Dogs in the Philippines face health problems specific to them. That’s because Pinoy dog owners face the same challenges—for instance, high humidity, lots of unvaccinated and flea-infested dogs around, and urban pollution. This is why well-meaning advice from foreign experts and health sites may not be practical for our purposes.
From my experience raising dogs, here are the five most common health issues I believe Pinoy dog owners should be concerned with:
1. Ehrlichia – My vet told me that more than 80% of dogs in Luzon are affected by ehrlichia, which is a tick-borne disease. Learn more about ehrlichia here. To put it loosely, it’s almost like dengue because it brings down platelet counts, may lead to bleeding, and makes the dog really sick. In mild cases, your vet will prescribe medications but severe cases call for confinement. Don’t take ehrlichia lightly–I’ve seen so many people lose their dogs to this. Don’t feel complacent either just because you don’t see ticks on your dogs. Believe me, I can tell you from personal experience that this is no guarantee that your dog isn’t ehrlichia-free. Make sure to let your dog finish the round of antibiotics even if he’s feeling better. And be proactive about keeping your dog free from pesky ticks.
2. Distemper – If you’re a responsible dog owner, you would have made sure that your dog has completed his 5-in-1 vaccines. Unfortunately, vaccines are not fool-proof and your dog can still be infected because there are so many irresponsible dog owners out there. That’s why you shouldn’t let a young dog who hasn’t completed his battery of shots play with dogs you don’t know. Keep away from places where there are many dogs. Remember that this is an airborne disease so if you hear of distemper cases in your neighborhood, keep your dog indoors. And keep those shots updated!
3. Parvo – Another preventable disease, parvo seems to be affecting a high number of puppies in the Philippines, including those who have received vaccinations or may not have completed their injections. If your puppy has diarrhea and bloody stools, go to the vet ASAP. Any delay could affect your pup’s chances of survival.
4. Kidney problems – The problem with kidney issues is that there’s no magic pill for it. This is why you should be careful about your dog’s health and diet, as repeated infections and a poor diet could affect the kidneys. If you’re lucky, you will discover your dog’s kidney issues early on–usually through a blood test–before there are symptoms. If you find out when symptoms have set in, make sure to discuss all options with your vet.
5. Stones – If your pet is straining to pee, there’s a big chance he has stones. These are usually caused by infections and diet, and mini schnauzers and poodles are especially prone to it. My standard poodle went through a surgery to remove bladder stones when he was just 3 years old, and now that he is 7, he is suffering from urinary tract infections again. Vets have a wide arsenal of medications against stones but in some cases, surgery is the only option. Untreated, stones can cause great discomfort to your pet and in some cases, death.
In securing and managing your pet’s health, your vet is your best ally. Make sure to find a good one who is accessible and cares about your pets.