How to Keep Your Medium-Sized Mixed Breed Dog Healthy

How to Keep Your Medium-Sized Mixed Breed Dog Healthy

You won’t be surprised to learn that your dog is special. He is your best friend and companion and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose him because you like medium-sized dogs and you expected him to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:

  • Well suited as a family dog.
  • Intelligent and easy to train.
  • People-oriented and eager to please.
  • Brave and ready for adventure.
  • Lively, with a friendly personality.

No dog is perfect, though, and you may have noticed these characteristics, too:

  • Easily bored and can find trouble.
  • Determined and has a mind of his own.
  • Needs regular exercise and diet regulation to avoid weight gain.
  • Prone to separation anxiety and associated chewing and digging behaviors.

Is it all worth it? Of course it is! He’s got his own personality and you love him for it.

Your Mixed-Breed Dog’s Health

We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of him. That’s why we’ll tell you about the health concerns we’ll be discussing with you over the life of your friend.

Knowing that your pal’s genetic make-up is an important step you can take to ensure his future health and happiness. Just because your pet looks like a Miniature Schnauzer doesn’t mean he is a Miniature Schnauzer. And even if he is part Miniature Schnauzer, it doesn’t mean he’ll have the same behavioral tendencies or health problems as a Miniature Schnauzer.

In fact, he could have inherited some of those traits from his parents or grandparents of entirely different breeds. We want to know which breeds your dog is, so that we can tell you what to expect in terms of his behavior and health. That’s why we recommend genetic testing for all mixed-breed dogs.

This guide helps you plan for your pet’s health-care needs. We walk you step by step through the health problems that are common in medium-sized dogs (between 21 and 50 pounds). You’ll learn what you can do at home to keep your dog looking and feeling his best and what to watch for.

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Allergies

Your dog can get hay fever just like humans, which is an allergy to pollen, mold, mildew or dust (called atopy). Your dog will get itchy, usually in the face, feet and ears, though some dogs are itchy all over.

Typically, you’ll start seeing signs when your dog is between the ages of two and five and the problem tends to get worse every year. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for this condition.

Cancer

Cancer is a common illness of dogs in their golden years. Medium-sized dogs outlive the larger breeds and are therefore more likely to get cancer as they age.

Half of all cancers are cured by surgically removing them and some types are treatable with chemotherapy. Early detection is critical. Have your vet perform periodic diagnostic tests and look for lumps and bumps when they examine your pet.

If he is overweight, you’ll have to discuss exercise and diet because obesity is a risk factor for some types of cancer.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And medium-sized dogs tend to develop dental disease at a higher rate than larger dogs.

It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If you don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose his teeth and be in danger of damaging his kidneys, liver, heart and joints. In fact, the disease may shorten your pet’s life by one to three years.

Your vet will clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean. It’s also important to prevent broken or damaged teeth by avoiding certain kinds of toys and treats, including chew hooves, tennis balls and bones.

Ear Infections

If your dog has floppy, hairy ears like a Cocker Spaniel, he may get ear infections, which are painful and annoying. The earlier you catch this, the less discomfort and pain she suffers.

Be sure to call your vet if you notice that he is scratching or shaking her head, there is a foul odor about the ears or his ears seem painful to the touch. By monitoring for ear infections and treating them early, you also reduce the likelihood of ear drum damage that can lead to deafness.

Eating Weird Stuff

Your dog may eat things he’s not supposed to, such as rocks, coins, plants and socks, among others. Your pet carries the item in his mouth to check it out or play with it or he thinks it’s food.

When swallowed, these objects often get stuck and have to be surgically removed. Some of what your dog eats is toxic and can poison him. If you notice that he is vomiting or acting lethargic, call your vet immediately.

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Heart Disease

Heart failure is a leading cause of death in older dogs and it affects smaller breeds mixed with Miniature Poodle, Beagle or Miniature Schnauzer more often than others.

If your dog has a heart murmur or physical signs that suggest heart problems, your vet will perform diagnostic testing to determine the severity of the disease. Repeat those same tests every year or so to monitor the condition. If the disease is diagnosed early, your vet may be able to prescribe medications that could prolong his life for many years.

Remember that proper dental care and weight control go a long way in preventing heart disease.

You’ve probably heard of this inherited disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and leads to arthritis. Most people think of large dogs having this problem, but it is also common in some medium-sized breeds, such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the Springer Spaniel, and the Shetland Sheepdog.

You may notice that he has lameness in his hind legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. Your vet can treat the arthritis (and the sooner the better) to avoid discomfort and pain. Your vet will take X-rays of your dog’s joints to identify the disease as early as possible.

Keep in mind that overweight dogs may develop arthritis two years earlier than those of normal weight, causing undue pain and suffering. Good nutrition and proper exercise are also very important to help reduce bone and joint problems as a pet gets older. Surgery is sometimes a good option in severe and life-limiting cases of hip dysplasia.

Infections

Your dog is susceptible to other bacterial and viral infections, the same ones that all dogs can get, such as parvovirus, rabies and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which your vet will administer to your dog based on the diseases they see in your area, his age and other factors.

Obesity

Obesity is a significant health problem in dogs and a serious disease that may cause arthritis, some types of cancer, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when he looks at you with those puppy eyes, you can literally love him to death with human food and treats.

Parasites

All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your dog’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas to ticks to ear mites can infest his skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms and whipworms can get into her system in any number of ways, including drinking unclean water, eating or stepping on feces or being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort and even death, so it’s important that your vet test for them at least twice a year. They can also recommend monthly heartworm preventative medication to keep him healthy.

Spaying or Neutering

One of the best things you can do for your dog is to have him neutered (called spaying in females). In males, this means that your vet will surgically remove the testicles and in females it means they surgically remove the uterus and ovaries.

Spaying and neutering decrease the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminate the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies.

Taking Care of Your Mixed-Breed Dog at Home

Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch his diet, make sure he gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush his teeth and call your vet when something seems unusual.

Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that your vet recommends for him. This is when they’ll give him the necessary check-ups and test for diseases and conditions that are common in medium-sized, mixed-breed dogs.

Another important step may be to sign up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures he will need throughout his life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.

Routine Care

Build his routine care into your schedule to help your dog live longer, stay healthy and be happier during her lifetime:

  • Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep him out of trouble and away from things he shouldn’t put in his mouth.
  • If he has floppy, hairy ears, clean his ears weekly, even as a puppy.
  • Medium-sized dogs tend to have problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week.
Diet and Exercise

The importance of a proper diet and exercise routine cannot be overemphasized. Overweight dogs are more prone to cancer, arthritis and other problems:

  • Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give him human food.
  • Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for his age.
  • Exercise your dog regularly and don’t overdo exercise.
  • Don’t let your dog chew on bones, hooves or tennis balls.

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What to Watch For

Give your vet a call immediately if you notice any of these signs:

  • Vomiting or chronic diarrhea.
  • Weight loss or weight gain.
  • Lumps, bumps and moles.
  • Lethargy, mental dullness or excessive sleeping.
  • Fearfulness, aggression or other behavioral changes.
  • Limping or lameness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing.
  • Episodes of weakness.
  • Pot-belly appearance.
  • Inability or straining to urinate.
  • Cloudiness, redness, itching or any other abnormality involving the eyes.
  • Itchy skin (scratching or licking).
  • Change in appetite or water consumption.
  • Scratching or shaking the head or discharge in the ear.
  • A foul odor about the ear.
  • Unusual behavior when you touch or rub the ear.

Image credit: Wikimedia.

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