Dogs

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Choosing a Puppy

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Vaccination

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Heartworm

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Toilet Training you Dog

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Neuter and Spey

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Nutrition Dog

 

Choosing a Puppy

 

It can be difficult, choosing a family pet. Not only will it be difficult, trying to pick one out of a litter of cute, eager-eyed puppies…but trying to ascertain which one will be the best for your family personality-wise is also difficult. This list doesn’t claim to be exhaustive, but these are the basic guidelines one can follow in picking the newest addition to the family:

1. Eyeball

- Look at the litter from afar. Note which puppies seem to hang back, away from the rest of the litter. This could either be a personality issue or trait, or a health one. Also take note of how the other pups are behaving- are they playing, fighting, growling. Which pup appears to be the most dominant one and whilst that is probably the healthiest, it also has the potential to develop a very strong and possibly aggressive personality.

- If this is a very young litter still suckling off their mother, note which pup is most aggressive in pushing his mates aside, and which one can’t attach. It’s a general rule that the pups suckling on the teats closer to the mother’s head are the stronger and healthier ones. The runt usually gets the last teat, if at all. It can be tempting to then adopt the runt out of pity, but beware as these can often present with many health problems in the future.

2. Head to Toe

- Examine the puppy’s face. Make sure the eyes and nostrils are clean, ie there isn’t any excessive discharge. The eyes are bright and attentive. Gently open it’s mouth and visualize the hard palate (roof of the mouth), making sure it is solid with no fissure or gap. Depending how old your puppy is when being inspected, there should be several teeth present and they should be well aligned and the gums a rosy pink.

- Examine its ears, making sure you can see the canals on either side, and that there are no strange growths or abnormalities.

- Gently but firmly run your hands down the puppy’s neck, shoulders, back and rump, checking to see that there are no sore spots. Also run your hands up against the grain of the fur to check the skin, making sure there are no red spots, or dry scaly lesions that may indicate ectooparasitic or fungal infections.

- Visualise the anal region, and check to see that you can see the anus as some puppies can be born without one. Also check the genitalia to see that it appears normal, and is present. In young male dogs the testicles may not have descended yet so do not be surprised if you cannot locate them when palpating your puppy.

- Lift each foot up and check to see that there are no raw patches, or scaly lesions on its feet, and in between its toes, which again may indicate the presence of external parasites such as mites or fleas, or fungal dermatitis.

If all checks up well, you’re on your way to owning a good, and health puppy.

3. If this is a pedigree dog, it would be wise to meet its parents if possible, or see their papers. This will help greatly in allowing you to see what your dog will look like, and behave like in the future; as well as preparing you for any possible diseases or deformities such as hip dysplasia or heart conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask the breeder for this information, as any good breeder should be willing and happy to discuss the welfare of their dogs.

4. Most importantly, watch how the puppy interacts with you, and your family. If you have children, it might be a good idea to bring them along in order to see how the dog takes to them. Some dogs do not like children, or can have a lower tolerance for rough play and should therefore be avoided. A good dog is one who adores attention, is patient and is eager to approach you. Any puppy that starts to bite you soon after meeting you may be one that will develop more aggressive tendencies, if not towards you, towards strangers or people it deems lower in the hierarchy.

It obviously can be difficult to gain a clear and complete picture on the first visit, especially if the puppy has just eaten and is sleepy. But taking great care in choosing your pet, which will become part of the family, is worth the effort.

Many dogs that have been abandoned are those that come from owners who did not make the effort to understand the relationship required between a dog and his owner/s, and who lack the education in acquiring an appropriate pet that they can handle. Any pet is a living creature and deserves the best care and attention, and we need to understand and grasp the severity of adopting an animal into our care. Animals cannot tell us what they need, and therefore it takes a very committed, conscientious and caring owner to decipher their needs and meet them. If you feel you or the person you may be purchasing the animal for is not ready for such a high commitment, it would be wiser to hold off on the acquisition till you have thought this through thoroughly.

And if this is something you truly wish to experience to the fullest, learning to care for and love another being, then congratulations on finding your newest family member! It’s all fun from here!  

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Dog Vaccination

 

Congratulations! You have a new member to the family! While this time of getting to know your new puppy, and letting them get to know you is often fun, there is a serious side to the welfare of your pup.

Vaccinations

All puppies come into the world with almost no immunity to the pathogens present in their new world. Soon however, they pick up antibodies from their mothers’ milk and are able to fend for themselves for a while. However as they are weaned off this protective milk, they need to start making their own antibodies. This can be encouraged in a safe and efficient way by vaccinating them against the specific diseases known to affect, and even kill, young dogs such as your pup.

This is done at 3 monthly intervals, beginning at week 6-8, then again at week 10-12, and finally at week 14-16.

The main pathogens, or diseases a puppy needs to be vaccinated for are Canine Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, leptospirosis, Kennel Cough or Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis caused by multiple pathogens, among which are the adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus and and Bordetella bronchiseptica; and coronavirus.

CANINE DISTEMPER

What causes it?

A virus called simply Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

How can my dog catch it?

Infected dogs are highly contagious and this virus is spread through saliva, urine, faeces, eye and respiratory discharges. Puppies between the age of 3 and 6 months, and dogs whose immune systems are down are the most susceptible.

How can I tell if my dog has it?

An infected dog will display clinical signs such as weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, discharge around the eyes and nose, then as these signs start to resolve, neurological signs develop such as seizures, weakness in all 4 limbs, hypersensitivity to touch etc. The neurological signs present in dogs with poor immune systems.

There are many different forms of the disease, the manifestation of which depends largely on the strain of the virus and the immune status of the individual.

How do we treat it?

Treatment is often non-specific and the prognosis is poor if neurological signs are displayed.

Prevention by vaccination is the best and safest option.

CANINE INFECTIOUS HEPATITIS

What causes it?

This form of hepatitis is caused by the canine adenovirus type I.

How can my dog catch it?

This virus is spread through direct contact with an infected dog’s body fluids including nasal discharge and urine.

How can I tell if my dog has it?

Despite causing hepatitis, the clinical signs of this disease are often not liver-specific. The dog may vary from presenting as inappetent, depressed with a mild fever. A bluish discoloration to the cornea may develop and this is called “hepatitis blue eye”. Other dogs may show signs of respiratory infection making this easily misdiagnosed as ‘kennel cough’.

The most severe of cases, commonly seen in puppies, vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice and fluid retention (oedema) can be seen around the face and neck.

How do we treat it?

Treatment can also be non-specific, and the prognosis can be poor in the immunocompromised.

Prevention by vaccination is the best and safest option.

CANINE PARVOVIRUS

What causes it?

Canine Parvovirus-2 is the virus that causes this disease. It attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as cells in the intestine and bone marrow.

How can my dog catch it?

Through ingestion of faecal particles containing the virus. This often occurs by accident, e.g. in multi-dog households, through sharing of food, water and living space.

How can I tell if my dog has it?

The severity of signs of disease depends on the individual, however in most cases, dogs first present with anorexia, depression with severe vomiting, followed by diarrhoea that can later develop into a profuse and haemorrhagic (bloody) type.

How do we treat it?

Treatment is largely supportive and consists of trying to maintain hydration status and preventing secondary opportunistic bacterial infections from establishing.

In the very young or immunocompromised, this disease can be fatal and has a grave prognosis even if given the best supportive care possible.

The best prevention is therefore vaccinating your puppy as recommended by your vet, and also giving booster vaccinations annually.

LEPTOSPIROSIS

What causes it?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect multiple tissues, but affect the liver and kidneys most severely.

It can affect any dog at any age as long as it has not had a previous infection or immunisation.

How can my dog catch it?

These bacteria can be found in the soil and therefore infection occurs through ingestion of contaminated soil. It can also be spread by the urine of rats and may be transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water, or by rat bites.

Once they’ve infected an animal, this animal sheds the bacteria through the urine. Bacteria in the urine can then enter an uninfected animal through cuts or broken skin, or through the mucous membranes.

Your dog can catch it if an infected animal were to bite it, or have veneral contact with it. It can also spread through the placenta from mother to foetus.

How can I tell if my dog has it?

Most dogs can have the disease but not present with clinical signs, ie they have the subclinical disease.

Others develop a severe peracute infection and often present to the vet with signs of anorexia, depression, excessive panting, vomiting and a rapid heart rate.

They can also develop haemorrhagic signs like bleeding gums, blood (fresh or digested) in the faeces and nose bleeds.

Other signs include generalized inflammation in organs such as the tonsils, nasal passages etc.

An infected patient can develop chronic or long term liver and kidney disease even if it survives the initial infective stage.

How do we treat it?

The success of treatment will depend greatly upon the immunocompetence of the individual, as well as the type and strain of leptospires contracted. Fluid therapy and intense antibiotic therapy can be undertaken to eliminate the parasite and allow the body to heal itself.

Vaccination is the best prevention, although they only reduce the severity of the disease, but not the chronic carrier state. There is now a vaccine available that includes the most common serovars L. pomona, L. canicola, L. icterohaemorrhagiae and L. gripotyphosa which provides the greatest spectrum of protection.

There are many different strains or serovars of this parasite, and vaccination against some does not cross-protect against others.

KENNEL COUGH (KC) or CANINE INFECTIOUS TRACHEOBRONCHITIS

What causes it?

This is similar to the common cold and can be caused by many different pathogens and their strains. The most common ones though are Parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

How can my dog catch it?

KC is a highly contagious disease, and is often found in dogs that have been in close proximity with other dogs showing the same symptoms in boarding facilities, hospitals, humane shelters etc. In some cases, dogs can continue to shed the virus up to 2 weeks after all symptoms have cleared, making it difficult to ascertain or track the epidemiology.

Other pathogens can take the opportunity to establish themselves, and that is where the complications can arise from, such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.

How can I tell if my dog has it?

Kennel cough often begins suddenly with a severe cough that is easily induced by exercise, drinking, pulling on the collar or palpation of the neck area.

It can be a dry or wet cough, and in the simple and uncomplicated form, often remains a disease of the respiratory system and does not affect other systems.

You may notice that in the early stages your dog gently hacks, just as if it were trying to scratch the back of its throat. This can sound like it is trying to bring something up.

How do we treat it?

Treatment consists of supportive care while the disease runs its course, and antibiotic therapy to prevent secondary infections from establishing themselves.

Cough suppressants can also be used to allow a better night’s sleep for the patient, but should only be used when the cough is non-productive.  

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CANINE HEARTWORM

WHAT IS CANINE HEARTWORM DISEASE?

It is a slow chronic condition caused by large roundworms (Dirofilaria Immitus) found in the right ventricle or pulmonary arteries of a dog’s heart.

This can cause mechanical blockage of normal blood flow leading to secondary changes and disease of the heart valves and vessels.

Infected animals may not show any clinical sign of illness until the condition is advanced or organ damage occurs.

SIGNS OF INFECTION

Dogs in early stages may show no signs of illness. A dog with advanced heartworm disease may first develop cardiovascular signs, such as shortness of breath, a shallow cough, reduced exercise tolerance, show weight loss or express premature signs of aging.

Ascitis (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), vomiting, jaundice and liver enlargement may follow.

LIFE CYCLE & MODE OF TRANSMISSION

Heartworm is transmitted by the mosquito as the vector. Adult male and female worms (in the dog’s heart and adjacent blood vessels) give rise to an immature heartworm, referred to as microfilariae into the dog’s blood circulation.

This first stage larva is ingested by the mosquito and develops from stage 2 to stage 3 within 10-14 days. It is the stage 3 microfilariae that enter the uninfected dog when bitten by such a mosquito. The microfilariae then migrate from the skin until they reach the right ventricle of the heart to develop into new adult worms. This developmental stage may take 6 to 7 months to occur. The mature worms will thus give rise to new microfilaria, and the cycle continues.

PREVENTION & CONTROL

One way of controlling heartworm is in the controlling of mosquito population by mosquito screens or spraying of kennels. Making sure that pools of stagnant water which are potential mosquito breeding sites are eradicated.

Heartworm may be prevented in dogs from the age of 2 months by means of a monthly tablet such as Interceptor (Milbermycin), a chewable Heartgard, or by a topical spot-on such as Revolution (Selamectin). When dogs are older than 6 months, a yearly injectable prophylaxis such as Proheart SR-12 may be administered. This is more convenient for clients who may find it difficult to remember the monthly protocols.

Treatment of this disease is difficult, not to mention dangerous, and thus we strongly recommend owners to protect their animals against this disease.

TREATMENT

Heartworm can be successfully treated if the condition is diagnosed early, but the drug used called Immiticide, is an arsenic based compound and can be quite toxic. Dead adult worms can cause complications by causing blockages in the pulmonary circulation (pulmonary emboli). Dogs under treatment should be strictly kept at rest.  

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Toilet Training- Dogs

 

This is the most frequent complaint or request for help given by new owners. The dog seems to poo everywhere but THERE!

The best way to start training your dog is to start from the first moment they step into their new home.

The following are general guidelines that you can follow, and are not exhaustive. Bear in mind that each animal is an individual and any form of training must be skewed according to its personality.

For the first few weeks, especially if this puppy is very young still, it would be recommended that you prepare several spots that the pup can use as its toilet.

Newspapers are most commonly used and available. Place several layers and sheets in a few fixed places, having at least one in the living room, kitchen, laundry, and the designated toilet area, be it the garden or toilet. More spots can and should be placed e.g outside the rooms along the corridor if you have a large house. Remember the pup is only young, and whilst being trained, often cannot ’hold it in’ whilst making the dash for the toilet at the back of the house.

Animals tend to defaecate or urinate after they have eaten, or taken a nap. Therefore the easiest way to train an animal to do it in a designated spot, is to do so after feeding them.

Once the pup has eaten, bring it to one of the newspaper spots, and keep it there until it passes urine or faeces. During this time, do not talk to it or interact with it. Every time it walks off the newspaper, pick it up and place it back on.

Observe it closely, so you familiarize yourself with the signs your puppy displays before pooing or urinating. This is important because these signs will allow you to catch it in time before it does it on the carpet or sofa.

Once it has done its business, praise it and pat it very lovingly, using phrases like “good boy” etc.

You can even start to add phrases and commands to it before it does its business. E.g. saying “park it” or “poopoo time” when you place it on the newspaper or poo spot. Over time, your puppy will recognize the command and may be able to do it on command.

Keep repeating this training over the next few days, alternating between the different newspaper spots each time you do. Eventually the puppy will learn that the newspaper is a toilet, and gravitate to it every time it needs to go. Sometimes they will walk towards the ‘toilet’ but miss it completely when defaecating. In times like these you must still praise it because it had made the effort, and recognized the lesson.

During the initial training period, whenever you spot the puppy displaying its I-need-to-poo signs like sniffing on the ground, scratching at the carpet or squatting, run over, pick it up quickly but gently and transfer it over to the newspaper area. At times like these, the pup will most likely be shocked and not proceed to poo or pee immediately, so keep it on the newspaper as before until it does.

You will find that the pup will learn very quickly where the toilets are.

Over the next few weeks after the pup has succeeded in pooing in the right spots, start to decrease the number of toilets. The interval between each toilet removal can be from 3-7 days depending on your pet. Eventually, the last spot will be the final designated toilet spot.

All this takes time, and lots of patience, and cleaning products. So bear with it, and be disciplined through the first few weeks, and you will gain a good and well toilet-trained companion.

It is also good to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your dog in terms of faecal consistency, colour and smell so that if anything goes wrong, you will notice it immediately.  

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Neuter and Spey- Dog

 

MALES

What is it?

The act of neutering a male dog is called ‘castration’. It involves the surgical removal of the testicles, which are the main organs that produce testosterone.

Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for the development of male physical characteristics such as enlargement and maturation of the prostate, penis and broadening of the face; and it also develops male personality traits such as the need to procreate, hunt, wander and establish territory.

Why do it?

Castrating a dog markedly decreases the amount of testosterone in the body, thereby decreasing the development and expression of ‘maleness’. These can be beneficial to the dog himself, and also to the owner.

Dogs that have been castrated at an early enough age (by 6 months) have a significant decrease in diseases affecting organs governed by testosterone such as the prostate (although neutered males can still develop prostatic diseases) and testicles.

Behaviourally, because castrated males tend to have a much lower need to explore and protect or establish their territory, they get into less fights and scuffles, get injured less, prefer to remain at home, and have less problems with respecting the human family and hierarchy set out within a household.

Hence the overall health and well being of the neutered dog is better and more protected than the entire male.

Why shouldn’t we do it?

There are always the exceptions to the rule, where neutered males can still get very aggressive and dominant. However, much depends on the owner’s personality and ability to train and tame his/her animal.

Parties opposed to across-the-board neutering of male dogs argue that in doing so, the animal loses his personality and becomes a different dog. Stories have been told of an otherwise passive and gentle dog becoming dominant and aggressive after being neutered. And there have been accounts of dogs becoming so sedate and losing all playfulness after their surgery too.

To castrate or not to castrate

However these are rare accounts and when one weighs the benefits of neutering a male, against the remote costs, the former outweighs the latter.

When should you do it?

Males can be castrated at an earlier age than females. No adverse effects were seen in animals castrated as early as 2 months. However, in terms of behaviour, there is a window of time when the male dog starts to develop certain habits that are guided by the male hormonal need to explore, dominate and establish territory. If the dog learns all this before being neutered, the likelihood that he will then unlearn all these after being castrated is very low.

Therefore it is a good idea to perform the procedure before any bad habits are learnt and picked up.

This decision however is solely the responsibility of the owner, and your perogative. Make sure you are aware of all the factors involved, and besides just knowing the reasons, benefits and costs of neutering your animal, that you also are aware of why you want to, or do not want to neuter your pet.

Do not make a judgment based solely on what you have heard or been told, but make an informed decision for the betterment of your companion animal.

FEMALES

What is it?

To neuter a female animal is to ‘spey’ it. The medical term is ‘ovariohysterectomy’.

This is because this procedure involves the surgical removal of both ovaries and the entire uterus.

Removing the ovaries causes a marked decrease in the production of oestrogen, which is the main hormone responsible for the development of the oestrus cycle (equivalent of the human menstrual cycle) and mammary gland development; amongst other functions.

Why do it? (Besides not having unwanted offspring)

Research over the years has shown that speyed bitches have a much lower incidence of cancer involving the abovementioned organs- the ovaries and mammary glands. Obviously, without the uterus and ovaries present, these cannot be affected by disease or cancer.

It has been shown that the incidence of mammary cancer increases almost exponentially with each heat the bitch is allowed to go through. Speyed bitches that come in with mammary cancer are often those who were only neutered at a late stage, or after having had a couple of oestrus cycles.

During the oestrus cycles, there are periods of ‘spotting’, which looks almost like the bloody discharge women have during their monthly cycles. The difference is that with dogs, this discharge is not blood, and occurs before ovulation, as opposed to after ovulation in women. Therefore, this leads to a very messy situation every 6 months or so for the owner. Not only will it be messy, but you may have every male dog within a 10 mile radius at your doorstep.

Entire bitches that are allowed to go through their oestrus cycles, with or without being mated, are more prone to uterine infections (pyometra), and/or cysts in the uterus and ovaries.

Why shouldn’t we do it?

Some authorities suggest that one in three bitches will develop urinary incontinence, ie they cannot hold their urine in and unconsciously have pass urine, when speyed.

It must be first understood that urinary incontinence is a multifactorial disease, in that many factors must be in place before true incontinence is caused.

The primary concern with neutering a female is that oestrogen plays a big part in strengthening and developing the urinary sphincter, which is one of the factors that if compromised, can lead to urinary incontinence.

However as mentioned above, this usually occurs only when other factors, such as the position of the bladder and the integrity of the nerves feeding the urinary system are also compromised. This type of incontinence can develop either immediately after being speyed, and remain only transiently, or many years later after full maturation.

Speying a bitch also decreases her metabolic rate, like a woman after menopause, and this can result in weight gain, a more sedentary life and obesity. This can then lead to further diseases such as diabetes and Cushings.

To spey or not to spey

There are certain ways one can ascertain the risk of your dog developing urinary incontinence after being speyed. If you are concerned, visit your veterinary surgeon and have him or her assess and examine your pet.

One argument that supports the neutering of females, is that whilst urinary incontinence post-spey is a messy and frustrating situation for owners, it can be treated and controlled. Diseases and problems caused by not speying your pet are generally untreatable, and fatal.

Problems caused by a slowing of her metabolic rate can be prevented with good nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle.

Hence speying your bitch will guarantee protection against certain diseases, and therefore encourage a good, healthy and happy life for her, and you.

When should you do it?

bitches should be speyed no younger than 5 months, and before their first heat. The average window of time between physical maturation and the first oestrus is between 5 and 8 months. Hence the average age at which a female can be neutered is 6 months.  

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Nutrition Dog

 

What to feed your new puppy

Most puppies come into the family when they’re 10-12 weeks of age. By this time, they have been fully weaned off their mothers’ milk and are usually able to eat solid food.

There are many commercial foods available for puppies, and they vary in quality. Most try to include a higher fat and protein content to cope with the fast growing rate a puppy has. That’s because a puppy grows almost 10x faster than a human baby!

So it needs all the nutrients and energy it can possibly get.

When choosing the right food for your new pup, be sure to check the ingredient list and its analysis that should be found at the back of every packet or can.

Most pet food companies use the nutrient requirement tables published by the Association of American feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as the standard to follow. This is the pre-eminent authority for specifying the nutrient requirements of dogs and cats, in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe.

The 1999 AAFCO Minimum Nutrient Profiles for Dog Foods indicates the following:

Nutrient Growth & Reproduction

Protein 22.0%

Fat 8.0%

Calcium 1.0%

Phosphorous 0.8%

There are commercially available diets that provide the correct amounts, and the correct types of nutrients that a growing puppy needs. Many of these products have a very strong scientific backing. Kindly consult your veterinarian on the good brands of dog food available here in Singapore.

Can I feed my puppy milk?

Lactose is the sugar contained in milk. Many animals, cats and dogs, and even humans, lack the specific enzyme lactase, which is required to digest this sugar. Those that cannot digest it end up having the runs.

Therefore, whether you should feed your puppy milk is really dependant on his or her digestive system. It is a very high source of nutrients, and pups love it! So it can be tempting to supply milk to your puppy.

What you can do, is to trial your pet on some cows’ milk, diluting it down at least 3:1 (water:milk) and giving no more than a few tablespoonfuls. Monitor your puppy’s stools that day closely. If you notice his/her poo being softer or runnier than usual, this can indicate an intolerance to lactose. If his/her poo remains normal- firm and well-formed, then your pup is probably well-equipped to digest this sugar.

Goats’ milk and soy milk can also be used but are inadequate substitutes for a mothers’ milk as they contain much less nutrients.

Nutrient Bitch’s milk/Cow’s milk/ Goat’s milk

Moisture % 77.2/ 87.6/ 87

Dry Matter % 22.8/ 12.4/ 13.0

Protein % 8.1/ 3.3/ 3.3

Fat % 9.8/ 3.8/ 4.5

Lactose % 3.5/ 4.7/ 4.0

Energy kJ/100g 565/ 276/ 293

Ash % 4.9/ 5.3/ 6.2

Calcium % 0.28/ 0.12/ 0.13

Feeding Dogs and Cats for Life by Legrand-Defretin and Munday 1981

There are puppy milk replacers available that have been produced with no lactose. These should be available through your vet.

What to feed your adult dog

Dogs now are a far cry from their ancestors, the dingo and wolf. Those were pure carnivores, meaning they can only eat meat. The domestic dog is now defined as a facultative carnivore- meaning they primarily require meat protein as their main source of food, but their digestive systems can also handle moderate amounts of fibre and carbohydrates.

AAFCO indicates the following to be required for adult dogs:

Nutrient Adult

Protein 18.0%

Fat 5.0%

Calcium 0.6%

Phosphorous 0.5%

Canned or Dry or Home-Cooked?

As a general rule, dry foods are more concentrated, and therefore one has to eat less in order to achieve the daily requirement of nutrients. However, these also tend to be less palatable and so dogs may refuse to eat this alone. Fresh water should be available throughout the day due to the low amounts of moisture present in dry food.

Canned food is more palatable but as mentioned above, tend to be less concentrated and therefore a Maltese that weighs 5kg, will have to eat over 350g of canned food a day, as opposed to 85g of dry, in order to achieve its daily energy requirement.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem, until you use the same principle on a Bull Mastiff. At 50kgs, the Bull Mastiff needs to eat 2.2kg of canned food a day, as opposed to 580g of dry food a day in order to meet its daily energy requirement!!

These foods can obviously be mixed together, and the best combination is probably 2/3 dry to 1/3 canned. However, just make sure that the basic requirements are met.

Home cooked diets are good for certain problems, however because it is difficult to ascertain the nutritional content in the food you buy and cook, it is then difficult to know if you are meeting your pet’s nutritional needs. Home cooked food tends to be low in calcium and some vitamins. Therefore, if your pet, for some health reason, requires home cooked food, then make sure you supplement its diet with vitamins and minerals.

Protecting your dog’s dental hygiene

Some dogs pick carefully at their food, others like Labradors gobble their food without even tasting it! For the former, giving them larger kibbles or snacks to chew on will help mechanically scrape and clean their teeth. For the latter, these don’t work very well, because frankly, they don’t even chew!

Some diets have tried to counter the vacuum-like eater by creating even larger kibbles. Royal Canin has succeeded in doing so with their Labrador Retriever diet. These kibbles are donut-shaped, and large enough to force the dog to chew the food before swallowing. They have a special shape when bitten into that provides surfaces which mechanically scrape the teeth clean.

Bones are good substitutes; however care must be taken when feeding them to your pet.

Again beware the dogs that do not chew their food. They can shatter the bone with their strong jaws and ingest shards of bone that can then cause problems like gastrointestinal blockage or constipation.

Therefore, bones should be given to them raw as cooking bones makes them shatter more easily. If you so wish, quickly dousing the bone in hot boiling water can just cook the meat, and kill off any excess bacteria, whilst leaving the bone raw and chewy. Choose bones that are less likely to shatter on impact, like thigh bones, ribs, knuckle bones or vertebrae. Chicken wing bones are very thin and will shatter too easily.

Some dogs will let you brush their teeth for them. There are finger brushes available at pet shops or your vet. Adult dogs unused to this may resist letting you brush their teeth, so be careful when doing it for the first time. It might be wise to start it when your dog is still young, and its bite not so potent.

There are also other cleaning implements like snacks such as ‘Dentabones’ from Pedigree Pal or ‘t/d’ from Hill’s. These biscuits are simply made in such a way as to provide a physical brushing action whenever the animal bites into it.

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