Veterinary Care and Nutritional Balance

General Information

  • Do not bathe your puppy before it has completed its first full course of vaccination. Use wet baby tissues (without alcohol). Also, bear in mind that it takes two weeks post vaccination for antibodies to be built in the dog’s body.
  • Do not expose a dog which has not completed its first full course of vaccination to a territory potentially infected by possibly ill, unvaccinated dogs . Until your veterinarian permits you to take your dog for a walk, use single-use diapers for its physical needs. Lay them on the veranda or in a corner somewhere you see fit and train your dog to use them properly. When the time has come to take your dog outside, always carry with you a small bag, which you will use in order to dispose its feces. Turn the bag inside-out, use it as a glove, collect the feces, turn it again inside-out, close it firmly and dispose it in a garbage bin. As simple as that!
  • Follow a treatment against ectoparasites (collar or ampoule for ticks or fleas), according to the labeled instructions of the product and administer pills against endoparasites every 3 months, on a continuous basis. When you treat endoparasites for the first time (say you just rescued an adult dog so you have to assume he is full of them), be sure to repeat the treatment 10-15 days after the first dose. Ask for specific instructions from your veterinarian, always indicating the age and weight of your dog. If the dog is a very young puppy, don’t go for the pill against endoparasites. Consult you veterinarian who will most probably choose a paste against endoparasites.
  • Prevention and timely diagnosis are the best cure. Have your dog’s blood tested once or twice a year. No matter how careful you’ve been in keeping external parasites away from you dog with collars, ampules, etc., he could get infected with erlichia canis, in which case you need to administer antibiotics. Or again, despite any precautions you take, your dog could get infected with the internal parasite of canine leishmaniosis , in which case he should again go under treatment. The longer it takes to diagnose, the more difficult, longer and of doubtful results will be the treatment be. Finally, don’t forget, as of January 2012, the CaniLeish vaccine was released in our country  so you can vaccinate your dog, in order for him to internally acquire immunity against the symptoms of canine leishmaniosis.  Please read more in the press release issued by Virbac (in Greek).
  • Digital identification (microchip) is currently mandatory by law. But above all, it demonstrates that the owner of the dog is responsible for it and at the same time protects both parties (if for example the dog gets lost or stolen). The procedure is very simple and does not require sedation, since the microscopic chip is instantaneously and easily injected with a special plunger, under the dog’s skin.
  • Finally, being a responsible owner of a dog means neutering a male or a female dog, if there is a high risk of unwanted pregnancy and breeding. This will result in the birth of innocent puppies which thereafter may not be easily given for proper adoption to responsible people or families. On top of that neutered/spayed dogs generally live longer and avoid critical health conditions that are possibly fatal.

Health Issues: Human and Dog - Myth vs Reality

Kindly contributed by Christos Ktenas, DVM

[excerpt from his speech in the Awareness Workshop held in Herakleion, Crete in his capacity as an associate of SAPT Hellas, back in 2007].

I will begin the analysis of this subject with a question aimed at the readers of this article: Have you ever wondered what would be more dangerous for your health: A handshake with a person or petting a dog? Do you think that a dog can transmit to a human-being more diseases than another human-being potentially can?

I believe that such a presumption would be totally absurd and unfair. In the following analysis I will try to refute the mistaken view of several people, who believe that dogs are the basic source of human infections. At the same time, I will juxtapose the contagious diseases that dogs could transmit to people and those which people could transmit to each other, respectively. At the end, it will be proven that when it comes to dog versus man, the dog is the winner.

When we refer to human health, we should clearly distinguish between its two elements: (a) physical health and (b) mental health.

Well, as regards the physical health let us examine in detail the contagious diseases which dogs may transmit to humans:

  • Viral: There are no viral contagious diseases transmitted from dogs to humans. Dog hepatitis, is totally different from human hepatitis types A, B and C and is contagious only to unvaccinated dogs. Human Hepatitis types A, B and C is contagious only from humans to humans and not from a dog to a person. In addition, there is the virus of typhoidm which only and exclusively affects dogs. Subsequently, the only virus which can be transmitted from dogs to humans, is the virus of rabies. You must be aware however, that the virus of rabies has disappeared from the Greek area during the last 40-50 years. Greece is considered a country free from rabies and it is currently considered wrong to fear that biting from a dog (even from a stray dog) will allow the virus of rabies to be transmitted. Finally, the actual danger after a dog has bitten a person is tetanus and potential viral infections, i.e. the same risk if a person bites a fellow man and nothing more.
  • Microbial: the transmission of microbial diseases by dogs to humans is highly improbable, not to mention, impossible. Clearly, specific attention must be paid to extensive skin infections of dogs, which combine with complications from staphylococcus or streptococcus. Specifically, one must always wear gloves when in contact with such a case. Let’s not refer to the multitude of viral and microbial diseases carried by humans on to humans, but also their ease of transmission; this would require writing books and books of medical infection science.
  • Ringworm : It is very difficult for ringworm to be transmitted from dogs to people and its transmission cannot be supported or proven by any medical document whatsoever, since the physical host and carrier of fungi is the cat, which passes it on to dogs and humans (when of course fungi find a fertile ground and favourable conditions).
  • Leishmaniasis: We could talk for ever on the means of transmission of leishmania parasites; however it is certain that this disease cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans by blood or saliva or by any other body fluid from the dog. Leishmania parasites are exclusively transmitted from a dog to another dog through the bite from a specific infected female sand fly, called phlebotomine. These sand flies become infected by biting an infected animal or person. Still, the transmission from a dog (as well as from a goat, chicken, or mouse) to humans is considered controversial. An indicative example is that while a great number of dogs are infected by Leishmania parasites (kala-azar) in the Mediterranean area per year, the number of humans infected appears to be small.
  • Toxoplasmosis: The toxoplasma is a parasite which lives in the muscular system of vegetarian animals and does not attack dogs. Humans can be infected by toxoplasmosis when consuming contaminated meat, which has not been properly cooked and contaminated raw vegetables which have not been thoroughly washed. Also, this parasitic disease can be transmitted to humans by cats. The situation gets problematic though when someone has been previously contaminated by toxoplasma or if a woman receives her first exposure to toxoplasmosis while being pregnant and more specifically, from the third to the sixth month of pregnancy. In such cases, the baby is at particular risk and miscarriage may follow. The rest of the people who are infected by toxoplasmosis show no particular symptoms and/or medical complications.
  • Parasitic Diseases: At this point particular attention must be paid, because this is the only category of diseases where a dog can impair human health. There are cases of transmission of endoparasites, which cause diarrhoea and other digestive / intestinal complications and cases of infection by ectoparasites (mites and fleas), which cause dermatitis and allergic skin reactions. Of course, with the proper anti-parasitic pills and ampoules once can prevent all these unpleasant situations, thus promoting the peaceful and balanced coexistence of dogs and humans.

Of course, it is understandable that we will not at this point analyze the transmission of diseases between human-beings, since there are various contagious diseases which belong in the areas of medical pathology – infectious diseases – pulmonology – dermatology – venereology, etc.

Finally, examining the mental health of individuals and the transmission of mental diseases from dogs to humans, I do not have anything negative to present. Dogs can only positively affect the soul of human-beings. It is widely known that petting a dog not only fills one with pleasurable and relaxing feelings but also helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In contrast, human interaction can create various psychological problems. Thus, considering that physical and mental health hold each a part of 50% in every human-being, one can clearly understand that the “unquestionable’ winner between the two, is simply our dear friend, the dog.

I will end this speech with a slogan which everyone must remember to repeat to those people who are reluctant or don’t like touching or petting a dog, while at the same time do not seem at all reluctant to shake hands with an unknown person who comes in their way … Wishing to give a humorous note to our meeting, do you know what that slogan is? “Be afraid of people and not animals!”‘

Nutritional Balance

Always feed your dog with good quality dry dog food: this does not only help keep its teeth clean but also offers a balanced diet, which could also affect behavior patterns.