Health & Wellness


Obviously we want what is best for our canine companions, and preventing things such as parasites and diseases is preferred to waiting until an ailment gets out of control. The following sections have tips and information that will allow you to choose the best nutrition, toys, and vaccine schedule for your dog, as well as common signs and symptoms for common ailments seen in the majority of emergency and non-emergency situations. It is important to always remember that every dog is different, and their breed and lifestyle will alter what is best for them.

Medicine, research, and products are always changing and improving, so check back often for updates on the latest holistic approaches, new and old (but reliable) remedies for common ailments, and recent products for your pup.





The food you choose to feed your dog will be the one that works for your dog. You may have to try a few different brands and of course you will get advice from your veterinarian, breeder, shelter, pet store, friends and family. It will still come down to what works for your dog. Remember the dogs ancestors are the wolves, who are primarily carnivores, meaning they eat meat. However, its not uncommon for you to see them eating grass, berries or chewing on sticks.

Therefore, with that in mind, your primary ingredient in any food should be a meat. What kind of meat will be your next choice, and this doesn’t have to remain the same for the dogs entire life. As far as grains go, I feel some grains can be beneficial to a dogs diet but you must find what grains work for your dog. And by the way, corn never works, its strictly a sugar and a filler. Some dogs as of late have been showing signs of grain allergies or intolerance, again, what works for your dog.

Another thing to look at is fat and protein content. If you have an overweight dog, you may want to reduce the fat content, but not necessarily the protein. If you have a lean dog, we probably don’t want to increase the fiber and the amount of food, but rather the protein and fat content.

If a food has a whole bunch of words listed in the ingredients that you don’t know what they are, its probably not a good choice of food. Also, be primarily concerned with the first five ingredients, if you don’t know it, or it is corn, be hesitant.

Lastly, most bags have a recommended portion size on the bag. Don’t always go by this chart. The manufacturers have no way of knowing the amount of exercise and type of exercise your dog engages in to accurately prescribe the amount to feed daily.

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Every Companion Canine needs some form of exercise. Dogs naturally have more energy and are more athletic than we are. Your dog was bred originally to do some form of work such as herding , hunting or protecting you. Since your dog has evolved, the work they were bred to do is not done as often so we must now give them some work to do. This work is exercise which consists of interaction with you. Exercise can be done in many ways depending on their breed, size, age and traits. Some breeds such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers are prone to bloat (see Common Companion Canines Diseases) so they should not be exercised right after meals. Short nosed breeds like pugs may have trouble breathing if exercise is too vigorous. Large breeds and young dogs should not go on prolonged jogs or runs. It is hard on their bones and joints. Smaller breeds are made for shorter distance walks and runs. Some ways to exercise your dog include (but are not limited to) walks, fetch (balls,sticks, Frisbee, etc), playing tug. and going to dog parks Your dog needs to exercise it’s brain as well. To do this, obedience and trick training are good along with, puzzle feeders and chew toys.

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Dog parasites are common and can be put into two categories – external and internal.


External parasites consists of fleas, ticks, mange mites (Demodectic and Sarcoptic) and ear mites.

Fleas are around when the weather is warm and humid. The flea likes to be out of the direct sunlight. Your pet will usually get fleas from infested areas and other infested animals. Fleas can cause mild redness to severe itching, hair loss, Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and /or “hot spots” on your dog. You might see the actual flea or just flea dirt on your animals coat.

Ticks can be found anywhere from the deep woods, to grassy fields to urban neighborhoods and parks. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, one being Lyme disease. Prevention is the only effective measure in minimizing the vector borne diseases. Most signs and symptoms are often too vague and recognized too late and leaves the dog suffering from a debilitating disease. Fortunately there are topical treatments and collars to assist in preventing the attachment of the tick to the dogs skin. However, routine examination of your dogs entire body is the only sure way to know that ticks are not presenting a problem or be aware that a problem may present itself.

Mange Mites consists of two different mites, demodectic and sarcoptic. The demodectic mite (Demodex canis) lives on a normal dog coat. Too many of these mites on your dog results in your dog getting “mange”. The mange caused by the demodectic mite is seen mainly in dogs less than two years old and may be gotten rid of as their immune system changes. Dogs over two can get the demodectic mite as well. When older dogs get mange from the demodectic mite, it is usually from a weakened immune system problem (cancer, excessive steroids, immune system changes, or hormonal imbalance). The sarcopitic mite (Sarcoptes scabiei)can infect a dog of any age. A dog infected with the sarcopitic mite it is called canine scabies. The symptoms include hair-loss, itching and possibly scabs. The sarcoptic mange mite buries beneath the dog’s skin and is contagious. Your animal does not have to have direct contact with an infected dog to get the mite. The sarcoptic mite is known to be in places where large numbers of dogs are together and/or near foxes and where the foxes live. The sarcoptic mange mite is one of the hardest to identify and can look like an allergic reaction.

Ear Mites live primarily in the ear (hence the name) but can be found outside of the ear. The mites live in the ear to feed on skin debris. The ear mite is primarily transmitted by contact with another animal that has them. Ear mites are found more often in younger dogs as well. Some signs that your dog might have ear mites are head shaking dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ears (looks a bit like coffee grounds) or scratching at ears.

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Internal parasites most common in your canine are heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and Giardia.

Round Worms
Hook Worms
Tape Worms
Whip Worms

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Bathing will help keep your dogs coat and skin healthy.  That leads us to the questions below:

    Q:  How often should my dog be bathed? 
    A:  There is no set time frame, the answer is as the dog needs it.  If you use a mild shampoo, you may bath your dog as often as you like.  The most important part of giving a bath is to Rinse, Rinse, Rinse.  A shampoo residue left on your dog will do more harm than good.
    Q:  What shampoo should I use on my dog?
    A:  Any shampoo or soap you use will work as long as it is diluted 16:1 (16 parts water to one part shampoo).  However, the stronger the soap or shampoo, the higher the dilution rate should be,  For example – Laundry soap.  Laundry soap is one of the best to use on lake and pond swimmers due to the bacteria killing property and should be diluted 64:1.
   TIP   – Always brush your long coat dogs before   getting them wet to prevent matting and again
after drying


    Q:  Should I use conditioner to get mats out?
    A:  Conditioner will usually not help to remove mats.  Mats should be brushed out before the bath,  otherwise the mats can get too tight on the skin. and require shaving them out.
Conditioner, however, can speed up the drying process  but can attract dirt too.  Again – Rinse, Rinse Rinse.

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     Canine coats come in a variety of types, The main type of coats are short, medium and long hair.  Each coat requires a different set of tools to maintain it. 
Short hair , such as Beagles,Boxers, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls, may only need a shedding blade or curry comb to  maintain the coat.
Medium Length hairsuch as a Husky, Malamute, or German Shepard tend to have a double coat which will requires a brush and comb.  The brush and comb comb will remove the undercoat and separate the coarse guard hairs.
Long and silky hair, such as Border Collie, Collie, Golden Retriever, Shih Tzu and Yorkie will need a stiff bristle bush with numerous teeth to remove tangles and and mats as these animals tend to have a finer hair.

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Ears come in two basic types: 
  1.       Ears that stand up,  These ears have less dirt and require less cleaning.  Less dirt and less cleaning are due to the air being able to circulate and keep the ears coll and dry.
  2.       Ears that flop down – The longer the floppy eras , the more cleaning is recommended.  This ear type is prone to more dirt and infection because the air cannot circulate so there is more moisture kept in the ears. ***Pulling these dogs ears up at night will decrease the chance of infection dramatically, since light and air are a natural deterrent to bacteria***.
 Eventually ears get dirty and the following questions arise:
    Q: What do I use to clean my dogs ears?
    A:  A dogs ears may be cleaned with alcohol, vinegar or even mouth wash works well. You can purchase some ear cleaning solutions at your local pet store or your vet too.   NEVER use peroxide due to the bubbling effect.  This can lead to excessive head shaking and scratching at the ears. 
    Q:  Can I hurt my dog’s ears or go to far?
    A:  You will not damage the ear drum as long as you do not go in the ear at a 45 degree angle.  Gently lift or go into the ear. You should use your finger with a paper towel or an old wash cloth soaked in cleansing agent you chose.   You may have to repeat this a few times until the ear is clear.  Q tips can be used but hold them gently so if the dog shakes it’s head, you will be able to let go quickly to avoid bruising the ear canal.

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     Your dogs nails tend to grow just like our own nails grow thus the nails need to kept rimmed.  Keeping a dogs nails trimmed will decrease the chance of them catching their nails on something or hurting themselves when they scratch. 

     Q:  How often should I trim or have my dogs nails trimmed?
     A:  Typically,  you companion canines nails should be trimmed every4-6 weeks.  The trimming of the nails will depend on the surface your dog walks on and  how often your dog goes for walks on pavement may alter the timeframe.  The shape of a dogs foot can alter the time in between trimmings as well.  A round footed dog can have the nails trimmed farther apart because all of their nails hit the ground.  An oval footed canine such as a whippet, will need to have the nails trimmed more frequently due to their nails not touching the ground. The more often you trim your dogs nails, the shorter you will be able to cut them.
     Q:  How short can I trim my companion canines nails?

     A:  Inside your dogs nails are veins and nerves which make up what is called the quick.  in a white or light colored nail you can see the quick as a dark line, which you can trim up to,  In the darker nails however, you will need to look for the quick with each little slice taken off the nail.  It will appear as a target diagram. The center will be dark with a lighter often white ring around it then the dark outer nail surface. When you see this pattern while trimming, you should cease trimming. Continuing to trim after you see the target  can cause discomfort an/or bleeding.

  Nail trimmingDog-nail-clipping
     Q:  What if I take too much off while trimming and the nail starts bleeding?
     A:  Do not panic, the bleeding can be controlled from the nail.  You can use a septic powder , a bar of soap run along the nail , baking soda or flour placed on the end of the nail to slow and clot the bleeding.  You may have do do this more than once to stop the bleeding depending on how deep the slice was off the nail.
   TIP   – Removing blood from carpet or cloths should be done quickly.  Hydrogen Peroxide helps break down the blood and makes it easier to get rid of.

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