One of the friendliest dogs there is, golden retrievers are the 3rd most popular dog breed in the United States. The key to giving your best fur friend a long and happy life is by taking care of it! Here is how you know when your golden needs to head to the vet!
How Often Do Golden Retrievers Need to Go to the Vet?
- Heartworm prevention at eight weeks
- Lyme disease vaccination at nine weeks and again at 12 weeks
- Rabies vaccine at twelve weeks
- Spay or neuter at six months
- Annual exams after the age of one
- Two visits per year after the age of eight
Golden retrievers are an amazing breed. By knowing what to look for, you can keep your dog in perfect health. Not only is this going to show you some of the common issues, but you’ll also know the warning signs your pet may be giving off as well.
How Often Should Your Golden Retriever Go to the Vet?
A great veterinary routine can not only prolong the life of your golden retriever but the quality of life as well. Starting at a young age, there are more visits to the vet than usual. This is to make sure your puppy is on top of their shots and vaccines. Vets can also detect any issues early on in their life.
Starting at eight weeks, golden retrievers need to begin heartworm prevention. After that point, you can get a pill to continue to protect the pet that you can give them at home. The next vaccination is for the prevention of Lyme disease. This is then followed up at weeks with a booster.
Once your golden retriever is twelve weeks, they will need to receive a vaccination for rabies, and then you have the option to spay or neuter your animal. As your dog continues to grow, you will have fewer trips to the vet.
After the first year, you can take your pet to the vet for their yearly checkup and vaccinations. Once your pet hits the age of eight, your vet may recommend coming in twice a year to make sure your dog is in the best health it can be.
There are circumstances where your dog may have other problems that need a vets attention. Find out what some of these circumstances may be, and what they mean for your dog!
How Do You Know If Your Dog Needs to Go to the Vet?
The first step to keep your dog healthy and happy is by knowing the signs that he or she may be giving off. If you can detect these signs early, it can not only prevent a disease, but it can also save your dog’s life!
These signs are typically things you need to watch out for between regular visits. The importance of regular exams and checkups is a vital part of being a pet owner. Find a vet that you know and trust!
In addition to knowing signs for your dog’s health, you can also make sure to do checkups at home. By checking their ears and feet, you can cut down the need for emergency visits to the vet.
While some of these signs could be as simple as an upset stomach from food, it could also be a sign of something more serious. A combination of any of these is a sign that your pet needs to visit the vet as soon as you can take them.
Signs Your Dog Needs a Vet
- Changes in Eating Habits
- Changes in Water Consumption
- Difficulty or Fast Breathing
- Vomiting or Changes in Stool
- Lack of Energy
- Difficulty with Movement or Balance
- Watery and Irritated Eyes
- Rashes, Skin or Coat Changes
- Wincing, Whining, or Crying
- Unusual Behavior
What symptoms need appointments, and what need emergency visits?
Often times you will do just fine with a regularly scheduled appointment. If your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you can call your vet and make an appointment for a day that works for you.
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in behavior
- Dental issues such as broken teeth, tartar, bleeding, bad breath
- Extreme tiredness
- Itchy skin, red skin, hair loss
In other situations, you may have an emergency situation. Make sure that you know of an emergency location that you can take your pet. If you are unsure about locations that are available, then your vet office should have numbers and locations that they recommend. Here are some emergency situations that you should be aware of.
- Problems with urination
- Vomiting or enlarged abdomen
- Shaking, tremors, trembling, seizures
- Weight loss
- Bruising or bleeding
- Irritation or cloudiness around the eyes
- Fainting or inability to take breath easily
Here Are Issues That May Need a Vet Visit
While you don’t want your golden retriever to suffer from anything, dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets. While almost 80% of dogs will experience this before the age of two, your golden is more likely to have issues with their teeth.
This often starts as a build-up of tartar on your dog’s teeth. As it gets worse, it can cause an infection in their gums and the roots of their teeth as well! Left untreated, this can cause your golden retriever to experience damage to organs such as their kidneys, heart, liver, and joints. A more serious concern is that they could potentially lose their teeth.
The good news is that you can help prevent dental disease at home. By checking your dog’s teeth and cleaning them, you can help keep them healthy! This video from BrightDog Academy Dog Training shows you how to clean your golden retriever’s teeth!
Your furry friend loves to spend time outside. While it is fun for them, it can expose them to potential bacterial infections. Many of these infections stem from stagnant water, or even from other animals.
The most common bacterial and fungal infections are:
- Leptospirosis (fever, lethargy, depression, vomiting, redness of membranes)
- Staphylococcal (most common, and affects their upper respiratory and skin)
- Bacterial Ear Infection (itchy, red, or inflamed ear, bad odor, waxy build-up)
- Actinomycosis & Nocardiosis (found in soil, find it’s way into wounds)
- Aspergillosis (sneezing, bleeding, discharge, swollen nose, lower appetite)
- Cryptococcus (coughing, circling, seizures, blindness, imbalanced gait)
- Blastomycosis (coughing, weight loss, lameness)
Many of the common viral infections that can impact your golden retriever can come from social settings with humans or dogs. Some of these can also vary based on your location. Your veterinarian can tell you more about the popular viral infections in your area.
The most common viral infections are:
- Canine Distemper (runny eyes, fever, snotty, coughing, seizures, paralysis)
- Canine Influenza Flu (coughing, fever, snotty nose)
- Canine Parvovirus Parvo (fever, vomiting, severe bloody diarrhea)
- Rabies (behavior change, loss of coordination, paralysis, change in bark)
According to the Association for Pet Obesity, almost 63% of golden retrievers are overweight. Not only is this a huge health concern, but it can also shorten the length of your dog’s life if left untreated. If you think your dog may be overweight, then you can do a quick search online to see what the ideal shape of your dog should be.
Since golden retrievers are larger dogs, excess weight can also cause sores, calluses, and pressure on the joints that can cause severe pain for the animal. This can even cause pressure on their elbows when they lay down.
Obesity can cause:
- High blood pressure
- Various forms of cancer
- Heat intolerance
- Digestive problems
- Weakened immune system
The majority of the time obesity is mainly a result of overfeeding your pet. Most popular dog food brands all feature a feeding guide based on the weight of your dog as well as the size. It will benefit you to spend a little extra time reading the labels on your dog’s food, so you know what they are eating.
When it comes to parasites, you may or may not even know your dog has them! Golden retrievers have some of the common parasites that any dog can get. When it comes to parasites, there are both internal and external parasites that can attack your golden retriever.
Internal parasites can be roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Roundworms and hookworms are typically passed from the mother while nursing, which is one of the reasons that puppies often get worms. Worms aren’t just for puppies though! Adults can also have parasites, so make sure to have your pet checked a few times a year!
External parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitos can not only cause skin irritation, but it can also cause some serious diseases as well. Tapeworms and heartworms are both problems that can arise.
You can find out more information from the American Heartworm Society, including information on how they are spread and how to prevent them in your dog!
Spay and Neuter
Spaying and neutering your pet is often done when they are puppies. This is a way of helping to control the pet population, reducing the risk of various cancers, as well as a way to control attitude in dogs as they age.
Since this is something that cannot be done at home, visiting the vet is essential in order to have your pet spayed or neutered.
Something to note is that in golden retrievers, spaying before the age of six months can actually increase the risk for orthopedic diseases by up to five times. Such diseases as lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumors were all increased.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) did a full study on the effects of neutering dogs, so if you’re interested in finding out more information, then check them out here.
Cancer is one of the most common diseases that can affect your golden retriever. A study by Purdue University found that around 61% of golden retrievers die from cancer. Since the 1990s, the breed has had a higher risk of the disease than any other breed.
The four most common forms of cancer in golden retrievers are
- Mast Cell Tumors
While there is not a clear reason why cancer tends to pop up in golden retrievers, the Morris Animal Foundation launched a study in 2012 to follow 3,000 golden retrievers throughout their life.
You can help your golden retriever’s chance by keeping them at a healthy weight, on a healthy diet, spaying or neutering at an older age, and reducing your pet’s exposure to toxins and unnecessary vaccinations.
If your golden retriever is experiencing bloat, then you need to get them to the vet as soon as possible! While the actual cause of bloat is unknown, we do know what it is. If left untreated, bloat will kill 100% of the dogs that it happens to. This is a medical emergency!
This happens when the stomach fills with gas and expands up to four times its actual size. The stomach can sometimes twist which can block the gas, liquid, and food. Larger dogs with big chest cavities are typically the most likely to have this happen to them.
Your dog will typically get nervous and uncomfortable after eating. If they are trying to throw up but are unable to, this is typically one of the biggest signs. The actual stomach area will also be visibly expanded, as well.
Bone and Joint Problems
As we know, golden retrievers are very susceptible to bone and joint problems, especially if they are not at a healthy weight. If you are able to catch this while your pet is at the beginning stages, then you can cut down on some pain and discomfort in the future!
Arthritis is caused when the cartilage between bones breaks down. This makes the bone rub against each other, which can cause serious pain. Since the protective layer between the bones is gone, you may see some symptoms in your pet.
Signs of Possible Pain
- No interest in walking, playing, running
- Audible noises when moving
- Difficult standing from sitting or laying down
- Limping or little movement
- Slow walking pace
- Changes in behavior
Hip dysplasia is also something that golden retrievers often have. Since it is inherited, it is likely your dog has had it since they were little. This is where the hip joins grow abnormally as the dog ages. With HD, external, and genetic factors, both have a role in the health of your dog.
As with most dogs, eye disease is a risk that you need to consider, especially as your golden retriever ages. The good news is that if you catch it early, you can take steps while your pet is healthy and young to reduce the risk of developing the top three genetic eye diseases that occur in golden retrievers.
Cataracts are something that can happen to any dog. The disease gets its name from any sort of opacity in the lens of the eye. This can obstruct vision, and can even lead to blindness in the future. Most are inherited, but it can also be a result of diabetes. There is also a risk of a reaction to something toxic, as well.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is inherited. This causes the rod cells in the retina to basically die after a certain time. One of the biggest signs of this disease is that the dog will start to suffer from night blindness, but it will lead to eventual blindness. Although there are no cures for this, you can use supplements to help your dog’s vision.
Golden Retriever Uveitis (GRPU) is intraocular inflammation and can be seen as redness of the conjunctiva, changes in iris, light sensitivity, eye cloudiness, and squinting. This is the more serious out of the three diseases.
In addition to the three listed above, golden retrievers can also get glaucoma, which is a painful eye condition that can lead to blindness. Symptoms for glaucoma are water eyes, squinting, and bluing of the cornea. Glaucoma is a serious medical emergency, so make sure you don’t hesitate. Your vet can also check for glaucoma during regular checkups.
One of the more popular inherited diseases in dogs is distichiasis. This is when hair grows on the inside of the eyelid and can irritate the surface of the eye. Goldens are very likely to develop this condition. If untreated, this can cause chronic eye pain and corneal ulcers in your dog.
Just like humans, golden retrievers can suffer from allergies, as well. The breed is actually more prone to allergies than other breeds, and there are a few signs that you can look for to see what your golden needs.
Common Allergy Signs
- Itchy or runny eyes
- The itchy base of tail or back
- Constant licking
- Swollen paws
- Itchy ears
- Hair loss
Your dog is probably allergic to things that you are allergic to. Mold, dust, and cigarette smoke can all trigger your dog’s allergies. Certain products from cleaners to beauty items can also cause your golden’s allergies to flare up. Foods are also something that you should consider.
To know if your pet has allergies, make sure you talk to your vet. Let them know what your pet may be suffering from, and tell them about their environment. There are also allergy tests that they can do that will narrow it down. This is also great if you think your dog is suffering from a food or environmental allergy.
Golden retrievers typically have a long list of skin allergies. Since they have such a thick coat of fur, it easily picks up mold, dirt, and various other things that can cause allergies to arise. If your dog spends a great deal of time outside, make sure you are cleaning them often. Keeping your house clean will also reduce the likelihood of allergies popping up.
Epilepsy is a common neurological problem that occurs in dogs. Golden retrievers are not high on the list of frequent seizers. If your golden retriever has epilepsy, they will suffer from seizures. Dogs can have focal seizures which occur in one area of the body. They can also have generalized seizures that involve the brain as well as various areas of the body.
Epilepsy can be broken down into three categories. Idiopathic epilepsy does not have a specific cause, but it has suspected genetic causes. Structural epilepsy is often from brain tumors, infections, or traumas. It can also be a result of a disease that is not directly connected to the brain. Lastly, there is an unknown epilepsy, which means they are unable to classify the problem.
If your dog is having seizures, then you should know there are actually phrases that happen. The first phase is before the seizure actually happens. Your dog may or may not have a change in their behavior. Ictus is the seizure itself. Lastly, postictal is when your dog’s brain is returning to normal after a seizure has ended.
On the chance that your dog begins having a seizure, try to record the length of time, what is happening, and anything else you can gather to share with your vet.
This is a prevalent disease in golden retrievers. Heart disease is the narrowing of the aorta that carries blood from the heart. This can be seen as murmurs in both puppies and adults.
Also known as Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS), this can be fatal to dogs. Your vet can perform heart checks a few times a year to keep your dog as healthy as it can be.
Certain ingredients in pet food can also cause a heart disease called Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This includes dog food featuring peas, lentils, legume seeds, and potatoes. This causes the heart to reduce pumping, which can increase the size of the heart.
The good news is that golden retrievers are a low-risk breed when it comes to diabetes. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that they are 100% in the clear. Female dogs, puppies, and dogs that are overweight are more at risk of developing diabetes over time.
Within the realm of diabetes, there are two main categories that your dog can suffer from. Within both of those, there are two additional forms that diabetes can become.
2 Types of Diabetes in Canine
- Diabetes Insipidus has to do with the pituitary gland.
- Central Diabetes Insipidus: This happens as a result of the gland not producing enough vasopressin. This can be caused by birth defects, head injuries, tumors.
- Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus: seen when kidneys are not responding to the vasopressin that the gland is putting out. Typically seen with birth defects, certain drugs, metabolic disorders, and renal failures.
- Diabetes Mellitus is a condition with the pancreas.
- Insulin-deficiency is when the body is not creating enough insulin.
- Insulin-resistant is when the body is producing enough, but the cells are not responding or absorbing the insulin.
Insipidus is the rarer form. It can be treated using synthetic hormones that are required for the duration of the dog’s life. In extreme cases, diuretics and oral salts are also required. Mellitus is becoming more and more common due to the increase in pet obesity. It can be controlled with insulin injections as well as a change in diet.
Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus and Diabetes Mellitus
- Excessive urination
- Weight loss
- Dull coat or hair loss
- Excessive Thirst
If you think that your golden retriever may be suffering from diabetes, your vet can do blood checks, blood sugar level tests, as well as a urine analysis, to determine the health of your dog.
There are some easy ways that you can help reduce your golden’s risk of developing diabetes. The majority of these are lifestyle changes, which are things that you can do at home.
How to reduce the risk of diabetes
- Keep your golden retriever at a healthy weight
- Make sure your dog is on a high fat and carb diet
- Spay your female dogs
- Maintain an active lifestyle for your dog
Portosystemic Shunt (PSS) is common in golden retrievers. This occurs when the blood flow that is meant to go into the liver actually goes around it. Since your liver needs blood to function, this creates a liver problem.
When your dog has PSS, the toxins in your blood are not able to enter the liver to be removed from the blood. The vet is able to do a liver function test to make sure your furry friend is in great health. If they develop seizures or stunted growth, then this may be a sign of a liver disorder.
In addition to liver problems, golden retrievers can also have hemophilia. This is when your dog is not able to clot their blood in order to stop the bleeding. This is often not known until your dog has a serious injury, or undergoes surgery.
Hypothyroidism is when your dog has low levels of the thyroid hormone. These stem from chronic problems instead of just showing up out of nowhere. Golden retrievers with thyroid problems have low energy, weight gain, and visible skin problems. More severe thyroid concerns can lead to issues with the nervous system, eyes, and circulation.
If your dog is suffering from hypothyroidism, know that it is a lifelong disease. There is no cure right now, but you can treat your dog in order to ease their suffering. You can have your dog tested with a simple blood test at your vet.
The best thing you can do for your golden retriever is to keep up with yearly exams. Not only is it the best way to keep your dog in the best condition, but it also is an easy way to identify any of the issues discussed above.
Yearly exams are the best way to prevent expensive costs in the future in terms of the health of your dog, as well as to learn more about your breed and how you can take care of them.