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When to take your dog to visit the Vet

It seems like only yesterday your dog was a little bundle of fur tearing up your house with his chewing on things.

In fact, relatively speaking, it was only a short time ago. Most dogs live no more than 15 or 16 years, and for some larger breeds, 10 years is the usual life span

Like their owners, many pets live to a healthy old age, while others may experience increasing problems from mild aches and pains to more serious conditions such as tumors or Cushings Disease as the years go by.  While you can't reverse the hands of time, there's a lot you can do to keep an old friend comfortable and by your side for a long time to come.

As soon as you bring your puppy home you should schedule the first visit to the Vet.  The puppy needs to be checked for worms and she/he will need to get their puppy shots.  They also will need to be wormed because every puppy gets worms. Read here how and why a puppy gets worms.

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Then take your dog to the vet every year for a routine check up just like you should be doing for yourself.  This gives the vet a baseline of your dogs health and when changes occur he can see right off that something is not normal from his baseline health.

Older dogs

Dogs at around 7 to 8 years of age start to have health problems.   Sometimes these problems are just minor like getting fatty tumors but some are really serious.

If you feel a lump under the dog’s skin have it checked out.  I found two types of lumps under my dog’s skin.  One was a benign fatty tumor that was quite large and the other was a very hard lump the size of a pea.

I encourage you to check these out because it may not be a benign tumor, it might be cancer. Pay special attention to the animal's mouth, because tumors there tend to be the most serious. Other warning signs of cancer include foul odors or 'unusual discharge or bleeding.

If your dog seems to tire easily or be short of breath these could be signs of heart disease.

If your dog’s appetite changes or he/she won’t eat or drink water.  This is very serious and can be anything from kidney failure to pancreatitis.

If your dog loses weight take her to the vet right away.  this is not normal and you need to find the cause.

Your dog starts drinking a lot of water and urinating more frequently than usual. This could be a sign of kidney disease or diabetes.

High blood pressure, can be a problem as your pet ages.  Just like with humans,  high blood pressure can lead to blindness in dogs. Untreated, it can also lead to strokes, so it's worth catching early.

Exercise your dog!

It not only will help him keep in shape but it will keep you in shape too.  My doctor asked me once how much I exercised and I told him that I walked my dog  every day.  He said to me that my dog “was probably saving my life”  Wow!  Those words stayed with me.  We do a lot for our dogs and now we can see that daily walks not only help them stay in shape but help us stay healthy too!  Exercise will help age-related disorders like arthritis or digestive problems.  Walk your dog for at least 20 minutes twice a day.  Take your ipod with you.  Before you know it you will be walking more than 20 minutes a day and both of you will feel better.  Any length of exercise is better than nothing.  When it’s raining outside I go into the garage and throw the ball around for my dog to keep him in tip-tip shape. Read more about how important it is to walk your dog.

Don’t let your dog get fat.

In dogs, obesity is a big contributor to age-related problems like arthritis and heart disease.  It can shorten his life span from 7 to 8 years.  If your dog is a little piggy like mine is you have to not give in to his begging for food.  It’s just not good for them and you have to stand your ground.

How can you tell if your dog is fat?

Feel for his ribs.  If you can feel them and his stomach is concave rather than bulging then chances are your dog is not overweight.  But if you can’t feel his ribs and the stomach is round and full looking, it might be time to put your dog on a senior diet that is high in fiber, which will help prevent constipation and improve digestion, making an older pet better able to absorb needed nutrients.

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