Dog Health / Nutrition

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Dog Health / Nutrition Articles

Cold Weather Tips

Experts agree that preventative measures are the safest way to keep your gun dog from experiencing a cold weather illness or injury. Here are a few tips to keep your gun dog warm in the fowl weather:

Hot Weather Tips

The experts agree that preconditioning and preventative measures are the safest way to keep your gun dog from experiencing a heat-related illness. Here are a few more tips on avoiding problems by being proactive:


Foxtails are small tufted bristly seed heads that resemble a fox’s tail. Certain types of native grasses contain these hard seed-bearing structures often called "foxtails". The bristles contain tiny barbs, which allow the seed head to travel through the animal’s fur and eventually penetrate the skin. Foxtails can pose as a serious hazard for dogs.

Ear Mites

Ear mites (Otodectes) are in the arachnid family as are spiders. Ear mites feed off of small capillaries (blood vessels) in the inner ear canal causing severe discomfort to the animal, which results in constant itching. The dog may scratch at the ears intensely and constantly shake his head. Head shaking can be so intense that an affected dog may actually eject mites into the environment, which can then infect other animals. Ear mites are very contagious, and can spread between both dogs and cats very easily.

Ear Care

Canine ear care is an area of hygiene that many dog owners usually ignore until there is a problem. Depending on several factors, including the geographical climate, breed of dog and the dog’s acceptance to an ear cleaning regiment, common ear problems can almost always be prevented. As mentioned, some dogs, especially the pendant or "floppy eared" breeds, are more susceptible to ear problems. Geographic climates such as warm, humid areas of the country can also help to increase a dog’s chance of developing ear problems. The dark, moist environment of the canine ear canal is the perfect breeding ground for many bacteria, funguses and parasites that can cause infections.

Ear Infections

A canine’s ear canal is an elongated "L"-shaped passage. The elbow of the "L" acts as a trap collecting foreign debris, but can also be a collecting point for various organisms. This dark damp environment is also a perfect breeding ground for a variety of microbes. Parasites, especially mites, bacterial, fungal and yeast are the most common causes of ear infections in dogs.

Canine Tooth Loss

A dog’s age, physical condition, health, nutritional intake and the amount of dental hygiene it receives can all contribute to tooth loss. Physical activities and aggressive chewing on hard objects, such as bones, rocks or fencing can also lead to a cracked or broken tooth.

Canine Dental Hygiene

Although dogs do not get cavities, they do benefit from a regular oral hygiene regiment. It is important to keep your dog’s mouth as clean and bacteria free as possible. A healthy mouth includes regular brushing and cleaning to prevent the build-up of plaque and calculus on the teeth. Plaque is a combination of food particles, enzymes found in the saliva, and bacterial growth. Calculus is a hardening of plaque deposits, which over time have built up forming a hard sticky black, brown or yellowish-gray deposit. Calculus build-up is the major cause of periodontal disease in dogs. It causes the gums to become inflamed, which may also cause bleeding, and if left untreated could eventually lead to infection and tooth loss. A professional with the use of a dental tooth scaler or ultrasonic cleaner must remove built-up calculus.


Giardia (gee-ar-dee-ah) is a microscopic parasite that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Giardia was discovered in the 19th century, but was not classified as a pathogen (an organism capable of causing disease) until 1981 by the World Health Organization.

Internal Parasites

There are many different internal parasites that may infest your dog. The most common are four parasitic worms that invade a canine’s gastrointestinal system (stomach, large and small intestine). They include roundworms (Toxocara canis and Toxiascaris leonina), whipworms (Trichuris vulpis), hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma brazilians and Uncinaria stenocephala) and tapeworms (Taenia). With the exception of tapeworms, most parasitic worms must be diagnosed by microscopic or laboratory examination of the dog’s stool. However, some of the larger roundworms and their eggs may be visible in the dog’s stool.