The Four Most Common Canine Health Questions

Even if you don't know a lot about canine health, it can be be helpful to know some of the basics. Your relationship with your dog may very well be one of the most rewarding relationships you have. Keeping your canine happy and healthy is important, but it can sometimes be tough to tell when they are sick, or whether or not you are doing a good job in helping them stay healthy. Here are a couple of frequently asked questions regarding canine health, answered.

1. How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Most dogs should visit the veterinarian at least once per year to be updated on their vaccinations. Dogs over the age of 6 years old should be examined by a vet twice a year. Of course, any other medical issues that arise in the meantime should be treated promptly.

2. Should I Spay/Neuter My Dog?

There are numerous reasons why spaying or neutering your dog is a good idea. Male dogs tend to be gentler and less prone to aggressive behavior after they have been neutered. Female dogs go into heat a couple of times per year if they are not spayed. Both sexes are less prone to medical issues involving the reproductive system, such as mammary cancer for female dogs and testicular cancer in male dogs.

Unless you plan on breeding your dog, he or she should be spayed or neutered at about six months of age, or as early as possible.

3. Is My Dog Really Sick?

Dogs are very good at hiding their illnesses, but they do often give some significant signs of illness that every dog owner should pay attention to. For example:

  • Soft or runny fecal matter

  • Excessive thirst/dehydration

  • Lack of appetite

  • Moping around/seeming depressed

  • Aggression

  • Sleeping more than usual

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

Keep in mind that some dogs don't display signs of sickness until they are seriously ill, so when in doubt have your pet checked out by a vet. The fee for an appointment is much cheaper than the cost of an emergency procedure to save a sick dog.

4. Is Human Food Safe for Dogs?

As a general rule, human food is safe for dogs, but only every so often. Just as people could not be expected to live on dog food, you shouldn't expect your dog to live off of people food. There are certain human foods that can be severely toxic to dogs, including:

  • Grapes and raisins

  • Potatoes and peelings from potatoes

  • Tomatoes

  • Broccoli

  • Coffee or anything with caffeine in it

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Sugar-free foods that contain Xylitol

  • Nutmeg

  • Avocado

  • Milk and dairy

Because some foods may contain these ingredients, it is usually the best idea to stick to dog food for your pet, and keep your food to yourself. The occasional human treat now and again shouldn't be too big of a deal, just as long as it doesn't contain any of these toxic foods.

Raising a happy and healthy canine can be difficult, but after a while knowing the ins and outs of their health will be like second nature. Find a good veterinarian that you and your dog can establish a relationship with, and your pet will be all the healthier for it.