• Call our surgery044 934 8776
  • Emergency044 934 8776 (24 hours)


Healthcare advice for your canine companions

  • Dental Homecare
  • Flea Control
  • Worms & Your Dog
  • Weight Management
  • Toilet Training
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Ear Cleaning

Dental Homecare

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

The daily brushing procedure should be pleasant for both you and your dog. Many dogs actually enjoy the added attention from their owners when they are getting their teeth brushed.

The supplies you need are a toothbrush (preferably one designed for dogs) and a dog toothpaste which is usually meat flavoured. It is important NOT to use a human toothpaste as the minty taste will not be readily accepted by your pet and swallowing human toothpaste can cause stomach upsets. Most dogs accept brushing very well if they are introduced to the procedure in a calm and patient way.

The best way is as follows:

Day 1: Gently pet and scratch the muzzle, slowly lifting the lip for about 30 seconds. Reward with praise and a treat at the end of the session.

Day 2: Repeat as above and also gently run your finger or finger toothbrush and a small amount of animal toothpaste over the dog’s teeth for 30-45 seconds. Reward with a praise and a treat.

Day 3: Repeat day 2, adding 15 seconds time to running your finger or finger toothbrush over the dog's teeth. Always reward with praise and a treat.

Day 4: If all is going well, run your finger over the teeth for 30 seconds and then gently insert the toothbrush and again run over the teeth for 30 seconds.

Day 5: Repeat as day 4 and increase the time by 30 seconds.

Day 6: Repeat as day 5 and gently rub your dog’s teeth.

Day 7: You know your pet best of all. If you feel that they are accepting the brushing well, gradually increase the brushing time until you are able to spend at least one minute on each side of the mouth. If at any time your dog is resisting, stop and wait until the next day.


  • Be patient
  • Give your pet lots of praise
  • Reward your dog
  • Stop immediately if there is any signs of aggression

Flea Control

Flea infestation is one of the most common health problems seen in dogs. Almost every dog will become infected at some time during their life. Fleas are more than just a minor irritation for your dog. They are also responsible for the transmission of the flea tapeworm and, in severe cases, can cause anaemia. Flea related problems are the commonest cause of skin problems in dogs. Usually skin problems arise because the dog becomes allergic to flea saliva. When a flea bites your dog, some of the flea saliva is injected into the skin. If the dog is allergic to flea saliva, it will start to scratch, often intensely leading to serious skin disease. Fleas spend only 5% of their life cycle on an animal, therefore, it is important to remember that just because you do not see fleas on your dog, does not mean your dog does not have a flea problem.

The Flea’s life cycle

Only adult fleas are found on animals but they represent only 5% of the total flea population. The other 95% consist of immature stages of the flea life cycle which infest the pet’s environment such as bedding, carpets, furniture, car seats etc. The adult flea begins laying eggs in your pet’s coat within 48 hours of it’s first feed. It can lay up to 50 eggs per day or 2000 in it’s lifetime. The eggs then drop off into the environment where they develop into larvae and pupae before becoming the next generation of adult fleas. When it first emerges the young adult flea begins to search for food and one or two days after feeding from your pet the female will start to lay eggs.

Under favourable conditions the whole process can take as little as 12 days. It is easy to see how one or two fleas can quickly turn into an infestation.

Flea control

Successful flea control depends on an all round approach to the problem. This means treating both the dog and the environment. It also means continuing with preventative flea treatment throughout your dog's life to prevent a problem recurring

Vacuum cleaning

Regular vacuuming and washing of your dog’s bedding will help reduce the number of eggs, pupae and the build up of flea dirt on which the larvae feed. Placing a flea collar in the bag of your vacuum cleaner will help prevent the larvae or pupae continuing their life cycle in the vacuum cleaner.

Environmental sprays

An environmental flea spray such as Indorex should be used to kill any immature fleas missed during vacuuming. Pay particular attention to under beds, behind settees, under radiators and around skirting boards. One can is sufficient to treat the average three bedroomed house and lasts for up to four months. Always follow the safety instructions on the can.

Your Dog

A variety of products are now available which are safe, easy to use and cost effective. While flea treatments may be available from pet shops and even some supermarkets, these are often old or less effective products and some are even less safe to use in dogs. Call in to us and we can recommend the most suitable product for your dog.

Worms & Your Dog

Are there different sorts of worms?

Broadly there are two types of worms that cause problems in the dog, nematodes (roundworms), and cestodes (tapeworms). Common nematodes are Toxocara canis (intestinal roundworm) and Diarofilaria immitis, the heart worm. Important cestode parasites include Dipylidium caninum, Taenia species and Echinococcus species.

Are these endoparasitic infections serious in the dog?

In adult dogs intestinal worms, both roundworms and tapeworms, are usually not life threatening, except in seriously debilitated dogs or those that are immuno-compromised.


No intermediate host is required.

Nematodes (roundworms) are free living in the bowel. In puppies they can present problems if not controlled. In large numbers they can stunt growth, cause serious digestive upsets and result in a lot of gas formation. This results in a typical ‘pot bellied’ appearance. Roundworms can be spread directly from dog to dog via infective eggs.

These eggs can also prove a health rish to people especially children and in extreme cases can cause blindness.


An intermediate host is required.

Dipylidium caninum is the common tapeworm of the dog. It causes few problems in the adult host but in the growing puppy can result in digestive upsets and stunting. Diplydium is spread by the flea as intermediate host and effective treatment also must cover environmental flea eradication.

Echinococcus spp, another type of tapeworm, is important because it is zoonotic, i.e. we can be infected. Sheep and sometimes man can act as the intermediate hosts in which the immature forms of Echinococcus develop inside cysts which grow in various organs. In man the usual organs affected are lungs or brain.

Control measures involving regular deworming of the dog, together with avoidance of feeding raw or under cooked offal are obvious precautions.

Tapeworms found in adult dogs usually cause few problems. However, occasionally puppies are infested and depending on the type of worm involved, their sheer volume can cause serious blockages to the bowel.


Hookworms, particularly Ancylostoma spp are one of the most pathogenic parasites of the dog. Although not a major problem in Irish dogs, this tropical hookworm, approximately 1-2 cm (½ to 1 in) long, attaches itself to the lining of the bowel and as a result of blood sucking activities can cause severe anaemia. The infective larvae enter the host either by mouth or through the skin (particularly of the feet). Eczema and secondary bacterial infection can result due to irritation as they burrow through the skin.

As a result of increased foreign travel by British dogs under the Pets Passport Scheme, hookworm disease is being more regularly diagnosed in Britain.


These are a major problem in parts of southern Europe and the United States. They are large worms, adults reaching 16 cm (5½ in). They are chiefly located in the right ventricle of the heart and adjacent blood vessels. As mentioned previously heart worm disease is considered to be one of the most important conditions seen in small animal practice in the United States. .

The period of development to the adult stage is about six months after infection following a bite by a mosquito carrying the infective larvae (Microfilariae). The typical signs are fatigue on exercise, coughing and poor condition.

Treatment against worms

Today many effective drugs are available to control worms in the dog. Effective worm control in the dog involves the choice of an appropriate preparation which has to be regularly repeated. Please contact us and we will be happy to advise and supply a suitable preparation together with appropriate dosing instructions.

Weight Management

One of the most common questions we get asked is “Is my dog the right weight?”

All dogs have an ideal weight, depending on their size and breed.

Most animals that gain weight are overfed, which results in an intake of too many calories combined with insufficient physical activity. However, some dog breeds are more prone to weight gain such as labrador retrievers and cavalier king charles.

Have you noticed any of the following signs in your pet?

It has become more difficult to feel your pet’s ribs by running your hand along your pet’s side?
Have you had to loosen their collar recently?
Have you noticed more sluggish movement from your pet?
Is your pet having difficulty breathing?

If you make an appointment for a nursing weight clinic, we can discuss your dog’s weight and go through their history. If there is any indication that there may be an underlying medical condition causing your dog to gain weight, we would be happy to carry out the appropriate laboratory tests and investigate your pet’s health further with one of our vets.

Equally if you have noticed that your dog has lost weight, this may be a sign of an underlying disease that needs further investigation.

As your dog gets older, their metabolism changes and activity levels may also reduce so it is important to be aware of any weight increase or loss.

If we find that your dog is overweight, there are many options to us, from cutting back on the amount you are feeding your dog to beginning a diet food that we can prescribe. It may even be as simple as changing any treats you give to healthier versions.

We offer regular weight checks and are always happy to advise you on any health issues for your dog.

Toilet Training

Toilet training is best commenced very early in the pup’s life. Urination and defecation are very instinctive forms of behaviour. Alteration of these natural actions, requires patience and perseverance.

The aim is to build up the habit of elimination in a desired place, otherwise the puppy may go in a particular spot in the house because it has never been taught not to. The key to success is to encourage the puppy to go in the right area and then reward him for that behaviour. Punishing a puppy for going to the toilet in the wrong place is not an effective way to eliminate this behaviour.

The times a pup wants to urinate can usually be anticipated:

  • Immediately after feeding
  • Pup sniffs around the floor in a tight circle perhaps looking worried
  • On awakening
  • After a period of play or excitement

At these times the pup should be taken outdoors to the desired spot and gently coaxed to stay there until it has preformed, using some suitable word of command. It is probably best not to use a word that sounds too close to “sit”!

Patience is required and, at no time, should you display any anger or frustration if at first the procedure does not go smoothly.

When the pup goes to the toilet in the right area, he should be given some reward, e.g. petting or a food treat.

Problems arise if:

The pup is left on his own for too long. He can be penned in a place covered with newspaper, thus training him to paper, but this can still lead to problems with retraining later.

He is punished at a young age for dirtying the carpet, he will then simply avoid going when anyone is looking and may sneak into another room to perform.

If he has already left a smell on the carpet he will be attracted back to the same area. Therefore, smells should immediately be eliminated by cleaning the area using a biological detergent.


Punishment rarely has any beneficial effects in the toilet training process. In fact, it is likely to make the problem worse. Punishment given at any time other than immediately after the event will probably not even be associated in the dogs mind with the crime.

Separation Anxiety

What is Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common problem we see in both puppies and adult dogs. If your dog becomes too dependent on you, separation anxiety can occur when you and your dog are apart. It can be seen as anxious behaviour such as getting worked up or distressed when you are preparing to leave the house. It is also seen as inappropriate behaviour such as excessive barking, urinating inside or destructive behaviour.

A change in routine, a new event (new baby), a traumatic event while on his own and moving house are all ways in which separation anxiety may begin. Puppies introduced to new home environments may also experience it. The cause and severity of separation anxiety varies and so does the treatment.

The golden rule is that you must educate your dog to accept the fact that sometimes you will need to be apart from each other. The earlier you start getting your dog used to this fact, the easier it will be, for both of you.

Top Tips:

  • Provide plenty of fresh water and clean, warm bedding for your dog
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise when you are around
  • Provide some appealing dog toys to help occupy his time. Kongs stuffed with frozen treats are a favourite
  • Leave your dog a blanket or piece of clothing that has your scent on it
  • Try feeding your dog his main meal just as you are leaving the house
  • Leave the radio on while you are away
  • Leave your dog in a safe and secure crate or kennel run – it provides a comfortable “den like” area where your dog will feel comfortable
  • Give your dog some obedience training
  • Drop your puppy or dog off at a doggy day care centre
  • Don’t let your dog become too “clingy” and dependent on you every second you are together
  • Little by little, teach your dog to be on his own when you are home

There are also a variety of products that are available here at Auburn Veterinary Hospital that can help with anxiety in dogs

Ear Cleaning

What to look for

Get to know your dog’s ears so that you can determine what is normal verses abnormal look for them. Things that you would be looking out for while conducting a routine ear cleaning are:

  • Wax build up
  • Itchiness or head shaking
  • Redness or soreness
  • Abnormal smell

Routine Cleaning Equipment

For routine ear cleaning you only want to clean what you can see which is the outer ear and the equipment you will need are:

Ear cleaning solution with a nozzle specifically manufactured for dog ear cleaning. We can recommend a suitable one for your dog.

Cotton balls – NEVER use cotton buds or stick any instruments down the ear canal as this may rupture it. You can however use a cotton bud to clean the crevasses on the outer ear.

How to clean your dogs ears

Place the nozzle of the ear cleaning solution down along the ear canal and squeeze approximately 2ml of the solution out (1 good squeeze).

Gently massage the ear canal from the outside along the base of the ear; you should hear a sloshing sound which lets you know the solution has reached down into the ear canal.

Use the cotton ball to wipe away the wax, dirt or debris.

We are always happy to demonstrate ear cleaning with your pet. Call us on 0449348776 and we can book you in for a demonstration with one of our qualified nurses.

Return to Pet Healthcare Advice