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1.Feeding your Beagle

How a dogs nutritional needs differ from ours!

In a study of homemade pet foods, more than 90 percent of foods were found to be nutritionally unbalanced and incomplete for pets. It is extremely difficult to make sure that a diet is balanced for a dog. It has been proven that feeding an unbalanced diet for as little as two weeks, can compromise your dogs immune system. Therefore reputable commercial pet food companies have spent years working out the perfect balance of nutrients for your dog

  • Each species has very different nutritional requirements. Cooking for your dog is not the same as cooking for your children or yourself. Dogs have nutritional requirements that are quite different from human.
  • Foods that are not properly balanced to meet a dog's needs can lead to health problems. For example calcium and phosphorus must be balanced to ensure that a careful ratio of more calcium or phosphorus is maintained for a healthy metabolism.
  • Dogs have a need for much more taurine than humans require. Too little taurine can lead to heart and eye disorders.
  • Never feed raw meet to your dog. The handling of raw meat is always a critical part of cooking our human foods. It is also important in our dog's foods. Raw meat often contains bacteria like salmonella, listeria and even E.coli, which can be very dangerous topets and the humans who care for them. Dogs and other pets fed raw meat can pass bacteria on to the humans who come in contact with them. Small children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems may become seriously ill.

How and when to feed your adult dog?

It's important to feed your dog the right amount of food at proper intervals, but this can be tricky - it's also worth remembering that feeding requirements vary greatly from one dog to another. Feeding guides on the food can or bag are just a starting point. It's critical to your dog's health that his physical condition be monitored regularly and the feeding amount be adjusted as needed.

To help keep your adult dog healthy, follow the simple steps in this cycle.:

  • Weigh your dog.
  • Feed him based on feeding guide and veterinary recommendations.
  • Evaluate your dog's physical condition every two to three weeks for the first six months using the body condition table on the following website: www.petslimmer.co.za
  • Adjust the amount you feed accordingly
  • Repeat the cycle.

Switching food

If switching your dog to a new food, gradually introduce it over a 7 day period. Do this by mixing your dog's former food with increasing proportions of the new fooduntil only the new food is being fed.

You and your vet

Your vet is the best source of information about the health and wellbeing of your dog. Ask your vet to advise regularly on your dog's weight because achieving and maintaining a pet's ideal weight not only reduces health risks, but can lead to your dog having a more energetic, longer and healthier life.

Different feeding options

Free choice: Food is available to you dog at all times. This is not recommended as it often leads to obesity. Going off their food is also a good indication of illness, something that could be missed if dogs are fed free choice.

Time limited feeding:Food is available to your dog for a limited time, but as much as he wants to eat for that time. This is also not ideal as can lead to obesity and excessive intake of air with the food.

Meal feeding: A measured amount of food is available to your dog at specific meal times each day. This is the recommended feeding method as you can control the amount of food your dog eats and you will know quickly if he goes off his food.

Water: Your dog must have an adequate supply of fresh water at all times. Not having water to drink for a sustained lenght of time can harm your dog's health.

Treats and titbits: Although it's tempting to give thenm table scraps, these do not provide your dog with the correct balance of nutrients and often contain too much fat and salt. Try to be sparing with treats, as giving too much can lead to weight gain or nutritional imbalance. Also remember that salt carries a much higher risk for a dog than a human and can exacerbate early heart or kidney disease.

The next step: At around seven years old your dog will reach the senior stage of life. The nutritional needs of older dogs are different from those of younger adults, so you should change your pet's food to senior formulation. These formulations should restrict the nutrients that cause or exacerbate problems common in senior pets, like kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes and obesity. Biological anti oxidants have

been shown to improve immune function and are thought to have anti-cancer properties too. By feeding a good quality senior diet you can help keep him younger as he gets older and delay the onset of senior related disease

2. Vaccination

 Protecting your best friend.

One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he/she is vaccinated against common canine diseases. Your dog's mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it's up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinarian, to provide that protection.

  • There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases.
  • No specific treatment for many of these and young puppies often die.
  • Protect with vaccination.
  • Ensure your dog gets a regular course of vaccinations as well as their regular boosters.

How do vaccines work?

  • Under the skin/some given in the nose eg Kennel Cough.
  • They work by "training"the white blood cells to recognise and attack the viruses/bacteria that were in the vaccine.
  • That should prevent infection with the bacteria/virus if the dog comes into contact with it again.
  • "Live"vaccines - the virus/bacteria has been altered so that it can't cause the disease.
  • "Killed"vaccines have been killed by heat or chemicals
  • Live vaccines give better protection. Not all live vaccines can be given to pregnant animals.

How do you know which vaccination your dog needs?

Some of the core diseases are the following.

Canine Parvovirus - Cat flu/Katgriep

  • Small, very hardy virus
  • Survives for years in the environment
  • Common in dogs not or incompletely vaccinated.
  • type 2a and 2b. Type 2c is overseas. In SA ?

Symptons

  • Incubation period of parvo is 4 - 7 days
  • Severe enteritis
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Refusal of food and water.
  • Abdominalpain
  • Profuse, smally bloody diarrhoea
  • Rapid and severe dehydration and death
  • No specific treatment

 Vaccination is the best form of protection

Distemper

  • Highly infectious virus, related to measles
  • Can be mild to fatal
  • Less than 1 year old most affected
  • Not fully vaccinated or with weakened immune system
  • Infection by inhalation of aerosol droplets during dog to dog contact
  • Symptoms can take 3 weeks to show
  • Virus can be killed by most household disinfectants
  • Virus only survives for a few hours in the environment

Symptoms

Early signs are respiratory signs, like cough, runny nose and eyes

Depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and subsequently diarrhoea

Neurological signs - twitches, seizures (fits)

Later stages thickening of pads and nose

Blood test may be done but will not always pick up the virus

No specific treatment

Vaccination is the best form of protection

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH)

  • Disease affects the liver, kidneys eyes and lungs
  • Develops quickly and may die within hours
  • Virus is hardy and can survive for months
  • Affecyed in first year, unvaccinated dogs affected at any age
  • Caused by canine adenovirus-1
  • Spread by direct contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces.
  • Recovered dogs can be infectious to others for 6 months.

Symptoms:

  • Incubation period of 4 -7 days
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pale gums
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting diarrhoea
  • Jaundice
  • If survive can get clouding of cornea (blue eye)

Vaccination is the best form of protection

Canine Tracheobronchitis

Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory tract infection is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come into contact with other dogs  in such situations as obedience training, boarding at a kennel, or even just playing in the park. Caused by airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2 and Bordetella bronchiseptica, you'll first notice its onset by your dog's dry hacking cough.

Other vaccinations

After evaluating your dog's particular situation and risk factors, your veterinary surgeon may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:

Canine Coronavirus

This virus attacks the intestinal system and can be fatal to puppies. Symptoms may develop quickly and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite and depression.

Leptospirosis

Dogs with this diseas can suffer liver and kidney damage that will need a long period of treatment if they are to recover fully. It is also a disease that can infect humans.

When should you vaccinate?

  • 1st vaccination at 6 weeks (it is important if you purchase a puppy to check that this has been done by a vet).
  • Booster 3 weeks later (9weeks)
  • Again boost 3 weeks later (12 weeks) Rabies is given at 12 weeks too.
  • Rabies boosted 1 - 9 months later (government regulation)
  • Revaccinate annually.

Why do you have to repeat vaccinations?

  • At 6 weeks may be maternal antibodies that interfere.
  • Complete the inmmune delopment.
  • Thereafter boosters are needed because they may not actively be exposed to the disease in the envoronment to keep the antibody memory live.

Do vaccines always work?

Most vaccines nowadays are good but many factors are involved.

  • Poor working immune system
  • Maternal antibodies
  • Age - very young/old
  • Debilitated/poor nutrition
  • Improper storage
  • Worms/giardia
  • Disinfectants - needle/syringe
  • Vaccines not 100%
  • Wrong strain
  • Overwhelming exposure
  • Improper mixing
  • Exposure at time of vaccination
  • Steroids
  • Improper timing of vaccination

3. Parasite control

Ticks and fleas have at least one thing in common - they are both parasites that feed on your dog's blood and can cause a lot of discomfort and more serious health problems.Many products used to control flea infestation are also effective against ticks

Flea bites may go unnoticed on some pets, cause slight irritation in others and produce extensive itching, red lesions, hair loss and even ulcers in those animals with flea allergy dermatitis, which is the result of extreme sensitivity to flea saliva. Severe flea infestations can cause anaemia, espicially in puppies. Fleas can also transmit several diseases, as well as tapeworm. Ticks are "vectors"or carriers of a number of potentially fatal diseases, fior example biliary (Tick bite fever) and Ehrlichia.

The problem with fleas is that the adult fleas that you see on your dog or cat make up only 5% of the flea's lifecycle. Another 10% are pupae, 35% are larvae and 50% are eggs. In just 30 days 25 adult female fleas can multiply up to 250 000 fleas! Only the adults are on your dog/cat whilst the rest of the lifecycle stages are in the environment. Therefore to treat fleas on your dog you also need to treat the environment.

The best way to control flea problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Available for both dogs and cats, new insecticides and insect growth regulators in easy to use topical or oral forms  not only eliminate any existing fleas, but also work long term to prevent future infestations. This is accomplished either by killing the parasites before they can reproduce or by preventing their eggs frrom developing into normal adult fleas. Consult your veterinary surgeon for advice about the proper product for your pet. Furthermore, through daily vacuuming of high traffic areas and frequent washing of your pet's bedding will also go a long way in reducing the flea population in your home. There are also products that you can spray onto your carpets, furniture etc, that kill the fleas.

Some of the same types of topical or oral products  used to control flea infestation are also effective against ticks. Such treatments should be combined with daily examinations and tick removal for those pets, especially dogs, who are frequently outdoors in areas with high tick populations. Ask your veterinary surgeon for information about the situation in your locality. If flies are also a problem in your area then a product that works for ticks, fleas and flies, like Exspot, may be a good option. Clearing brush and long grasses and removing leaves, grass clippings anfd other organic debris will also help reduce the presence of ticks by disturbing their natural outdoor habitats.

If, despite your best efforts at control, you find that fleas or ticks have crawled (or jumped) on board your pet, you will have to use a product that will kill and/or repel the parasites. These include once a month topical treatments, sprays, powders, dips, shampoos, collars and, to combat fleas, oral medication. And remember it is perfectly normal to see live fleas and ticks on a pet immediatrely after a topical treatment, spray, shampoo, collar etc is applied. Many believe that this means the product is not working, but the fleas or ticks have to fully absorb the product before they will be affected, which may take from a few hours to a few days. 


4. Dental disease and care

For interest sake, puppies develop their deciduous teeth at 2 weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth starting to appear at 3 months. With major advances in treating serious infections and other pet diseases, oral disease - most importantly periodontal or gum  caused by the build up of plaque and tartar - has become the number one health problem for dogs. It's estimated that without proper dental care 70 - 80% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by age three. If left unattended these may cause irreversible damage to yoyr dog's teeth, gums and jaw bones.

Dental disease can be prevented by stopping the build up of plaque, the same as in people. Plaque is a yellowish white deposit made up of bacteria and debris which forms around the surface of the teeth. In time it hardens to become yellowish brown tartar (sometimes called calculus) at the base of the tooth. which gradually spreads until it may cover the whole of its surface. As well as the visible tartar there may be other indications of diseas. Foul breath is very common and the pain resulting from advanced dental disease may cause difficulties in eating.

If your pet has advanced disease and is in obvious pain, your vet may need to take x-rays of your pets head to see whether there are any deep abscesses. Any loose teeth will have to be removed because the disease is too advanced to be treated. your vet mat prescribe antibiotics before doing dental work if there are signs of infection. Your vet will remove the tartar and clean the remaining teeth, usually with an ultrasonic scaling machine. Finally, your dog's teeth will be polished to leave a smooth surface which will slow down the build-up of plaque in the future. However it is inevitable that plaque will reappear.

With your help, your pets can have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives. You simply need to provide them with a few things.

  • A nutritious diet.
  • Chew treats.
  • Regular brushing at home.
  • Yearly dental checkups by a vet 

 Good dental health begins with the proper diet.The wrong kinds of food can cause denral disease in pets. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one, will through it's mild action on the teeth, help remove the bacyerial plaque that can harden into tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque tartar formation. Your vet may recommend the use of special dry foods designed to reduce plaque and tartar build up, especially if your pet is prone to dental problems due to breed or individual genetic history.

Brushing your pets teeth. Dogs need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and

 the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age. Even older dogs can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience a positive one for your pet. Reassure and praise them profusely throughout the process and reward him with a very special treat when its finished.

Here's how it can be done.

  • Step 1 - Start by dipping a finger in beef paste. Rub this finger gently over your pet's gums and one or two teeth. Repeat until you pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.
  • Step 2 - Gradually, introduce a gauze covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular motion.
  • Step 3 - Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people or a special pet tooth brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small brush built into its tip.
  • Step 4 - Finally, once your pet is used to brushing, introduce the use of pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride - ask your veterinary surgeon for his/her recommendatiomns. Don't use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet's stomach. Your veterinary surgeon may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.

 Don't forget a yearly dental checkup Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will help maintain gums and teeth in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need to start with a clean bill of dental health. That's where your pet's vet comes in.

  • He/she will give your pet a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are any underlying problems and especially tartar build up. Brushing removes plaque but not tartar, so if your pet's teeth do have tartar, your vet will have to remove it with a professional cleaning and polishing, usually accomplished under anaesthesia. After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your veterinary surgeon will provide you with instructions for home care and follow up.

A few tips.

  • Chew treats, including hard meat protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help remove plaque, and provide stimulation for gums.
  • Watch out for wood - ththrowing sticks for dogs can result in splinters and gum damage.
  • Don't let your pet  chew on hard materials like bones or stones. They can wear down, even break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection. 

5. Ear infection in dogs

A dog's ear is quite different in shape to ours. People simply have a horizontal tube that runs straight from the side of the head into the inner ear (auditory csanal). In the dog however, the outside opening of the ear canal is high on the side of the head. The canal runs vertically down the side of the head and makes a sharp right angle into the inner ear. Additionally, some dogs have an ear flap which can partially cover the canal opening. As a result, the ear canal can become very hot and sweaty. There are a variety of things which may irritate your dog's ear.

It is a good idea to check your dog's ears regularly, and you should start practicing this examination with them from the time they are puppies. Healthy ears are clean, odour free, pale pink in colour and  have a minimal accumulation of wax.

Otitis externa is an ear infection in the external ear canal and is fairly common in dogs. However, certain breeds are more susceptible like those with long ears as those with hairy ear canals. Other factors like a hot, humid environment as well as dogs that swim often can also play a part in ear disease. The ear canal can be easily blocked by wax, dirt and foreign objects. Ear infections are often a sign of underlying allergies (often food allergies, hormonal abnormalities or hereditary conditions.

The signs of ear disease are.

  • An unpleasant odour.
  • Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear and head.
  • Sensitive to the touch.
  • Constant shaking of the head or tilting the head to one side.
  • Black or yellowish discharge.
  • Accumulation of brown wax.
  • Loss of balance or hearing.

If you notice any of these signs it is very important that you take your dog to the vet. Once ear disease starts your dog will need some treatment to stop the irritation and possible infection. Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the problem. Obviously a foreign body will have to be removed, and specific treatment may be required for mites or severe infections. Your vet may need to take samples from your dog to decide which is the best treatment to give. YYour vet will probably prescribe ear drops/ointment which are an antibiotic and antifungal. However, unless the ear is clean the ear drops cannot work. It may be necessary for your vet to admit your dog to the hospital and flush out its ear canals before treatment starts. In less severe cases, your vet will show you how to use an ear cleaner on your dog. You must complete the treatment course even if the ears seem to be much better within one or two days, otherwise you will increase the chance of developing resistant bacteria.

One of the reasons it is important to go to the vet, and not treat the dog by yourself, is that there is a chance that the ear drum (tympanic membrane) is damaged. If you put anything in your dog's ear when the ear drum is damaged it could lead to very serious problems like deafness and disorientation/imbalance. In addition your vet will be able to help you with finding the underlying cause of the infection.

If you have a dog that is predisposed to ear infections or has suffered from them often then it is good to take a few preventative steps.

  • Monitor your oets behaviour. Try to limit them swimming.
  • Examine their ears weekly (give them a treat after you have done this).
  • Based on the advice of your vet, you can do a gentle weekly cleaning at home with a product like Otoclean.
  • Together with your vet you can determine if the infections are due to underlying factors like allergies and work to correct these issues, for example, a diet change.

 

6. Kennel Cough

Do you take your Beagle to the park, the beach, training, shows or to hunts?

Considering how active Beagles are are, most of us Beagle owners do our best to keep them busy by taking them out and about. For this reason our dogs are at a higher risk of contracting kennel cough than dogs that spend the majority of their time at home.

Contrary to the common name of the disease this condition is not only contracted when dogs go to the kennel but actually anywhere where dogs come into close contact with other dogs, so for example, dog shows, parks, dog training, grooming parlours and particularly important to us, Beagle hunts.

The symptons of " Kennel Cough "are:

  • Harsh dry cough is the most obvious sign.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Tiredness
  • Can progress to pneumonia
  • Can be more severe in puppies and older dogs

How is "Kennel Coügh "spread ?

This disease is very contagious and can spread rapidly by coughing, sneezing, or nose to nose contact between dogs.

Causes of "Kennel Cough

The following bacteria and viruses are the main pathogens that contribute to the "kennel cough"complex.

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica - A bacteria that is the most common cause of "kennel cough". Transmission between dogs and cats is possible possible. Infected animals can shed the bacteria into the environment and thus serve as a source of infection for other animals for up tp 4 months.
  • Canine parainfluenza virus
  • Canine adenovirus 1 and 2

There are a number of other viruses that can be involved.

Vaccination

Immunization of your pet is the best protection that can be provided and has proven very effective in reducing the severity of clinical signs as well as in reducing subsequent shedding of the parainfluenza virus (in dogs) for many years.

Once we have determined that vaccination is appropriate for our cat/dog we need to make sure that the correct product is used. The major consideration involves using a intranasal vaccine or a parenteral (given subcutaneously) vaccine.

Ideally the vaccine should contain the Parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica fractions and be an intranasal vaccine. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that intranasal vaccines (eg Novibac KC) hace a faster onset of immunity protection (within 72 hours), can be used on animals from 3 weeks of age (safe), will not interfere with maternal antibodies and do not require a booster 2 - 4 weeks later. (injectable vaccines require that the animals return for a booster vaccination after the first innoculation. The vaccine needs to be repeated annually.

Animals that have been successfully vaccinated may still become infected, however, the symptoms experienced will be milder and shorter lived than for those animals not vaccinated. The main reason why animals may still develop clinical signs of respiratory disease is that vaccines protect against the Parainfluenza virus and /or the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria (depending on which vaccine is used). All the other causes of kennel cough in dogs are not covered by vaccination.

7. To Sterilise or not to sterilise - an easy question to answer.

Every year thousands of animals land up at various welfare shelters like the SPCA. Unfortunately more puppies are born every year than there are good homes available. This situation can be avoided by sterilising your pet. Both castration in the male dog and spaying in the female are operations which need a general anaaesthetic. Your dog must be fasted overnight before the operation to reduce the risk of problems on the operating table.. Castrating male dogs is a relatively straight forward operation whilst spsaying bitches is more difficult ut is one of the most commonly performed surgical prodecures.

Both castration and spaying involve a single cut, into the belly of the female to remove the ovaries and uterus (womb) or in front of the scrotum of the male dog to take out the testicles. Your dog should be ready to come home on the same day as surgery, as soon as the anaesthetic has worn off. If there are any complications your vet might keep you dog overnight to keep an eye on them.

The benefits of sterilising:

  • Females - Spaying will stop the bleeding that occurs every heat cycle and prevent any changes in behaviour associated with heat cycle. Females that are not spayed, but do not have puppies, may develop false pregnancy or infection in the womb (pyometra) which can be fatal. Early spaying of females reduces the risk of them developing mammary cancer (breast cancer). later in life by about 80%.
  • Males - Some male dogs develop anti social behaviour when they reach maturity. This may be in the form of aggressive or sexual behaviour - mounting other dogs or people. Uncastrated dogs, if left to their own devices, may patrol a wide area in search of a matre and can detect a female in season a long way away. A dog who wanders is far more likely to be involved in a car accident and getting lost. Castrating male dogs also reduces the risk of them developing diseases of the prostrate or testicles in later life.

There are a number of myths about sterilising your pet that confuse people when they are making this decision. It is time to dispel these myths.

  • Spaying will make my dog fat and lazy - thids is not true. Once a dog has been sterilised its energy requirements can be lower which means that it requires less food. Monitor your dogs weight in the months following the procedure and adjust their diet as necessary
  • Neutered dogs can't be guard dogs - this is not true. Neutering will lower the level of testosterone and therefore hormone associated agression but does not reduce their ability to guard.
  • My female needs to have one litter - not true. It is an old wives tale that a dog needs to have a litter. By thinking this you are assuming a pet has the same emotional needs as a person. What she doesn't know she won't miss.
  • My dog is so wonderful I want another one just like it. - not possible. There is no guarantee that a litter of puppies will have the same characteristics of either of their parents. Sometimes they may even get all of the bad traits and none of the good ones.
  • It is expensive - the cost of neutering yoyr pet needs to be compared to the health risks and treatments thereof if your pet is not neutered. Many of the SPCA's and other welfare organisations, like the CVC, will assist people with low income to spay/neuter their animals.

 At what age should you spay or neuter? generally this should be done at about 6 months of age and ideally before a female's first season  If she has had a season it is recommended  to wait 2 - 4 months before the procedure. Remember to fast your dog from the evening before the operation.