If you care for your dog, it is important to learn to recognise the early stages of illness. Treatment given promptly is much more likely to be effective, and delay in getting proper advice does not give your Veterinary Surgeon a fair chance to help you. An observant, thoughtful owner will soon observe the small difference in behaviour indicating the onset of an illness that an outsider would miss.


The most common symptoms of illness in a dog are listlessness, that is to say a reluctance to leave the basket, or go for a walk, loss of appetite, weight loss, excessive thirst, excessive urination, vomiting, or diarrhoea. If your dog is reluctant to leave his bed, it may be that he is suffering from a generalised illness, or that he is suffering from pain or injury to a limb which prevents him from getting up. It sometimes happens that a dog which has suffered some minor injury or strain, which was not noticed during exercise, will stiffen up while lying in his basket, and find himself almost unable to get up on the following day. Taking a tit-bit of some kind to his basket will usually help to differentiate between these two kinds of trouble. An ill dog will usually refuse food, but one with some localised injury (unless he is in great pain) will usually eat.


It has always been considered that a dog with a hot nose is ill, but this is not necessarily the case. A normal dog, and especially a puppy, will very often have a warm dry nose when he wakes up from a sleep. Equally, a dog with a cold wet nose may sometimes be found to be running a temperature. However, a runny nose, especially if there is a thick discharge, may well be a danger sign. Dogs do not suffer from common colds in the human sense and a runny nose might indicate the onset of a more serious condition, e.g. kennel cough, distemper, or hepatitis.


It is important in the case of suspected illness or injury to be able to examine your dog thoroughly. A little applied common sense would tell you whether the problem is a minor ailment or injury, which you could attend to yourself, or whether you should get in touch with your Veterinary Surgeon for advice. Unless your dog is a real heavyweight, you will probably find it helpful to stand him on a low table under a good light to make a proper examination. If some painful area, such as an injured nail or paw is to be examined, even the best mannered dogs may snap. The best method of restraint is to use a muzzle, and it is better to apply it from the start, rather than to wait until the dog has become upset and difficult, or you have been bitten. It is possible to buy leather or plastic muzzles to fit most sizes of dogs, but it is quite easy to improvise a satisfactory substitute, using a length of strong bandage. A loop of bandage is slipped over the dog's nose, crossed under the jaw, and then tied firmly behind the ears (see diagrams). The pressure of the muzzle rests on the bones of the dog's nose, and does not restrict breathing, but quite effectively prevents biting. If you have a dog which is really unmanageable, your Veterinary Surgeon may be willing to give you a tranquillising tablet to administer before taking the patient to the surgery for an examination.


Wounds in the dog are often obscured by hair, especially in the more shaggy members of the species. If you suspect that your dog might have an injury, first clip the hair away carefully, using a pair of blunt-ended scissors if possible, and then bathe the wound using a weak antiseptic or a simple saline solution. Small cuts are often found in the pads and in the web of the paw as a result of broken glass. If the wound is very small, it may be sufficient to bathe it well and then keep it covered with a bandage or clean sock for a day or two. If the wound looks large enough to require stitching, or if it appears infected, or if there is a lot of bleeding, always get advice from a Veterinary Surgeon.


Haemorrhage may be of two kinds. The most common is venous (as the result of damage to a vein). In this, while there may be quite a lot of blood, it is darkish in colour, and the bleeding is fairly easy to control. Arterial haemorrhage is less common, because arteries are stronger and found deeper in the body, but this is much more serious. Bright red blood spurts from the damaged blood vessel and the bleeding is very difficult to stop. It is important to get in touch with a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. First aid The best method to stop bleeding is to apply a pressure bandage. Put plenty of cotton wool over the bleeding point, and bandage firmly. Do not bathe the wound, or remove the bandage even if the blood starts to show through (see illustrations of bandage applications p. 69). Keep the patient as quiet and warm as possible. Apply a tourniquet In very severe arterial haemorrhage in a limb, it may sometimes be necessary to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. A tourniquet can be improvised using a strong clean handkerchief or an elasticated belt. Apply the handkerchief as a tight bandage above the point of bleeding (nearer to the head) and tie the two ends. If this is insufficient to check the bleeding, slip a pencil into a layer of the bandage, and twist to exert greater pressure. Warning -A tourniquet must never be left on continuously for longer than ten minutes. It will cut off all blood supply to the limb and gangrene might ensue, which may well result in the death of the patient.


It is not always easy to tell if a limb is broken and an x-ray may be necessary. However, if the leg hangs limply and the animal is unable to support any weight, a fracture should be suspected and help obtained as soon as possible. Try to keep the dog as still as possible. It is a help to transport the patient in its own basket or bed. Compound Fracture - This is the term applied to a fracture in which there is also an open wound, often with fragments of bone visible through the opening. Simply cover the wound in a clean linen cloth. Do not attempt to push pieces of bone back into the wound. Seek Veterinary advice immediately. Greenstick Fracture - This term is used to describe what happens in the bones of young animals or diseased bones. The bones are softer and tend to bend rather than shatter as they do in an older animal, with an incomplete fracture line.


In the dog, the temperature is taken by inserting a thermometer (moistened with a little petroleum jelly) about two inches into the rectum, applying gentle pressure to lie the thermometer against the rectal walls. It is wise to get someone to help you with this job, as thermometers are very easily broken if the patient struggles. A Veterinary thermometer is a useful aid. This is rather heavier than the human variety, has a blunt end, and is easier to read. Normal temperature in the dog is about 101.57 (38.5°C). The temperature may be raised after exercise, but in a listless dog a rise of more than 1.57 (i.e. to 103.F or 41 .C) probably indicates the onset of illness. A depressed temperature is found normally in a bitch just before whelping, but it also occurs as a result of shock, or collapse, when it is a very serious indication of ill health.


It is possible to detect the pulse in the femoral artery which runs on the inner side at the top of the hind leg, in the groin, but there may be considerable variations (62-130/minute), and it is rather the quality of the pulse beat (which can be detected by an experienced person) than the rate, which gives an indication of the dog's state of health.


If a dog is generally fussy about his food, it is probably an indication that you are overfeeding him, but if a normally hungry dog refuses his food, it may well be a sign of illness. However, it is as well to check that he has not had a chance to get at a rubbish bin, or some left-over bones, before starting to worry seriously, and to make sure that there is no physical reason interfering with eating, such as a piece of stick or bone lodged in the mouth.

A cough may be a symptom of some general illness such as kennel cough, tonsillitis, distemper, or hepatitis. It can also sometimes indicate an obstruction, such as a bone in the throat, although generally the animal will become quickly distraught and paw at the mouth if a bone or stick is lodged. In elderly dogs, a soft cough is often heard as a result of heart trouble, particularly after the dog becomes active after sleeping. Coughing in puppies can be due to roundworm infestation; the larvae, during their life cycle, migrate through the lungs, before developing in the intestines into adult worms (see Chapter 5 on Internal Parasites). Because of the extreme seriousness of kennel cough, roundworms, distemper, or hepatitis in young puppies, it is always wiser to treat a cough as a possible symptom of illness, and to consult a Veterinary Surgeon rather than to attempt treatment on your own. It must be emphasised again that dogs do not get coughs and colds as a result of the common cold virus of humans, and they cannot catch or transmit human colds.

These two conditions can easily be confused. If you notice that your dog is straining, apparently trying to pass a motion, this may be due to the presence of hard faeces in the rectum, often as a result of eating bones, but it may also be due to the fact that he has passed a liquid motion, and now is straining hard, but is only getting rid of a little mucus or blood. Never administer a laxative without being completely certain which condition you are treating. Harsh laxatives, such as castor oil, are rarely given now. They cause abdominal pain and the immediate laxative effect is often followed by a secondary constipation. Liver, while it is an excellent food for dogs, may sometimes cause diarrhoea, so it is wise to check on the content of any tinned foods which are fed. A sudden change in diet is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea. Try to keep your dog on as stable a diet as possible, and introduce any dietary changes gradually.

Dogs will quite often pass blood following severe diarrhoea, but it is a symptom which should be taken seriously. It may indicate colitis or parvovirus infection, and it is best always to consult a Veterinary Surgeon.

It is best to cut out food completely for 24 hours and give only small drinks of glucose and water (one teaspoonful of glucose dissolved in one cup of water). If the condition improves, give a light diet such as steamed fish or chicken, with a little brown bread or rice, for a day or two. If the diarrhoea does not improve within 2 days, always consult a Veterinary Surgeon, as it can soon lead to considerable loss of condition. Straining is usually caused by some discomfort in the bowel, but it may also result from inability to pass urine due to some obstruction in the bladder (e.g. stones), or to pain in the bladder as a result of cystitis. In older male dogs, straining may indicate an enlarged prostate, and in the pregnant bitch it may signal the start of whelping. If a dog has not been observed to urinate for 12 hours, advice should be sought. Dogs seem to have a natural tendency to regurgitate their food on occasions and it is not uncommon for a healthy dog which has eaten his meal to quickly bring it back almost unchanged and to immediately eat it again.

If vomiting is persistent, this is a much more worrying symptom and must be taken seriously. It can be one of the early symptoms of a number of illnesses ranging from gastro-enteritis, to kidney disease and jaundice, or pyometra (see Chapter 7) in the bitch. It may also be an indicator that the dog has swallowed a foreign body, that is to say some object which cannot be digested and will soon set up an obstruction with symptoms of serious illness. In the case of puppies, this may be something like a child's toy, which it has picked up from the floor, but with older dogs it is most often a chop or chicken bone, or a stone which has been swallowed while playing. Always seek Veterinary attention with any case of persistent vomiting within 12 hours if it has not ceased.

This often follows persistent vomiting, as a result of a ruptured blood vessel in the stomach. It is a potentially serious symptom, and it is wise to consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible.

Starvation is always the best immediate policy if there is vomiting, and it is best to withhold both food and water at first. A dog which has vomited repeatedly often develops a voracious thirst, and if it is allowed access to plain cold water it will continue a cycle of drinking and vomiting until it becomes completely dehydrated and exhausted. While waiting to consult a Veterinary Surgeon, it is best to give only small drinks (about one tablespoonful every half hour) of either boiled water or glucose and water (in the proportions of one teaspoon of glucose to one teacup of water).


It is not always easy to tell from simple observation if a dog is suffering pain. Dogs in pain may adopt an "anxious expression" and breathe more rapidly. A limp is usually a sign of pain in the limb, but may equally result from shortening of the limb following a healed fracture. A dog with a slipped disc syndrome will cry out in pain, but one with a serious abdominal condition will, as a rule, stand with his back arched and look wretched. Dogs cannot tell us how they feel, so it is really important that the owner who is in any doubt should consult a Veterinary Surgeon.


If your dog is under treatment by a Veterinary Surgeon it is important to carry out all the instructions you are given. Tablets or medicines should always be given at the correct time. However, if you are unable to give them, or feel that they are not suiting your dog, always ring up for advice, rather than waiting until your next appointment, and leaving the dog without medication meanwhile. As a general rule, a sick dog requires warmth and quiet. See that the basket or bed is in a peaceful corner, near a radiator, or give a well-wrapped hot water bottle to supply comfort. Unless advised otherwise in a particular case, fresh water should be freely available. Lactol, or egg beaten in milk, is an excellent invalid food. Broth made from chicken or rabbit is usually very acceptable, and the many strained meat and fish preparations now available for babies are excellent for tempting a sick dog, as well as there being a range of prescription diets specific to various ailments.

Dogs, like people, usually feel better when ill if they are clean and tidy, so don't give up your grooming routine. Your dog will quite appreciate a gentle brushing or combing, and any discharge from the eyes or nose should be carefully bathed and cleaned away. Blankets and bed covers should be regularly changed and washed.

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If your dog is suffering from an infectious disease it really is important to see that he is kept as far as possible completely isolated. This means exercising only in your own garden or yard, and it is better to discourage any dog-owning friends from coming to call, as infection can easily be carried on clothes or shoes. After a contagious disease such as mange or ringworm, all bedding should be destroyed, not forgetting the collar and lead. After a case of distemper or parvovirus, it is not safe to bring another dog (unless it is inoculated) into the house for several months.


After a road accident, it is often quite difficult to assess the amount of damage incurred by an animal. A dog may sometimes be knocked unconscious and then quite suddenly recover, and be completely normal. Equally, a dog which at first seems unhurt may collapse later as a result of internal haemorrhage. While waiting for the opinion of a Veterinary Surgeon, it is best to keep the dog as quiet and warm as possible. If at all possible, get him inside, and if you suspect that there may be a broken limb try to improvise a stretcher, or carry him in his own box or basket to avoid any unnecessary movement. Cover any open wounds with a clean, dry cloth. Take care to ensure a distressed dog does not bite you.


Giving tablets and medicines to dogs often seems to present great problems to the owner. If the dog is still taking food, it is well worth trying persuasions. It is not advisable to put tablets in the main meal, as they are usually found, and the dog becomes very suspicious of its next meal. Much better to put the tablet, or halved tablet if it is a large one, into a piece of butter, cheese or meat, and give it separately as a treat - but give your dog credit for having some intelligence and carry out the disguising out of sight. In the case where a dog is ill and off food, a more direct approach must be used. If the tablets are likely to have an unpleasant taste, it is better to put them in a small piece of cheese before giving them. Sit your dog down, preferably in a corner where he cannot back away, then open the mouth with a hand on the upper jaw, just behind the canine (fang) teeth, and with the other hand, push the tablet right to the back of the tongue, as far down as possible. Hold the mouth shut, in an elevated position, until you are sure that he has swallowed. Stroking the throat area will encourage swallowing. Liquid medicines are much easier to give. If necessary, a difficult tablet can usually be crushed to a powder, and mixed with a little water to give as a liquid. However, you should telephone the manufacturer first to check that this is OK, as some tablets must be given whole. Sit your dog down, tilt the head back slightly, then without opening the jaw, pull out the pouch of skin at the corner of the mouth, and pour the dose of medicine down slowly. It will trickle between the teeth to the back of the mouth, and your dog will usually swallow quite readily. If you are on your own, it is easier to measure the dose of medicine into a small bottle or syringe, rather than attempt to hold a spoon in a wobbly hand. If any creams or dressings are to be applied to the dog's skin, it is well worth carrying out the job immediately before a walk. The subsequent distractions will serve to prevent the dog from sitting down and licking off all the dressing and ensure that external applications do not become internal ones.


In the wild state, it is true that dogs probably licked their wounds, but there are many occasions when a bandage is necessary; to prevent haemorrhage, to prevent dirt getting into a wound, or to prevent a dog from opening up a wound that has been stitched. Wounds affecting the limbs and paws are probably the most common ones that an owner encounters, and it is a great help to be able to apply a satisfactory bandage. In dealing with the paw, it is best to pack wisps of cotton wool between the toes to avoid constriction of the pads. Even when the wound is higher up the limb, it is wiser to include the foot in the bandage. A Tails constricting bandage placed half way up a limb will have an effect rather like a tourniquet, and the lower half of the leg will start to swell. Having thoroughly cleansed the wound, apply an antiseptic dusting powder or an antiseptic lotion, and cover with a piece of clean gauze. Next, apply a layer of cotton wool all over the leg to prevent constriction and bandage with an even pressure, starting from the foot. Crepe bandages are particularly good for this purpose, as the elasticity helps to grip the limb. Finally, add a few bands of adhesive plaster strip, catching the hair, to prevent the bandage slipping or being pulled off by the patient, and cover the whole leg with a man's stretch sock to keep the dressing clean.

Tails are especially difficult to bandage satisfactorily, because the dressings can so easily be wagged or pulled off. Start with gauze and a layer of cotton wool as with the foot, but when bandaging, take care to fold back groups of hairs and include them in the bandage layers to prevent it from slipping off. Finish with bands of adhesive plaster which extend beyond the bandage onto the hair of the tail. When bandaging the tail, include hair The tail bandage should be finished with in each turn of the first layer to prevent adhesive plaster that extends onto slippage uncovered hair

Ears are very susceptible to injury as a result of fights or barbed wire, and they tend to bleed very profusely. The situation is worsened by the dog's natural tendency to shake its head, so it is essential that the ear is immobilised by a firm bandage. At the same time, care must be taken to avoid constriction of the throat, so this is another case where a crepe bandage is helpful. Apply a fairly generous pad of cotton wool to both sides of the ear, and in the case of long-eared breeds, fold the ear back over the top of the head. Apply the bandage around the head, leaving the unaffected ear free, as a peg, or anchor, to prevent the bandage from slipping back. Finish with strips of adhesive plaster, and finally make a balaclava helmet out of the leg and welt of a man's sock (leaving a hole for the free ear) to protect the dressing, and keep it clean. Ear bandage. The affected ear is covered, while the other is left free to act as an anchor for the bandage. Ensure the bandage is only finger-tight at the throat. Body wounds can be quite difficult to deal with, and bandages are often necessary to protect surgical wounds, particularly in the abdominal area. A "many-tailed" bandage, that is to say a broad strip of old sheet with ties all the way along, is usually effective in covering an abdominal wound. If two holes are made to take the front legs it will prevent the bandage from slipping back (see diagram). Alternatively, a child's sweater, with the dog's front legs going through the armholes, will make an effective cover for most of the body. A clean piece of gauze can be stitched inside the jacket to cover the affected area. A body bandage suitable for covering abdominal wounds This usually consists of a funnel of strong cardboard, or more commonly plastic, which is attached to the dog's collar, and projects forward beyond the muzzle. It is an effective way of preventing a dog from rubbing at injuries on the head, and it will also prevent it from biting at the limbs or body in cases of sutures.


The sad time may come when we have to decide to end the life of a much-loved pet. This is always a very difficult decision to make, and it is only too easy for a devoted owner to keep a pet alive longer than is really kind. If you genuinely feel that your dog, as a result of illness or old age and infirmity, is unable to enjoy life, it is much better to face facts and make a decision. The break will have to come soon and you may well reproach yourself if you allowed your pet to suffer for a few unnecessary days or weeks. Equally, there are occasions when a dog has to be destroyed because it is unmanageable, or vicious. It is the owner's duty to see that it is painlessly destroyed, rather than to pass it on, with all its problems, to someone else. Euthanasia by pentobarbitone injection is by far the best and most humane method. Your Veterinary Surgeon can supply a strong tranquillising tablet which will save the dog from being frightened or alarmed when taken to the surgery or clinic. He will then be given an injection (usually intravenously) which will induce deep anaesthesia, followed by a painless death.


This chapter is intended to help the owner to recognise or understand some of the more common ailments of the dog, but it is not intended to be a manual of home treatment. It is important to remember that since your dog cannot talk, it is only too easy for the owner to be mistaken when diagnosing a complaint, and in this way the dog may, quite unintentionally, be caused unnecessary suffering. In all areas, veterinary surgeons are available for consultation, and there are welfare clinics in most regions for those who are unable to pay fees. If you suspect that your pet is ill, don't delay; consult expert advice at once.


An abscess is usually seen in the form of a raised, painful swelling caused by the formation of pus under the skin, and they may occur anywhere. The swelling, as a rule, will gradually increase in size and become tense, until it bursts to discharge pus and blood. There may be a rise in temperature and the dog will feel ill, lose his appetite, and may resent handling. Abscesses often form as a result of dog, fox, or rat bites, or from the presence of grass awns in the paws or limbs. Anal Glands Abscess - See Anal Glands. Tooth Abscess - The most common tooth abscess is the malar abscess, which develops as a result of infection at the root of the large carnassial molar tooth in the upper jaw. The symptoms are the development of a swelling on the dog's cheek, just below the eye. The swelling eventually bursts, but continues to fill up and reform. The condition will not heal until the affected tooth has been removed, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon. First Aid Treatment - For a superficial abscess, the best treatment is to bathe with warm water an a proprietary antiseptic or saline solution until such time as the abscess bursts. Continue to bathe the wound to keep it open and prevent healing taking place too quickly, or the abscess will soon reappear. In all except very minor cases, antibiotic treatment will be necessary, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


"Nettle rash" is the skin reaction of a particular dog (or person) to a food, or other substance. It can best be understood by considering the fact that while many people eat shellfish without the slightest ill effect, in a few people it causes a rash or other symptoms. In the dog, it is often extremely difficult to be certain what has produced the symptoms, but a reaction to a wasp or bee sting is a common cause. Symptoms - It is usually noticed that, quite suddenly, the dog's skin is covered with raised blotches. In smooth-haired breeds, the skin over the head area may present an almost quilted appearance, and swelling of the gums or throat may cause the dog some discomfort. Treatment - In many cases, the symptoms disappear spontaneously after a few hours, but they may return again. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Antihistamine treatment will usually give quick relief from the symptoms.


These are enclosed in two pear-shaped sacs (the size of small grapes), situated under the skin at each side of the anus, in both dogs and bitches. They are scent glands and produce a very foul smelling secretion, which is normally discharged through a tiny, pore-like opening at each side of the anus. They may sometimes be removed surgically, if persistent abscesses make this necessary. In the wild state, the glands probably emptied as a result of the pressure of hard bulky material in the bowel, but with modern soft foods the glands may fail to empty and cause the dog considerable irritation and discomfort. A dog with anal gland troubles will very typically slide along the ground on his bottom, or lick and bite continually under his tail. This condition is often confused with worm infestations and it is important to be certain of the cause before carrying out treatment. In the vast majority of cases, it is anal glands and not worms which cause anal irritation. Treatment - The anal gland can be expressed (or emptied) quite easily by a Veterinary Surgeon and this is something that the owner can learn to do, if shown. Infected anal glands may continue to produce an excessive evil smelling and sometimes blood stained discharge. Antibiotic treatment is usually required. Anal Gland Abscess - In this case, the duct becomes blocked, and the anal sac fills up with septic material. A red swelling is seen at one side of the tail and the dog is usually in considerable pain. Consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible.


This is seen most commonly in young pups, and results from excessive straining, usually following an attack of diarrhoea. A portion of the bowel is extruded from the rectum, and it quickly becomes red, swollen and painful. In some cases the bowel may become telescoped upon itself, and this is known as an intussusception. First Aid - It may be possible to return the prolapse, but in most cases the dog will immediately start to strain. Consult a Veterinary Surgeon immediately.


Osten-arthritis affects the joints, more often in older dogs. Medication can provide a great deal of improvement. or your vet may prescribe other, so-called, NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


This is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. In older dogs, ascites is seen often as a result of poor heart function, but it may be possible to improve the condition with suitable drugs. Advanced cases, and those that are due to liver failure or obstructive growths, have a very poor outlook.


This is a condition which causes great worry to dog owners but as a rule, with common sense it can be dealt with. In nearly all cases, bad breath is due to either bad teeth, tartar on the teeth, or a gum infection. Get your Veterinary Surgeon to remove any teeth that are decayed. Your dog will be happier and healthier without them. Then keep the teeth clean by regularly cleaning with a toothbrush and paste, specially designed for dogs. Breath Freshener Tablets help control breath odours, particularly those caused by the type of food eaten.

A piece of bone lodged in a tooth can cause soreness, and result in foul breath, but it can soon be dealt with. In older dogs, bad breath can indicate uraemia, as a result of kidney failure. This is a very serious condition, but it will be accompanied by other signs of illness, e.g. excess thirst, weight loss, excess urination. In dogs of the spaniel type, so-called bad breath is often due to an infection in the loose folds of the lips, as a result of dribbling - consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


This is an infection of the sheath of the penis which is quite common, especially in young dogs, and can be considered as more unpleasant than serious. There is usually a copious thick yellow discharge and the dog will tend to lick and clean himself a great deal. Beaphar Foreskin Cleaner is recommended to discourage bacterial growth. In a persistent case, consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


Elderly dogs do sometimes suffer from genuine baldness and, as with humans, the prospects of improvement are poor. However, if the loss of hair is accompanied by soreness or scratching, it may indicate a skin infection (see Skin Diseases). Alopecia may also be caused by hormonal disorders. All these conditions are best diagnosed and treated by your Veterinary Surgeon.



Bites from other dogs, or from rats, foxes, etc. are a common cause of wounds and abscesses in dogs. If you know that your dog has been bitten, immediately clip the hair away from the area, and bathe with an antiseptic or saline solution, attempting to keep the wound open. Prompt treatment can do much to prevent the development of bacterial infection. However, if the bite has become septic it is important to consult your Veterinary Surgeon as antibiotic treatment may be necessary. Snakebites may occur in moorland areas. If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by an adder, keep him quiet and warm and consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible.


Cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder, occurs more often in bitches than dogs. The affected animal will strain frequently, passing only small amounts of urine, often blood-stained and often with a strong smell of ammonia. This is a painful condition and it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Bladder Stones - Stones may form in the kidneys, bladder, or urethra of dogs and bitches, as a result of the deposition of mineral salts. The symptoms are very similar to those of cystitis, but are more serious and there may be a complete inability to pass water. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. An operation may be necessary, but if the condition is caught in time there is a good chance of recovery. Unfortunately, once bladder stones are formed in your dog, there is often a tendency for the condition to recur, although specialised diets available from your Veterinary Surgeon may help in prevention.


The most common sites of bleeding in the dog are the paws, ears, and tail (see Chapter 6). Some dogs, usually the smooth coated varieties, may develop chronic bleeding of the ear tips or tail as a result of shaking the head or knocking the tail. This is a difficult condition to cure, and it is best to consult a Veterinary Surgeon.


Bronchitis is usually characterised by a cough, or noisy breathing. It may occur on its own, as a complication of distemper or other diseases, or most commonly with a heart condition in older animals. While chronic bronchitis can be alleviated by drugs, it cannot be completely cured, as a rule.


Dogs do suffer from bruises, though they are usually only noticed if they occur on the hairless areas (see Haematomas).


Many dogs develop scorching, or even burns in the winter months, as a result of sitting too close to an open fire, boiler, or electric/gas fire. Tip: Always use a fire guard. Scalds are only too common as a result of upset kettles or saucepans and they tend to be serious, because the dog's coat holds the heat. First Aid - Immediately soak the area in cold water, and if the dog will allow it, trim away the hair. The amount of damage may not be obvious at first, but after a few days blisters may appear and result in a very severe open wound. With bad scalds, the hair may never regrow on the affected places. Keep the dog quiet and warm as there may be shock, and contact a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible.


This is an old-fashioned name, which applied to all ear troubles in the dog. See Otitis.


Castration is the name given to the neutering of male dogs. The operation is generally carried out at about six months of age from choice, though it can be performed at any age.


Catarrh can be a symptom of infection in the sinuses (eg. aspergillosis), as a result of a foreign body such as a piece of stick in the nose, or due to the presence of a tumour in the nasal passages. The symptoms are sneezing, nose bleeds, or a persistent discharge from the nose. Unfortunately, the conditions can be extremely difficult to treat, and it is best to consult a Veterinary Surgeon.


This is often secondary to abnormal cervical vertebrae. This may produce acute neck pain.


Choking may often happen as a result of swallowing a bone or other foreign objects. It is dangerous to throw a small ball for a dog to catch, as these have been known to stick in the throat and cause suffocation.


Collapse may be due to a number of conditions and must be dealt with accordingly. Short-nosed dogs such as Pekes, Bulldogs, and Pugs sometimes collapse from heat stroke in summer. In this condition, the breathing may be very distressed, the tongue will be a very dark bluish colour and the dog may become unconscious. This condition is very serious, so while contacting a Veterinary Surgeon, place the patient into a cool draught, pull out the tongue to avoid choking, and if possible apply ice packs or hose down with cold water. Heart attacks and fits (see Fits) may also be causes of collapse, and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. Keep the patient quiet and warm while consulting a Veterinary Surgeon. In many cases the duration of the collapse is brief, and the dog may appear better before you are able to get help, but it is wise to get advice on future treatment. Don't despair if your dog is unconscious as a result of a road accident. As with humans, the results are very unpredictable, and the dog could make a complete recovery. Although very rare, dogs, or specially young pups, may be in a state of collapse as a result of eating sleeping tablets. Remember that young dogs will eat absolutely anything and see that all tranquillisers and other tablets are kept safely out of reach (see Poisons).


In this condition in dogs, either one or both testicles are retained in the abdomen or under the skin in the groin area. These animals may be able to breed, but it is not advisable to use them at stud, as the conditions are hereditary. In later life there is a tendency for an abdominal testicle to become abnormally enlarged and cancerous and an operation may be necessary. Therefore, surgical removal early in life is recommended.


These are basically swellings in the body which contain a fluid, or semi-fluid secretion. They are, as a rule, less painful than an abscess, unless complicated by infection. Sebaceous cysts occur very often on the skin of some varieties of dogs. If large enough to cause discomfort it is best to consult your Veterinary Surgeon as surgery may be necessary to remove them. A salivary cyst appears as a large soft swelling on one side of the jaw and usually requires surgery. A ranula is a salivary cyst under the tongue. Salivary cysts can be very difficult to cure. Ovarian cysts are due to the formation of a vesicle containing fluid on an ovary, usually causing symptoms of irregular heats or difficulties in breeding. Hormone treatment is sometimes effective but surgery may be necessary. Inter-digital cysts (cysts between the toes) cause a great deal of trouble to some dogs (see Chapter 4). They occur most commonly in dogs where the paws have a rather deep "well" between the pads where mud and dirt can accumulate. Particles of grit, or occasionally a grass seed, penetrate the skin and either form sterile cysts filled with fluid, or if there is bacterial infection, painful abscesses between the toes. Care of the paws can do much to avoid these troubles (see Chapter 4). The hair around and under the paws should be kept short, and the feet should always be well washed after exercise in muddy weather. Treatment - Bathing the foot with an antiseptic or saline solution will usually give relief, and in many cases the cyst will burst, and subside after about forty-eight hours.


Some dogs suffer from a hereditary form of deafness, and unfortunately there is no cure for this. Deafness as a result of wax in the ears seems less common in dogs than humans, but deafness as a result of old age degeneration in the internal ear is quite usual. It is not unkind to keep a deaf animal, but extra care must be taken to avoid danger in traffic. The most noticeable fact about a deaf dog is that if asleep, it fails to react as a normal dog would when anyone enters the room. Ear Cleaner can be used regularly to prevent the build-up of wax and other debris in the ear.

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Diabetes is seen most commonly in bitches of middle age, but it can occur in dogs or bitches of all ages. The symptoms are severe thirst, usually accompanied by a good appetite in the early stages, considerable loss of weight, and an increase in urination. Diabetes mellitus is due to a failure in the metabolism of sugar in the dog and can be demonstrated by the presence of sugar in the urine. Diabetes mellitus can be treated by the administration of insulin by injection, but a great deal will depend on the owner's ability as a nurse in carrying out the Veterinary Surgeon's advice, as the treatment must be continued throughout life. With diabetes insipidus there is no sugar in the urine, and diagnosis is less easy. It may be easily confused with other conditions as it causes thirst and urination.


Diarrhoea may occur as a symptom in a great many conditions (see Chapter 6). If you think it may be the result of simple over-indulgence, or from eating unusual food, starvation is the best treatment. Give no solid food at all for 24 hours, and only small drinks of glucose and water (one teaspoon of glucose to one cup of water). If this checks the diarrhoea, return gradually to a normal diet, but if there is no improvement in 24 to 48 hours, consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


A dislocation is the name given to the accidental displacement of two bones at a normal joint. A very common dislocation is that of the toe joint in greyhounds, or of the hip joint in young dogs, when characteristically one leg will be seen to be shorter than the other. It is often difficult to differentiate a dislocation from a fracture and a radiograph may be necessary, so consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. Many dislocations can be reduced by manipulation (under general anaesthetic), but in some cases it is necessary to immobilise the limb, with a splint or a plaster cast. In a few cases the dislocation may prove difficult to reduce or may constantly re-dislocate, in which case further corrective measures may be necessary.


This highly fatal viral disease of dogs is made even more serious by the fact that those patients which do recover are so often left with debilitating nervous after-effects. The virulence of the disease can vary greatly in different outbreaks (rather as in human influenza) and in the early stages it can be quite difficult to detect. Due to immunisation, its incidence has reduced considerably today, but occassional outbreaks are still recorded. Symptoms of distemper usually start within 14 days of contact with an infected animal and are very variable. Firstly, the eyes become inflamed and there is usually a discharge from both eyes and nose. The dog will sneeze and cough and may develop pneumonia as a result of secondary bacterial infection. The chewing of the foot pads may occur, hence the term "hard pad" (the colloquial term classically used to describe distemper in 3 to 6 month old pups). There is often a persistent diarrhoea and in the later stages the dog may lose control of its bowel movements. At about 6 to 8 weeks after the onset of the disease, and often when the other symptoms seem at last to be improving, nervous symptoms may commence. These may start as a twitch in an isolated group of muscles, or as fits, or as a gradual paralysis, shown at first by a trailing of the hind legs. In the great majority of cases, these symptoms become progressively worse. The dog may go into continuous fits, gradually becoming paralysed and lose all control over bladder and bowels. From this stage recovery is very rare indeed, and the conscientious owner must consider whether euthanasia is the kindest course. Nervous manifestations can be delayed for around 2 years after a clinical episode of distemper, and the virus may be responsible for old dog encephalitis in later years. Prevention - Nowadays, dogs need not get distemper, as the preventative vaccination is extremely effective. Consult your own Veterinary Surgeon about the correct age for vaccination (usually from about eight weeks old) and remember that it is essential to see that your pup does not come in contact with the infection before he is vaccinated. This means that he must be kept either in the house, or in a totally enclosed yard or garden, as distemper virus is extremely infectious and contagious, and can even be spread by inhalation. Booster injections are needed to maintain your pet's immunity at a satisfactory level, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon about the appropriate time.


This very serious condition is seen in bitches which are feeding pups or very occasionally in late pregnancy and is due to a deficiency of calcium in the blood stream (see Chapter 2).


These two names are usually applied to skin conditions for which there is no obvious infective agent. Skin infections due to external parasites are fully dealt with in Chapter 5. Having said this, it is still true that what we term as eczema may be due to the presence of just one or two fleas in a dog which is highly sensitive or allergic to them. If your dog is scratching, particularly at the base of the tail, with no particular evidence as to the reason, it is always worth treating him with a flea product first.

Nowadays, skin irritations of unknown origin are an extremely difficult problem amongst dogs. It is thought that the majority are allergic in nature - that is to say, that the dog is sensitive to some particular item in its surroundings or in its food, but identifying the substance can be very difficult. Wool and detergents are some of the things which have been blamed, but to eliminate them from your dog's surroundings is almost impossible. Particular foods may not suit individual dogs, so it is worth excluding one food at a time from your dog's diet, for about a fortnight at a time, and seeing if this produces any improvement. Advice concerning food exclusion diets and skin tests for hypersensitivity is available from your Veterinary Surgeon. In some cases, it is possible to desensitise the animal.

Before assuming that your dog's skin troubles are due to an allergy, have a good look at the state of his coat. If there are mats or tangles or dead hair which need thinning out, don't be surprised if he is itchy and uncomfortable. Finally, most dogs are more prone to skin troubles in warm weather. This may simply be as a result of the increased temperature, and Rock Sulphur or Cooling Tablets may help to alleviate the itchiness, but as this period coincides with the time that external parasites are most common, we have come full circle and can certainly say that the great proportion of dogs' skin conditions are still due to parasites, e.g. fleas and mange.

First Aid Measures - If your dog suddenly develops an acutely irritable or sore and weeping lesion, it is best to consult your Veterinary Surgeon. In the meantime, it is usually safe to clip away the hair from the affected area, and protect the area either with a loose covering, or by means of an Elizabethan Collar, to prevent the dog from making the condition worse than it need be. It is wise not to apply thick, air-excluding creams to the lesion.

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This term is sometimes applied to the brain symptoms caused by the distemper virus (see Distemper).


This is a congenital condition affecting the eyelids of dogs, especially Chows and Spaniels. Either the top or bottom eyelid, or both, are inturning, and, as a consequence, the lashes rub continually on the eyeball, causing irritation and weeping. This condition can be cured by one or several corrective operations, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


The dog, unlike man, has a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane. This is a pinkish membrane situated in the inner corner of the eye, which is particularly obvious in Bloodhounds and Spaniels. This is a perfectly normal part of the dog's anatomy and serves as a protection in any painful condition of the eye. Many owners on seeing the third eyelid across the eye assume that the dog is going blind, but of course this is not true.

Conjunctivitis - This may result from a foreign body of some kind in the eye or from an infection. As a first aid measure, bathe the eye gently with Eye Lotion, or with cool water (which has been first brought to the boil to kill any germs), but consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible

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Eye Ulcers - These are abrasions to the eye surface and they are common in dogs such as Pekes which have bulging eyes. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible as these are not only very painful, being associated with severe blinking (blepharospasm), but can also lead to complete loss of sight in the affected eye. It is most important to prevent the dog from scratching at the eye and making the condition worse.

Glaucoma - This is a condition associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye. The whites of the eye (sclera) will appear intensely reddened. Consult a Veterinary Surgeon as treatment can improve this condition which, if left, will result in blindness. It may occur in Beagles, American Cocker Spaniels, and Basset Hounds as a primary condition and these animals may be quite young. It may also occur secondary to lens luxation, which is more common in the older terrier.

Cataract - This is an opacity, or clouding of the lens of the dog's eye. In almost all dogs, the lens becomes denser with age, and is seen as a bluish shadow at the centre of the eye, or sometimes as a greenish gold reflection in the eye in an artificial light, and this is quite normal. In most cases the dog is still able to see, though less well, and there is no need for any treatment. In true cases o~ cataract, the lens will appear chalky white, and the dog will be blind. This may be hereditary and seen in the young animal, or associated with eye diseases, or be secondary to diabetes mellitus. Some cases will respond to surgery.

Blindness - If your dog loses his sight, it may still be possible for him to enjoy his life with a little extra care from his owner. Much depends on individual circumstances, but it is worth considering all aspects before deciding to part with your pet. Dogs depend almost as much on their senses of sound and smell as on their sight.

Prolapsed Eyeball - In breeds such as Pekes with protruding eyeballs the eyes sometimes come out of their sockets, as a result of accidents or fights. It is sometimes possible to replace the eye immediately, by lifting the loose skin above and below the eye to allow the eye to fall back into it's socket, and then applying a cold, clean compress. If not, contact a Veterinary Surgeon immediately, or the eye may be totally damaged and have to be removed.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Known as PRA, this is an inherited condition causing blindness in certain breeds, eg. Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Briards, Cardigan Corgis, English Springer Spaniels, Tibetan Terriers, Irish Setters, Poodles, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniels, Cairns, Elk Hounds, Australian Cattle dogs, Irish Wolfhounds, Lhasa Apso's and Schnauzers.


Dogs in riverside areas quite frequently pick up fish hooks all over their bodies, and suffer accordingly. Most fish hooks are barbed, so take great care in trying to remove them. If in difficulty, consult your Veterinary Surgeon. He will be able to give a local or general anaesthetic to make the job painless.


In the period usually about six to nine weeks after the end of a season, a bitch, although she has not been mated, will often show all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy (see Chapter 2).


Fits may be divided into two groups: 1. Puppy Fits - These are unusual and may, in some cases, be associated with roundworm infestation. They are usually only transient in nature, but it is wise to consult your Veterinary Surgeon. The puppy may seem over-excited or may fall on its side and froth at the mouth briefly. In a fit, a dog may snap, even at its owner, so it is wise to leave it alone, in a quiet dark room to recover. 2. Epileptic Fits - These are rarely seen in dogs of under eighteen months old. The fits tend to occur at fairly regular intervals, from once a year to as often as several times a day. They vary greatly in their degree of seriousness, and having started will almost always continue throughout life. A dog in an epileptic fit will usually froth at the mouth, the muscles may twitch involuntarily, and the dog will fall to the ground with the legs moving in a paddling action. It will often involuntarily empty its bladder and bowel. It may appear completely unconscious and unable to recognise anyone. The fit can last from a few seconds to ten minutes or more and afterwards the dog will appear rather dazed and unsteady for a little while. Although this description sounds very distressing, tablets prescribed by your Veterinary Surgeon can do much to control epileptic fits and many owners find it quite possible to accept and live with the situation. If a dog is fitting fully for more than 10 minutes, urgent Veterinary advice must be sought.


Many dogs suffer from flatulence, or wind, after eating some particular food such as liver. The symptoms can make them very disagreeable to live with for a while. The obvious answer is to alter the diet, and for immediate treatment, charcoal biscuits can help. A very serious kind of flatulence, sometimes seen in large breeds of dog, is due to a torsion or twist of the stomach. The dog will be in acute pain, the abdomen will be grossly distended, and the dog will stand very stiffly in one position. Contact a Veterinary Surgeon immediately.

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-See chapter 6 These may be treated by splinting, or encasing in plaster of paris to immobilise the limb. Today they are more often repaired by internal fixation, using a metal pin or plate, or external steel fixator devices.


Dogs, and especially young pups, often suffer a sudden attack of colic or stomach pain after bolting food. Food given directly from a refrigerator can produce a similar effect. Some dogs periodically vomit up a little bile, usually having eaten grass, without apparently suffering from an illness.


These get into the eyes, ears, and feet of dogs throughout the summer months. It is a wise precaution to go through your dog's coat, paying particular attention to the webs of the toes if you have been for a walk in rough grassland, and remove the culprits before they do harm.


Haematomas are large blood blisters under the skin and can occur anywhere on the body as a result of a knock, but they are seen most often in the ear flaps of long eared dogs. They appear usually as an oval, warm, fluctuating swelling under the skin and are uncomfortable, rather than acutely painful like an abscess. They are frequently self-inflicted, as a result of scratching at ears infected with ear mites. Very small haematomas will eventually re-absorb and disappear, but larger ones usually require surgery, or the ear will become permanently crumpled. Remember to treat the ear condition, together with the other ear, or the problem may recur.


In older dogs, heart disease is usually due to weakness in the heart valves, which are no longer able to maintain the blood circulation at its normal rate. The symptoms are a general slowing down, difficult breathing, sometimes with a soft cough after exertion or after sleeping. In severe cases there may be ascites (an accumulation of fluid in the body cavity). Treatment with drugs can produce a considerable improvement in the symptoms and prolong life, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Young dogs may suffer with heart disease due to disease of the heart muscle, with similar symptoms. Puppies may also suffer from congenital heart defects.


Heart failure can be extremely distressing to watch; the dog will collapse, the mouth and gums are whitishlblue in colour, and the dog gasps for breath. See a Veterinary Surgeon immediately.


Hernias result from a weakness in the muscles, which allows the protrusion of abdominal organs, or abdominal fat into the chest or under the skin, causing a soft fluctuating swelling. This may also occur at any point on the abdomen as a result of an accident, when they are more correctly termed a rupture. The more usual sites are: 1. Umbilical Hernia - This is formed at birth from a failure of the abdominal wall to heal over completely at the umbilicus. A very small umbilical hernia may do no harm, but it is wise to consult your Veterinary Surgeon in case an operation is necessary. 2. Inguinal Hernia - These may occur at either side of the lower abdomen in bitches. They should be repaired, because in pregnancy they represent a potential risk when the extra weight of puppies can enlarge the hernia opening. Inguinal hernia is much less common in male dogs, when it can develop into "scrotal hernia" as the hernia contents, usually a loop of bowel, descend into the scrotum. 3. Diaphragmatic Hernia - This may follow an accident. The partition between the abdomen and chest is damaged. The symptoms are usually acute and include distressed breathing and a reluctance to lie down. 4. Perinea) Hernia - This occurs most commonly in older male dogs, as a result of constant straining from chronic constipation or prostate gland enlargement. A soft swelling appears at one side of the anus, due to muscle breakdown and may gradually enlarge to form a circular area of swelling under the tail and around the anus. This is usually the most difficult hernia to surgically correct because of its situation, its cause, and the age of the patient.


This is a condition which may cause great anxiety to breeders of large and medium types of dogs such as German Shepherds and Retrievers, as the condition is hereditary. The symptoms of the condition are first lameness, and a weakness to rise, and on radiographic examination it will be seen that the head of the femur (the thigh bone) is malformed, and will not fit into the cup-shaped socket of the pelvic bone. Whilst one can never make the hips normal, there are many types of treatment which can help alleviate some or all of the symptoms, enabling the dog to lead a happy life. They vary from simple medication to complex surgery, and total hip replacement is now a feasibility (but very expensive!). Your Veterinary Surgeon will be able to advise you of the most appropriate treatment should you be unlucky enough to have a dog with this condition. Maintaining the dog at a healthy, light weight, is very helpful. Nowadays, most reputable breeders have the parents' hips radiographed prior to breeding as a means of screening to help reduce the incidence of this disease.


Many dogs are hoarse, or without their bark, upon return from kennels. Don't blame the kennels, but try to take your dog on holiday with you next time.


- See fits INCONTINENCE Incontinence of urine is sometimes seen in older dogs. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon as there may be many causes. Puppy Pads will help you to deal with the symptoms. Occasionally, incontinence will be seen in spayed bitches. The bitch may wet her basket without appearing to notice. This is thought to be due to a weak urethra and usually responds well to drug therapy. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Young pups may wet through excitement or nervousness, but this form of incontinence improves with maturity.

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This is an infectious disease, characterised by high temperatures, extreme depression, and thirst, and is caused by a virus which usually attacks the liver. It sometimes causes a characteristic blue opacity of the eye. The disease can be prevented by the use of modern vaccines and is thankfully uncommon today.


This is a symptom rather than a specific disease. The yellow colour, which indicates liver dysfunction, is usually noticed first on the inner surface of the lower eye-lid and lips. It then becomes visible on the bare parts of the skin and finally, in severe cases, colours the whole body including the whites of the eyes. It will be noticed that the urine is a very deep yellow, or brownish colour. The seriousness of jaundice depends on its cause and it is wise to contact your Veterinary Surgeon immediately, and to avoid handling your pet. 1. Leptospiral Jaundice - Weil's disease - This is an acute and very often fatal bacterial disease which is transmitted by rats. It is characterised by a high temperature, extreme depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst, and a jaundiced colour. This easily can be prevented by the use of modern vaccines which also protect against leptospiral kidney disease. Weil's disease can also affect man. 2. Liver Tumours - These are unfortunately rather common, usually in older dogs. The symptoms are very much like Weil's Disease but are more gradual in onset. The outlook is very poor indeed, with the onset of ascites (an accumulation of fluid) and weight loss. 3. Auto-Immune Haemolytic Anaemia - This is a disease only recently recognised. Red blood cells are destroyed and the animal becomes anaemic and jaundiced. Some cases may respond to therapy. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


An infection characterised by symptoms which may vary from a very persistent and harsh cough to a more severe generalised illness, including pneumonia. The condition occurs most often in boarding or other types of kennels. This is not as a result of any neglect on the part of the management of the kennels but rather because where a lot of dogs from different homes are gathered together, infections are liable to build up and spread. Vaccination is now available and many kennel owners now insist, in the dog's own interest, that a certificate of vaccination is shown before admission.


There are two common causes: a) acute leptospiral kidney disease, usually found in young dogs and b) chronic kidney disease of older dogs. Leptospiral kidney disease is characterised by a sudden high temperature, depression, thirst, vomiting, and loss of weight. Chronic kidney disease may result from a leptospiral infection in youth, or may be associated with the degenerative processes of old age. The kidney is no longer working as an effective filter to eliminate waste products from the body whilst retaining the valuable substances which the body needs. The result of this is a kind of self-poisoning and the dog becomes thin, develops an excessive thirst and starts vomiting. It will usually pass large quantities of rather pale-coloured urine which, if examined, will be found to contain abnormal amounts of protein (albumin). In the final stages, the dog develops uraemia (an accumulation of waste products in the blood). It will vomit constantly and in spite of all this will continue to crave for water. The tongue becomes brownish in colour and the breath has a very typical foul bitter smell. If this stage is reached, euthanasia is the only humane solution. Treatment - While kidney damage cannot be repaired, medicines and diet can do much to prolong life. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon if you suspect trouble.


This is one of the most common complaints of dogs, and it almost always indicates pain in a limb, although very occasionally it may indicate a mechanical shortening of the limb as a result of a previous injury. If your dog is lame, always examine the paw first for thorns, etc. as this is by far the most common site of injury. Fractures, dislocations, sprains or strains, or arthritis may also be causes of lameness, so if you are unable to detect the cause always consult a Veterinary Surgeon.


This is inflammation of the milk glands and, while it is usually seen in bitches which are feeding pups, it can occur even in young bitches. The symptoms are redness and a painful swelling on one or several milk glands, and the bitch may be off her food and be running a temperature. Consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible.


These are common in bitches of middle age or older, and they should always be taken seriously. They may vary from a small hard pea-like nodule on a milk gland, to a large ulcerated swelling with abscess formation. They may potentially be malignant in nature (i.e. capable of spreading through the body), and it is generally considered that early surgery gives the best chance of recovery.


- See chapter 5 on external parasites METRITIS This is an abnormal discharge from the womb or uterus and the term is usually applied to an infection after whelping (see Chapter 2). There is usually a foul smelling greenish discharge from the vulva which may be blood-stained and the bitch will run a temperature. The condition is serious so consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. (See also Pyometra).


This condition should not be confused with Mastitis.


This general term covers all inflammatory conditions affecting the ear canal of the dog. The two principle causes of ear troubles in the dog are the structure of the ear and the presence of parasites (ear mites). In addition to these, you may also get foreign bodies in the ear such as grass awns, and occasionally tumours. The shape of the deep ear canal itself predisposes to trouble. If there is any exudation, infected discharge tends to collect, rather than drain away. In some breeds, such as Poodles, hair grows from within the ear canal, and if it is not regularly removed soon becomes matted, and together with accumulated wax, leads to a painful or irritable ear. In all the flap-eared breeds (notably Spaniels and Poodles), the heavy ear flap prevents the free circulation of air around the ear, and produces a humid atmosphere ideal for the growth of bacteria and yeasts. The internal ear of the dog showing the deep canal leading from the external ear on the right Parasitic infection with the ear mite Otodectes (see Chapter 4) causes intense irritation. As a result, the dog scratches and shakes the head, causing small injuries to the inner surface of the ear; bacterial or yeast infections follow, and if treatment is not given promptly the result may be a very prolonged and intractable case of ear trouble. Care of the ears can do much to avoid ear trouble (see Chapter 4). Treatment - This will depend very much on the cause. In an uncomplicated case of parasitic otitis an immediate improvement will result from the application of ear drops. If a bacterial or yeast infection is present, the situation is more difficult. However, modern antibiotic, antifungal, and corticosteroid treatment can do much to help, so consult your Veterinary Surgeon. In some cases an operation (an aural resection) may be needed to allow adequate drainage to the ear to help recovery. In extreme cases, total ear canal removal may be necessary.


Paralysis results from injury to a nerve. The most common type of paralysis seen in dogs is posterior paralysis which may result from an injury to the spine, as a sequel to a slipped disc, or as a result of distemper infection when the degeneration of the nerves will continue (uncommon today), and the situation may not be redeemable. The dogs most commonly affected by disc disease are those with long backs and short legs, such as Dachshunds. The dog will be found to be quite unable to support its weight on the back legs, and if stood up, will characteristically try to stand on the upper surface of the bent-over paws. There is a loss of feeling in the hind limbs and the tail is unable to wag. Depending on the site of the injury, there may be paralysis of the bladder, which is a serious complication. Paralysis may extend to the fore part of the body, in which case the outlook is very grave. With a posterior paralysis, the dog is inclined to drag itself around by its fore limbs if allowed, and this, combined with incontinence of urine, soon leads to the formation of sores. Treatment will either be with corticosteroids and prolonged confinement, or surgery, depending on the nature of the problem. The best chance of recovery is to present the dog to the Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible, or damage to the spinal cord will quickly progress. Radial Paralysis - This results from damage to the radial nerve in the fore limb, usually from a blow on the front of the shoulder, where the nerve lies near the surface, almost invariably associated with a road traffic accident. The dog will trail the limb loosely from the shoulder, and it will be found that there is a complete loss of feeling over a varying amount of the limb. This condition is much more serious than it at first appears. Because there is no feeling in the leg, the dog will allow it to drag and become damaged, and when bleeding starts, the dog will gnaw at the foot, causing terrible injuries. It is advisable to protect the limb whilst waiting to see if there is any improvement. If not, consider amputation (preferably high up the limb). Many dogs have lived happily for years with only three legs.


A very serious and very contagious viral condition in dogs which tends to occur in sporadic epidemics in different districts. It is characterised by acute vomiting followed by diarrhoea, usually accompanied by bleeding, which quickly leads to dehydration and collapse. In young animals, the heart may be affected and the condition is often fatal. Fortunately, a vaccine has been developed which provides good protection. Treatment of infected dogs is often very difficult and protracted, although it may be ultimately successful. This virus is very persistent in the environment and may be passed by indirect contact. However, the disease is less common nowadays, thanks to effective vaccines.


This is a relatively uncommon condition in dogs. The symptoms are a raised temperature, loss of appetite, distressed painful breathing, a soft cough, and nasal discharge. Treatment with antibiotics may produce a rapid improvement, so consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. Pleurisy - This is usually seen as a complication of pneumonia, and is in fact an inflammation of the lining of the chest cavity and lungs. It is a serious and painful condition.


Every year many dogs are unfortunately poisoned. They should not be allowed to wander and have the opportunity to rummage through other people's dustbins or eat contaminated bait. Tablets prescribed for humans or dogs should be kept in a high cupboard (locked, if there are children in the house). Medicines which are very helpful if taken correctly can be dangerous in overdose. Rat or mouse poisons should never be put down in a house where there are pets. Even those labelled "harmless to pets" may well be dangerous if taken in large amounts. Warfarin, for example, which is the most widely used rat poison, is extremely palatable to dogs but causes fatal haemorrhages. Treatment - If you know that your dog has swallowed a poison of some kind, contact your Veterinary Surgeon immediately with details of the contents. The Veterinary Surgeon may ask you to make the dog vomit if the dog has only just eaten it. The most useful everyday substances to make dogs vomit are: 1. Washing Soda (although this is uncommon in modern households). A piece about the size of a hazelnut should be pushed down the dog's throat. 2. Strong salt and water solution - given like a dose of medicine. Then keep the dog warm and contact a Veterinary Surgeon immediately, and tell him quite clearly what kind of poison you suspect. Finally, if your dog is being sick, don't automatically conclude that he has been maliciously poisoned. Search your conscience and remember if you gave him a mutton bone a few days before.


This is a secondary sexual gland in the male dog. It is situated around the neck of the bladder and beneath the rectum. In the normal dog it is roughly the size of a marble, but as a result of enlargement, cyst, or tumour formation, usually in older dogs, it may reach the size of an orange, or even larger. Because of its situation, there may be difficulty in passing faeces or urine and the dog often strains a great deal and shows signs of pain. Treatment in cases of enlargement (hyperplasia), administering female sex hormones is usually very effective, but in some cases castration is advised to give more lasting results. In case of malignant growth, the outlook is poor, although fortunately this is a rare tumour.


Pyometra is a very common condition affecting the uterus or womb of bitches in the period up to nine weeks after a season. It is most common in the middle-age bitch but it can occur even after the first season. Symptoms - The bitch usually develops a marked thirst, she may be listless and there is vomiting in the later stages. The temperature is raised and the bitch may develop a distended abdomen, such that the owner may suspect that she is having puppies. The reason for this distention is the accumulation of very foul-smelling pus in the uterus, and if no treatment is given, the bitch will either die of a ruptured uterus, or of toxaemia from absorbing the poison into her system. Open Pyometra- In this case the cervix, or neck of the uterus, remains open, and the discharge i- overflowing and draining away all the time. Usually the first symptom that an owner notices, is that the bitch is constantly cleaning herself, as if she were in season. There is usually a pronounced thirst, and although open pyometra is less sudden in onset, it is still most invariably fatal if not treated. Treatment - If your bitch is showing any of the symptoms mentioned consult a Veterinary Surgeon as soon as possible. Postponement of even a day could cost your pet's life. In nearly all cases an ovaro-hysterectomy operation is needed, together with antibiotic treatment and fluid therapy. Do not delay in visiting your Veterinary Surgeon through dread of an operation. With modern methods of anaesthesia and tranquillisers your pet will suffer no pain or distress. There is a mistaken idea that allowing a bitch to have a litter of pups will prevent her from developing pyometra. This is not the case. The only effective way of preventing this condition is by sterilising (spaying) the bitch early in life.


Rabies is a very serious viral disease of both dogs and man which is almost invariably fatal. It does not exist in Britain because of the very strict quarantine laws that have been in place for many years now, and the more recent pet passport scheme. Rabies Vaccination - This is now allowed in certain circumstances for dogs that are going abroad. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Rabies is present in most countries of the world, notable exceptions apart from Britain, being Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malta and Cyprus. At the present time, rabies is still widespread in some European countries. There is no cure, and immediately the disease is recognised the dog has to be destroyed. Every precaution should be taken to prevent being bitten if rabies-like symptoms occur. In Great Britain it is a notifiable disease and all cases must be reported to the police.


This condition is a malformation of the bones due to an imbalance of calcium and vitamin D in the body. Nowadays, thanks to better feeding of dogs, it is extremely rare. The symptoms are poor bone growth, swollen joints, and at worst, bones that bend or fracture at a slight knock.


This is popular term both in human and veterinary medicine which is probably used also to describe many back-ache conditions. A true slipped (prolapsed) disc is an acutely painful condition and is commonly seen in the small breeds, particularly Dachshunds and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Symptoms - The dog will often stand for hours, absolutely rigid, with the muscles standing out, especially around the neck area (cervical disc) or with a "tucked up" position (lumbar disc) in an attempt to avoid any painful movement. If forced to move it will often shriek out in pain. In less severe cases the dog will be heard to yelp as it gets up or may be unable to go up a step. Treatment - In many cases rest, warmth, and pain-killing and anti-inflammatory drugs will bring relief in a few days, but in severe cases an operation may be necessary. Sometimes paralysis will result (see Paralysis).


This is a condition which seems to worry a great many owners. It is really just a shedding of the dry, superficial scales of the skin. With a sensible balanced diet, plenty of exercise and regular grooming, it should not be a problem. However, it is sometimes thought that both the perennial problem of shedding hair and scurf are probably aggravated by dogs living in over-warm centrally heated houses. Anti-Dandruff Shampoo reduces the problem of "scurf' when used regularly. If you are really worried by your pet's coat condition, always consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Simple diet additions can often solve the problem.

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SPRAINS (Strains)

Sprains or, more correctly, strains are caused by the overstretching of a muscle, or group of muscles. There is usually swelling, pain and in the case of a limb, lameness, but the condition can easily be confused with a fracture, or a local infection, so it is often wise to consult your Veterinary Surgeon.


Wasp and bee stings are very common in the summer months and cause considerable pain. If you are able to see the sting, lift it out carefully with tweezers and apply a pad of cotton wool wrung out in very cold water. In some cases the sting may produce an allergic reaction (see Allergy) and if the sting is in the mouth, as often happens, there may be considerable swelling of the tongue, salivation, and distress. Consult your Veterinary Surgeon quickly as antihistamine treatment will give quick relief and may prevent the dog choking.


Tails, because of their habit of wagging, seem rather prone to trouble. Some dogs develop a chronically bleeding tail (see Bleeding). Tails can also readily be sprained and even broken following a knock, and these seem to be very painful conditions. Some dogs are born with a kinked tail and while this is only a cosmetic fault, it may spoil them for showing.


Tail docking is sometimes necessary in the older dog as a result of injury, but may not be performed for reasons of cosmetic suitability only.


Dogs, like people, have two sets of teeth, the temporary (or puppy teeth) and permanent teeth. The full set of second teeth are usually through by six months of age. Regular care (see chapter 4) will help your dog to keep his teeth, as will the avoidance of all sweet foods which help to cause decay. If extraction becomes necessary, face the facts, and realise that your dog will be much more comfortable and healthy without bad teeth. The gums harden, and many toothless dogs can even still enjoy gnawing at a bone! Teeth Abscesses - See Abscesses


The tonsils of the dog are oval, pinkish lymphatic glands situated at each side of the back of the throat. In the normal dog they are very small and scarsely noticeable, but when infected they may be as large as hazelnuts in a large dog, and very red and inflamed. Symptoms - Tonsillitis is an uncommon condition and is more usually seen in town dogs. There is difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, and the dog may run a temperature and feel quite ill. Treatment - Consult your Veterinary Surgeon. Antibiotics give quick relief. Give soft and tempting foods to eat.


This term covers both malignant growths (cancers) and benign or harmless growths, and they may occur in any situation on or in the dog. As a general rule one can say that growths are usually painless in the early stages (unlike an abscess) and tend to grow comparatively slowly. The symptoms of internal tumours vary with their situation and they may be difficult to diagnose. If you suspect that your dog has a tumour do not delay in consulting a Veterinary Surgeon. An early operation is nearly always advised (unless the dog is very old or in poor health), and in the case of cancer, this may be able to stop them forming secondary growths elsewhere.


Warts are really more of a nuisance than an illness, but they often have to be removed because of the dog's unfortunate habit of biting or scratching at them, causing them to bleed.


Many people have the impression that dogs will lick wounds better, but in many cases they will actually make them worse. As a rule, wounds will heal more quickly when protected, both from germs and from the dog, and this is particularly the case in any surgical wound where there are stitches.

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