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Seven things you can do to keep your dog healthy

“GOLDEN” [coourtesy photo]

People often look at my dog, “Golden”, and assume I brought him from off island because he is so big and healthy. He’s a Samoan dog, the best kind there is. As the territorial veterinarian, I am often asked how he stays so good looking and healthy.  Here is a list of seven things you can do to help your dog thrive:

1. VACCINATE: Diseases like parvo virus and leptospirosis kill many dogs here in American Samoa.  These diseases are PREVENTABLE. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at 6 weeks, and adult dogs should receive a booster yearly.

2.  DEWORM: Dogs should receive a medication once a month to kill any internal parasites they have been exposed to.  

3.  STERILIZE: Spaying and neutering your dog adds years to its life, helps prevent certain cancers, and prevents diseases transmitted through breeding.

4.  FLEA/TICK PREVENTION: Many types of medications are available to keep fleas and ticks off your family friend. Aside from causing itchiness and skin problems, biting insects can transmit blood diseases that can cause serious illness and death. 

The medications in many flea and tick collars have been around so long that many of these insects are resistant to them, and they don’t work well. 

Here at the vet clinic, we find fipronil (the active ingredient in Frontline), and some of the newer oral flea/tick medications like Nexguard and Bravecto work best.

5.  GOOD DIET: Good quality dog foods are the best thing to feed your dog. They have been formulated to provide all the nutrition and vitamins your dog needs to grow and stay healthy. Scraps are OK sometimes — but shouldn’t be the only thing your dog eats. Bones can cause constipation, obstructions, and internal injuries, and should not be fed to dogs. 

6.  HEARTWORM PREVENTION: Heartworms are a parasite transmitted by mosquitos between dogs. We have a high rate of heartworm disease here on island. 

These parasites live in the heart and surrounding blood vessels and eventually cause heart failure, weight loss, coughing, and death. 

Heartworms are easy to prevent with a once a month medication (often combined with a de-wormer). This medication can be purchased at the veterinary clinic or from on line pharmacies but does require a prescription from a veterinarian.  

7.  KINDNESS: Dogs need more than all of these above requirements to live a happy life. 

They enjoy companionship, exercise, being clean, and a safe environment. They should always have access to shelter to get out of the rain and sun, and fresh water at all times.

The ASG Department of Agriculture Veterinary Clinic can help you with all of the above. Please contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment at 699-9445. 

DoA Director Filifaatali Mike Fuiava and Dr. Jensen continue to promote for healthy and happy pets, leading to healthy and happy pet owners.