Shetland Sheepdog Health
Take care of your Shetland Sheepdog's health with expert advice on common health problems, nutrition, neutering, spaying, parasites, vaccinations, and more.
Here you'll find articles on the warning signs of disease in Shelties, as well as major aspects of Sheltie health like nutrition, dental, de-sexing, grooming, bathing, parasites, and anxiety.
With genetic testing available to screen breeding pairs, well-bred Sheltie puppies are no longer as prone to inherited diseases. However, if you bought your Sheltie from a pet store or anonymous online listing, she is likely the victim of a puppy mill, who will have spared themselves the expense of DNA testing. As a result, there's a greater likelihood that your Sheltie carries common disease genes. Learn about the 6 most common inherited diseases in Shelties.
Dry kibble may look and smell the same to us, but looks can be deceiving. At the low end of the scale, dirt-cheap supermarket dog food is loaded with grains, artificial preservatives, and poor quality sources of meat. Premium dog foods focus on a single source of meat as the main ingredient, and use natural, non-toxic preservatives. Many also included added vitamins and trace minerals for optimal health. See a summary of good and bad dog food ingredients here.
Part of the attraction of keeping a pet Sheltie is the luxurious double coat, but that comes with the responsibility of weekly brushing sessions. In this detailed step-by-step guide, I explain how to groom both layers of fur, trim out nasty mats, and safely clip the claws. As well as keeping her skin and coat healthy, frequent brushing will stop most of your Sheltie's fur ending up on your carpets. See my step by step guide on grooming Shelties.
Separation anxiety in Shelties is a psychological disorder where dogs feel intensely fearful of being left alone. When you leave for work in the morning, your dog may be plunged into a state of nervous anxiety which intensifies rapidly without your return. And as alarm dogs, Shelties are always on the lookout for danger, craving to be near you so they can alert you to any suspicious happenings. Being alone can drive them crazy. See 6 ways to help your Sheltie deal with separation anxiety.
Neutering your dog means to surgically remove the testicles. It eliminates his ability to impregnate females, while reducing the risk of disease of the reproductive organs. It's a common procedure; rescue shelters spay and neuter all dogs before they're re-homed. They do it reduce dog overpopulation from unplanned pet pregnancy, which leads to the euthanasia of 3 million dogs every year in the US alone. See all the pros and cons of neutering your male Sheltie.
Spaying your dog means to surgically remove the reproductive organs (the ovaries, uterine horns, and body of the uterus). It eradicates female heat cycles, prevents pregnancy, and reduces the risk of disease of the reproductive organs. t's a common procedure; rescue shelters spay and neuter all dogs before they're re-homed. They do it reduce dog overpopulation from unplanned pet pregnancy, which leads to the euthanasia of 3 million dogs every year in the US alone. See all the pros and cons of spaying your female Sheltie.
Fleas can thrive in the Sheltie undercoat, causing chronic itching when they bite the skin to feed. They lay up to 4,000 eggs which creates an endless cycle of infection, triggering intense itching, skin problems, and in extreme cases transmitting tapeworms to your dog. There are numerous medicines, powders, collars, and combs to treat fleas, but as the saying goes, the best treatment is prevention. See how to prevent and treat ticks and fleas.
Even common foods like grapes, onions, tomatoes, and avocados can be toxic to dogs, causing anything from stomach upset to death. Here's what you need to know to avoid scary and expensive trips to the vet. Make a note of them and share this list with the whole family. See the 30 common foods that are toxic to dogs.
Caring for Your Sheltie's Teeth
Look after your dog's oral health, especially if you feed dry dog food, which sticks in small spaces between the teeth. Proper care now will spare your Sheltie the pain of cavities and surgical tooth extractions down the line.
Here are the best three ways to care for your Sheltie's teeth:
1. Brush Your Sheltie's Teeth
Use a toothpaste designed for dogs such as Vet's Best Enzymatic Toothpaste which comes with a dog toothbrush. Set a routine of brushing his teeth just a little at first to help him get used to the intrusion. Aim to build up to daily brushing, but know that even a few times a week can make a big improvement.
2. Offer Your Sheltie Dental Chews
Chewing tough food mechanically loosens tartar while stimulating saliva for better oral health. Virbac Oral Hygiene Chews contain enzymes for antiseptic action and have an abrasive texture for working debris off the teeth. Feed your Sheltie a dental chew every day, preferably half an hour after dinner to dislodge food particles that may otherwise stick around overnight.
3. Supplement Your Sheltie's Drinking Water
There's no equivalent human product like this, because humans are much better at brushing their teeth on a regular basis. TropiClean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover is a water additive, which means you simply add it to your dog's water bowl. It contains natural ingredients to help fight plaque, tartar, and bad breath, remaining in the saliva for hours. Because it uses natural ingredients, it's also safe to drink.
Vaccinations for Shelties
Ethical breeders ensure their puppies have the first vaccinations at 6-8 weeks. Your job is to continue taking your Shetland Sheepdog puppy to the vet on schedule so she doesn't become vulnerable to common infectious diseases. Here's the current vaccine schedule for dogs per the AKC:
|Age||Essential Vaccines||Optional Vaccines|
|6-8 weeks||Distemper, Parvovirus||Bordetella|
|10-12 weeks||DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus)||Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|16-18 weeks||DHPP, Rabies||Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|12-16 months||DHPP, Rabies||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|Every 1-2 years||DHPP, Rabies||Coronavirus, Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
Whether you adopt a Sheltie adult or a puppy, make sure you register her with your vet and sign up for reminders when her next vaccinations are due.
Shelties just love a nice wet bath, right? Ah, how about no! Bathing a Sheltie is like wrestling with a hairy octopus. He'd rather be anywhere else than struggling in your grip under the shower head. Eventually the forlorn Sheltie submits to your watery whims and then you get the look of absolute sorrow. I asked our readers to share their cutest, funniest, and oh-so-sorrowful photos of dripping wet Shelties in the tub, this is what we got. See pictures of 101 Shelties in the bath.
While the aim is to breed self-assured, confident Shelties, there is no denying that sometimes these can be very shy dogs. It arises from genes that drive the sensitive personality, and is compounded by poor puppy socialization. As a result, some Shetland Sheepdogs be incredibly fearful of strangers, causing them to alarm-bark and exhibit nervous behavior. See the 5 things you can do to socialize a shy Sheltie.
The loss of a Sheltie is heartbreaking. Shelties are part of the family, and while they're small in stature, their absence leaves a huge void behind. There is a process to dealing with your grief, one that eventually frees you of the pain you're in now, and allows you to think fondly of your Sheltie without suffering. See 6 ways to cope while your grief is at its sharpest.