Veterinary Care

As the dog owner, you can mostly perform routine procedures yourself but will have to obtain professional care when required. It is always good  practice to develop a good working relationship with your local Vet. They can be a valuable source of information on health care practices and other services as needed.

First Aid

Being in possession of a First Aid Kit for both musher and sled dog and keeping it up to date with the items as listed in the "First Aid Kit - Check List". When on the trail to ensure that you have a Sled dog Emergency First Aid Kit and a Comprehensive Sleddog First Aid Kit with a Musher's First Aid Kit in your vehicle. 

Daily care:

Monitor their appetite and water intake. Also monitor their fecal and urine output for abnormalities. Often small changes in a dog's normal behavior are the first signs of health problems.

Monthly care:

Trim nails and groom each dog. If a dog is shedding, grooming keeps its skin and coat healthy. Administer external parasite control for fleas, lice, ticks, and so on if and when needed.

Six-month care:

Work out a worming program for your dogs with your veterinarian. The type of wormer will depend on the incidence of intestinal parasites in your area.


Administer vaccinations for distemper, parvovirus, corona, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, bordatella, and rabies (which is sometimes good for three years). A good time to vaccinate is in the early in the year before training begins. If you are mushing, it is recommended that boosters for parvo, corona, and kennel cough be given prior to the mushing season.

Late summer:

Also perform a thorough physical exam on each dog so that if you find any problems, you have time to take care of them before fall.

General attitude: A dog should be alert and interested in its surroundings.

Weight and coat. A dog should be lean but not thin. It should have a healthy, shiny coat and skin that is a light pink with no raw areas or excessive flaking. Run your hand over the dog's whole body, checking for lumps, bumps, and sores. A dog in poor condition or with an unhealthy coat may be showing signs of conditions such as hypothyroidism, parasitism (internal parasites such as worms or coccidia, or external parasites such as lice, fleas, or mange mites), malabsorption syndrome (an inability to absorb nutrients), or numerous other diseases. However, keep in mind that all dogs do not always look their best. Even a beautiful coat looks rough during shedding, and a female will shed after she has had pups.

Eyes: The eyes should be clear without excessive tearing, redness, or a gray or blue haziness on the cornea. The pupils should be symmetrical.

Ears: The ears should be clean inside without a waxy or pussy discharge and without a foul odor.

Nose: There should be no nasal discharge, raw areas, or dry, crusty buildup around the nostrils.

Mouth: The mouth and teeth should be clean without any strong odors or excessive tartar buildup. The gums should be pink without infection along the teeth-gum border. Check for broken teeth or an uneven bite. Dental disorders may contribute to poor appetite, poor attitude, or chronic infection.

Respiration: A dog's normal heart rate is 100 to 130 beats per minute, and its respiratory rate should be about 22 breaths per minute. These may both be elevated in an excited dog, and both will be hard to evaluate in the panting dog, but check for abnormal respiratory sounds. When you try a dog out, run it near the back of the team for at least part of the time, even if it is a lead dog, because it is difficult to hear abnormal respiratory sounds if the dog is too far ahead of you. Respiratory conditions are most easily detected when the dog is run fast or in warm temperatures, but any dog will show distress if it is run too hot.

Muscles and bones: Check the dog for symmetry. Compare the muscles and joints of the two hind legs and of the two front legs. Swelling on the foot may be an indication of an old metacarpal fracture; swollen wrists may be a sign of arthritis. Asymmetrical muscle masses may indicate lameness or an unequal use of limbs.

Feet: Check the feet for signs of scars or excessive licking between the pads (mahogany, discolored hair). Examine the nails, and note if the dog has dewclaws. The importance of dewclaw removal on an adult depends on your plans for the dog.

Rectum: Check the rectum for open sores, growths, or excessive swelling.

A good physical exam will not guarantee how well a dog is going to run, but it will help to uncover some conditions that would prevent it from performing to its potential.

Keep in mind to hand in your Vaccination Card for viewing before partaking at mushing events; therefore keep your vaccinations up to date to illuminate disqualification on health reasons.


Most vaccinations are given by injection and should only be done  by a veterinary surgeon. You must take your vet's advice as to when to vaccinate as this may differ according to the vaccine used. Most vaccinations immunise your puppy against viruses. On collecting your new puppy, you will be provided with the Veterinary Vaccination Certificate by the breeder. Continue with the vaccination date as stipulated on the card or booklet.

What is it? What causes it? Symptoms!
Leptospirosis Severe decease that effects the internal organs; can be spread to humans. A bacterium, which is often carried by rodents, that enters through mucous membranes and spreads quickly throughout the body. Range from fever, vomiting and loss of appetite in less severe cases to shock, irreversible kidney damage and possible death in much severe cases.
Rabies Potential deadly virus that infects warm blooded mammals. Can be spread to humans if bitten by such an effected animal. Bite from the carrier of the virus, mainly wild animals. 1st Stage - dog exhibits change in behavior, fear.     
2nd Stage
- dog's behavior becomes more aggressive.  
3rd Stage
- loss of coordination, trouble with bodily functions.
Parvovirus Highly contagious virus, potentially deadly. Ingestion of the virus, which is usually spread through the faeces of infected dogs. Most common - severe diarrhea. Also vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite.
Kennel cough Contagious respiratory infection. Combination of types of bacteria and virus. Most common - Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and para influenza virus. Chronic coughing.
Distemper Disease primarily affecting respiratory and nervous system. Virus that is related to the human measles virus. Mild symptoms such as fever, lack of appetite and mucous secretion progress to evidence of brain damage.
Hepatitus Virus primarily affecting the liver. Canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). Enters system when dog breathes in particles. Lesser symptoms include listlessness, diarrhea, vomiting,. More severe symptoms include clumps of virus in the eyes "blue-eye". 
Coronavirus Virus resulting in digestive problems. Virus is spread through infected dog's faeces. Stomach upset evidenced by lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.




The most common external parasite is the flea. In warmer climates these pesky insects can make everyone, dog and human alike, miserable. A Malamute with fleas can render himself hairless in an amazingly short time. Fleas spends much of its life off the dog in the grass, beddings, carpets, cracks in concrete, etc. jumping on the dog for dinner or transportation. many products are available to treat your infected yard and dog. Fleas can contribute to many skin problems. Frontline Spray or Top Tip is ideal to treat your Malamute against fleas and ticks. Consult your vet for which product to use on your dog when having a flea problem. 




Ticks carry several diseases which can affect mammals, including Spotted tick fever, Canine Ehrlichiosus and Lyme Disease, all of which poses serious health problems for affected animals. Ticks can be found in wooden areas, land used for grazing livestock, high grass and coastal areas. During the warmer months on tick-prone areas, be sure to check both yourself and your Malamute for ticks. In South Africa we get the larger blue/grey and small red ticks. Never just pull them them off, the head will be left embedded in the skin which can cause irritation and infection. Instead, put alcohol or nail polish remover on it to intoxicate or kill it. When it releases its, the tick can be removed safely and either be burned. Frontline Spray or Top Tip is ideal to treat your Malamute against fleas and ticks. Consult your vet for which product to use on your dog when having a tick problem.



Flies love ear tips and will torment some dogs and ignore others. If you have this problem with your dog, a petroleum jelly coating may provide adequate protection or apply Fly-Away ointment to the ears. This can be obtained from your Vet or Pet Shop.






Most animals and humans have worms and other parasites living inside their bodies. Most of the worm infections are relatively easy to control. If they are not controlled they eventually weaken the host dog to the point that other medical problems occur.

Roundworm infect and lives in the dog's intestines. The greatest danger of roundworm is that they infect people too. It is wise to have your dog tested regularly for roundworm.

Hookworm attaches itself with hooks to the intestines of the dog, but is rarely found in pet or show dogs.

Tapeworm are carried by fleas. The dog eats the flea and start the tapeworm cycle. Tapeworm infection is not life threatening to dogs.

Normally your dog gets treated against worms every time you take your dog for vaccination. Enquire from your vet. 


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