Canine Preventive Health Care | Routine Health Care for Dogs

This section features procedures that should be part of a routine canine preventive health care program. Some procedures listed are recommended as part of the canine health program for dogs of any age, other procedures may be recommended as part of a canine health care program for individuals within a certain age group.

Physical Examination

Physical Examination involves a thorough checkup by your dog’s veterinarian and should be done periodically as part of a responsible canine health care program. A thorough physical examination by your dog’s veterinarian can help detect subtle changes in your dog’s health, such as a heart murmur, evidence of dental disease, enlarged lymph nodes just to name a few.
These findings can help direct additional laboratory or diagnostic testing which may need to be done for your dog. If the physical examination is normal, the findings will be recorded for future reference and you should be congratulated on doing a good job taking care of your dog.
Regular physical examinations are the centerpiece of a quality canine preventive health care program and should be performed every 6 to 12 months.
Physical examination is an essential part of the routine canine preventive health care for any dog. A thorough physical exam explores all parts of your dog’s body, from the nose all the way to the tail.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s teeth and mouth for signs of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and/or dental disease, as well as looking for any abnormal growths in the mouth. The color of your dog’s gums will be examined, making sure they a normal pink color and are not pale (from anemia), yellow (as a result of icterus, often due to liver failure), or cyanotic (as a result of breathing difficulties).
The eyes will be checked for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, corneal injuries, or other abnormalities.
Your dog’s ears will be examined to make certain they are healthy and that there is no evidence of infection, inflammation, or other abnormalities such as polyps.
The externally palpable lymph nodes will be examined to make sure they are of normal size.
Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your dog’s heart and lung sounds, looking for heart murmurs, abnormal heart rhythms, and abnormally harsh or abnormally quiet sounds in the lung fields.
He/she will also check your dog’s pulse rate to make sure it is not too fast or too slow and that there are no “missed” beats.
The respiratory rate will also be checked as a part of the canine preventive health care.
Your veterinarian will palpate your dog’s abdomen to make certain he/she cannot feel any abnormal masses within the abdomen.
Your dog’s genitalia will be examined to make certain there are no abnormal discharges or swellings.
Your veterinarian may also want to check your dog’s temperature.
If you have noticed any abnormal lumps or bumps on your dog’s body, this would be a good time to point them out to your veterinarian.
You should also advise your veterinarian of any changes in your dog’s behavior or eating habits.
If your dog is acting abnormally in any way, your veterinarian will need to know about it. This may include such things as diarrhea or vomiting, coughing or sneezing. runny eyes or a runny nose, difficulty urinating or defecating, difficulty chewing food, difficulty going up and down stairs or rising from a sitting position.
It may also include acting more sluggish or lethargic than normal, not eating as much as normal, drinking less than normal or drinking more than normal.
If your dog is having accidents, such as urinating or defecating in the house, or your cat is urinating or defecating outside of his/her litter box or in abnormal places, you should inform your veterinarian.
Likewise, if your dog is urinating involuntarily and leaving pools of urine where he/she sleeps or rests, your veterinarian will need to be informed.
This information will allow your veterinarian to focus on specific body systems in order to reach a diagnosis regarding the cause of the abnormalities. The physical examination is the place where any such diagnosis needs to start, although additional testing (blood tests, x-rays, etc) may be necessary to accurately diagnose some conditions.
In addition to helping your veterinarian determine what is wrong with your dog when he/she is not feeling well, regular physical examinations may also help detect early signs of disease in dogs which are still acting normally. In this case, your veterinarian may be able to help you treat the problem with some canine preventive health care before your dog begins to feel bad.
Physical examinations are important for dogs of any age. However, as your dog starts to age, they become even more important. Our dogs age much faster than we do, and regular physical examinations will help you and your veterinarian detect any abnormalities which may affect your dog’s quality of life.
By finding these abnormalities early, it is often possible to make changes in your dog’s routine which eliminate or slow the progress of diseases such as heart failure, kidney failure, arthritis pain, dental disease, and many more. Your veterinarian may even advise more frequent physical examinations for your dog as he/she ages.
Find out more on taking care of you dog in our article:

Canine Vaccinations

Vaccinations are an essential tool in protecting your dog against disease. Regular vaccination is an essential procedure and should be part of the canine health care program for your dog. Vaccination against canine distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, and rabies are considered core vaccines and should be part of every dog’s routine health care program. Other vaccinations should be based on your dog’s lifestyle.
Periodic vaccinations, or immunizations, are an important part of your dog’s preventive health care plan.
Let’s start by explaining what vaccination does for your dog. In very simple terms, vaccination provides protection for your dog against the agent (usually a virus or bacteria) included in the vaccine. For instance, a rabies vaccine protects your dog against developing rabies.
To be more specific, vaccination (or immunization) is the act of introducing a virus or bacteria, whole or in part and in an inactivated safe form, to your dog’s immune system. This allows the immune system to develop protection (in the form of antibodies) against the virus or bacteria in question before your dog is exposed to the naturally occurring, more dangerous agent.
In recent years, there has been some concern about potential vaccine reactions which has caused some changes in the way we vaccinate our animals today.
Currently, there is a group of “core” vaccines, which are vaccines that are required by all dogs.
There is also a group of “non-core” vaccines which may or may not be necessary, depending on your dog’s individual lifestyle and risk of exposure.
Which vaccines need to be given and how often they are given will vary from one dog to another.  Your dog’s veterinarian can help you decide which vaccines and what vaccination schedule is appropriate for your dog.

Core Vaccines:

  • Rabies: Because rabies is a disease which can infect people as well as dogs, most states have laws which require vaccination against rabies.
  • Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV), Canine Adenovirus: These three viruses are often contained within the same vaccine, protecting your dog against all three diseases with one vaccination. You may also find other viruses included with some vaccines as well, such as leptospirosis, for use in those dogs which are at risk and need additional protection.

Non-Core Vaccines:

  • Distemper-Measles: This vaccine is sometimes given to very young puppies to help give them immunity to distemper in the face of maternal antibodies which prevent the puppies from developing an immune response to more traditional vaccines.
  • Coronavirus: This virus may cause intestinal problems in young dogs. In certain situations, the vaccine may be recommended by your veterinarian, especially if your dog is a puppy.
  • Parainfluenza: This virus is often included in multi-valent vaccines (a vaccine that protects against more than one disease) which also provides protection against canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus, and leptospirosis. You may see this commonly used vaccination referred to as a DHLPP vaccine or a DA2PPL vaccine.
  • Bordetella: This vaccine is frequently called a “kennel cough” vaccine. It may be recommended or even required for dogs in which a kennel stay is required, such as a boarding facility or shelter.
  • Leptospirosis: This disease is endemic (common) in some areas and is usually spread through contact with infected body fluids. Rodents are frequently carriers. Dogs can be carriers of the disease also.
  • Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is one of the tick-borne diseases. If your dog frequently encounters ticks, this vaccine may be recommended.
  • Giardia: Giardia is one of the causes of protozoan diarrhea. The vaccine is generally used as an adjunct to treatment and does seem to shorten the duration of the disease and ease the symptoms. However, the vaccine is not licensed to prevent disease outbreak and is not routinely given unless your dog is in a situation where Giardia has been diagnosed.
Your dog’s veterinarian will help you decide which of these vaccines are necessary for your dog, based on his/her lifestyle and individual risk levels.


Heartworm Testing should be done periodically to ensure that your dog is free of this devastating disease. Preventive heartworm medication is also critical and should be part of the routine canine health care program for your dog. Heartworms can cause serious damage to your dog’s heart if infected and the damage may be irreversible and severe before your dog is actually diagnosed with heartworm disease. Treatment is not without risk for your dog and is expensive for you. Prevention is simple, safe and effective and recommended year-round for all dogs.
Heartworms are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.
When a mosquito feeds on the blood of an infected dog, the mosquito ingests the microfilaria (“baby” heartworm) and can then pass the microfilaria on to any other animal it bites.
Once injected into a susceptible dog by the mosquito, the microfilaria matures into adult heartworms and begin producing additional microfilaria, which circulates in the dog’s blood.
It takes 3 to 6 months for adult heartworms to develop in a dog after an infected mosquito bite it.
  • Heartworms can occur in all breeds of dogs. They have been found in dogs of all sizes and ages. Heartworms can occur in short-haired or long-haired dogs and can infect a dog whether it is indoors or outdoors. Whenever a dog is bitten by a mosquito, there is the potential for infection.
  • Adult heartworms live in the right side of the heart. They are 6-14 inches in length, and several hundred individual heartworms may be present in one dog!
  • Heartworms impair blood circulation, resulting in damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Serious damage to these organs may occur even before an owner begins to see outward symptoms of heartworm disease.
  • Heartworms are present in both the United States and Canada.

Signs of heartworm disease include:

  • Difficulty breathing,
  • Coughing,
  • Tiring easily,
  • Listlessness,
  • Loss of weight,
  • A bloated abdomen, and
  • Fainting.
Treatment can be successful, especially when the disease is detected early.
However, heartworms can cause damage to the heart and lungs even before they are detected and treatment is often not without side effects.
Therefore, prevention is recommended because it is safe, effective and easy to use.

Heartworms can be prevented!

Your veterinarian will likely recommend a heartworm test, to make sure your dog is not already harboring heartworms before starting on the heartworm preventive medication.
There are many different heartworm preventive medications available. Common examples are Heartguard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution. Your veterinarian will help you determine which one is best suited for your dog. Most of them, at the current time, are administered on a monthly basis.
Your veterinarian may recommend that your dog receives the heartworm preventive medication all year long, regardless of the climate. There are several reasons for this:
  • Mosquitoes can survive the winter inside your home. A mosquito that is carrying heartworm disease is as much of a threat to your dog in the winter as in the summer. Only one bite can infect your dog.
  • Year-round prevention eliminates the possibility of infection during the off-season. A year-round prevention program eliminates the possibility of contracting heartworm disease because no off-season will exist.
  • It will be more convenient to stay on schedule by giving the medication every month, making it less likely for you to forget to give the medication.
  • Most of the available heartworm preventatives also aid in the prevention of intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, which can be transmitted to your dog at any time of the year.
  • Year-round prevention provides protection for dogs that travel to warmer climates during the winter, even if they live in an area where mosquitoes are uncommon in the winter months.
Your veterinarian may also recommend periodic blood tests for heartworms for your dog, even if your dog is receiving heartworm preventive medication year-round. Reasons for this include:
  • The heartworm preventive medication may be vomited or spit out by your dog without your knowledge, thereby, exposing your dog to heartworm disease.
  • Either by accident or oversight, you may forget to give the monthly preventive for one or more months, leaving your dog exposed to heartworm disease.
  • None of the routine heartworm tests are able to detect immature or early heartworm infestation. Your dog may have had an undetectable infection at the time of his/her last heartworm test, and therefore, could have a dangerous infection. Heartworm preventives WILL prevent new infections of heartworms, but they CANNOT prevent the progress of pre-existing heartworm infection.

Treatment Of Heartworm Disease:

If your dog has already been diagnosed with heartworm disease by testing positive on a blood test for heartworms, you will need to decide whether or not to treat your dog for heartworm disease.
The first step is evaluating the overall physical condition of your dog. In order to do this, your dog’s veterinarian will need to do a routine blood screen.
Your dog’s veterinarian may also recommend a radiograph (x-ray) of your dog’s chest to evaluate the heart and blood vessels, looking for signs of damage to these vessels caused by the heartworms.
Treatment for heartworms involves injections of a drug called Immiticide, which will kill the adult heartworms living within your dog’s heart.
There are currently two protocols used for treating with Immiticide:
  • The first protocol is used only in dogs that are in a stable physical condition and showing no outward signs of disease. This protocol involves giving two injections of Immiticide into the lumbar (back) muscles of the dog. The injections are given 24 hours apart.
  • The second protocol involves three injections of Immiticide in the lumbar (back) muscles. The second injection is given 1 month after the first, with the third injection given 24 hours after the second. This method tends to kill the heartworms more slowly, resulting in few complications. Dogs that are already showing signs of disease are likely to require this protocol. Some veterinarians prefer this protocol for all patients.
Concurrent use of anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications and antibiotics (especially doxycycline) may be recommended for your dog also.
The anti-inflammatory medications help to decrease the reaction to the dying heartworms and control complications which can occur as a result.
Pain medications are often used to control the pain involved with giving the Immiticide injections.
Antibiotics (such as doxycycline) are used to control complications caused by Wolbachia organisms that live inside the heartworms. Wolbachia are rickettsial organisms (similar to bacteria) which are believed to contribute to the complications which can occur as the heartworms die.
Heartworm preventive medication must also be given to your dog to prevent new heartworm infections. Your veterinarian may recommend starting this medication before treatment or may prefer to wait until after your dog has completed the heartworm treatment.

Heartworm Disease and Ivermectin:

For those dogs which have a positive heartworm test but no signs of disease, using ivermectin monthly is an alternative to heartworm treatment.
However, this medication does not kill adult heartworms. It does seem to shorten their lifespan, and it will keep your dog from getting new heartworms.
Ivermectin will also kill any microfilaria (“baby” heartworms) which are produced. This effectively sterilizes the adult heartworms and keeps your dog from being a source of infection for other dogs.
This may be a viable alternative to you if your dog has heartworm disease and you cannot afford treatment with Immiticide. However, it is important to remember that this medication does not kill the adult worms and your dog may remain positive for heartworms for as long as 2 years. In a 2 year time span, damage caused by heartworms can be significant.
Ivermectin is the active ingredient found in many of the commonly used preventive medications, such as Heartguard Plus.

External Parasites Of The Dog And Their Treatment

Flea And Tick Medications can help keep your dog free of pests which can not only make your dog uncomfortable but can also pass on serious illnesses to your dog. Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, even Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fleas can cause “hot spots”, allergic dermatitis, tapeworms, and other problems. Flea infestations can be difficult to eradicate. However, prevention is much more effective and simple to do. Tick and flea prevention should be continued year-round as part of your routine canine health care program.
At some point in their lives, most dogs experience discomfort caused by external parasites.Canine Preventive Health Care

There are many medications available to treat these parasites if your dog is affected by them. Your dog’s veterinarian is the best person to advise you which medication or medications are necessary.
Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and ear mites can be prevented before they ever affect your dog. Products such as Frontline Plus, Revolution, Advantage, and many others can be used as directed by their manufacturer (usually monthly, unless directed otherwise by your dog’s veterinarian) to keep your dog free of parasites like fleas and ticks. These products are simple to use and usually quite effective if used properly.

Important Points

  • Look for fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities any time you groom your dog.
  • Contact your dog’s veterinarian if your dog scratches excessively, chews, or licks his/her haircoat excessively, or if your dog persistently shakes his/her head. These clinical signs may indicate the presence of external parasites or other conditions requiring medical care.
  • Prompt treatment of parasites will lessen your dog’s discomfort, decrease the chances of disease transmission from the parasite to your dog, and may reduce the degree of home infestation.
  • Discuss the health of all family dogs with your veterinarian when one dog becomes infested. Some parasites cycle among dogs, making control of infestations difficult unless other dogs are considered. Consult your dog’s doctor before beginning treatment.
  • Tell your dog’s doctor if you have attempted any parasite remedies, as this may impact medical recommendations.
  • Be especially careful when applying insecticides to cats, as cats are particularly sensitive to these products. Never use a product on a cat that is not approved specifically for cats, as the results could be lethal.
  • Follow label directions carefully.
  • Leave treatment to the experts. Your veterinarian offers technical expertise and can assist you in identifying products that are most likely to effectively and safely control your dog’s parasite problem.
Below are some of the more common external parasites.


Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. Your dog can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs.
Indoor dogs can acquire fleas as easily as outdoor dogs do through owners who carry fleas home on clothing or through fleas coming through openings in doors and screens.
Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a sesame seed, and able to move rapidly over your dog’s skin. You might not even know that your dog has fleas until their number increases to the point that your dog is visibly uncomfortable.
Signs of flea problems range from mild irritation to severe itching that can lead to open sores and skin infection.
One of the first things you might notice on a dog with fleas is “flea dirt,” the black flea droppings left on your dog’s coat.


Dogs and, less commonly, cats can acquire ticks by investigating shrubbery, brush, or wild undergrowth.
Ticks have a four-stage life cycle, and immature ticks often feed on small, wild animals found in forests, prairies, and brush. Adult ticks seek larger hosts like dogs and cats who venture into these habitats.
Tick exposure is usually seasonal, during the warmer months.
Ticks are most often found around your dog’s neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face.
Tick bites can cause skin irritation.
Ticks are also capable of spreading serious infectious diseases to the dogs and people on which they feed, including Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis.
Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your dog.
Remove ticks by carefully using tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible and gently pulling the tick free. After removing the tick, crush it, avoiding contact with tick fluids that can carry disease, and clean the affected skin area with a disinfectant like alcohol.

Ear Mites:

Ear mites are common in young cats and dogs and generally confine themselves to the ears and surrounding area.
Mites are tiny and only seen with a microscope.
Your dog can pick up ear mites by close contact with an infected dog or its bedding.
Ear mites can cause intense irritation of the ear canal. Signs of ear mite infestation include excessive head shaking and scratching of the ears. Your dog may scratch to the point that he/she creates bleeding sores around the ears. Brown or black ear discharge is common.
Medications such as Revolution can effectively kill ear mites. Your dog’s veterinarian may also advise cleaning the ears to remove debris and even treating the ear canals with medication to decrease the inflammation in order to make your dog more comfortable.

Sarcoptic Mange Mites:

Sarcoptic mange, or scabies, is caused by the sarcoptic mange mite.
Sarcoptic mange mites affect dogs of all ages, during any time of the year.
Sarcoptic mange mites are highly contagious to other dogs and may be passed on by close contact with infected animals, bedding, or grooming tools.
Sarcoptic mange mites burrow through the top layer of your dog’s skin and cause intense itching. Clinical signs include generalized hair loss, skin rash, and crusting.
Skin infections may develop secondary to intense irritation.
People who come in close contact with an affected dog may develop a rash and should see their physician.
Dogs with sarcoptic mange require medication to kill the mites and additional treatment to soothe the skin and resolve related infections. Cleaning and treatment of the dog’s environment can be beneficial.

Demodectic Mange Mites:

Demodectic mange is caused by the demodectic mange mite and is mainly a problem in dogs.
Demodectic mange mites are microscopic, cigar-shaped, and not highly contagious. However, a mother dog may pass the mites to her puppies.
Localized demodectic mange tends to appear in young dogs as patches of scaliness and redness around the eyes and mouth and, perhaps, the legs and trunk.
Less commonly, affected dogs experience a generalized form of demodectic mange and can exhibit widespread patches of redness, hair loss, and scaliness.
Unlike other types of mange, demodectic mange may signal an underlying medical condition, and your dog’s overall health should be carefully evaluated.
Your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you.
Treatment of dogs with localized demodectic mange generally results in favorable outcomes.
Generalized demodectic mange, however, may be difficult to treat, and treatment may only control the condition, rather than cure it.

Canine Intestinal Parasites

Fecal Exams and Wormings need to be done periodically to control intestinal parasites such as worms. Fecal examinations are done microscopically by your dog’s veterinarian and should be performed periodically as part of a routine canine preventive health care program. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are common intestinal parasites for dogs. Routinely performed fecal examinations can detect these parasites and will allow appropriate treatment for your dog. Fecal examinations are recommended to be done at least once yearly as part of a routine canine health care program.
Dogs and cats can become hosts to many intestinal parasites and a few general statements apply to all parasitic infections.
  • At this time, there is no one “dewormer” that can eliminate all species of parasites. Consequently, an accurate diagnosis is necessary to treat your dog properly. Your dog’s veterinarian will help you with this diagnosis.
  • Diagnosis is usually made from the microscopic examination of a fresh stool sample (passed less than 12 hours ago) or, in the case of tapeworms, by seeing the segments in the stool. It is advisable to have your veterinarian test your dog’s stool periodically to make certain that your dog is not harboring any of these parasites. It is also advisable to visually examine your dog’s stool for signs of tapeworm segments or other abnormalities (diarrhea, bloody stools, excessively hard stools, etc) which may indicate that your dog needs medical attention.
  • All deworming medicines have the potential to produce side effects and should only be used as needed and under proper conditions. Your veterinarian will discuss the proper usage of these medications with you. There are many different medications available for treating intestinal parasites. The proper choice will depend on the type of parasite present, the risk of re-infection, and the physical condition of your dog. Therefore, your dog’s veterinarian should be consulted before using any of these medications.
  • Most puppies and kittens are infected before birth and, for this reason, your veterinarian may recommend “deworming” at a very young age. If hookworms are suspected, your veterinarian may advise “deworming” or checking your puppies/kittens stools starting as early as 2-3 weeks of age.
  • Many times, more than one treatment is necessary in order to rid your dog of these parasites. Your veterinarian will recommend the proper medication for the treatment and discuss the appropriate treatment intervals with you. These will vary depending on the type of parasite present and the severity of the infection.
  • Many of the monthly heartworm preventatives now available also help prevent certain types of intestinal parasites. Commonly, these include roundworms and hookworms, although some of the heartworm preventatives can also help control tapeworms or whipworms.
Following is a brief description of the common intestinal parasites seen in dogs and cats, detailing the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and the risk of human transmission.


This is a common worm of puppies and kittens but can be seen in dogs and cats of any age.
Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool or vomitus.
Symptoms will vary from none to marked vomiting and diarrhea and abdominal swelling.
Transmission to adult dogs and cats occurs by infected feces contaminating the yard. As a result, prevention is accomplished by isolating your dog from infected feces of other animals.
Your dog’s veterinarian will prescribe the proper treatment for your dog. Follow his/her directions carefully in giving the medication. For dogs, many of the heartworm canine preventive health care routinely used, such as Heartguard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution, also aid in preventing roundworm infection.
Transmission to humans is rare; young children can develop visceral larval migraines by eating dirt contaminated with feces.


This is also a common worm of puppies and kittens but is seen with equal frequency in adults.
This parasite sucks your dog’s blood and can cause severe anemia.
Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of your dog’s stool.
Symptoms will vary from none to blood in the stool (dark tar-colored stool) with diarrhea.
Your veterinarian will prescribe the proper medication to rid your dog of hookworms. Severe cases may need a transfusion and hospitalization.
Transmission to adult animals occurs by infected feces contaminating the grass or soil. Prevention, therefore, requires that your dog be kept away from contaminated areas. Many of the commonly used heartworm preventive medications, such as Heartguard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution, aid in the prevention of hookworms also.
Transmission to humans is uncommon and usually shows up as skin lesions.


This worm affects dogs only.
Diagnosis is made from a microscopic exam of the feces. Eggs from this parasite pass intermittently, however, so it may be necessary to check multiple fecal samples before a diagnosis is made.
Symptoms vary from none to severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, and marked weight loss.
Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate medication for the treatment and discuss with you the proper dosing intervals. This parasite has a longer life cycle than many of the other parasites, so treatment may be more prolonged as well. Some dogs require hospitalization for treatment of dehydration, malnutrition, and infection, depending on the severity of clinical signs. Certain medications used in preventing heartworms, such as interceptors, may also help in treating and/or preventing whipworm infections.
There is no human transmission.


This common worm affects both dogs and cats.
Transmission occurs when your dog grooms him or herself and eats a flea, or when he/she hunts and eats small animals, such as rabbits, squirrels, etc. The intermediate form of the tapeworm is inside the flea’s body (or the body of the rabbit or squirrel) and it then attaches to the intestine and begins to grow segments. In about 3 weeks, these segments begin to pass in the stool. They are approximate to inch long, flat, and white. After a short time in the air, they dry up to resemble a small yellow flat seed.
Diagnosis is made from seeing these segments on the stool or around your dog’s anal region. They will sometimes show up on the microscopic fecal exam as well.
Your veterinarian will advise you which medication is best to rid your dog of the tapeworms. However, available tapeworm treatments will not prevent further infection if your dog is exposed again. The only prevention is strict flea control and restricted hunting activity.
There is no direct transmission from dog or cat to a human (although people can be infected by eating contaminated meat).


This parasite is not a worm. It is a very tiny single-celled parasite that can live in the intestines of dogs, cats, and men.
It is seen most commonly in dogs coming out of kennel-type situations (dog stores, shelters, dog pounds, etc.) but its incidence is increasing.
Symptoms include intermittent or continuous diarrhea, weight loss, depression, and loss of appetite.
The diagnosis is made from a very fresh fecal specimen.
A surprising number of affected animals are occult; that is, they are infected but are negative on these tests even with multiple examinations. As a result, this parasite is often treated without a confirming diagnosis.
Prevention involves careful disposal of all fecal material and cleaning contaminated areas.
Humans can become infected with Giardia, so special care must be taken to wash hands and utensils.


This is also a single-celled parasite.
It is seen primarily in puppies and kittens, although debilitated adults can also be affected.
Transmission occurs by eating the infective stage of the parasite. It then reproduces in the intestinal tract causing no symptoms in mild cases to bloody diarrhea in severely affected dogs.
The diagnosis is made from a fresh stool sample.
Treatment varies greatly depending on your dog’s condition. Severely affected dogs may need hospitalization.
Prevention involves disposal of all stools and cleaning your dog’s living area.
Human transmission is uncommon but can occur.


Spaying or Neutering is recommended for any dog which is not being bred. Reasons for spaying or neutering are numerous and include many health benefits for your dog. Your dog will live longer and be healthier and happier when spayed or neutered. And by spaying or neutering your dog, you’ll be certain that you are not contributing to the dog overpopulation problem. Spaying or neutering is an essential part of a routine canine health care program.
Spaying or neutering your dog will make him/her a healthier and happier dog. All dogs not intended for breeding should be surgically spayed or neutered for many reasons:

Females: Benefits Of Spaying (Ovariohysterectomy)

  • Prevents signs of estrus (heat).
  • Prevents blood stains on the card from the “heat” cycle.
  • Decreases surplus of puppies.
  • It decreases the chance of developing breast tumors or breast cancer later in life, especially if done at a young age.
  • Prevents the occurrence of cystic ovaries and uterine infections (such as pyometra) later in life. These conditions can be serious, even fatal if they occur.
  • Prevents breast development if done before breeding age.

Males: Benefits Of Neutering (Castration)

  • It decreases the desire to roam the neighborhood.
  • Decreases aggression, may become more loving dogs (more affectionate).
  • It decreases the incidence of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases later in life.
  • It helps prevents male territorial behaviors.
Your community will also benefit! Unwanted animals are becoming a very real concern. As a potential source of rabies and other diseases, they can become a public health hazard. The capture, impoundment, and eventual destruction of unwanted animals will cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

Facts about Spaying/Neutering:

Spaying will not cause your dog to get fat or lazy. This comes from overfeeding and poor exercise.
Personalities are not altered by spaying. Personalities do not fully develop until two years of age. Aggressiveness and viciousness are not the results of surgery. Personalities will only get better!
Surgical risk in young animals is very slight due to modern anesthesia and techniques, but there is always some small risk when an anesthetic is used. It is much easier on your dog to be spayed before going through a “heat” cycle, due to the smaller size of the reproductive tract. Your dog’s veterinarian can help you determine when your dog is old enough to be spayed.
Surgery is performed painlessly while your dog is under general anesthesia. When your dog is spayed or neutered, your veterinarian will place a tube into his/her throat to protect his/her airway. Your veterinarian and his/her staff will monitor your dog carefully during and after the surgery to ensure a successful and safe outcome. Parameters monitored usually include respiratory rate, heart rate, temperature, amount of carbon dioxide being breathed out (ETCO2), amount of oxygen in the blood (PO2), electrical activity in the heart via an ECG, and blood pressure. Your dog will receive pain medications before, during and after the surgical procedure. Your dog’s veterinarian may dispense pain medication for you to give your dog at home for a few days after the surgery while your dog recovers.

Canine Blood Screening

Blood Screening is important as part of a routine canine health care program. Blood screening often allows the detection of disease in the early stages when treatment can be offered which can significantly slow or even halt the progression of the disease. In some situations, a complete cure may be possible if detected early enough. Blood screening is also important in monitoring certain diseases. Blood screening should be considered part of a routine canine health care program and should be done on a regular basis as blood values can change very quickly.
Blood screening for the disease is a routine procedure in both human and veterinary medicine.
A blood screen is the chemical and physical analysis of a small sample of blood. This analysis gives us a good overview of your dog’s overall health status.
With many disease processes, we will see subtle changes in the blood screen even before symptoms of the disease become evident.
When these changes can be detected early, we can often make changes in the diet or institute medications that will yield a longer, healthier life for your dog.
Periodic blood screens are recommended, especially for older animals, as part of a routine health check.
A pre-anesthetic blood screen may also be suggested by your veterinarian for any animal who will be undergoing anesthesia and/or sedation. This allows your veterinarian to more completely insure that your dog is healthy and can safely undergo his/her procedure.
Blood screening can frequently detect problems that would make anesthesia or sedation dangerous for your dog. Abnormal results may indicate a need to change the anesthetic protocol or even delay anesthesia or sedation until the problem is resolved.
Problems can be and are detected in animals of all ages, even young animals. However, as your dog ages, the chance of organ dysfunction increases also.
Your dog’s blood screen may include all or some of the tests listed below (the organs examined with each test are also listed):
  • Complete Blood Count: Overall Body Condition (can provide evidence of anemia, infections, or inflammation)
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): Kidney Function.
  • Creatinine: Kidney Function.
  • SGPT: Liver Function
  • Alkaline Phosphatase: Liver Function.
  • Bilirubin: Liver Function.
  • Blood Sugar: Pancreas Function (Possibility of Diabetes
  • Calcium: Bone Content.
  • Total Protein: Kidney, Liver, Intestinal Disease
  • Albumin: Kidney, Liver, Intestinal Disease
  • Amylase: Pancreatic Disease, Kidney Disease
  • Phosphorus: Electrolyte Balance
  • Sodium: Electrolyte Balance
  • Potassium: Electrolyte Balance
  • Globulin: Intestinal Disease, Immune Function (can indicate the presence of antibodies)
  • T4: Thyroid function

Canine Hypertension

Blood Pressure Monitoring is a way to determine whether your dog is suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure). Certain types of diseases significantly increase your dog’s chances of developing high blood pressure and blood pressure monitoring can become an important tool in helping to treat your dog for these diseases. Any dog suffering from heart disease or kidney disease should have their blood pressure checked regularly.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a condition that can affect both dogs and cats. Monitoring blood pressure is the only way to know whether your dog is suffering from hypertension.

Causes Of Hypertension:

There are many causes of hypertension.
Kidney failure is one of the most common causes of both dogs and cats. As your dog gets older, the kidneys begin to wear out, making it harder for the blood to filter through. This causes a backup of blood into the arteries and an increase in blood pressure.
Heart disease is another common cause of hypertension in dogs and cats. Cardiomyopathy is a specific type of heart disease. It is a condition resulting in a thickening of the heart muscle. This thickening causes the heart to pump much harder, resulting in a rise in blood pressure.
Other causes of hypertension in dogs are endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease.
In addition, some drugs can increase blood pressure in both dogs and cats.
It is thought that psychological stress (fear, apprehension, anger, etc.) may be a contributing factor to hypertension also, just as in humans.

Symptoms Of Hypertension:

The most common clinical sign of hypertension is sudden blindness. High blood pressure can cause the retina to detach, causing widely dilated pupils that do not constrict when exposed to bright light.

Diagnosis Of Hypertension:

Blood pressure monitoring is not as common in dogs and cats as it is in people because it is not as easy to measure in cats and dogs as it is in people. However, it is now starting to become much more common.
Hypertension is defined as an increase in blood pressure above normal values. Your dog’s veterinarian may advise monitoring your dog’s blood pressure if he/she is diagnosed with any of the conditions discussed above.

Treatment Of Hypertension:

If hypertension is caught early enough, treatment is available. There are medications available that can help lower the blood pressure directly, such as atenolol, amlodipine, and diltiazem.
However, for long-term success in treating this condition, it is important to determine and treat the underlying cause, as well as hypertension itself.
Once the retina has detached, blindness is usually permanent, especially if the detachment is longer than 24 hours in duration.

Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)

An Electrocardiogram is often called an EKG or an ECG. It is a means of measuring the electrical activity of your dog’s heart and can be an early indicator of heart disease. If certain types of heart disease are suspected, such as irregular heartbeats, an electrocardiogram may be recommended for your dog.
Heart problems are commonly found in both dogs and cats.
Specific breeds of dogs, such as Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes, and Yorkshire Terriers may be born with heart problems or develop problems at a very early age. In these breeds, the condition of cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) results in a thinning and deterioration of the heart muscle resulting in the inability of the heart to pump with sufficient force to maintain the body’s normal state.
Older dogs of all breeds may develop congestive heart failure as the heart ages.
Most heart problems will not show visible clinical signs in your dog until late in the disease. By the time clinical signs are observed, the heart is usually already severely damaged.
In some cases, life expectancy once clinical signs develop may be short, only a few months to a year or two.
The most commonly used diagnostic criteria for evaluating heart disease in dogs is through the use of radiographs (or X-Rays) of the chest of the dog and/or cardiac ultrasonography (also known as echocardiography). However, electrocardiograms (EKG or ECG) are also sometimes evaluated for these dogs, looking for cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
ECGs measure the electrical activity of the heart. The most common application for evaluating ECGs is to look for evidence of cardiac arrhythmias and ECG is really the only accurate device which can be used to determine whether the heartbeat is normal or abnormal. Therefore, an ECG is commonly done along with chest radiographs and/or cardiac ultrasound studies.
Another very common application for the monitoring of the ECG is anesthesia. When a dog is placed under a general anesthetic or even a sedative, it is customary to monitor the ECG for arrhythmias which may be caused by the anesthetic agents used. This allows for appropriate and rapid intervention in the event of an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic agent.


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