Cheat Sheet

Dog Health & Nutrition For Dummies

From Dog Health & Nutrition For Dummies by M. Christine Zink

Your dog's health and nutrition are in your hands. Assembling a first-aid kit for your canine companion and recognizing the symptoms of an illness that require a veterinarian are essential to maintaining the health of your dog. Providing a nutritious diet for your pooch is vital, so take the time to read and evaluate the ingredient labels on dog food products.

Canine First-Aid Kit Items

One way to keep your dog healthy is being prepared for an emergency. Administering first aid to an injured dog is very difficult — if not impossible — without a few essential supplies. The following items are great to have stored in a water resistant container (you can throw it in the car for road trips) for your doggy first-aid kit.

ACE brand elastic bandage Adhesive tape
Alcohol swabs Aspirin (enteric coated)
Athlete’s foot powder Bacitracin or Neosporin
Benadryl Cohesive bandage
Cold pack Cotton squares
Cotton swabs First aid instructions
Gauze bandage roll Gloves (latex)
Green Soap or Hibitane Hydrogen peroxide
Imodium A-D Lubricating jelly
Muzzle Needle and thread
NuSkin liquid bandage Penlight flashlight
Pepto-Bismol liquid Plastic bags (resealable)
Razor blade (retractable) or blunt-ended scissors Safety pins
Sterile saline solution Stockinet or bootie
Styptic powder Sun block
Syringe Thermometer (rectal)
Tweezers (flat-ended)

Recognizing Signs of Sickness in Dogs

Your dog will probably get sick at some point in its life. Learn to recognize the signs of your minor maladies in your dog - a tummy ache or soreness after playing hard -and signs of real illness. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, it's time to call your veterinarian:

  • Any loss of appetite that continues for 24 hours or more.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea that persists for more than 24 hours, or any vomiting or diarrhea in a dog more than 8 years of age.

  • Symptoms of bloat, such as unsuccessful attempts to vomit, rapid shallow breathing, a distressed appearance, pacing back and forth, or a painful or enlarged abdomen.

  • A first seizure, recurrent seizures, or any seizure that lasts more than three minutes.

  • Body temperature above 104 degrees or below 100 degrees.

  • A serious fall or blow to the head, chest, or abdomen, even if there is no apparent injury; any injury to the eye, no matter how minor; or any encounter with a moving vehicle.

  • Any open wound or injury in which bleeding continues for more than five minutes, despite your efforts to control it.

  • Difficulty breathing.

  • Collapse or unconsciousness.

  • Snake bite.

  • Heatstroke.

  • Poisoning.

  • Burns, no matter how minor.

  • Straining or difficulty urinating or defecating.

  • Lameness lasting more than 24 hours.

Deciphering a Dog Food Label

The dog food label is the first place to look when trying to decide on a food for your four-legged friend. Reading a dog food label isn't terribly different than a nutritional label on your cereal box. Generally, a good-quality dog food will have two quality animal protein sources listed in the first few ingredients.

To make sense of the label, go over these definitions for the food terms you'll see in the ingredient list:

  • Animal by-product meal: This consists of rendered animal tissues that don't fit any of the other ingredient definitions. It still can't contain hair, horns, hoofs, hide trimmings, manure, or intestinal contents or extraneous materials.

  • By-products: Meat by-products are non-human-grade proteins obtained from animal carcasses. They can vary greatly in their digestibility.

  • Meat: This is the clean flesh of slaughtered cattle, swine, sheep, or goats. It must come from muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heart, or esophagus.

  • Meat and bone meal: This is rendered from mammal tissues, including bone. Other than that, it is similar to meat meal.

  • Meat by-products: This consists of fresh, non-rendered, clean parts of slaughtered mammals. It does not include meat but does include lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, livers, blood, bones, fat, stomachs, and intestines. It cannot include hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs.

  • Meat meal: This is a rendered meal made from animal tissues. It cannot contain blood, hair, hoofs, horns, hide trimmings, manure, intestinal contents, or extraneous materials. It may not contain more than14 percent indigestible materials. Lamb meal is made from lamb parts. Meat meal is made from cattle, swine, sheep, or goats.

  • Poultry (or chicken or turkey) by-product meal: This consists of ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines. It cannot contain beaks or feathers.

  • Poultry (or chicken or turkey) by-products: This consists of non-rendered clean parts of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, and guts. It must not contain feces or foreign matter.

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