Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle makes is a great place for sporting dogs. The activities we share with our sporting dogs make them great companions. Because of their athletic, outdoor life, sporting dogs can be more prone to certain injuries. Injuries to the eyes, nose, mouth, and teeth are not uncommon in these active dogs. If your sporting dog requires medical attention, we have the right experience to provide our trademark premier care.
Eye Problems in Sporting Dogs
It doesn’t take much for humans to experience irritation and pain in our eyes. Something as tiny as an eyelash or speck of dirt on our cornea and we can hardly keep our eye open! So imagine what our canine friends go through running through the tall grass, brambles, and bushes! Recognizing eye problems in our pets is key to keeping a minor problem from becoming a major one.
After running through fields and open space, it’s important to check the dog’s eyes for any foreign objects or irritants. Gently pull down the lower lid to check the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid, for any foreign material. If you find foreign material there, such as small seeds, remove them immediately. You can use a tissue or a soft cloth to delicately wipe them out. Normally, the conjunctiva is a healthy pink color but signs of irritation or conjunctivitis include a red conjunctiva.
Triple antibiotic ointment is a good choice to treat the problem. A tiny strip of the medicine in or around the eye can truly help alleviate the symptoms. Never use medication in the eye that is not labeled specifically for the eye! If your dog has small cuts or abrasions surrounding the eye, apply the ointment twice daily and gently rub it in. Usually about five days of treatment is sufficient.
The sign of a more serious eye problem includes a squinting eye—one that is just too painful to keep open. While there are several causes of a squinting eye, most involve cornea pain. It could be a scratch, an ulcer, or it may even be plant material that is stuck and pressing on the cornea. The condition requires immediate attention to prevent more serious or even permanent damage to the eye. If you suspect a more serious eye problem, please contact us for an office appointment.
Conditions That Affect the Nose & Mouth
Did you know that your dog can smell thousands of times better than you and can sense odors nearly 100 million times lower than we can? Well, it is true! This is a vital part of a sporting dog’s business. And because of that, careful attention needs to be taken to ensure a healthy nose.
It is not uncommon to have small cuts or abrasions occur on the outside of the nose. A triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin applied twice daily and rubbed in would be beneficial.
Grass awns are a big problem in Colorado. These are the small plant materials that often get stuck in your socks when you walk through fields in the fall. Well, these awns have a horrible knack of working themselves into any body orifice and causing havoc.
When your dog has its nose to the ground, the plant material is sucked up when they inhale. Generally, it is sneezed out but it can also become lodged deep in the nasal passages. The sign of a stuck grass awn is constant sneezing and, if untreated, it is followed by a thick discharge from the affected nostril. The treatment involves a deep anesthesia with a scope to remove it!
Another problem our sporting dogs encounter is with porcupines! And, to no one’s surprise, the porcupine almost always wins. Contrary to popular belief, there is no gas in the quills. To remove the quills, grasp the quill with a hemostat or pliers and pull straight out. It is very important to fully examine the mouth. Firmly run your thumb and forefinger along the lips to be sure that there are not broken, embedded quills deep in the lip. If you can’t get the quills all out, you will need to bring your dog in to have them removed under anesthesia.
Tongue lacerations bleed like crazy! A good way to slow the bleeding is to offer or force ice water. Rarely will suturing need to be done. It is important to put your dog on antibiotics after this.
Broken teeth, especially the canines, need prompt attention. The roots of the canine teeth extend almost to the nasal cavity, and if the broken tooth becomes infected, it may affect the smelling capabilities. There is not a good fix in the field for this and often a root canal will need to be performed to save the tooth.
Conditioning and the Sporting Dog
Conditioning and weight management is important for every dog, but it is imperative for sporting breeds. The good news for dogs is that they condition at a much more rapid rate than we do. People can work out for months and not see the improvements that dogs will experience in just a few weeks.
But, as is often the case with humans, without someone to lead the way, our pets are not going to run laps or do leg lifts in their spare time. So as a pet owner, part of your job is ensuring your pet gets safe, enjoyable exercise on a regular basis to help ensure a happy, healthy life.
If your sports dog has become de-conditioned, start out slowly. Swimming would be a great start. Canine swimmers build their cardiovascular and muscle strength without putting undue stress on their joints. Throwing a plastic or canvas bumper or a tennis ball for a 10- to 15-minute swim session is a great start and you can build up as your pet allows—up to an hour a day several times a week over a three- to four-week period.
Jogging is also great exercise, and you and your pet can enjoy running on a regular basis. Once they have adapted to the exercise, you and your dog can walk, swim, and run to your heart’s content.
Please contact us if you have any health concerns about your sporting dog.