Canine Husbandry

This page contains general information on important canine health issues. For further information on veterinary matters, please contact your local AVA vet.

Immunisation
All dogs should be immunised each year against Parvovirus, Hepatitis & Distemper, although some vets will also immunise against Canine Cough at the same time.

Why is immunisation important?
The answer is simple. Responsible Dog Ownership. Without immunisation, your dog is susceptible to these life threatening diseases that can also be spread to other dogs.

Puppy Immunisation
All puppies sold in the state of Victoria must have a temporary Distemper/Parvovirus immunisation, between 6 – 8 weeks of age. This is usually the responsibility of the breeder, pet shop or other pet trader.

The next immunisation for puppies occurs between 12 – 14 weeks of age and consists of Distemper, Parvovirus and Hepatitis. This cocktail of immunity, may be what is known as a C4 injection (containing a basic immunisation against Canine Cough, or a C5 injection (containing a broader spectrum immunity for Canine Cough).

Finally at 16 weeks of age the puppy should return to the vet for another C5 booster if it had this previously. These boosters must be kept up annually to ensure your puppy stays healthy and disease free throughout its adult life.

What is Distemper, Parvovirus and Hepatitis?
All these diseases are potentially fatal to dogs, in particular Parvovirus.
Distemper is a disease that causes symptoms of gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, respiratory problems and also neurological problems.

This can affect a dog’s coordination causing unsteadiness, loss of balance and if untreated, death. Furthermore, even after a dog has been treated for the disease, there may some residual symptoms remaining.

Hepatitis is basically the same disease that can afflict humans. It causes severe gastroenteritis and can be fatal to dogs just as in humans.

Parvovirus or Parvo, is by far the most ruthless of these three diseases that can afflict puppies and adult dogs alike. Its symptoms consists of acute Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis that subsequently strips the lining off the gut. This causes the dog to vomit blood and blood matter in its faeces. Dogs are generally depressed and lethargic. This is an extremely lethal disease that can be fatal if not diagnosed soon and treated by a veterinarian.

How do dogs contract these diseases?
Basically through other dogs’ body fluids. i.e. Vomit, urine, faeces and saliva. However, the Parvovirus is the most resilient of the three. Parvo can remain in the environment for up to 12 months. It survives in the soil and consequently can become, to some extent, airborne via dust particles.
Moreover foxes can carry the disease and considering that foxes are becoming more urbanised, it provides a very distinct danger to the domestic dog.
So please, remember to vaccinate your dog, for its’ sake and every other dog’s.
For further information on immunisation, call your local veterinarian.

Fleas

What exactly is a flea?
Fleas are fast moving insects that infest the hair coat of animals and feed on blood by biting them. There are several species of fleas that attack most animals and sometimes humans. This is why all animals in the household, ie. cats and dogs, must be treated at the same time.

What happens when a flea bites?
The bite can create irritation to the dog’s skin and subsequently, flea bite allergy. This can cause severe dermatitis (eczema). Moreover, fleas can spread tapeworm, cause loss of weight, anaemia and spread disease from animal to animal. Fleas can also build up in the family home, yard or other environment and can bite humans.

Why are fleas difficult to control?
This is usually because an infestation can consist of each stage of the flea’s life cycle. Therefore, all stages must be combated, otherwise the cycle will continue.
No one product can kill fleas at every stage of development, although most flea products kill the adult fleas which represents only 5% of the total flea population.

How do we treat a flea infestation?

By treating:
a) The environment and
b) The animal.

Flea Sprays are an effective means of control in dogs and cats. However, effectiveness is reduced in dense or long coated dogs. Most sprays contain pyrethrins and are very safe for animals.

Rinses and Shampoos contain two compounds used to kill fleas.
1) Organophosphates and 2) Pyrethrins and synthetic Pyrethroids.

Organophosphates have been commonly used for may years and have a distinct milky white appearance when added to water. They can be quite toxic if used improperly.

Pyrethrins on the other hand, are derived from the Chrysanthemum plant and are consequently much safer for the animal, environment and humans.

Flea Collars should only be used on animals 3 months and over. The collar slowly releases its active ingredient which then spreads throughout the dog’s coat. The collar may lose its effectiveness if the environment is heavily contaminated.

Flea Powders have less than average effect and should be used twice weekly. Any excess powder should be wiped off with a damp cloth to avoid ingestion by the dog. Flea powders are suitable for puppies that may be too young for sprays or rinses.

Tiguyon Spotton is a liquid preparation that is applied in a droplet form to the skin on the nape of the dog’s neck. The active drug is then dispersed via the fatty layer of the skin. This is a simple effective method of controlling fleas, particularly in long coated dogs.

Oral Preparations can be used to treat adult fleas or against the flea eggs. Program is a monthly, oral flea treatment, which prevents the flea egg from hatching. In large infestations, results may not be seen for at least 2-3 months. In this case, it is still important to continue with other topical and oral flea treatments. Program is an excellent environmental treatment for long term flea control.

Environmental Control must be considered for a total flea control system. This means treating the areas which your dog frequents. If indoors, thorough vacuuming and sweeping, particularly carpeted areas and changing the dog’s bedding on a weekly basis. All bedding must be washed in a washing machine on a hot cycle. If outside, spray affected areas with a suitable spray product and ensure you restrict your dog’s access under the house.

Please note: The products chosen need to be tailored to your individual situation. Furthermore the treatment plan should be discussed and formulated by your veterinarian to best suit you and your pet needs.

Internal Parasites (Worms)

What are they?
Fundamentally, they are parasitic creatures that live inside the dog’s intestines but can spread to the liver, spleen and lungs.
All dogs, both adult and puppies, can be afflicted by intestinal worms, commonly known as roundworms. Roundworms include, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. As well as these types of worms, the biggest danger to dogs is heartworm.

Why are they dangerous to my dog’s health?
Worms can cause a loss of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting. anaemia and consequently a loss of weight. In severe cases, if left untreated, can cause death to the animal.

Can humans get worms from a dog?
Absolutely. This is why you should not allow dogs to lick your face and why hygiene is of paramount importance after handling dogs.

How do dogs get worms?
Larvae is usually transmitted dog to dog, or by foxes, cats or other animals faeces.

How and when do I treat my dog for worms?
Every three months by using a multi spectrum all wormer. The reason worming must be done this frequent, is due to differing life cycles of each worm type. There are many products on the market, but seek advice from your veterinarian.

Should puppies be treated for worms?
Yes, all puppies must be treated for worms every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then on a monthly basis until 6 month of age. After 6 months of age, puppies may be treated the same as adult dogs. i.e. every three months. The best type of worming preparation is an all wormer brand. Once again it is important to seek veterinarian advice on this issue.

What is Heartworm?
The actual worm is a round worm, which as an adult, lives in the right side of the dog’s heart. This can cause fatigue and even death in dogs.
Fundamentally, this type of worm causes the arteries in the lung to inflame and obstructs blood vessels. This in turn can interfere with the blood supply to vital organs.

How do dogs get this disease?
It is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquito bite. This deposits larvae under the skin which begin to penetrate to the dog’s blood vessels and subsequently move to the heart.

How do I treat Heartworm?
First by early detection. If your dog has never had heartworm treatment, you must seek the help of your vet first. Your vet will diagnose by a simple blood test, whether the parasite is present. From there, your vet will advise on the best course of action.

There are many types of Heartworm treatments available. Some are given daily, although this could become onerous, and some are given monthly. Your vet can provide further information on these treatments

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