Off-Season Health Check-Up – Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Keeping your dog healthy includes plenty of preventative care, particularly in the off-season. Your dog should have regular check-ups by a veterinary physician, and attention should regularly be paid to the following areas.
Your dog’s nails should be regularly trimmed to keep them from getting caught on objects in the field and potentially causing a problem. If you frequently trim your dog’s nails, the quick will remain short. However, if you allow your dog’s claws to grow for extended periods of time, the quick will extend into the tip of the nail, making it difficult to trim back your dog’s claws too short. Regular trims also prevent your dog’s nails from developing a hook, which can be especially troublesome if it becomes caught or tangled in wires or brush.
To trim your dog’s nails, use specially-made nail clippers to remove approximately ¼’’ of nail at a time, or until the edge of the quick becomes visible. If you or your dog are uncomfortable with nail clippers, consider a dremel-type nail tool that will grind the nail instead. Ultimately, nails should be kept short to keep your dog from ripping off a claw, which is painful and can take a long time to recover from.
Labrador Retrievers commonly develop ear problems because moisture can easily become trapped inside the ear canal. For preventative maintenance, make a 50/50 solution of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Pour a small amount of this solution onto a paper towel or gauze, and rub out the exterior of the ear. After a hunt or training session that involves water, pour a small amount of the ear cleaning solution into your dog’s ear, where it will serve as a drying agent. Excess water in the ear canal can cause painful ear infections.
Dental health is important for dogs because the buildup of plaque and tartar can create serious problems, both in the mouth and the cardiac system. Dog owners can brush their dog’s teeth, or use a dental scraper once per month to remove tartar. Simply place your thumb at the base of the dog’s gum to prevent accidentally hitting this sensitive area and scrape away any buildup. Also check your dog’s gums for sores or diseased areas. Since your dog will use his or her mouth a lot in the field, it is important that teeth and gums are in optimum condition.
Finally, Keeping your dog healthy involves taking a good look at your dog’s coat. It should be shiny, healthy, and thick. Your dog should be at a healthy weight, and also active. Since Labrador Retrievers are built for spending a lot of time in the water, they have natural oils in their fur that repel moisture. Avoid giving your dog a bath too frequently, which will strip these natural oils from your pet and lead to dry, itchy, and flaky skin. A dull coat is usually the first sign of illness.
By keeping regular tabs on your dog’s health, you can prevent many diseases from occurring. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!