Labrador Retriever – Preventive Health CareThe easiest way to make sure your dog is well cared for is to set up a routine, then follow this routine each and every day without fail. Without a routine, it’s too easy to say to yourself, “I had a tough day at work today, I’ll do that tomor¬row.” Eventually, if you procrastinate enough, you’ll forget what you were going to do. Your dog is the one who will suffer.

The Daily Inspection

Once a day, you need to run your hands over your Labrador Retriever – not just over the coat as you would do when you pet your dog, but run your fingers through and under the coat so you can feel the dog’s skin. As you do this, you will get to know the feel of your dog. Then if a tick latches on and buries its head in your dog’s skin, you will feel it with your fingers. If your dog cuts herself, or has a lump or bruise or a skin rash, you will feel it. By checking the dog like this everyday, you will find these things before they turn into bigger problems.
After you finish brushing your dog, put the brushes down, and starting at the dog’s head again, run your hands over your dog’s head, around the muzzle, over the skull, feeling around the base of the ears, through the thick neck hair, mak¬ing sure you touch every square inch of skin. Take your time as you do this. Think of it as giving your dog a gentle massage. Your dog may go to sleep as you massage, but make sure you don’t. Stay alert and look for problems.
As you massage and examine your Lab, become familiar with every part of her body. Let your hands and fingers learn what your dog feels like. Run your hands over the shoulders, down the front legs, over the ribcage, and down the back to the hips. Run your hands down each leg, handling each toe on each paw, checking for burrs and foxtails, cuts and scratches. Don’t forget to run your hands down the tail, too, checking for lumps, bumps, and burrs.
A side benefit of this daily exam will show up when you need to take your Lab to the veterinarian. Your dog will be used to intimate handling and will not be as stressed by it as a dog who is not handled in this manner.

Check the Ears, Teeth, and Skin

Skin allergies are not uncommon in this breed. Skin allergies can show up as red skin, a rash, hives, or a weeping, oozing sore. If during your daily exam you see a skin problem developing, get your Lab in to your veterinarian right away. It’s much easier to treat a skin problem when it’s first starting than it is later when the problem has spread and the dog is tormented by the itching. Your vet¬erinarian might also be able to help you identify the cause of the sensitivity.
During your daily exam, check also for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sores. If you find any minor cuts and scrapes, you can wash them with soap and water and apply a mild antibiotic ointment. However, if a cut is gaping or looks red and inflamed, call your veterinarian

What vaccines dogs need and how often they need them has been a subject of controversy for several years. Researchers, healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and dog own¬ers do not always agree on which vaccines each dog needs or how often booster shots must be given.
In 2006, the American Animal Hospital Association issued a set of vaccination guidelines and recommendations intended to help dog owners and veterinarians sort through much of the controversy and conflicting information. The guidelines desig¬nate four vaccines as core, or essential, for every dog, because of the serious nature of the diseases and their widespread dis¬tribution. These are canine distemper virus (using a modified live virus or recombinant modified live virus vaccine), canine parvovirus (using a modified live virus vaccine), canine aden-ovirus-2 (using a modified live virus vaccine), and rabies (using a killed virus). The general recommendations for their adminis¬tration (except rabies, for which you must follow local laws) are:
– Vaccinate puppies at 6-8 weeks, 9-11 weeks, and 12-14 weeks.
– Give an initial “adult” vaccination when the dog is older than 16 weeks; two doses, three to four weeks apart, are advised, but one dose is considered protective and acceptable.
– Give a booster shot when the dog is 1 year old.
– Give a subsequent booster shot every three years, unless there are risk factors that make it necessary to vaccinate more or less often.
Noncore vaccines should only be considered for those dogs who risk exposure to a particular disease because of geographic area, lifestyle, frequency of travel, or other issues. They include vaccines against distemper-measles virus, canine parainfluenza virus, leptospirosis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).
Vaccines that are not generally recommended because the disease poses little risk to dogs or is easily treatable, or the vaccine has not been proven to be effective, are those against giardia, canine coronavirus, and canine adenovirus-1.
Often, combination injections are given to puppies, with one shot containing several core and noncore vaccines. Your veteri¬narian may be reluctant to use separate shots that do not include the noncore vaccines, because they must be specially ordered. If you are concerned about these noncore vaccines, talk to your vet.

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