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Keeping Your Dog Well
( Originally Published 1938 )
Your dog's surest way to health is by preventing disease. Sane feeding, clean quarters, enough exercise, and adequate care of his coat and skin are essential to keeping him fit. Keep him away from infection. If you suspect that another dog is ill, don't let your dog play with him.
Grown dog or pup, your pet may have at some time an encounter with worms. Practically all puppies have worms. Breeders commonly worm puppies before and after weaning. However, don't assume on slight evidence that your puppy has worms. Unnecessary dosage with worm medicine can get a pup or dog into serious trouble. Careless use of worm remedies may jeopardize the health of a dog. If a puppy throws up some food, many owners think the animal needs worm medicine. This is wrong, because a puppy is apt to throw up a great deal. If he couldn't do this he'd be in continual trouble, because puppies swallow everything from chips to paper. It is nature's way of helping him correct his eating mistakes.
SYMPTOMS OF WORMS: A puppy infested with worms may have an unthrifty coat or skin; a big appetite out of proportion to his size; he may suffer a loss of appetite; his eyes may water; he may be unable to keep food on his stomach; he may have fits from worms; he may show a marked lack of energy.
WORM TYPES: The round worm is most common. When passed out of the dog's body, the round worm looks like a piece of string. Next comes the tape worm, a troublemaker that nature built much like a speedometer cable. The tapeworm has segments, and if the dog is to be entirely freed all the segments and the head must be expelled. Hookworm, whipworm, and heartworm are other dangerous parasites that menace the health of dogs, and give them continuous physical distress.
If you think your dog has worms, have a veterinarian make a microscopic examination. He will tell you what type , of worm is worrying your dog, and advise you on the correct treatment. If you worm the dog at home, follow the directions on the medicine package closely. I know of an owner who decided that if one worm capsule would benefit a dog of a certain weight, two would be better. That sort of thoughtless treatment could easily kill a puppy, and a strong vermifuge may endanger the health-or life-of a grown dog.
Distemper, short of a charge of buckshot, is the worst thing *00W a dog can encounter along his span of life. It has been called
the most dangerous enemy of the modern dog, since it kills thousands of dogs yearly. No cure has been developed for it, but serums and vaccines are being used with success to immunize dogs against distemper. My advice, after considerable experience, is to have puppies immunized by a veterinarian. The treatment costs little and may save your dog's life. But remember-act early.
Young dogs seem more susceptible to distemper than old ones. However, any age or breed may contract it, although some dogs never get distemper. Distemper is so contagious and infectious that, once started in a kennel, there will be an epidemic unless the owner takes extreme precautions and severe measures to stop it.
Often a dog has the beginnings of distemper for several days before his owner realizes the danger and acts. If your dog shows marked signs of being unwell-is low in energyhas a discharge from his eyes or nose-possibly coughs a little-and won't eat, hurry him to a veterinarian. I've saved some of my dogs in just this way.
TREATMENT FOR DISTEMPER: Distemper is such a virulent disease, has so many complications involving the digestive system, the respiratory tract, and the nervous system, that it is hardly a dog sickness for the inexperienced amateur to handle alone. If it is at all possible consult a veterinarian. Distemper is the kind of a dog disease that needs the services of a dog expert, especially in the early stages, when the veterinarian may be able to do a lot of good by the use of a modern, effective serum.
Here are suggestions for the care of a dog when he has contracted distemper:
Install the dog in a part of the house that is warm and quiet, preferably a place you can disinfect and clean thoroughly after the illness.
Feed the dog a variety of foods so he will have strength to fight the disease. For example, tempt the sick animal with raw ground beef, milk, possibly whipped eggs and milk, combination of beef and malt extract, or anything of this sort that he will eat. It is imperative that the animal eat. In some cases owners must force-feed the dog, usually using liquids that the veterinarian recommends. Nursing and feeding are important in treating distemper, almost as much so as medicines in the later stages.
In many cases of distemper there is apt to be a severe nasal discharge, although it is not a constant symptom in every case. When it exists, you may relieve the sick animal by wiping the nose with a soft cloth moistened with a mild antiseptic. Be sure to give attention to the dog's eyes, too. There may be a discharge from them. Bathe the eyes frequently with a warm boracic acid solution.
During the late stages of a severe case, pneumonia may be a further complication. Nervous complications may take the form of convulsions. All of which leads me to repeat what I advised in the early part of the distemper discussion: this is a disease which requires the help of a veterinarian.
The unfortunate thing about treating distemper is that there is No ONE medicine that will cure the disease in all its forms and ramifications. Cases which produce respiratory complications need one kind of treatment; those which may affect the digestive functions more than anything else require different treatment. That is why the average amateur dog owner is facing a big problem trying to treat distemper without adequate trained help.
As if your dog didn't have enough to do in getting over distemper, he has a further hazard to face in chorea-a disease that sometimes comes as an aftermath of distemper. Chorea is a disease of the nerves. The vilest feature of the disease is the way it sneaks up on a victim. As the disease advances the dog will undergo a series of muscular spasms, affecting a leg or legs, jaw muscles, or muscles in other parts of the body. In effect, the disease is much like St. Vitus Dance in people. If chorea has a rapid development and much of the dog's body is affected, it is best to end his discomfort, because chorea is incurable. Slight cases may improve with time, although the twitching may never stop.
A dog (especially a puppy) that has a fit or convulsion usually scares its owner into needless panic. To many people a fit is the sign of a "mad dog." This is not true, of course. When a dog has a fit, rabies is not the cause, BUT the animal does need attention. The fit is a danger signal.
Young dogs may have fits from worms, digestive disorders, indigestion, or from swallowing corn cobs, pieces of wood, or any of the hundreds of articles that look good to a puppy. Sometimes distemper may cause such a convulsion. Whatever the cause, to watch a pet dog in a fit is extremely unpleasant; the owner never forgets it.
SYMPTOMS: The dog develops a "wild" expression; his jaws work rapidly and produce much saliva. The dog may become unconscious, or he may run around in a blind way, knocking over lamps and hitting chairs. I know of puppies suffering from fits (caused by faulty feeding) that very nearly wrecked living rooms before dropping unconscious to the floor.
TREATMENT: If your pup can be held while he is having a fit, you can protect him from injuring himself, but watch that he does not bite you. Usually the dog is suffering so much pain that he is in a semi-conscious state and may snap or bite at anything. He does not mean to bite you; actually, he does not know what he is doing. If you attempt to hold him, protect your hands. Don't worry if the dog nips you. You won't get rabies. Clean the wound and apply a little iodine; that's all that is required. Froth on the dog's jaws may be frightening to look at, but it has no significance at all.
After the dog has quieted down so he can be handled safely, you may administer a sedative, 3 to 5 grains of sodium bromide in water. Don't try to give the dog any medicine while he is in a convulsion because he won't be able to swallow it.
When your dog recovers from a fit take him to a veterinarian for a check-up. If it is merely a digestive upset, fast the dog for twelve hours and then give a laxative (milk of magnesia). With a dog spoon you can give the laxative easily. If worms are the cause, the dog must be treated at once with suitable medicine.
Dogs suffer from skin irritations. Some dogs have dry, itchy
skin in hot weather; others are distressed by fleas. A major skin annoyance in dogs is eczema, which is caused by faulty
feeding, over-feeding, lack of exercise, and other reasons. One of my dogs developed eczema after an intestinal stoppage-he had swallowed pieces of corn cob. After the veterinarian had restored "order," the skin trouble developed, and required treatment for several days.
Eczema is often mistaken for mange, and is sometimes called "red mange." It may appear on any part of the body, but usually on the back, behind the ears, and on the back of the neck. An inflamed color makes it easy to find the affected places. Treatment for eczema is primarily internal. Correct feeding seems to be essential in both the prevention and cure of eczema.
HOW TO AVOID ECZEMA: Give your dog a sound diet and sufficient exercise; watch him for constipation; use a brush and comb to keep his skin and coat in good condition; and get rid of his insect pests.
HOW TO CURE EZCEMA: Change your dog's diet, eliminating all suspected foods. Give him a very simple diet, such as raw meat and toasted whole wheat bread. For external treatment of the spots apply one of the lotions or ointments sold for this purpose; this will reduce irritation. See that the dog's elimination is normal and regular.
MANGE: Many dog owners are unable to tell the difference between true mange and eczema. If they do not seek trained advice, they may treat their pet for the wrong affliction. Mange is the work of tiny parasites that bore into the skin and, since the parasites will grow and multiply speedily, whole colonies of the pest may be rubbed off to lie in wait on every item of equipment the dog uses. His bed, brush, comb, and blanket, as well as his runway and kennel, are all hiding places. Part of the mange treatment is a thorough cleaning out of the pests. You must burn whatever dog equipment you cannot boil, being particularly careful to free his bed and kennel of the parasites.
There are two forms of true mange: follicular and sarcoptic mange.
FOLLICULAR MANGE: This is a stubborn skin disease not easy to cure because the organism that causes the irritation burrows deep into the skin. Symptoms are:
Small red spots, like flea bites, appear and begin an irritation on a patch which may come out on the face, the side of the nose, or one of the legs. There is a "mousey" smell to the excretion from the pustules, and the hair falls out. It is advisable to have a veterinarian treat the dog because methods vary with the severity of the affliction and the stage of the disease. In some cases internal medicine as well as external treatments are required. The dog owner must have patience in treating follicular mange. Severe cases take much time for a complete cure.
SARCOPTIC MANGE: This form is easier to treat because the organism causing it does not go so deeply into the skin. However, it is contagious and may be transmitted from one dog to another. It develops in this manner:
Attacks occur first around the eyes, ears, elbows, on the outside of the hind legs, underneath the chest, and on the abdomen. Small red spots like flea bites appear, and the excretion from these pustules sets up an irritation. This causes the dog to scratch almost constantly, breaking the coat and causing bare spots and ugly scabs.
TREATMENT: It is wise to have a veterinarian treat coptic mange. Some dog experts use a dip. Three of these medicinal baths are usually sufficient, but stubborn cases may require five dips. It is necessary to disinfect the dog's kennel, blankets, or anything else with which he has had constant contact. If the dog owner is certain that his pet has sarcoptic mange he may treat it with one of the tested patented remedies on the market. There are a number of these which will kill the tiny parasites in the dog's skin. Usually after applying these remedies (which are allowed to dry on the- skin) the cure calls for a bath in water to which a reliable antiseptic has been added.
Although rabies is not a common dog disease, it is the one most feared by owners. The mere name brings terror to a dog owner's heart because this is a disease the dog can transmit to people. There is no cure for rabies in a dog. Once he has rabies he will die.
There is so much misinformation about rabies that it is difficult to talk sensibly to many people about it. Some even refuse to believe that rabies exists, although the disease is hundreds of years old.
Here are some facts about rabies: how to prevent it; how you (as a dog owner) may help exterminate it.
Rabies is not an air-borne disease. Your dog will not contract it by sniffing at trees; or in any other manner while walking on a leash. It's impossible for a healthy dog to take rabies through his nose.
Rabies is transmitted by the bite o f an infected dog. Only a dog with rabies can inject rabies into your dog's system. Rabies vaccine is not an absolute preventive against your dog's getting the disease, but it is a generally recognized help. I have my dogs immunized every year. I want to give them any possible advantage in our common fight against rabies.
The way to prevent rabies is to keep your dog from running the streets. If every stray dog could be taken from the streets and every dog owner would keep his dog home, RABIES COULD BE WIPED OUT. This is not a theory. It is a fact that health departments in this and other countries have learned. Rabies was wiped out in some European countries by eliminating uncontrolled, wandering dogs, and by insisting on a strict quarantine when rabies was present.
If there is a rabies scare in your city, your pet will be safe if you keep him away from other dogs. Keep your dog indoors. Exercise him only on a leash.
A dog with rabies does NOT throw a fit at the start, foam at the mouth, or fall unconscious! Rather he acts in a quiet, but abnormal, manner. He probably will want to get away from everybody. He is apt to work his throat and mouth as though bothered by a bone. If you are worried, TAKE YOUR DOG TO A VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY.
To help exterminate rabies support the dog-catcher in his work. Stray dogs keep rabies alive. The dog-catcher is the friend of responsible dog owners.
Your dog's ears require occasional attention. Nature gives the dog ways to protect its ability to hear, such as protective wax, and many short hairs which keep dirt from getting deep into the ear.
Sometimes the ear wax accumulates in too large a quantity. Then it must be removed before it disintegrates and causes infection. Wax should not be taken out oftener than once in every three months. Unless it appears necessary I do not clean the middle ear and remove the wax oftener than twice a year. Dogs vary in their need for ear care. House pets do not get very dirty ears, while hunting dogs often have annoying accumulations of dirt, seeds, and other foreign articles in their ears.
SYMPTOMS OF CANKER: If ear wax or other cause produces an infection in the ear mechanism it is commonly known as canker. Your dog will tell you by his actions when he has trouble of this kind. He will paw at the ear that hurts, or you will see him shake his head often. My retriever used to tell me it was time to have his ears cleaned by scratching at an ear and then rubbing it on the rug, in the meantime making throaty sounds to show that the rubbing felt good. TREATMENT: Swab his middle ear with cotton dipped in alcohol and ether, remove all the wax and dirt, then put in an antiseptic ointment that will work deep into the inner ear mechanism. Many dogs develop infections because their owners fail to understand their ear-trouble signals. Sometimes cankers are stubborn. I've seen them develop into chronic infections that were unsightly and hard to heal.
The second most common ear trouble is a kind of mange. It is caused by a microscopic midge which burrows into the ear. These mites can be killed by a number of the preparations which are effective in treating mange of the skin. By applying one of these ointments or liquids to the ear the mites are killed, and the ear heals.
Deafness is not a disease. There isn't much that can be done about it. Some puppies are born deaf. There is always the possibility that a pet lover will buy a deaf puppy, without the seller knowing that the little fellow cannot hear. Until a puppy is taught to respond to names there is no way to determine whether his hearing is normal. I have hunted behind deaf dogs that otherwise were efficient in the field. Of course a hunter must watch a deaf dog and adapt his program to the dog's movements instead of having the dog under control by whistle or word.
While not diseased in the strictest meaning of the word, thousands of dogs worry their owners because they shed hair the year around. Often these dogs scratch excessively, and their hair comes out freely.
A dog that sheds too much hair, or that sheds at the wrong time, may have one of these causes present: He is improperly fed; he is getting too few of the vitamins which benefit health, skin and coat; he is suffering the aftereffects of an illness; he needs more careful grooming; he sleeps in too warm a place during the winter.
It is true that most short-haired dogs cannot sleep in a cold place. But long-haired dogs, like collies, and warmcoated dogs, like spaniels, have better, healthier coats if they sleep away from the radiators. Northern sled-dogs that sleep buried in snow have magnificent coats that gleam and bristle in the clear Arctic light. Cold stimulates dog hair growth.
If you own a dog that needs to have his coat taken down occasionally and you do not have this done, his hair will naturally shed. But by far the most common reason for outof-season hair shedding is improper diet. A healthy, well-fed dog has a sleek coat.
I have had success in treating ordinary cases of constant shedding by putting dogs on a diet containing ample fresh meat and some yeast. The irradiated or brewer's yeast is particularly rich in vitamin G which has a definite effect on a dog's skin and coat. Don't expect results in a week. Keep the dog on a nourishing diet, plus yeast, and the excessive unseasonable shedding will usually stop after a reasonable period of treatment.
Have your dog's teeth examined periodically. Dogs may have tartar deposits, loose teeth, infected gums, and defective teeth that need attention after diseases like distemper.
Many owners do not detect the signs of bad teeth and gums. A dog with bad teeth is apt to chew hard foods very carefully, or else not try to chew them at all. Sometimes an infected tooth may increase the flow of saliva in the dog's mouth, a symptom that is easily seen. Another indication exists in the dog's breath: unpleasant breath, tooth or gum trouble.
One spaniel I had developed two troublesome, discolored teeth after an attack of distemper. I thought it would be necessary to extract them, but a veterinarian saved them with treatments. Don't worry if your dog has to have a tooth pulled; modern veterinarians remove teeth without much discomfort to dogs.
If your dog's teeth have heavy tartar deposits it is a good safety measure to have a veterinarian scale them. The operation is simple and painless. My dogs do not fuss when a metal instrument is used to clean their teeth. Some careful owners brush their dog's teeth frequently, others use a cloth to polish their pet's teeth. I know a breeder who recommends a little powdered pumice stone for cleaning and brightening dog teeth. Another breeder backs charcoal (powdered) as a dog tooth cleaner. If the animal swallows some of the charcoal it will not harm him.
Sound teeth are a valuable factor in a dog's health. A sensible, scientific diet will help a growing dog produce strong teeth. Many breeders consider hard dog biscuits natural tooth cleaners. Young dogs may chew smooth bones to help them get rid of their milk teeth. But after a dog has his permanent teeth too many bones may wear his teeth down.
Dogs do get car sick, especially when they are young and are having their first ride. Although car sickness is incurable in some cases, most dogs get over it when they acquire more poise and experience. If you have a new dog that is unused to riding in an automobile you may find it advisable not to feed him for five or six hours before his first ride.
I have had success in training pups to ride in cars. First I drive around one block with the pup beside me. Another day I lengthen the trip. The whole idea is to allow the puppy to become accustomed gradually to the sensation of movement. After a few trial trips, a pup forgets his nervousness, and becomes a safe and eager traveling companion.
There is no definite cure for car sickness. I know one veterinarian who advises a five-grain sodium bromide tablet as a help in avoiding car sickness in dogs. This amount is suitable for a medium-sized dog; half a tablet is ample for a small dog. The bromide, a sedative, should be given half an hour before the car ride.
EYE TROUBLES: Occasionally a dog's eyes show need of attention. If the trouble appears serious, the dog should be taken to a veterinarian. However, dogs frequently have red or bloodshot eyes, a condition that looks dangerous but is simple to treat. I usually bathe my dogs' eyes with the same patented solution I use to wash out my own eyes. Always follow the eye bath with an eye cleaning in clear warm water. After this treatment place two or three drops of argyrol (10 per cent solution) in the corner of each eye. Dogs that are allowed to keep their heads out of moving car windows often get inflamed eyes. This treatment usually helps them.
DIARRHEA: This annoyance may be caused by many factors. If you are in doubt you had better take your dog to a veterinarian. Worms may cause diarrhea, but if you give worm medicine to a pup suffering from diarrhea caused by something else, you are adding gasoline to fire.
A common cause of diarrhea is an irritation of the digestive tract of the dog, just as people may suffer from the same cause. Castor oil is often a safe remedy for both. If the trouble persists in a dog, it may be best to administer bismuth several times a day. The dog's food should be light, such as toast and broth. Don't forget that a dog may occasionally have an upset which causes diarrhea, due to food or other simple cause. This is not particularly serious.
CONSTIPATION: Keep a check on your dog's elimination to avoid constipation troubles. To relieve trouble administer oil or milk of magnesia the first thing in the morning. Then see that the dog gets a change of diet. Added vegetables will often help, and, of course, more exercise.
Now I've finished the gloomy list of diseases and skin ailments that may trouble a dog. Notice that I say may trouble! Don't think that your dog has to go through a planned series of illnesses. It is wise to know danger signals, but it is foolish to continually expect health trouble for your dog.
Dogs are naturally tough fellows! Rugged, hearty, with clear eyes and lusty appetites. They have a deep, trusting love for their owners; and a convinced belief that a noisy game of tug-at-a-stick is welcome anytime. Buy a sound puppy; take common sense care of him; and you will find you've purchased a decade of delight.