The adult dog
The normal vaccination protocols give protection to a number of different diseases. The immunity produced following vaccination for each of the diseases lasts for different lengths of time. Annual vaccinations are required, but the individual components added may vary from year to year.
Some boarding kennels may require vaccination against Bordetella (kennel cough) in addition to the normal core vaccinations. It is important to check well in advance.
Routine worming remains important throughout life, although the products used and frequency of administration may vary from those given as a puppy or adolescent dog. Worming is generally recommended every 3-6 months depending on particular risks. More frequent worming may be recommended if hydatid disease is a special risk. The choice of product may also depend on whether “lungworm” is considered a particular problem in your area.
Flea / parasite control
This remains important throughout life, especially as dogs that go outside are continually being exposed to new sources of infestation. Fleas certainly need control, as you would want to prevent introducing them to your home environment. Many anti-parasite treatments will be effective against a range of parasites, and the particular choice may reflect what is considered a bigger risk in your area (eg: ticks or sarcoptic mange?). The important thing to remember though is that treatment for parasites, be they worms or skin parasites, is aimed at control rather than cure so is an on-going process.
An adult dog still requires a balanced diet to maintain good health, but the balance of nutrients needed is different from a younger growing dog. Commercial life stage diets allow for this. Obesity is a serious problem in pet dogs and so it is recommended you monitor your dog’s weight on a regular basis and adjust the diet if it starts to creep up. Many veterinary practices have nurses run “weight watchers” clinics to facilitate this.
An increased thirst is a symptom of a number of common diseases. It is therefore useful for you to get an idea of how much water your dog drinks each day and monitor this on an on-going basis. Seek advice from your veterinarian if the thirst increases.
Educating and training your dog is a process that never stops. The key is a consistent message. It is not uncommon for people to make big efforts when the dog is a puppy, but then relax and undo all the good work that has been done.
If you do not pay attention to your dog’s teeth, plaque and tartar will be deposited allowing bacteria to grow and damage the teeth and gums. This not only results in a very unpleasant smell, but tooth root abscesses can be very painful and bacteria can enter the blood stream and affect other organs.
Scaling and polishing the teeth can be done by your veterinarian under anaesthesia, but it is preferable to prevent the problem occurring in the first place. Special dental chews have been designed to help clean the teeth, and brushing is effective if done regularly. The secret is to start early before there is any plaque and before there a painful areas in the mouth.
You may decide that you want to breed from your dog. If you have not done this before, you should seek advice from your veterinarian and from other experienced breeders. In some breeds there may be screening programmes for genetic diseases that you should consider before breeding at all. Pin-pointing the optimum time to breed is not easy and may require special blood tests or smears. You may require veterinary attention at a number of stages through the pregnancy and birth process and it is wise to discuss these with your veterinarian in advance so you have a clear idea what to do in case of an emergency.
Regular examination for lumps and bumps
Sadly, lumps and bumps are common as your dog becomes older. These may vary from harmless fatty lumps or skin cysts to rapidly growing malignant cancers. Your veterinarian will discuss the options and recommend a course of action in each case.
However, the earlier you consult him the better, so it is useful if you examine your dogs skin on a regular basis so you detect masses at an early stage and get a better idea of how rapidly or slowly they are growing.