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FLEAS

by: Mim Bester

Flea bites are the number one cause of skin problems in the canine species, so it is important to keep a check for fleas on your dog. Regular grooming will help you to keep your dog free of these blood-sucking creatures.

Fleas feed by biting the dog and injecting saliva to stop the blood from clotting. If your dog becomes allergic to the chemicals in the saliva it will make them scratch violently. These allergies are know as eczema, flea-bite dermatitis, and summer itch. The allergy causes varying degrees of itching, skin sores and loss of hair and can be quite distressing. Some dogs become hypersensitive to flea bites and can be badly affected even if they only have 1 or 2 fleas. Control of fleas depends on the destruction of eggs, larvae and adults or the ability to control one of the stages in the flea's life cycle. The ideal condition for fleas is warm temperatures and high humidity, which is why fleas are more of a problem in summer, but don't think that they will take a holiday in winter. They are able to survive in warm bedding. If the conditions are optimal, fleas can live as long as two years.

It is extremely important to treat your dog's sleeping quarters and bedding when you treat them. If you have a flea infestation it might be necessary to call in the pest exterminators to de-flea your house and treat areas where fleas might be living outside in the soil.

There are many excellent insecticides available. Always follow the manufacture's instructions and recommendations and observe all precautions when using any flea chemical. If you are confused in regard to which preparation would be best, or with regard to powders versus insecticidal dips, versus areosols, versus flea pill, etc. - chat to your veterinarian as they will be able to help you make the right choices for your particular situation.

Be very careful with combining treatments. Some chemicals should not be used together, (for example; Fenthion and any other flea treatment chemical). If you have any queries, ask your verterinarian.

YOUR DOG AND WORMS

By: Mim Bester

It is important to remember to worm your dog/s regularly for their entire lives. Adult dogs should be wormed every 3 months.

The easiest way to remember when to worm your dog/s is to do this little job at the beginning of each new season:
September - the beginning of spring
December - the beginning of summer
March - the beginning of autumn
June - the beginning of winter

There are four common worms that affect dogs in Tasmania. These are ROUNDWORMS, HOOKWORMS, WHIPWORMS and TAPEWORMS. Young puppies are more susceptible to the effects of worms than older dogs. Young puppies should also follow a more stringent worming program until at least 12 weeks of age. Your breeder or veterinarian will be able to advise you regarding this.

An infestation of ROUNDWORMS in puppies causes diarrhoea, anemia, dull coats and potbellies. There can be serious damage caused to the lungs and puppies can be at risk of developing pneumonia. Roundworms live in the dog's stomach and intestines and look similar to earth worms or spaghetti.

HOOKWORMS can cause anemia, restlessnes, apathy, and stunted growth. Puppies can have bloody diarrhoea or tarry stools. Hookworms are like tiny leeches, about 1/2 an inch in length.

WHIPWORMS make toxins that cause anemia. They can also cause intermittent diarrhoea, digestive problems, dull coats, excessive shedding and sometimes a cough. Whipworms are slender - about the thickness of a coarse sewing thread, and as their names suggests, resemble small whips.

The TAPEWORM is not as harmful as other worms but can cause stomach upsets, dull coats, dry itchy skin, a general unwellness, loss of weight and lifelessness. Dogs often seem to be very hungry but even with an increased food intake do not gain weight. Tapeworm segments are small, white and similar to a maggot.

MEDICATIONS
There are a large variety of worm tablets, pastes, syrups, powders and even injections on the market. All worming medication can be toxic, so your veterinarian's recommendations and the manufacturer's instructions must be followed to the letter. You can buy drugs that are worm specific or there are several brands of tablets known as ALL WORMERS (which claim to kill 11 different species of worms). However, be guided by your veterinarian because worming with the incorrect dosages and at the wrong time can be dangerous.

NEVER WORM YOUR DOG IF HE HAS A FEVER OR IS UNWELL. TALK TO YOUR VETERINARIAN FIRST.

HEARTWORM
If your dog lives in Tasmania you will not need to be concerned about heartworm. However, if you take them to mainland Australia (any State) at any time, even if it is only for a brief stay, they will need to be protected again this parasite. Call your veterinarian a few weeks before you leave to discuss medications.
NB: IVERMECTIN, OR PRODUCTS WHOSE ACTIVE INGREDIENT IS IVERMECTIN, ARE OFTEN PRESCRIBED AS A COMMON HEARTWORM DRUG BUT IT HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE FATALITIES IN COLLIES. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS DRUG - EVEN ON YOUR VETERINARIAN'S ADVICE.

LIMPING (LAMENESS) IN YOUR DOG

by: Mim Bester

If your dog is limping then you should try to determine the reason. Limping usually indicates muscle, nerve or tendon damage, but it can indicate bone or joint disease.

Sometimes it can be difficult to be sure which leg is affected in a lame dog. Most dogs will favour (take the weight off) a painful leg when standing. Occasionally the dog may be reluctant or even refuse to stand. However, both collies and shelties are fairly stoic and it takes a lot to keep them down. When the dog is moving, especially at a trot, they will often take shorter steps on the injured leg. You may notice uneasy or uneven head and shoulder movement if the injuries are in the front legs or shoulders. If the damage is in the hindquarters or rear legs you may notice a stilted gait in the rear movement.

When you have discovered on which leg the dog is lame, then try to identify the location of the problem and the cause. Start at the foot; check each pad for cuts or cracks or bruising. Check each individual joint in the toes by flexing and extending and, if appropriate, gently rotating. Take each joint through its the maximum range of motion. Continuing up the leg, check joints and feel each muscle area. Apply a little pressure to each area, taking note of any signs of tenderness. When you find the painful area see if you can determine whether a joint is involved or if it is muscle pain. Check muscle tissues for external evidence such as bruising (discolouration of the skin), cuts, bites,swelling and radiating heat. If a joint is involved you may notice swelling, redness and radiating heat.

THINGS TO NOTE WHEN DOING THE EXAMINATION

INFECTIONS
are tender, reddened, warm to touch. Mostly, infections are associated with a wound in the skin. The dog usually has an elevated body temperature as well, and the condition will usually get gradually worse without treatment. Lameness will become worse. You should make an appointment to see your veterinarian, as apart from any other treatment, an antibiotic cover may be required.

SPRAINS AND STRAINS of joints, tendons and muscles happen suddenly and quite often you will be aware of how they happened. For example, you may have watched your dog jump from a height and land awkwardly and now he is lame. Often a little while after the event there is localised swelling and discolouration at the site of the injury, and he may have limited use of his injured leg. The pain is mild and there is no fever. Gradually, over a period of time, the swelling and bruising subsides and the dog improves. These injuries can be treated with icepacks and rest. If you have not seen a noticable improvement within 24-48 hours see your veterinarian.

FRACTURES AND DISLOCATIONS produce severe pain and the inability to put weight on the leg. The tissues around the injury are swollen and discoloured. Movement of the involved area (if the dog will allow it) produces a gritty feel and sound. Sometimes there is a noticeable disfigurement of the bones with this type of injury. Your dog will need veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

BONE AND JOINT DISEASES include such pathologies as hip dysplasia, patella dislocation, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, bone cancer, etc. Signs and symptoms usually come on gradually. Normally, in the beginning there is only mild pain and slight swelling with no bruising at the site. As time goes on, the dog does not improve and usually deteriorates. Dogs can develop these diseases at any age, however, arthritis is especially common in geriatric dogs. Once again it is your veterinarian who should make the final diagnosis and then implement a treatment regime for your dog.

 

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