Vaccination protects your dog against various diseases, some of which can be fatal. We recommend two types of vaccination for your dog: a combination vaccine and the rabies vaccine.
Puppies usually receive a ‘primary course’ of vaccinations which consists of 2-3 vaccinations, depending on the age at which the course is started. They should be vaccinated before they are allowed to mix with other animals. Ideally the puppy receives its first vaccine at 8 weeks old, then at 12 weeks and 16 weeks. A booster is given one year after the primary course, then every subsequent year thereafter.
The diseases covered by the combination vaccine are:
Distemper, a highly contagious viral disease which is commonly seen in Hong Kong amongst unvaccinated dogs. It can cause respiratory signs such as sneezing, coughing; gastrointestinal signs of vomiting and diarrhoea, and even seizures and death.
Parvovirus, which often causes vomiting and diarrhoea with blood and is often fatal. This highly infectious virus can remain in the environment for long periods of time, which means your dog can become infected despite never directly coming into contact with infected animals.
Infectious Hepatitis, a serious viral infection which affects the liver in dogs. It usually causes fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, and can be fatal.
Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease which is usually transmitted from water contaminated by urine of infected rats or mice. It can affect the kidneys or the liver and may result in organ failure, and is infectious to humans.
Parainfluenza, a virus which can cause infectious tracheobronchitis (‘kennel cough’).
By law, dogs are also required to be vaccinated against Rabies, in order to apply for a license. The vaccine is usually given at or before 5 months of age, and must be given with a microchip. A booster vaccination is required every 3 years.
If your dog is going into a boarding kennel, you may also need to vaccinate him against Bordetella bronchiseptica (a cause of Kennel Cough).
Vaccinations are an important part of your dog’s health care programme, however there is a great deal of controversy about vaccination at the moment and we are frequently reviewing the situation so we can make the most up to date recommendations.
Taking on a new puppy is an exciting and rewarding experience. There are lots of things to consider with any puppy and our aim is to help you ensure that your new puppy has the best start in life and continues to be happy and healthy into adulthood.
At your puppy’s first health check, our veterinarian will perform a full physical exam – this involves looking at your puppy’s eyes, nose, ears, mouth and teeth, skin, listening to his heart and lungs, and feeling his abdomen. Our veterinarian will also discuss all aspects of your puppy’s care including feeding, behaviour and training. We will also cover preventative care such as vaccinations, neutering and parasitic control.
As you can see at these puppy health checks there is a lot of information to be covered by the veterinarian at this time!
Regular health check-ups are important for the long term health and welfare of your dog. Routine examinations allow us to take a pro-active role in preventive health care – we may spot health problems earlier allowing us to take appropriate treatment or preventive action. We can carry out a full physical exam when your dog comes in for his annual vaccinations. This is an ideal opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about your pet’s health. The annual health check includes a free urinalysis. Please bring in a fresh urine sample (or one that has been refrigerated) in a clean container, preferably the first sample of the morning.
For further information and advise on how to collect a urine sample from your dog please watch our collecting a urine sample from your dog video. View Video
It is of course possible to perform health examinations at times other than the annual vaccination. We often recommend more frequent check-ups for pets with chronic problems (e.g. heart disease, arthritis). If your pet is on an ongoing medication, then it will require more regular check ups to allow us to keep prescribing.
Dogs are usually considered old or ‘geriatric’ from 8 years of age, although for some breeds of dogs, this may be even earlier. Geriatric pets need more attention than younger pets and it is important that your animal is checked regularly by us in order to detect problems early – we recommend a health check every 6 months for these special ‘old-timers’.
When our elderly pet starts to slow down, we often put this down to ageing changes when in fact it can be due to an underlying medical condition. If detected early these conditions are often treatable and treatment can greatly improve an animal’s quality of life. Some commonly seen problems in older animals include dental disease, arthritis, heart conditions, kidney failure, liver problems.
At the ‘Older Dog Health Check’ as well as performing a full physical exam, we may advise a urine test and blood tests as part of the health exam.
Even if the health check reveals nothing untoward the information we gather will help in the future when concern’s for your pet’s health are raised. Knowing what is normal for your pet will help immensely when investigating illness.
Nutrition plays an important part in maintaining your dog’s health and vitality. As your dog grows and ages, his nutrient requirements will also change, and there are some premium diets such as Royal Canin or Hills which have been specially formulated to keep your dog healthy at each stage of his life. We usually recommend a commercially produced, premium diet rather than a home-made diet, which needs careful research and careful formulation in order to provide the complete balanced nutrition your dog needs. We stock both Hills and Royal Canin pet foods.
Foods which aren’t balanced to meet a growing puppy’s needs may lead to health problems. Large breed puppies (weigh > 25 kgs as an adult) have different nutritional needs compared to smaller breed puppies.
When you first bring your puppy home, it is best to carry on feeding him the food he is used to. If you want to change over to a food that your vet recommends, do so over a 5 to 7 day period, mixing the new food into the old food gradually. This will help prevent tummy upsets.
Remember to weigh your puppy and feed him according to feeding guides and your vet’s recommendation. Adjust the amount you feed as the puppy grows. It is best to feed several small meals a day.
NEVER give your puppy Calcium supplements – a good, complete puppy diet will contain all the minerals he needs, and these extra supplements can disturb the delicate balance and even lead to some joint diseases.
When changing over from a puppy food to an adult food, make sure to introduce the new food gradually. The amount you feed may need to be adjusted depending on your dog’s body condition – your vet will check your dog’s weight at each annual health check and advise you to make any changes if required, to maintain your dog at an ideal weight.
When your dog is over 7 years old, he is considered to be mature or senior. You may find that although your pet is eating less, he still puts on weight. This could be due to his metabolism slowing down or a decrease in activity. Other senior dogs have the opposite problem – they lose weight as they age, sometimes as a result of medical conditions. They may find it more difficult to bend down to a food or water bowl on the floor due to obesity or arthritis, try an elevated feeding station to help maintain your pet’s comfort. Senior dogs require a high quality, palatable diet with easy to digest protein, lower calorie levels, and a careful balance of essential nutrients. You may wish to move your dog onto a specially formulated senior diet, depending on veterinary advice and any underlying medical conditions.
Neutering, or de-sexing, is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthesia. In female dogs, this involves the removal of the ovaries and the uterus and may also be called ‘spaying’, whilst in male dogs, ‘castration’ is the removal of the testicles. Neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies and puppies, as well as helping your dog lead a healthier life by reducing the risk of developing certain diseases. Your vet will do a health check on your dog before the surgery, and may advise pre-surgery blood tests. In routine cases, your dog can usually be discharged the same evening.
WHY SHOULD I SPRAY MY DOG?
Uterine infection (pyometra) – a common and serious problem of older female dogs which can be potentially life threatening. Most infections of the uterus develop 4-8 weeks after a heat and signs may include vomiting, increased water intake, a poor appetite and dullness. In some cases the uterus swells up as it fills with pus, making the abdomen look bigger, or you may see discharge from the vagina. Diagnosing and treating a uterine infection is expensive and involves a de-sexing procedure, your dog may be very sick and the surgery to save her life will be risky. So have your dog spayed when she is young and healthy!
Mammary cancer – the female hormones released by the ovaries can stimulate mammary tumour growth in genetically prone dogs. Approximately one-half of these tumours are benign and the other half malignant, but even benign tumours can cause problems as they grow. Spaying greatly reduces the chance of a female dog developing mammary cancer, especially if done prior to the first heat.
Dogs often benefit most if they are spayed when under 1 year old, and prior to the first heat. Ask your vet when the time is right for your dog.
WHY SHOULD I CASTRATE MY DOG?
Castration will prevent your dog from developing testicular cancer, and reduce the risk of prostatic disease. It may help with certain types of aggressive behavior as well as roaming.
After neutering, your dog’s metabolism will change and care with exercise and diet will ensure he or she won’t put on weight.
When you bring your dog in for a health check, your vet can devise a care programme for your pet. In Hong Kong, there are 3 important parasitic diseases which you need to protect your dog from.
FLEAS AND TICKS
Fleas can cause itchiness, irritation and allergies, and transmit tapeworm to your pet. They can be difficult to control as they will live and breed in the environment. There are various ways of dealing with fleas; a combination method is usually best. This will usually involve a topical flea killer for use on your pet, and environmental treatments. Your vet will advise you on which products are safe and effective. We recommend and sell Frontline and Revolution. Always read flea-killer packaging carefully – some dog flea products are very harmful when used on cats.
Ticks are found everywhere in Hong Kong, they attach to your dog’s skin and feed on their blood. They can cause localised irritation and infection, but they can also transmit blood parasites (Babesia species and Ehrlichia) which will cause ‘tick fever’. This is a potentially fatal disease if not treated; your dog may appear tired, inappetant, pass blood-tinged urine, and you may notice the gum colour is pale. It is best to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog in the first place, you can do this by using a topical spot-on/spray product like Frontline once a month, and/or Amitraz tick collars (Preventic). In the summer months, fortnightly applications of Frontline may be required, especially if you walk your dogs in grassy areas.
Heartworm (Dirofilariasis) is a blood parasite which is transmitted to dogs when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes. Heartworm larvae enter the dog’s bloodstream and slowly grow, moving into the dog’s heart and lung vessels. The adults will sit in the heart and breed, releasing babyworms into the blood. They cause inflammation in the vessels and make the heart work harder. In severe cases, it can result in heart failure and even death. Signs include coughing, tiring easily during exercise, and weight loss.
Heartworm is easy to prevent, but difficult to treat. Your dog must be 5 months or less or have a negative heartworm test before preventative treatment can be started. We recommend two products: Heartguard, a monthly oral dewormer, or Proheart, a yearly injection (usually for adult dogs). You can ask your vet which treatment they recommend for your dog.
Dogs which live outdoors or exercised outside are more at risk of becoming infected with heartworm, but remember mosquitoes can get into your home too!
Many different types of worms can infect your pet, some of which can also infect humans, especially children. They can cause weight loss, diarrhea, and failure to thrive. Puppies are often infected with worms from their mothers; we recommend that puppies are treated every 2 weeks from age 3-12 weeks, then monthly until they are 6 months old. Adult dogs should be dewormed with a product such as Drontal Plus every 3 months. Whilst products such as Revolution and Heartguard may provide protection against some types of intestinal worms, they do not cover all types.
We all know the importance in regular dental care – we brush our teeth at least twice a day and if we don’t, plaque, tartar and cavities may soon result. Our pets are no different – the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) estimate that by the time they are 3 years old, 80% of dogs will have signs of oral disease. Symptoms may include bad breath, reddened gums, and buildups of yellow or brown tartar along the gumline. Your dog may show changes in chewing or eating patterns and may paw his mouth. As infection and inflammation progresses, periodontitis may result – this is irreversible and may lead to the loss of the tooth. As oral bacteria can be released into the bloodstream, dental disease can also result in heart, kidney, liver and lung disease. As our pets are living longer compared to their wild relatives, maintaining good dental health is very important towards them leading healthy, happy lives.
We advise regular dental checks – the annual health check or vaccination check up is the ideal time to assess for any early problems. Your vet can advise you on how to keep your dog’s teeth clean and if adental cleaning is required. Plaque and tartar is removed by using an ultrasonic scaler, and the teeth are polished afterwards. We check for any loose or damaged teeth which may need to be extracted. The dental procedure is carried out under a full general anaesthetic, as no awake dog will let us do a thorough cleaning. Your vet may advise pre anaesthetic blood tests, and your dog may require antibiotics prior to the dental cleaning. Your dog may have to go home on some medications afterwards.
After a dental cleaning, home care is equally important to prevent recurrence of dental disease. Young puppies should have their mouths handled from an early age, to get them used to the idea oftoothbrushing. Even older animals, if introduced slowly and patiently, can be taught to accept having their teeth brushed. Never use human toothpaste as this can cause foaming and contains toxic ingredients which can upset your dog’s tummy. If done daily, toothbrushing can prevent plaque formation, gingivitis and periodontal disease, saving your dog from pain and reducing the cost of future dental care. Please see our online video on toothbrushing techniques.
If your dog won’t tolerate toothbrushing, there are other methods which may help to maintain a healthy mouth.
We have all the products you need to be able to perform effective home care in our Retail Shop so please come in and discuss further with our staff if necessary.
Sometimes your pet may have to stay in hospital for treatment. We understand that this can be a worrying time for owners, and try to make your dog’s stay in our hospital as comfortable and as stress-free as possible.
Our spacious dedicated Dog Ward has a variety of different sized kennels to suit your pet. We also have Isolation facilities which are separate from our other wards, used to house animals with infectious diseases which may spread to other pets or humans. As they are self contained, our staff can barrier nurse the patient to prevent transmission to others. For critically-ill patients, we have temperature controlled oxygen cages which allow the administration of oxygen without stress to the patient.
Whilst in hospital, your dog’s needs will be looked after by our dedicated hospital nursing staff, working closely with the vet in charge of your pet’s case. Clinical rounds are carried out daily at 9.00pm, with the vet and nursing staff looking at each patient and planning its treatment for the day. You will usually be updated about your dog’s progress after morning rounds, and if required, updates may be given throughout the day.
Your dog may be fed a ‘prescription diet’ during hospitalisation, this is food that has been specially prepared to help with some diseases and conditions. If this is not necessary then we will feed a lifestage diet such as Hills Science Plan. For those patients that have not been interested in food recently or are fussy eaters, we will offer tempting treats such as steamed chicken breast. If your pet is on a particular type of food then please let us know so we can maintain the normal feeding regime. You may wish to bring something from home to make your dog more at ease whilst staying with us, eg. A favourite blanket or toy.
When animals are admitted to hospital, they are generally not feeling themselves and will require less exercise. However where appropriate, they may be given the opportunity to ‘stretch their legs’under supervision in the dog ward, or be taken outside for walks.
Our visiting times are between 3.00pm and 6.00 pm on weekdays, and 3.00pm to 5pm on weekends. Please discuss with us if you require an exception – we will always try to arrange something to suit your needs. Although your dog will usually be very happy to see you, it can also be upsetting for both pet and owner if they are not ready to go home with you. There are some cases when visitation may not be appropriate, for example after surgery when your dog will need some quiet, undisturbed time to recover.
At this time we are not a 24-hour hospital, and if necessary, we may advise you to transfer your pet to a hospital with 24-hour facilities.
Research has shown that around 50% of dogs and cats are overweight to some degree. An overweight pet is at risk from a whole range of problems including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, skin complaints, breathing difficulties and joint problems. Obesity reduces your dog’s quality of life as well as their lifespan.
Weight gain in pets is normally the result of an increase in body fat. This is most commonly caused by a pet eating too much, especially when combined with a lack of exercise. If more energy is being gained from food that is being used, the surplus will be stored in the body as fat. However, sometimes weight gain may be due to a medical disorder which requires specific treatment. Your vet will perform a physical exam and may recommend blood tests to make sure your dog is as healthy as they can be, despite the extra weight. They will then refer your dog to our FREE weight clinics. Our Registered Vet Nurses can advise you on the optimum weight your pet should be, and how to help them lose those extra pounds.
During your dog’s first weight clinic appointment, the nurse will weigh your dog and set a target weight. This will be based on their age, breed, health and individual needs. Your dog’s new diet will then be calculated and an exercise plan will be incorporated. A photo will also be taken so we can have a before after picture of your dog’s weight.
After the first appointment, your pet will require regular weight checks so we can assess their progress and make any adjustments needed to their food. We will also discuss any concerns or queries which you may have. Usually we will see your dog on a monthly basis, and when they reach their target weight, the nurse will reassess your dog’s dietary requirements to help you maintain them at their ideal weight.
We stock a wide range of diets suitable for weight control in dogs – eg. Hills prescription diet r/d. Our nurses will assess which diet is best suited for your dog’s needs.
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
You may notice some of these changes:
Ribs can’t be felt without applying a fair amount of pressure
Sleeping more than usual
Difficulty in walking or exercising
Loss of an obvious waist
You have had to loosen your pet’s collar several times over the past year.
Dogs are meant to lead active lives – remember that most of them were bred for a specific purpose, such as hunting (retrievers, hounds), farming (collies, german shepherds) and protection (dobermanns, rottweilers). Today they spend most of their time on our sofas and we serve them free food in a bowl – no effort required. Boredom and excess energy leads to behavioural problems. So find ways to exercise your dog’s brain and body!
Exercise is the simplest way to increase the interest in your dog’s life. Most dogs will benefit from daily walks where they can sniff and explore – ideally with both some on-lead and some off-lead time, but always be careful when exercising your pet off the lead. Follow different routes and visit new places whenever you can so your dog can experience new sights and smells. Take the opportunity to play games or train with your dog. Remember to keep your dog protected from ticks and mosquitoes and take extra care in the summer months to avoid heatstroke.
Alone time – because we all lead busy lives, our dogs often end up spending a good portion of their day home alone. Giving your dog something to do when they’re by themselves means you are less likely to come home to chewed-up furniture or emptied rubbish bins. Food puzzle toys require time, patience and problem-solving, encouraging natural behaviour such as pawing, licking and chewing. KONG have an excellent range of food puzzle toys to give your dog’s brain and jaws a workout. When you first introduce your dog to a food puzzle toy, make it easy for him to empty it, as he has been used to getting his food served up to him in a bowl. As he becomes an expert, you can make it harder for him to get the food out of the toys. Check out the KONG website for more details on how to use a KONG toy.
Nina Ottosson also has a great range of dog activity games with different levels of difficulty. Each one requires your dog to use his sense of smell, reasoning ability, and dexterity to get his reward. Have a look on Nina’s youtube channel to get an idea of the different games and skills involved.
It’s perfectly normal for puppies to be nippy, yappy, destructive, naughty and very playful, but these behaviours in an adult dog can be difficult or even impossible to cope with.
One of the major reasons for giving up or abandoning a dog is behaviour problems and this is very sad, especially when it is the owners fault for not training the dog!
However training can be a tricky thing if you don’t understand dog behavior, how to train and what’s considered normal and what’s not.
What is Abnormal Dog Behaviour ?
If your dog has been trained, but he still displays certain “bad behaviors,” his behavior may be considered abnormal. Dog biting, puppy biting, eating poop (coprophagia), dog food aggression, excessive barking, chewing, digging, and jumping, separation anxiety, submissive urination, and extreme shyness are all considered abnormal.
Causes of Abnormal Dog Behavior
Dog behavior problems can develop for a number of reasons. It can be the result of:
Lack of Training
Most pet parents have good intentions, but some people do not know how to train and don’t take the pup to classes or learn. If a dog has inadequate or no training at all, bad habits and behaviors can develop rather quickly and in some cases, they can be difficult to break.
The best thing you can do to prevent your dog from developing abnormal behaviors is to hire a trainer or enroll him in an obedience class. The SPCA runs great classes and they can be contacted on 2232 5567.
Lack of Reinforcement
Puppies can mistake an owner’s lack of discipline as a sign that it’s ok to behave badly.
New and inexperienced owners may think that everything the puppy does is cute, but as the puppy grows into an adult dog, behaviors like jumping up on people, chewing, and nipping can become a nuisance and even dangerous for both the owner and the dog.
It is important to train your pet from the first day you get him to prevent behavior issues later on. Positive reinforcement is essential. This simply means, reward the dog when he has done well. Give a snack, or one of his normal dog biscuits. He will learn to associate “good behavior” with rewards. Even saying “good boy” and petting is good positive reinforcement.
Overexcitement : The sound of a doorbell, the ringing of a telephone, and other situations that stimulate the dog can contribute to abnormal dog behavior. People often encourage the dog by getting very excited when they get home, rather than being calm and praising the dog for being calm and restrained.
Fear: Many dogs become fearful because they are not exposed to enough situations during their important developmental times. Between 3 and 16 weeks is a developmental stage that puppies “soak up” all the noises & sights and they need exposed to everything at this time or they may become fearful as they grow. Have friends over, including children. Take him out (in your arms if he has not finished his vaccination course) and let him see crowds, buses, taxis and other dogs. Take him to friend’s houses if they have a nice friendly healthy dog to meet and play with.
Genetic Susceptibility: Many dog breeds were created for specific jobs. This can predispose these specific breeds to “abnormal” behaviors that can frustrate owners.
Choose your dog carefully to fit your needs.
Retrievers are designed to retrieve! They need exercise – every day.
Jack Russells are rat hunters and need toys to chase and lots of time to entertain them.
Huskies are dogs designed for living in the Artic and find Hong Kong very hot and need clipped. They are designed to pull sledges all day !
When you come in for your vaccinations we will talk to you about training and socialisation, but it is a large and complex subject that cannot be covered in 15 minutes.
We can recommend some books for you too.
If the behaviour becomes a significant problem we may refer you to Dr Cynthia Smillie , a veterinary surgeon who runs Hong Kong’s “Animal Behaviour Veterinary Practice“.