Preventative healthcare for dogs
If your dog needs to see a vet it doesn’t take long for the cost of consults and treatment to add up. Although we can’t protect our dogs from all diseases and illnesses, there are several preventative treatments we can give to our dogs to minimise the risks.
It is estimated that more than half of all dogs in the UK are not vaccinated. The vaccination protects against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, para-influenza and leptospirosis, many of which can be fatal if contracted and have no specific cure. A dog can start its vaccinations as a puppy from 8 weeks of age. The primary vaccination course is carried out with 2 injections given 3 weeks apart. Following this is an annual booster which is required to keep immunity levels effective. If the booster vaccination is missed then the dog will need to be given the primary course again. All vaccinations need to be carried out by a vet.
Fleas are a great nuisance to us so you can only imagine how irritating and uncomfortable they are for your dog. Not only that, some dogs are highly allergic to flea bites, known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). As a result they can suffer from a variety of symptoms such as skin irritations, bald patches, scabby skin or spots. This may cause the animal to lick or bite at itself leading to infection and a trip to the vets. Even if your dog does not suffer from FAD it is still an unpleasant thing to live with. A severe infestation can also cause anaemia in puppies, and the cat flea (which is the most common flea found on dogs) can also spread worms. It is therefore important to give you a dog deworming medication if fleas have been seen.
Once you have seen a flea on your dog it is likely that you have a bigger problem. For every 5 fleas seen on your dog there will be another 95 fleas living in your house. Fleas will only jump onto an animal to feed and lay eggs and will then live in the carpets, bedding etc. Due to the complex nature of the flea life cycle, it can take several months to be rid of a heavy flea infestation.
To avoid getting an infestation you can use flea treatment as a preventative care every 4-8 weeks. It is important to use a veterinary product (these can also be found on the internet and in some pet shops in locked cabinets as well as vet practices) as these are much more powerful and effective than products sold in supermarkets.
If you have seen fleas it is important to treat your house as well as your dog. For the best effect you should vacuum all the areas that the dog is allowed including any chairs/sofas/rugs the dog may sit on. Wash the dogs bedding along with your own or any cushions or throws he may sit on and follow this by using a household spray, paying particular attentions to all nooks and crannies.
There are 2 types of worms that can affect a dog, the tapeworm and the roundworm. Tapeworms are made up of segments and these will be passed out of the dogs’ anus. These segments can move so you may see them wriggling in the fur around the dogs back end, looking like small, white caterpillars. Roundworms do not have segments and can vary in size from threadlike types barely visible through to the size of a common earthworm and are often seen in the dogs’ faeces.
Some dogs may show no signs of an infestation but for those who do symptoms can include; Diarrhoea, anaemia, foul breath, loss of appetite, general loss of condition, failure to gain weight, coughing (in the case of lungworm) and in puppies a distended belly can often be seen.
Puppies can be born with worms as these can be passed on from the mother if she is infected. The bitch can be treated whilst pregnant and puppies should be given regular treatment from 8 weeks of age (see individual product information for correct dosage). Adults should be treated approximately every six months with a veterinary product.
As well preventing unplanned pregnancies and unwanted litters, having your pet neutered has numerous health benefits. It can vastly reduce the risk of issues arising from aggression, roaming and hormonal problems. The age that a dog can be neutered will vary between breeds but it is a good idea to let your dog hit puberty first, and in the case of females, let them have their first season. If in doubt as to when would be a good time, please see our Neutering leaflet, speak to your vet or call Wood Green for more advice.
Vet fees can be very expensive especially if your dog develops an on-going problem, needs long term medication or has a sudden accident; it doesn’t take long for the cost to mount up. Having pet insurance can ease the burden and give you peace of mind. As with all insurance premiums vary significantly in price but also in what is covered, so when you shop around do read the small print carefully. Some companies will pay the vet directly but some will require you to pay the vet first and then will reimburse you which can be quite an expensive way of making a claim. Most companies will not provide cover for any pre-existing conditions and there will be an excess to pay on claims you make. Each company will often have several levels of insurance, these will vary between companies but the following is a rough guide:
- 12 month cover: this will cover your dog for an accident or illness for a 12 month period up to a set amount (e.g. £3,000) per condition. If you make a claim for a condition within this time you will no longer be able to make a further claim for the same condition once the 12 months has expired. This type of policy is useful if you own an older dog or one with several pre-existing conditions that would not covered anyway, also if you cannot afford a higher premium, some cover is better than none.
- Lifetime cover: this will provide cover for on-going illnesses throughout the dogs’ life (provided you do not take a break in your cover) up to a set amount each policy year (e.g. £4000-7000). Often third party liability insurance will be included here. This type of policy means that you can make a claim for the same problem more than once.
- Top lifetime cover: Some companies will offer a ‘premium’ lifetime cover that offers the same benefits as the standard lifetime cover but with a higher claim amount available (e.g. up to £14,000).
- 3rd party insurance: some companies will offer stand-alone 3rd party insurance which will cover veterinary costs and legal cover should your dog cause an accident or attack another animal.