows, feet and neck. There is little evidence of irritation and the condition may remain static for several years. However, it may become generalised, with widespread hair loss accompanied by thickening of the skin. The pustular form of demodectic mange results from a secondary bacterial infection. The skin becomes thickened, wrinkled and inflamed, and is obviously itchy. Demodectic mange is hard to treat, and always req veterinary attention. You should first clip the dog. cleanse its skin with an agent such as Seleen, gene: -a available from pet shops, chemists and vets. Treatme7-. complicated; always take the advice of your vet. Sarcoptic mange (scabies).

Scabies: Note the flaking skin, and redness due to in lesions may not be sharply defined, and the coat has a moth-eaten appearance. There is also a dry form of scabies which occurs in young pups. Instead of the usual irritation accompanied by pustule formation, the skin becomes covered with large bran-like scales and the hair may lift off in large tufts. Although the diagnosis of the disease is difficult, treatment is quite simple. Insecticidal treatment with washes is highly effective. Scabies infection has become less common in urban areas as insecticides are in general use.

• Ringworm

Ringworm is fairly common in young puppies. The term `ringworm' is a misnomer in that the infecting organism is not a worm, but one of four types of fungus. The fungi live either on the skin surface or in the hairs of the affected area, and spread rapidly between puppies, particularly where there is poor feeding or overcrowding. The first signs of ringworm are scratching and biting of the skin. Examination reveals a round patch of crusty skin with the hairs falling out. Laboratory analysis of skin scrapings confirms the diagnosis. Because ringworm spreads rapidly, infected dogs should be quarantined from others. Children should be forbidden to handle the pet since all forms of dog ringworm can infect humans. The best treatment is to use antifungal tablets and washes..0intments alone are inadequate because the fungus will spread through the hair.

• Urticaria

Urticaria is a very common allergic condition. It affects pups and adult dogs of all ages and is usually the result of a bee or wasp sting. Fly bites, chemical toxins from some plants, or food preservatives can also cause the problem. The dog's head and the skin of the eyelids bulge and swell, making the dog look 'old'. Sometimes patches of skin become covered in lumps. In severe cases the dog has difficulty in breathing. The dog should be taken to the vet for an injection of antihistamine. Some relief at home is given by the application of household ammonia products.

• Warts

Warts are extremely common in dogs. In young animals they appear around the mouth and lips. In old dogs they can grow anywhere. Because warts are caused by a virus, they are usually self-limiting and finally fall off. Sometimes warts may cause mechanical interference in some parts of the body and may bleed. In these cases surgery is the answer.

Snake bite

Whether the dog survives a snake bite depends on the type of snake and the amount of venom the snake was able to inject into the animal. The dog's tough skin and hair make A benign skin tumour, a common problem on older dogs. it difficult for the snake's fangs to penetrate, particularly if the dog is moving around. Symptoms are trembling, vomiting, salivation, diarrhoea, weakness in the back legs, dilated pupils, slow or absent light reflexes of the pupils, respiratory distress, bloody urine, continuous bleeding from the wound where the snake has bitten and a flaccid paralysis progressing to coma or to respiratory failure. Reaction to the bite can be sudden. Sometimes the animal will collapse soon after being bitten, recover almost completely within half-an-hour, then begin to show other symptoms.

In other cases the symptoms may not develop for some time. The key signs are weakness or paralysis in the back legs and dilated pupils. Blood takes a long time to clot. Sometimes snake bite may be confused with tick bite, poisoning by organo-phosphorus insecticides, or an acute infectious disease such as canine hepatitis or leptospirosis. In treating snake bite it is helpful to know the type of snake responsible so that the correct antivenene can be administered—but don't put your own life at risk. The principles of treatment are:

Neutralise the venom with antivenene.

Treat locally: wash the wound and apply a firm wide bandage if the bite is on a limb, - but do not cut the site of the bite. Keep the dog calm and take it to the vet as soon as possible.

Provide general supportive measures for shock, paralysis and loss of blood. Keep the dog warm on the way to the veterinarian.

Snail bait

Two common generic compounds are carbamate and metaldehyde. Symptoms of poisoning are lack of co A poison bait — bread laced with blue snail bait. ordination, anxiety and muscle tremors which sometimes become severe muscle spasms. These symptoms are similar to strychnine poisoning but spasms are not accentuated by auditory or physical stimulation.

Spider bite

Spider bite should be treated in the same way as SNAKE BITE. The symptoms can be similar.


Staggering can be due to a number of different causes: concussion or trauma caused by motor vehicle accident; disc lesion or disc protrusion, which may affect the nerves to the back legs; severe constipation; spondylosis, which usually occurs in the aged dog and particularly in large breeds—it is caused by calcified joints in the back impinging on the nerves to the back legs; tick paralysis; tranquillisation from drugs; or weakness caused by other disease.


Straining can be due to: constipation; blocked anal glands; diverticulum; faecal matting in long-haired dogs; prostatitis; or urinary blockage


Some rat poisons and some of the older patent medicines contain this substance, although strychnine poisoning in urban areas is usually the work of a dog hater. When this happens, several dogs in one area are usually poisoned at the same time.

This form of poisoning should be suspected when a mature, healthy dog suffers from shortness of breath, blue mucous membranes, stiffness of the limbs and throwing back of the head. The animal can be stimulated into a fit by sudden loud noises near the ears or by slapping the body. Spasms increase in intensity until respiratory paralysis and death occur. Take the dog immediately to a vet; this is an emergency.


This is rarely seen in dogs.

Tail injuries

Injuries to the tip of the tail are usually caused by a young dog chasing its tail and biting it, or a dog catching its tail in a door. The happy dog wags its tail, bumping it on tables, doorposts and other objects, thus continually reopening the wound and stopping healing. Bandage the tail with adhesive bandage until it heals or, if this fails, take the dog to the vet to have the tail cauterised.

Tail Kinks

This usually occurs in puppies as the result of a dislocated joint in the tail. The joint can be reset and splinted under anaesthetic, but if left untreated will cause the dog no problem. The only reason for treating a kinked tail is cosmetic

Tail Limp

Sometimes a dog that normally carries its tail elevated will have a limp tail. This can be because of bruising or fractures at the base of the tail, or infected anal glands.


There are several species of ticks; but the most important to dog owners is the paralysis tick, which lives on warmblooded fauna such as bandicoots, possums and other scrub-dwelling animals. Domestic animals and humans are accidental hosts, dogs and cats being the most susceptible.

A fully engorged female can produce a single batch of between 2000 to 3000 eggs within seven to fourteen days of falling from a host. After hatching, the larvae become active within seven days and attach to a host. At this stage they are very small. After four to six days they drop off and go into a second growth stage and finally into adulthood. Infestations can occur at any time of the year if conditions are suitable, but usually they are confined to the spring and Life cycle of the tick.

Spastic behaviour of a dog affected by tick poisoning. summer. The tick population in any year is usually governed by the previous year's rainfall and temperature variations. The main sign of a dog suffering from tick bite is paralysis, beginning at the hindlegs, moving to the front legs and then to the respiratory system.

Progressive signs to be watched for are: the dog is reluctant to walk up a flight of stairs or jump into a car; the dog may have a slight wobbliness or weakness in the hindlegs; vomiting; depression; pupil dilation; loss of control of the hindlegs, with partial loss of foreleg co-ordination; salivation; respiration becomes laboured and more frequent; as paralysis becomes advanced, barking ceases; increased blood pressure in conjunction with decreasing and irregular heartbeat.

The cause of these reactions is not yet fully understood, as the chemical structure of the toxin has not yet been identified, but it is strong enough to paralyse cats, calves, sheep, foals and even humans. The interval between the attachment of the tick and the onset of weakness in the hindquarters is up to four days, although in some cases clinical signs may not be seen until all the ticks have engorged and dropped off. If partly engorged ticks are removed, paralysis may still occur one or two days later, depending on the amount of toxin that has already been injeaed. In these cases the attachment site is seen as a raised crater-like swelling.

Removal of engorged ticks from an otherwise normal dog does not mean that the dog is out of danger. Enough toxin may already have been injected into the dog to cause its death. Tick toxin is as dangerous as snake bite. A dog bitten by a paralysis tick can die if not taken to a vet for full assessment immediately. Even if a tick is removed as soon as the first symptoms are noticed, the dog has only a 50 per cent chance of recovery without further treatment. The toxin can take up to two days to have its full effect. The longer the delay between the appearance of the symptoms and the giving of anti-toxin injections, the greater the risk to the dog's life. Therefore, take the dog to the vet for antitoxin immediately.

Ticks can be found on any part of the body, but 80 per cent are found between the nose and the shoulders. Areas such as the toes, the external ear canal and inside the anus and mouth should be thoroughly searched. Once the tick has been found, place a pair of tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently pull the tick out. If the mouth parts are left in the skin, do not worry; they will fester out. Another tick cannot grow from them. Do not place methylated spirits on the tick or cut the tick's body, as these methods allow a very angry tick to continue to inject toxin in its saliva into the dog's body. When searching for ticks always remove collars or leads. Dogs in tick danger areas may need to be clipped all over every summer and an antitick wash applied weekly. Dogs affected by ticks should be bathed in an insecticidal wash to help kill any ticks. But don't rely on this method—hand searching is the only effective means.

To control tick infestation certain steps should be taken regularly to protect your pet.

Bathe the dog weekly in an anti-tick wash and use a flea collar. These two methods will help reduce tick infestation but they are not foolproof.

Search your dog every day, particularly around the head and shoulders, remembering to remove collars and leads before you start.

Eliminate any thick undergrowth from around your home and discourage fauna such as possums and bandicoots which are major intermediate hosts for the tick.


Tonsillitis occurs most frequently in toy breeds such as Poodles and Maltese Terriers. The symptoms are lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and a slight cough. The condition can be alleviated by antibiotics, but repeated bouts will require removal of the tonsil tissue by surgery. Once the tonsils have been removed in dogs where they are causing a problem, the difference is remarkable.


Toxaemia is any condition in which the blood contains toxic products. These can be produced by the body cells or caused by the growth of organisms. The clinical signs of toxaemia vary widely and depend on the type of toxin involved.

Generally, the dog will be lethargic, off its food, and the mucous membranes of the eyes and gums may be red rather than pink.

Toxic conditions are usually dangerous and any dog suspected of having toxaemia should be given urgent veterinary attention.

Tumours are the result of an abnormal development of cells within the body, whose growth does not conform with the laws of tissue differentiation. Tumours may be classified as benign or malignant. Benign tumours usually grow slowly and are restricted to the point where they first develop. They may cause damage to surrounding tissues but usually don't invade the neighbouring areas. Surgical removal is usually satisfactory. Malignant tumours usually grow rapidly and spread to neighbouring tissues; they can develop in other parts of the body after being carried by the circulation. Surgical removal of malignant tumours rarely completely removes the cancerous development.

Sometimes malignant tumours, if near the surface of the the skin. S.:me tunIc :espcnd to radiation therapy.

others to drugs. Most require surgical removal. Veterinary treatment is essential and should be started as early as possible. There is a tendency on the part of owners to delay the first veterinary consultation as they are afraid of being told that the condition is incurable.

Tumours of the testes

Tumours of the testes are not uncommon, though as a rule only one testicle is involved. The testicle is hard and solid, yet not painful. It usually occurs in older dogs and is much more frequent in undescended testicles. The only effective treatment is castration.

Undescended testicles

Undescended testicles are fairly common, particularly in the toy breeds. An owner should not worry about this condition until the dog is nine months old. Then the testicles become prone to tumour formation and should be removed.

This condition is hereditary.


As;nom uterine inertia, this condition is generally due to an obstruc- --- -Lion by a twisted or deformed pup. The bitch strains repeatedly and strongl\ . but is unproductive. Again, a caesarian section is necessary.

Urine disorders

The urine is often a good indication of the condition of the animal. Normal urine is a light clear yellow.

Dark or bloody urine can indicate infection of the bladder (cystitis).

Bladder stones can cut the inside of the bladder wall, releasing blood into the urine. Cloudy urine means there is an abnormality.

Increased frequency is usually accompanied by thirst. The causes include DIABETES, DIARRHOEA, FEVER, HEART DISEASE and KIDNEY DISEASE. If an animal is showing signs of urinary disease, a 30-millilitre specimen should be collected in a clean vessel for veterinary inspection. This is best done by locking the dog up overnight and walking it on a lead the next morning with container at the ready. Take the sample to the vet within four hours.

INCONTINENCE usually occurs in desexed females. They unconsciously urinate while lying down. This can be because of a bladder infection or a hormone deficiency.

Urinary tract blockage

Blockage should be suspected when the dog strains to urinate but passes only a few drops. Sometimes the urine is discoloured. Usually the cause is stones in the bladder. In the male dog these may enter the urethra and pass through to block the urethral tract in the penis. The condition is extremely painful and the dog should be taken to the vet.

Uterine Inertia

The bitch fails to strain after breaking water, and generally looks uncomfortable. After a few hours she passes a blackish-green discharge, but no pups_ This is a sign that the afterbirths are separating and she should be taken to a vet immediately. Contractions of the uterus may be stimulated by injections, but if this doesn't work, a caesarian section is necessary to save both pups and bitch.


The history of the vomiting attack is important to your vet when making a diagnosis and treating the animal. Is the vomiting related to eating? How many times a day does the dog vomit? Is the vomited food digested or not? What colour is the vomited matter? If possible, take a sample of the vomit to the vet when you take your dog.

Apparently healthy dogs vomit from time to time. If this happens once every fourth or fifth day and the dog appears completely normal in every other way, there is no need for concern. Dogs will sometimes eat grass for medicinal purposes and then vomit. This may be the dog's method of internal cleansing.

In :he dog. - a — zommc: diseases. Vomiting is centre in !raw which can be stimulated b y disagreeable tastes c: toxins, drugs. infections and poisons. Prolonged VOIldrZLIZ 111 very weakening for the dog and it is important to diars:Ne and treat the cause as quickly as possible. In young puppies vomiting can be caused by dilation of the tract between the throat and the stomach. This condition can be controlled by making the dog stand on its hind legs to Mt and giving it small quantities at a time, several times a dm, The puppy will eventually grow out of it.

Vomiting can also be caused by: an acute abdonibuil condition caused by pancreatitis or peritonitis; swallow a bone or other object which causes a blockage in the it testinal tract; a deep internal wound or ruptured or pa.. possibly after a car accident.

Diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, infected Wealt (pyometra), septicaemia, or kidney disease can also car vomiting.

Drugs—when a dog commences to vomit while on dram the drugs should be suspected immediately. Digitalis (hew: tablets), for example, given to excess cause vomitin g. ,S:z.ar the tablets for a day and then commence with half recommended dosage. To prevent the build-up of the d..--uf in the dog's system, only give the tablets six days a week. Certain antibiotics and morphine can cause vomiting. a any such case it is always best to consult your veterinarin. about the problem.

Dry retching or coughing as if the dog has a bone - in its throat is typical of the virus 'kennel cough'. Indigestion, overeating, bad food (particularly if a dog likely to dig up old bones or meat) and poison. Nervous problems such as car or motion sickness , lesions within the brain.

Ticks—one of the initial signs of tick poisoning is vorn_.- ing and salivation.

Weight changes

Small dogs can be weighed on ordinary householc. kitchen scales. Put a towel on the scales first. Larger dogs can be weighed on bathroom scales. The simplest method is to carry the dog on to the scales am:: then subtract your own weight.

Wobbler syndrome

Wobbler syndrome is associated with an abnormality of the spine in conjunction with compression of the spinal cord. It is a problem in Bassets, Dobermans and Great Danes. The breed incidence suggests that the problem ME y be inherited.

The dogs usually have inco-ordination of the hind-limbs. They may knuckle the foot and fall over when turning sharply. All four limbs may be affected. Most cases occur at five to nine years of age. Treatment is not particularly successful, although various methods have been tried.

To give your dog the best care purchase a dog health care guide and learn how to prevent common dog diseases and feed your dog properly

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