Hello Dog Mamas and Papas!
Are you doing right by your canine bestie and making sure they see the Vet?
Listen, in NYC, a vist to the Vet is something I always dread because I know the bill will be no less than $450! I could feed and clothe SEVEN Frida's for a month (if not longer) for that price! It’s obviously beyond expensive here BUT I won’t skimp on Frida’s health…esp with her being a senior Chihuahua. She's 11 years young but in wonderful shape--and I'd like to keep it that way.
So I figured I’d give you the 411 on check-ups and tests your dog needs, dietary & behavioral supplements and meds for pest prevention. Let's get into it and make sure that your beloved pet clears these veterinary checklists...
The Most Important Tests & Exams For Your Dog:
- Physical examination - just like a general exam you'd get at your doctor! They can see what your dog is dealing with and easily spot something like fleas.
- Fecal test - Where you bring in a sample in a tied poop bag and allow them to see how your do is digesting and if there's any bacteria present in their poop. A necessary test if your dog is experiencing diarrhea, slimey or discolored poop.
- Heartworm Test - More importantly, WHAT IS HEARTWORM and how can your dog get it? Here's the answer to that:
[Heartworm] is only contracted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There’s no other way dogs get heartworms. And there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. That’s why prevention is so important. Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease. -Source
You don't want your dog to get this! The test is vital to their health!
- Tick-borne disease tests - For example, Frida tested positive for tick disease last Spring. At some point, she had a tick bite (before I rescued her). We did an antibiotic series to help clean her system out, but usually if they've been bit by a tick once in their life, they will always test positive. These tests can further evaluate what the condition of your dog is and if they are suffering or not by also weighing in on symptoms. Frida did not have any tick symptoms so we were able to conclude it was an old bite under her previous owner's care. Ticks are everywhere and love to burrow into dog's hair and skin, and can really affect your dog's energy and overall health in the same way they can incapacitate humans.
- Bloodwork tests - This can help your vet determine your pet's general health, and allows them to approve anasthesia for routine dental cleanings and other treatments where your dog needs to be sedated. It does not determine if your dog has cancer though (I asked!). A reputable dog website writes this:
Most of the blood chemistry tests evaluate the function of an organ or cell type. They don’t usually indicate the exact cause of an abnormal test finding. And they rarely pinpoint a specific cause of your dog’s condition or disease. - Source
- Urinalysis - A good one for if you dog is having urinary issues, infections or very difficult to house train with lots of accidents. I've yet to get this one for Frida so I don't know too much about it but I have heard of female dogs getting urinary tract infections, causing them accidents at home.
- Thyroid Test - A good one for senior dogs who are suddenly putting on weight or showing signs of a problem with food.
The Most Important Medications & Supplements As We Enter Warm Weather Season:
- Flea Preventative & Medication - topical and oral meds (speak with your Vet for the best options)***
- Tick Preventative & Medication - topical and oral meds (speak with your Vet for the best options)***
- Heartworm Preventative & Medication - oral meds (speak with your Vet for the best options)***
***I should mention here that I use Simparica TRIO which is an ALL-IN-ONE for Flea, Tick & Heartworm. Frida used to take separate medications for each concern but my Vet started us on this in the Spring since it's one easy chewable. So far so good!
- Eye Drops - I got eye drops for Frida from our Vet because she has really large and sensitive eyes. Sometimes her eyes will tear a lot (staining the fur in this area with a pinkish/red color) or she will scratch at her eyes, which might mean they are itchy. The drops she's been prescribed are named Neomycin Polymyxin B Sulfates & Gramicidin Ophthalmic Solution, and I believe must be prescribed.
- Ear Infection Drops and Cleansers - Ear Infection drops are usually an antibiotic prescribed by your vet. Cleaners on the other hand are best for dogs with floppy, enclosed ears. These are the kind of precious dog ears most at risk, and which need constant cleaning. Frida has open/exposed ears so I use THESE Gentle Ear Cleaning Wipes (about 1/week) and THIS Liquid Ear Cleaner (about 1/month or after bath time) to clean them for her. She honestly doesn't it need it that often though so I usually just keep an eye on her ears and to more thorough cleanings after beach, hiking or park days.
- Behavioral Health Supplements - I give Frida Solliquin supplements. Frida gets these whenever I think a new environment, an event she tags along to, new visitors arrive at our home, or for a longer than usual separation from me will trigger her anxiety. My Vet recommended Solliquin to me and she seems to like them taste-wise. I sometimes give them to her if she needs help winding down from too much excitement but mostly just to temper her anxiety (which chihuahuas seem to have a lot of!)
Does Your Dog Tend To Get Regular Tear Stains Around The Eyes? This Coud Be The Reason:
Since Frida's eyes are pretty sensitive, as mentioned above, I've done a lot of research on this. Reason for tearing and tear staining are:
- Ingrown eyelashes
- Blocked tear ducts
- Allergies (seasonal or to food/environment)
- Shape of eyes (this definitely plays a role in Frida's sensitivity)
- Could even be related to an ear infection
What's important about tear stains, watery eyes or build-up at corner of your dog's eyes is making sure you have it looked at by your Vet. Because in many cases it could be something serious. What the Vet will do is put flourescein eye drops into your dog's eyes as part of an examination to see what's going on. What I've found through many online searches is that some dogs (and many chihuahuas) are born susceptible to tear staining or don't even have tear duct openings. Sad, right? But they'll live! It's just a matter of knowing the condition and being supportive to your dog's needs to stay healthy.
How Often Should Your Dog Be Getting Ear Cleanings?
I wanted to include this information because I think it's a common question all of us dog-owners at some point ask. This is directly from the internet but also reiterrated by my Vet:
If you notice a mild odor or see that your dog is shaking his head more than usual, it is probably time for a cleaning. And if your dog's ear looks red and inflamed, smells yeasty, or he appears to be in pain, contact your veterinarian. Some dogs that have healthy, clean ears may never need to have their ears cleaned. - Source: Google
Your dog's gestures and behavior will often answer this question for you. But as mentioned above, try and clean after outtings where they'd be subjected to dirt, bacteria and any allergens (like beach days, hikes, dog runs and parks, etc).
How Often Should Your Dog Be Getting Teeth Cleanings?
This is another question that really depends on your unique dog, it's breed and history of care. For example, I rescued Frida with rotten teeth. She's had 4 teeth extracted so far and was missing a few already. Chihuahuas don't have the best teeth. So for her breed, it's imperative that I brush her teeth often or get her Vet administered teeth cleanings where she's put under for the procedure. Unfortunately for my pocket book (since these are expensive), I do the latter 2x/year.
Frida is a diva and refuses to let me brush her teeth. She cries, squirms and gives me the saddest and most tortured looks whenever I break out the brush and paste. It's a horrible experience for both of us--where NO ONE WINS--so I just fork over the $$$ and let the Vet do it to make it easier on us. Depending on what state you live in, it can cost anywhere between $200-$1000! I have a Vet in St. Louis, Missouri and one here in Manhattan, NYC. I will literally schedule visits to see my family in St. Louis coordinated with Frida's dental cleanings JUST TO SAVE MYSELF MONEY!
I do feel guilty that I can't give her daily cleanings but have found a solution to that. I use Alpha Paw's Magic Dental Formula which a water additive for her water bowl. I make a big batch and store it in the fridge for every time I refill her water bowl. She drinks it right up--no problem whatsoever. There are many brands that make this type of thing but I really LOVE Alpha Paw as a brand and what they stand for so I'm pretty loyal to them. Oh and if your dog's breadth is terribly offensive, THIS IS THE BEST STUFF! Just dot on both sides, top and bottom of their teeth to immediately freshen their breadth. Honestly Frida hates this stuff but it works so well (and smells so minty and fresh) that it's worth 2 minutes of the silent treatment from her.
How Often Should Your Dog Be Getting Nails Clipped? Can You Do This Yourself?
I left this one for last for good reason. The truth is I'm overdue to file Frida's nails so as soon as I finish writing this paragraph and hit SAVE, that's what's happening! The internet came through with another good answer for this frequently asked question:
Dogs need their nails clipped and filed on a regular basis, usually every 3 to 4 weeks. It is not uncommon for dog owners to wait too long between nail clipping. Overdue nails can raise health issues. Extended growth can result in painful ingrown nails. - Source: Google
This is a great article on Trimming Your Dog's Nails. Wish I had found it sooner because it really has everything you need to know. I sort of learned by trial and error, and asking my Vet, but if you have questions...they'll all get answered with this quick read. The gist of it for those of you who are already clipping or filing your dog's nails is that you want to cut them at a length where the nails do not touch the ground if your dog is standing on all fours. For each dog, the time period between clipping will be so different. Personally, I file Frida's nails with this device ----> Bell+Howell PAWPERFECT Rotatin Pet Nail Filer. It's awesome, doesn't make me nervous and allows me to told her with control. By filing, I never feel like I'm hurting her other than giving her a little jolt of vibration. She doesn't love it, but then again she's a diva and doesn't like a lot of things. This device is also called a Dremel or Nail Grinder. The general consensus is that clipping or filing should be every 3-4 weeks unless your dog's nails grow at rocket speed (do it sooner!).
Okay my beautiful Mizzfit Readers, I'm off to go file Frida's nails now!
Disclaimer: This blog post is NOT sponsored by any brand in any way, however I did link some of my recommendations for products I authentically use to my amazon Affiliate account which helps support my writing here on Mizzfit.com.