Do you know your dog’s normal temperature? Do you check their body and mouth for bumps and lumps regularly? Do you know what causes heart worms?
These are some of the basic things that I encourage all dog parents to know. Obviously, your dog can’t take himself to the vet and can’t always express clearly when they’re in need of medical attention. No one knows your dog better than you! So it’s up to you to know what to look for and how to support their well-being.
Here are some basic things I recommend you do:
- At least once a month, feel your dog’s entire body looking for any lumps or bumps. Pick a day like the first of the month or the last day of the month, and throw in a breast self-exam for yourself while you’re at it! So many skin cancers are treatable if they’re caught early. Remember to look at their mouth, gums, and tongue for any growths or discoloration monthly, too. Also look in between their toes and at the nail beds. Dogs develop melanoma in both those places, and it can have a good outcome if found early. When in doubt, please see your vet. Even a small lump can be a mast cell tumor or other cancerous growth, and your best chance of it not affecting your dog is to find it early.
- Be sure that you know how to properly take your dog’s temperature and know what their normal temp is. Have a thermometer dedicated to your dog, and some Vaseline to make it easier to insert into their rectum. A digital thermometer works great and gets a temperature quickly. A dog’s normal temp is between 100 and 102. If your dog is feeling poorly, the first thing you should do is take their temperature. It’s a warning sign of infection or other acute illness. In general, your dog should go to the vet for a temp over 102, especially if they are vomiting or have diarrhea. You need to know your dog’s normal temperature to know just how elevated it is – and be sure to share that information to your vet.
- Heart worms are caused by mosquitos. A female mosquito to be exact. While many vets recommend keeping your dog on heart worm medication year round, that isn’t necessary in most parts of the country because mosquitos aren’t present in the winter months in most states. I recognize that a monthly habit may be easier to implement, but if you would like to avoid giving your dog a medication they don’t need part of the year, discuss it with your vet. He or she can guide you about when to start and when to stop the medication depending on your particular climate. Please test at least annually for heart worms. They are so much easier to treat if caught early before they do a lot of damage.
These are just a few of the things you should know to do your best for your pup. If you have specific questions about these points or more, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer!