Dogs are glorious creatures with each and every one of them boasting their own unique characters. The majority of owners know how important it is to feed their canine pals a healthy well-balanced, nutritious diet and that having their vaccinations kept up to date is crucial to their well being. It is also important to regularly worm dogs and treat them from any nasty external parasites too. However, what many dog owners don't realise is just how important socialisation is to their pet's health and how poorly socialised dogs can suffer health-wise.
Our canine friends when poorly socialised tend to be nervous around things and people they don't know or are not familiar with. When a dog is scared, neurological signals are sent around the body and hormones are secreted by a variety of glands. One of which is adrenalin which increases a dog's heart rate and their breathing increases dramatically too. On top of this a dog's blood pressure rises in anticipation of what might be about to happen as they decide whether they should stand and fight or take flight and run.
Other hormones namely corticosteroids add to the mix increasing heart rate and blood pressure as well a dog's responsiveness and awareness. However, corticosteroids are known to decrease blood flow to vital organs namely the kidneys and intestines. They also help breakdown muscle mass and worst still they suppress a dog's immune system which means dog's are more susceptible to many diseases.
When all this is added up and then other normal things which a well socialised dog would take in their strides are added to the mix, it can result in a dog suffering a "chronic stress hormone" release which all too often is seen in poorly socialised dogs. This can have a very negative impact on their overall health and well being.
When dogs get sick a vet needs to carry out a thorough examination in order to establish what is wrong and to make a correct diagnosis. In some cases, vets just cannot carry out a much needed examination on a poorly socialised dog simply because it is too dangerous to do so. A muzzle can be placed on a dog, but this means a vet would not be able to examine their gums or to check if there are any dental issues that need treating.
A dog that struggles makes things very hard for a vet and this is especially true when they need to check a dog's lungs and heart. It also makes it nigh on impossible for a vet to check joints and abdominal organs. However, by far the worst scenario is that dogs when they are completed stressed out, run the risk of experiencing a life threatening condition known as heart arrhythmia.
The problem is that if a dog has to be sedated in order to undergo a thorough examination, vets cannot properly carry out specific and vital tests which all need to be done before a dog is anaesthetised.
If a dog needs to be hospitalised, veterinary nurses and other staff would need to be able to look after them and check their condition. If a dog won't let anyone near them, it could prove impossible to check them over and all because the dog was not correctly socialised when they were young.
Dogs that are poorly socialised make a simple exercise routine very hard to do and instead of it being a really enjoyable experience, it becomes something that owners can really begin to dread. This is particularly true of larger dogs which if not well socialised are too strong to manage. Problem dogs tend to be given less exercise and as such they don't tend to be as healthy or as fit as they should be and this in turn means they are more at risk of becoming overweight which can lead to all sorts of other health issues.
It goes without saying that a poorly socialised dog is not going to be groomed as much as they should be and there are lots of breeds that need regular grooming to maintain a good coat and healthy skin. An owner may be able to give their pet a quick brush but it would be impossible for their dog to be professionally groomed. This could be a real problem if ever the dog contracted some sort of skin complaint!
Sedating a dog in order to groom them is not an option because all too often a dog may well become more aggressive which puts everyone in danger. Vets would never recommend sedating a dog that needs to be professionally groomed and a dog that's been poorly socialised would not allow a stranger near them to make sure their coats and skin are kept in good condition.
Gone are the days of not socialising a puppy until they have had all their vaccinations because puppies are 16 weeks old by the time these are completed. Puppies need to be socialised from 3 to 12 weeks old and this includes meeting people, going to strange new places and seeing other puppies and older dogs. Some dog trainers recommend that puppies need to learn 7 new things each and every week right up until they are anything from 12 to 16 weeks old and that puppy obedience has to start straight away.
Research has shown that pups that have just had their first vaccinations are not at greater risk of catching parvovirus than a fully vaccinated pup when they meet up in a socialisation class. Studies have also shown that the key to better canine health is for pups to be well socialised from a very young age.