Keeping your dog healthy and well depends on providing the right balance of food and exercise, enriching your dog’s lifestyle, and keeping an eye out for the signs of injury and illness and taking your dog to the vet promptly if they become sick.
Preventative healthcare is also really important, and this means planning ahead to identify and mitigate problems that might threaten your pet’s health in the future – such as by giving them the appropriate flea and worming treatments, and neutering them unless you intend to breed from them.
However, whilst most dog owners pride themselves on their vigilance and conscientious efforts to take care of their pet’s health, there are still a number of common misconceptions about different types of preventative healthcare that can compromise the health of dogs whose owners believe them.
In this article we will look at seven common misconceptions that many dog owners have about various aspects of preventative healthcare for dogs, and the truth behind them. Read on to learn more.
Fleas tend to be more prolific and spread more quickly throughout dog populations during the spring and summer months of the year, but they don’t die off or become dormant when the weather cools off – which means that dogs need to be flea treated all year round.
Whilst fleas aren’t as prolific or active when it is cold, dogs provide a warm and comfortable host for parasites, and they can and will multiply in large numbers even in the winter. Also, because most of us have central heating and warm homes, the seasonal changes that initially caused the misconception that dogs don’t need flea treatment in the winter is certainly not relevant today, if it ever was.
Even if you flea treat your dog regularly and check them with a comb to ensure that there are no fleas present on them, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the same can be said for your home. Fleas can live and breed in carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings, and remain viable during the larvae stage of life for many months if conditions don’t support their development.
Use a home flea treatment product to ensure that your home is flea-free, and wash soft furnishings and your dog’s bedding regularly, at a hot enough temperature to kill parasites.
Most dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered as standard today, other than those that intend to breed from their dogs. There is a lot less resistance to neutering these days than there used to be, and it can be hard for many dog owners to reach the decision that neutering is a good choice, partially due to the misconception that neutering changes the dog’s personality.
Your dog will still be your dog when they are neutered, and it won’t change them into something else – but they will be less prone to a wide range of different reproductive health conditions, and also, less likely to stray, fight, or act out due to their hormones.
Most of us give our dogs a few treats every day, and treats are an excellent training tool as well as a way to show our dogs that we love them. However, treats contain calories and feeding too many of them can cause your dog to pile on the pounds, even if they are fed a proper balanced diet that is carefully measured out for each meal.
It is a good idea to set out a portion of treats that your dog can have throughout the day, and to deduct the added calories that they will provide from their set daily food portion to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
A very widespread and very untrue misconception about dogs is that it is normal or even expected that they will have bad breath. Your dog’s breath might smell of their last meal, but it should never be strong or foul – and if it is, this indicates dental disease and gum decay, both of which will be painful and unpleasant for your dog, and make it hard for them to eat.
Ideally, dogs should have their teeth cleaned several times a week to prevent dental problems in later life, and this is something you should begin doing while your dog is still young. If your dog’s breath is bad, they might need a sedated veterinary dental procedure to sort out their dentition and restore their teeth and gums to functional good health.
Scooting or dragging the back end along the ground is something that most of us have seen dogs do at some point, and this generally indicates either the presence of worms, or an anal gland impaction. Both of these things can be harmful to your dog’s health and potentially painful and uncomfortable, and scooting is a warning sign that your dog has a problem that they need your help to resolve.
Some dogs are more prone than others to getting impacted anal glands, which is naturally a fairly unpleasant thing to sort out, but it should not be considered normal or left untreated.
Dogs should be wormed regularly – generally every three months, although you may need to dose your dog more often if they are prone to picking up worms from wildlife or by eating unpleasant things they find out and about!
However, just because your dog has been wormed on schedule doesn’t mean that they won’t contract worms in between doses. Wormers don’t offer protection against worm infestations after the fact like flea treatments do for fleas – they only kill worms that are present at the time of treatment, and don’t serve as prevention between doses.
If you suspect your dog has worms or is prone to doing things that raise their risk of catching worms, they may need to be wormed again, but you should speak to your vet before giving them another dose to ensure that this is appropriate.