Your dog may at some time pick up some type of parasite. Whenever you take your dog to the vet, bring along a stool sample. Never put a stool sample in a paper towel, this may destroy certain types of eggs. Just slip it into a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator if you are not going directly to the vets.

Types of internal parasites you may see and their symptoms:

TAPEWORMS: Body segments of the tapeworm are passed in the stool. They are about a quarter inch long. You may see them adhering to the fur under the tail. When dried they resemble grains of rice. Tapes are spread when the dog eats an infected flea. They are not serious but are expensive to treat. To control, fleas must be eradicated.


ROUNDWORMS: These are seen primarily in young puppies but may be seen in an older dog that has just whelped (had a litter), or who has been under severe stress. They resemble white earthworms or moving strands of spaghetti. Roundworm infestation can be serious in puppies, who may have a potbellied, unthrifty appearance. They may also vomit or have diarrhea. Roundworms may be treated with over the counter preparations such as Strongid T or Nemex II.


HOOKWORMS: Hooks attach themselves to the intestinal wall where they feed on the dogs blood. A severe hookworm infestation will make the dog anemic. You should suspect hooks if the dog has very pale gums, or bloody, black or tarry stool. Hooks are acquired from contaminated soil or feces. This is a serious problem that needs veterinary attention.


WHIPWORMS: Whips are 2 - 3 inches long and threadlike. Even a light infestation can cause problems and they are frequently undetected in a single stool sample. Symptoms include weight loss and diarrhea. If whips contaminate the soil, there is nothing that will remove them. This is why it is important to clean up immediately after your dogs!!


GIARDIA: Giardia is not a parasite but rather a protozoa but is fairly common in dogs, especially those who have been drinking from open streams. The principle sign is diarrhea, possibly mixed with mucus or blood. Giardiasis is contagious to humans. You need to wash your hands thoroughly after any contact with infected feces.



     This list is intended as a quick reference. Do not hesitate to seek veterinary care for your dog in an emergency.


EAR INFECTIONS: Many Goldens suffer from ear infections or ear mites. Symptoms you may see are; scratching or digging at the ear, shaking the head, or you may notice an odor coming from the ear (a healthy ear shouldn't smell). The vet will prescribe medication and can show you how to administer it. Dogs should have their ears cleaned as part of the grooming process. Preparations for this purpose are available in specialty stores or through your vet. A homemade ear wash can be prepared by mixing 5 parts water, one part apple cider vinegar and one part rubbing alcohol. If the ear is very raw, the alcohol can be eliminated. Many dogs with chronic ear infections benefit from a hypoallergenic diet.


SKIN PROBLEMS: Another common problem with Goldens is skin problems. It is beyond the scope of this booklet to describe all the possible causes of skin problems. Most commonly you may see a dog scratching himself raw, or the skin may have a scaly or scabbed appearance. This may be caused by allergies, thyroid dysfunction or other problems. A medicated shampoo and a hypoallergenic diet may be all that are needed, but an exam by the vet will rule out any underlying medical problems. For itchy dogs, a final rinse of dilute vinegar and water will help correct the pH and sooth the skin. After washing the dog in a mild shampoo, pour the vinegar solution over the dog and allow to sit on the skin for 5 minutes, then lightly rinse.


HIP DYSPLASIA: Unfortunately, this continues to be a common problem with Goldens. Signs you may see are; difficulty getting up, a limp or a "bunny hop" gait or a very swayed gait. H.D. is not the only cause of these problems, but it is one of the most common. Buffered aspirin may be given for acute pain (one 5 grain tablet per 30 lbs., every 6 hours), but should not be used long term. We have seen great improvement with some supplements such as glucosamine, glycoflex or chondrotin.


HYPOTHYROIDISM: A dog that is clinically hypothyroid will usually be very overweight. He will probably have a very poor coat with a soft or "peach fuzz" appearance. He may also have other skin problems and be constipated. Behavioral problems such as hyper excitability or aggression may also be seen. Your vet will test a dog that appears classically hypothyroid. These dogs, once started on thyroid replacement therapy, respond quickly and have an excellent prognosis.


KENNEL COUGH OR BORDATELLA: Kennel cough is a highly contagious viral disease characterized by a harsh, dry cough (many people mistakenly believe the dog is choking). In most dogs it will run its course in a matter of weeks but may become complicated by a secondary bacterial infection, which requires antibiotics. Treatment includes humidifying the air and giving cough suppressants at night if needed to help the dog sleep. Give a large dog an adult dose of a cough suppressant (not just an expectorant), such as Robitussin DM every 6 hours as needed. You will need to monitor the dogs temperature, as a fever indicates a secondary infection that needs medical attention. (See basic first aid section for normal temps).


COCCIDIA: Coccidia is a protozoa that causes diarrhea, mostly in puppies. It can be associated with stress and lowered resistance. However, many breeders acquire coccidia over time and need to treat each litter. If properly treated, coccidia is not serious. The puppy may carry the organism without symptoms, but become symptomatic when under stress. Treatment consist of antibiotics, such as Albon or trimethaprim-sulfa.




This is a quick overview, when in doubt seek veterinary attention!


TAKING A DOGS TEMPERATURE: Using a rectal thermometer lubricated with Vaseline or other lubricant, have someone hold the dog in a standing position, lift its tail and insert the thermometer 1 to 3 inches, depending on the size of the dog. Leave in place 3 minutes, remove and read. (Do not allow the dog to sit down while you are taking his temp! If the thermometer is lost or broken while in the dog's rectum, immediately call the vet for further instructions!) Normal temps vary but average for adult dogs is 100 to 102 F.


HEART RATE AND CIRCULATION: To take a dog's pulse you can place your hand directly over the heart on the left side of the chest or you can palpate (feel) the femoral artery on the inside of the dog's leg, close to where it meets the groin. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by four. Pulse rate varies from 70 to 120 beats per minute at rest, higher during or immediately after exercise. Circulation can be assessed by looking at the dog's gums. Pink gums mean healthy circulation. If gums are white or if you press on them and they stay white for more than an instant, the dog needs to be evaluated by a professional.

           If a dog has stopped breathing and there is no pulse you should call for help and begin CPR. Lay the dog on its right side on a hard surface. Give mouth to nose respiration - hold mouth together and blow gently into nostrils. Watch for the rise and fall of the chest. To perform chest compressions, place heel of hand on the left chest, just behind the elbow (use two hands if dog weighs more than 40 lbs.) Rapidly compress chest 6 times, allowing 1-2 seconds between each compression. Give 3 breaths, repeat cycle. Check for return of respiration and pulse every few minutes.


HOW TO QUICKLY MUZZLE A DOG: For a quick muzzle if a dogs is hurt and may snap, tie a leash or a piece of gauze around the muzzle with the knot under the chin and then tie again around the back of the head (see photos). NEVER muzzle a dog that is overheated or struggling to breath!


HOW TO GIVE MEDICINE: Pills are best disguised in food, cheese or bread work well. Liquid medicine should be squirted slowly into the pouch made by pulling the side of the dog's mouth out and down.

POISONING AND INDUCING VOMITING: If you suspect a dog has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately or call the National Pet Poison Hotline at 1-900-680-0000. If you are told to induce vomiting, give syrup of ipecac (1t. per 10-lbs. body weight) or hydrogen peroxide (1-3t. every 10 minutes).


CONTROLLING BLEEDING: Apply pressure with a clean cloth to the wound. Keep steady pressure on for several minutes. DO NOT lift cloth to check on wound. This will restart the bleeding. If bleeding stops, remove cloth and bandage wound with sterile dressing. If blood is spurting or cannot be stopped in 30 minutes, seek immediate help. Do not use peroxide on a wound that has stopped bleeding, it will interfere with clotting.


VOMITING: If your dog vomits, note the amount, contents, and frequency. A single episode of vomiting is usually not a cause for alarm unless it contains large amounts of blood. Frequent episodes require the stomach be rested by withholding food and water for 24 hours. Feeding can be resumed with a bland diet of boiled chicken or hamburger and rice. If the vomiting continues, seek veterinary attention.


DIARRHEA: Simple cases of diarrhea may be explained by changes in diet or dietary indiscretions. Simple diarrhea is seen in a dog that continues to eat, remains bright and alert and is not vomiting. In this case, remove food for 24 hours. When reintroduced, food should be bland. For anything more severe consult your vet.


EAR CLEANING: Your vet can recommend how frequently you should clean your dog's ears, certainly with every bath. To clean, use a vinegar and alcohol preparation or a commercial product, such as oti-clens. Squirt a small amount into ear, wait a few seconds and wipe out using your finger wrapped in gauze or a cotton ball. Never stick anything into the ear farther than a finger can reach!


OTHER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR: These may signal a problem: extreme thirst

Painful or frequent urination

Lameness, limping, or a weakness in the extremities

Severe itching

Loss of appetite

Weight gain or loss

Bright red or pale gums

A change in personality or temperament

Lumps under the skin or swellings

Hair loss not due to seasonal shedding

Frequent shaking of the head

Any change from normal in your dog!