Everyone with pets, whether dogs or puppies, needs to have a veterinary surgeon to turn to in an emergency. They do a wonderful job, and you should never ignore a pet’s suffering. However, it is a waste of money to attend the Vet’s surgery when the problem is one you can solve at home. This is a short guide to dealing with minor ailments as a form of Pets’ First Aid. If the symptoms persist you can still contact the vet. Dog health need not always be a costly worry to the wise pet owner.
Some dog breeds do not like being handled: pitbull dogs and bull terriers for example. This should be key element of dog obedience training so that the dog accepts that you are entitled to treat him for his own good. After a country walk it is a good idea to give your dog a quick grooming or rub down, and check for any lumps or bumps that he may have picked up along the way. My own dog, a Collie – German Shepherd cross, gets twigs and sticks caught in round his rear and his bushy tail. Left unchecked, these can cause the fur to mat around them. The dog will worry at it and probably lick the area bare, leaving it open to infection. You can avoid this with a few minutes’ attention.
Ticks are nasty. They have a one-piece body and the harpoon-like mouth barbs attach to a host (your dog) for feeding. Crablike legs and a sticky secretion help the tick to hold on. Long-haired dogs like Schnauzers often suffer badly from ticks. When attempting to remove a tick, the aim is to prevent the mouth section from coming off and remaining embedded in the skin. The home remedy is simple and cheap – petroleum jelly, which is what you would get if you went to a pet shop and paid for a proprietary tick remover! The most effective way to remove the tick is to put a big lump of petroleum jelly over the area where it has attached itself. Leave this for at least ten minutes. Once the tick’s grip loosens, you can wipe it out of the way with a tissue.
Ear mites - if your pet has ear mites, then place two drops of corn oil into its ears (an eye dropper will do the trick), massage the ear gently then clean with a cotton ball. This will suffocate the mites. Repeat for 3 days. Regular ear bathing with oil is recommended by vets, to avoid a buildup of wax and irritants.
Constipation - try this quick fix for a constipated pet. For a large dog, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of mineral oil to its food. For a small dog reduce the dose to 1 to 2 teaspoons. Do this for two days and the problem should clear up.
Diarrhoea – mix one heaped teaspoon of carob powder with a little water and mix into your dog’s dinner. Use half a teaspoon if you have a puppy.
Urinary tract infections – mix 30-40ml of cranberry juice into your pet’s food. This will boost the acidity of its urine, reduce bacteria and help relieve the discomfort.
And if you’re not sure what’s wrong – say your pet seems ‘off colour’ – then here’s a tip we use all the time. Add half a dissolved aspirin or children’s liquid analgesic to your pet’s food. It can perk up a German Shepherd in minutes!