GENERAL HEALTH GUIDE - CHECK LIST
ALL DOGS (Male & Female)
Check for any excessive discharge or pus in the conjunctiva (corner of the eye), cornea (centre of the eye) to make sure there is no cloudiness. Annual eye examination by a Vet or Ophthalmologist would be helpful.
Check for discharge, odour from ear canal; examine ear flaps for wounds or swelling.
FEET & PAWS
Examine for wounds, cracks, cysts between the toes and nail bed infection.
MOUTH, TEETH & GUMS
Check for any signs of dental decay, accumulation of tartar and inflammation and colour of gums. Be aware of the smell of your dog's breath as any changes (acidic) might indicate an underlying physical problem. Any long term neglect of teeth can sometimes prove to be the cause of other conditions which might have an adverse affect on your dog's health and well being.
BODY, COAT & SKIN
Watch the weight of your dog by balancing the amount of food eaten to the amount of exercise taken.***
Look for areas of thickened skin and/or baldness, particularly on elbows and hocks. Check for evidence of excessive scratching, cuts, bites. Test skin's mobility, worm segments under the anus, warts, hard or soft lumps. Check anatomical parts of both dog and bitch on a regular basis (penis, testicles, vulva and mammary glands) for any evidence of swelling, lumps or infection.
FAECES (MOTIONS) & URINE
Note consistency, colour, changes in frequency . Look for undigested food, blood.
Watch for behavioural changes or evidence of abnormal behaviour - depression, anxiety, aggression or excessive timidity, severe loss of appetite, excessive thirst and excessive urination.
Castrated males (and spayed females) do not become automatically overweight if castrated or spayed. Hormones play a large part in the way that a dog's metabolism works. It is true to say that changes to the coat texture can take place, but careful coat care and trimming should help.
There is scientific evidence to say that the age of the uncastrated male dog can raise the risk of development of prostate cancer. (The younger the dog is when castrated, the less likelihood of development of prostate cancer).
Hormone levels in the female can have a great influence not only on your bitch's behaviour, but also the way her body works. Unspayed bitches can be prone to false or phantom pregnancies, when their bodies convince their brains that motherhood is impending. There is some evidence to say that the bitch can be more susceptible at such times to a predisposition to immune related conditions (anaemia, hypothyroidism etc) and the chances of her developing mammary tumours is greater the older she continues to come into season (oestrus).
If you do decide to spay your bitch, it is preferable not to have this performed before her first season - the best time, if making this choice, would be between the ages of 1 and 2 years (after her first or second season)*. Choose a time within a 3 month period after the 12th day of her last season (oestrus), as this is the recommended clinical optimum (and safest) time for spaying to take place.
It is recommended to check the female parts of your bitch's anatomy on at least a weekly basis.
Check for signs of excessive licking or discharge, paying particular attention to the 3 month period following the bitch's last season, whether or not she has been mated. If any doubt, and particularly should your bitch be showing any other abnormal changes both physically and/or emotionally, please take her to your Vet. Bitches can suffer from both open and closed Pyometra (uterine infection) and in the case of the latter danger signs can be overlooked, possibly putting your bitch's life at risk.
Check for changes in shape, swelling, soreness, lumps both in glands and teats.
** There is a current research project being carried out by the Animal Health Trust into Mammary Tumours in the English Springer Spaniel. For more information, follow this link CANCER - MAMMARY TUMOURS
** Please do not be taken in by the myth that spayed females become automatically overweight due to spaying. Hormones play a large part in the way that a dog's metabolism works. Consider changes to your bitch's food intake which should always be in balance with her programme for taking exercise. It is true to say that changes to the coat texture can (and do) take place, but careful coat care and trimming, a good balanced nutritious diet (with or without supplements) should help.
There is scientific evidence to say that the age of the unspayed female can raise the risk of development of mammary tumours (the younger the bitch is when spayed, the less likelihood of development of mammary tumours).