Making sure your Border Collie is healthy probably ranks high on your to-do list. After all, our dogs are like family, and we gotta stand up for them!
Most of the time, Border Collies are pretty healthy, and there’s a lot we can do to dodge any health problems that might come up.
By taking steps throughout their life, we can help keep sickness at bay and give them a longer, happier life. Because let’s face it – a healthy dog is a happy dog!
10 Essential Tips To Keep Your Border Collie Healthy
Let’s run through a breakdown of everything an owner needs to know in order to keep their collie happy and healthy.
1. Checking the breeder
Your dog’s health starts even before they have been born. Responsible breeders should screen their breeding stock for any genetic disease, such as Collie Eye Anomaly. As pet parents, it is up to us to buy our pups from responsible breeders.
Puppy farms and similar establishments should be avoided like the plague. Dogs from these puppy mills are often unwell due to the poor husbandry and unscrupulous breeding that goes on.
When possible, view your pup with its mother and siblings before purchasing it. You may not be able to see the dad but should be given their details.
Be prepared to walk away if you’re not happy with what you’re seeing. Some people feel sorry for puppies kept in poor conditions but buying these pups only ensures the breeder will go on to have more litters.
2. Preventative Health Care
One of the first things you will do for your new Border Collie is to have them seen by a vet. They will be examined and should receive their vaccines and parasite prevention if due.
Remember, though, these do not last forever! Vaccines need to be boostered annually, providing a great opportunity for a regular check-up.
How often we give parasite prevention depends on the Border Collie’s age, diet, and lifestyle, but, for most, this will be 2 to 4 times a year.
Tooth brushing should form part of your Border Collie’s everyday life. This breed is prone to dental disease, so brushing the teeth with a doggy toothbrush and paste each day can help keep those gnashers in good nick.
Periodontal disease can cause pain and localized infection and dramatically reduces quality of life, not to mention the bad breath an owner must put up with!
3. Maintaining a healthy weight
For optimal health, we should try to keep our Border Collie slim but not underweight. Ideally, we would use the Body Condition Score tool to assess them and should aim for a 4 or 5 out of 9 score.
Those who are underweight may struggle to go about their day-to-day activities and can be more susceptible to certain illnesses.
Over-weight dogs may be more likely to develop diseases such as cancer and diabetes and inevitably suffer from a worse quality of life. The extra pressure on the joints can impact a dog’s mobility and worsen any joint disease.
4. Regular health checks
As owners, we know our dogs better than anyone. However, some symptoms can be subtle, and it can take a vet professional to diagnose specific medical issues.
Bringing your Collie to the vet for a regular check can ensure we spot any new disease early on.
This way, any required medicine is started early on, potentially reducing symptoms and improving the prognosis of the medical condition.
Your Border Collie should be brushed every one or two days, removing debris and dead fur. On top of this, clean out their ears every few weeks with an ear cleaner.
While Border Collies aren’t prone to ear infections, their pendulous ears can become filled with wax.
And when it comes to bathing, it’s best not to over-bathe your collie. Unfortunately, many owners are unknowingly overbathing their collie, causing dry skin issues, which then turn into bigger issues. Bathe your collie once every three to four months and only use a natural ingredient shampoo.
6. Diet and nutrition
As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Feeding the right diet prevents nutritional deficiencies and can bolster gut and immune health.
Your Border Collie will have specific dietary requirements, which are best discussed with their vet. Those with sensitive stomachs, for example, may benefit from a hypoallergenic, low residue diet.
When choosing a dog food, aim for one with fresh meat as the first ingredient. Dogs also require carbohydrates such as grains and potatoes, fat, fiber, and a balance of micronutrients.
Some diets will be supplemented with ingredients such as Probiotics to support a healthy gut microbiome and Glucosamine for improved joint health.
Don’t forget that you will need to change your Border Collie on to a Senior diet once they are about 8 or 9 years old.
Try to stay away from rich or fatty human foods such as cheese, greasy meat, cake, and cookies. Though your Border Collie may enjoy them in the short term, feeding them can lead to medical issues such as pancreatitis and obesity.
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The Border Collie is a breed used to being out and about. Dogs that were bred for farm work, such as shepherding, thrive on plenty of daily exercise. Keeping your Border Collie confined inside can lead to obesity, depression, and behavioral disorders.
If you do not lead a particularly active lifestyle, consider investing in a dog walker. Similarly, many Collies enjoy the opportunity to go to classes such as Agility and Herding.
Providing your Collie with the right environment is critical for their physical and mental wellbeing.
As with other dogs, they require shelter, warmth, and environmental enrichment. Due to their intelligence, the Border Collie has a high requirement for mental stimulation. Without this, many find their Collie becomes frustrated and anxious.
Consider environmental enrichment such as:
● Food puzzles like Kongs, Lick Mats and Snuffle mats.
● Interactive toys
● A home-made agility course in the garden
● Human company
● Canine company
● Regular training
● Sniffing games (e.g. ‘Hide the treat’)
● Safe chews
If the above suggestions aren’t things your dog is used to, start off simple. Keep food puzzles easy to do. Over time, you can gradually work up to more complex tasks that your Border Collie will get a lot of satisfaction from.
9. Treating medical issues promptly
Unfortunately, there will likely come a time when your Border Collie becomes unwell. The sooner they are seen by a vet and treated, the better. Taking a “wait and see” approach at home, hoping your pet improves, is not advised.
There is a range of symptoms that would warrant a vet visit, such as prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, weight loss, a loss of appetite, or a bloated abdomen. If concerned, a vet visit is always a good idea.
If your dog requires medical intervention such as a course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions closely and to bring your dog for any advised check-ups.
10. Pet Insurance
Taking out pet insurance is a sensible and responsible thing to do. This is especially true if you are concerned you may not be able to afford a large emergency bill.
Even a healthy dog can develop an acute medical problem such as pancreatitis or a blocked bladder.
Your dog may become suddenly unwell, and you could be faced with having to find a large sum of money to provide your pet with their treatment. Being prepared by having your Collie covered with insurance makes an awful lot of sense.
The Bottom Line
While it can take a lot of ‘behind the scenes work to keep your dog healthy, it will be worth it in the end. While they can’t thank you for it, keeping them healthy will ensure they are around for lots of licks, cuddles, and wonderful family moments.
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