Working dog health

Working dogs play an important role on many farms, so it is important to look after their health and nutritional requirements to keep them fit and active.

All farm dogs should be vaccinated as pups (generally at eight, twelve and sixteen weeks of age) followed with annual boosters to keep their immunity strong. The standard vaccine contains Parvovirus (the key concern), Hepatitis, Distemper, and Parainfluenza. Parvovirus is incredibly contagious, survives five to seven months in the environment and can be brought onto your property by an infected dog or carried in on shoes, cars or even feed bowls! For this reason vaccination is a cheap insurance policy and can be easily done on farm at your convenience.

Leptosporosis is an additional disease worth vaccinating for. Dogs from rural environments are at a higher risk of exposure than your average city dog due to contact with livestock. An infected dog could also be a potential source of infection to humans as the disease is zoonotic. Kennel cough is a bacterial infection that requires close contact with an infected dog for it to spread. If your dog team is isolated, with few outside dogs visiting, then the risk of contracting this disease is probably relatively low. However if you have casual workers and/or lots of dogs coming and going then vaccination for this disease should also be considered.

Diet is extremely important. Hard working farm dogs need a balanced diet with sufficient calories to keep up with their high energy demands. As a rule, adult dogs should be fed twice a day and not directly prior to work. If you are feeding a relatively low calorie food, this could equal a huge amount of food which can increase the risk of a twisted stomach. Therefore a calorie dense food is more appropriate because it can provide the same level of energy in a much reduced quantity.

Intestinal parasites are common. Pups need worming every two weeks until they are three months old, then monthly until they are six months old, then every three months thereafter for life. However if you're on a sheep and beef farm that has a problem with sheep measles then a monthly tape worming treatment is recommended.

Ensure your working dogs are in tip-top shape by having a solid health plan in place for them today!