Rough Collie Health
The Rough Collie is a very healthy dog and is not prone to illnesses, but care must be taken to
keep a watchful eye on your Collie's eating habits and daily routine. One of the first signs of
a collie being unwell is lack of appetite but, having said that, a collie will often eat even if
it is ill. Do find a good vet and build up a trusting relationship. You never know when you may
The Medicine Chest
It is always a good idea to have a small cupboard in which to keep animal medicines safe, away
from children and young animals. Once a year clear out all unused medicines and replace with
fresh ones. You could do with:
* Cotton wool or cotton pads.
* Infra red lamp or electric heat pad.
* Eye dropper.
* Hypodermic syringes (5ml and 10ml)
* Nail clippers.
* Milk of magnesia.
* Kaolin Poultice.
* Saline solution or sterilised water.
* Olive oil.
* Ear cleaner.
* Worming tablets.
* Calcium with vitamin D.
When giving medicine, always read the label very carefully before you administer the dose. If the
dog cooperates, you may measure it out with a spoon but, if he is not being helpful, then use one
of your syringes. Insert the end in the side of the mouth and gently release the medicine.
To give tablets, open the dog's mouth, using finger and thumb on either side of the jaw. Open
wide and place the pill as far back into the dog's throat as possible, pushing the tablet down
the throat. Then close the dog's mouth and hold for a few seconds. Stroke the underside of the
throat, as this will help the dog to swallow the tablet.
Treating Minor Ailments
Cuts and Abrasions
First cleanse the wound with mild antiseptic. You may use TCP or diluted Dettol. Check to see if
more treatment is needed, or if it needs to be lightly bandaged.
Some dogs, like humans, react to stings and pollen, and it is advisable to keep some Piriton
syrup for such times. You may notice lumps under the skin and around the eyes and sometimes all
over the body. Quite often this is caused by a change of diet, or the dog may have gone among
nettles. If your collie has any difficulty breathing, you must seek medical advice, where an
antihistamine injection will soon put things right.
When to Call your Vet
The time to call your vet is when you have an emergency. If your collie has had an accident, or
is suddenly taken ill, never be afraid to call your vet, even in the middle of the night - that
is what vets are for. But, if you do call in the night, make sure it really is an emergency. Have
a pen and pencil ready as, quite often, you will be given a locum vet number to call. Speak
clearly, giving your name, telephone number and the symptoms of the dog.
What is an Emergency?
There are certain diseases or accidents that require emergency treatment:
Rough Collies rarely get bloat, but if your dog is in great pain and the stomach is full of gas,
you must contact your vet immediately. No time must be lost. If your collie suffers from
digestive problems like this, then it is advisable to feed two small meals a day instead of one
big one. Never allow your dog to drink masses of water with his food and never allow exercise
First apply a wet cloth over the injury and then head for the vet's surgery. It is important that
you stop the dog from rubbing the injury.
If you suspect your collie has been poisoned, if at all possible take any evidence relating to
the cause of poisoning with you. It will help the vet to determine the treatment.
If your collie should become involved in a fight, although this will be very rare as collies are
not aggressive unless continually provoked, clean up the area surrounding the wound, unless there
is a large, gaping wound or heavy loss of blood. Sometimes wounds look worse than they really are.
By cleaning up, you can determine the extent of the damage, and whether a vet's attention is
Rough Collies are not prone to anal gland disease but, due to lack of a good diet, this may
sometimes occur. The glands are situated either side of the anus. Normally the glands empty when
the dog evacuates its bowels, but if you see your collie trying to lick around his anus, or drag
his bottom on the ground, just check the glands. If blocked glands are left unattended, an
abscess could soon form. It is quite easy to empty the dog's anal glands, but not a pleasant
task for the faint hearted. If your collie has plenty of roughage in his diet, you should never
have this problem.
This is something important to learn as you never know when help may be needed. If, for any reason,
a collie stops breathing, place the dog on a table, lying on its side with the head hanging down
over the edge. Pull the tongue out of the mouth and forward, placing your hand over the ribs and
behind the shoulder blade to compress the chest. Expel the air in the lungs, release the pressure
and allow the chest to expand and fill with air. Compress the chest about twelve times within one
minute. At this stage check the gums for colour. The dog will gasp and try to sit up. Try to keep
your collie quiet and call the vet. You can also try mouth to nose resucitation. Close the collie's
mouth and blow very gently up the nose until the collie starts to gasp and breathe. If breathing
starts, put a little brandy on the back of the tongue.
Yes, even dogs can be asthmatic and the treatment is the same as for humans - a course of
This can be caused by more than one factor. First check the teeth as sometimes an accumulation
of tartar or tooth decay may be the culprit. If the smell persists, talk to your vet, as it could
be a sign of kidney malfunction.
Collies live to a very old age and, in some instances, may go blind. Collies have such an acute
sense of hearing that this compensates to some extent. Providing you do not change your furniture
around or put obstacles in the way, a blind dog will find its way around with no problems. Do
take care never to let a collie that is blind out on its own.
If your collie should be scalded, speed is of the upmost importance and, if possible, immerse
your collie in cold water to prevent further burning. Get to the vet immediately.
You will probably have heard of this though it is something we do not see much of these days. It
can be cause by bright sunlight in the summer and bright snow in the winter months. The skin on
the nose becomes crusted and very sore. Also, it may leave scars that are difficult to hide, as
quite often the skin turns pink. If your collie has a suspect allergy to the ultra violet rays of
the sun, then do be sure to put a strong barrier cream all over the nose area.
Unless your collie is ill - and if this is the case, speak to your vet - the safest product to
use is a little liquid parafin added to the dinner. It has no smell, so it will not be detected.
Plenty of roughage in the diet and a supply of fresh drinking water are musts.
For non-specific diarrhoea, starve your collie for 24 hours and give little water at frequent
intervals. After fasting, give a very bland diet for a few days, such as cooked fish, lightly
boiled chicken and rice. If the diarrhoea persists, contact your vet.
This is more serious than ordinary diarrhoea as it entails inflammation of the bowel, loss of
appetite and vomiting, followed by excessive thirst. This can be brought on by a chill, or by
swallowing some decomposed food that has been stolen, or even swallowing a foreign object such
as a child's toy. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics, and warmth and rest will be the oder of
the day. Do not feed, but make sure the dog has plenty of fluids, and these must be offered
little and often. Feed a very bland diet for a few days until the dog is fully recovered.
Loss of Hair
If bald patches appear in your collie's coat, it is advisable to get a skin scraping done to
find out the reason. It may be a change of diet, change of carpet or even a different shampoo.
The Female Cycle
If you have chosen a femal then you must be aware that she wil come into season once a year or,
in some cases, every six or seven months. The first season normally occurs at about six to nine
months of age. No collie should be mated at this early age. The ideal time for a bitch to have a
first litter, if this is what you intend, is about eighteen months of age. Most bitches will be
in season for about three weeks. The first week the bitch will bleed quite heavily. This will
continue into the second week when the vulva will swell and the colour of the discharge will
change from blood red to a pale, straw colour. It will be at the end of the second week and the
beginning of the third week that your collie will be most receptive to mating and will not be
fussy about the colour, shape or breed that comes to call. If you do not want to breed from your
collie I suggest you have her spayed, but do wait until she has had at least one season, to make
sure she is fully developed. The right time to have your bitch spayed is either two months after
she has been in season, or midway between seasons.
Sometimes an older bitch that has not been spayed can get an infection of the womb. This is
called pyometra and usually happens after a prolonged season. Symptoms are a smelly discharge
from the vulva plus excessive drinking, and some bitches become unsteady as thay walk. Sometimes
she just seems to be off-colour, inclined to run a temperature, and have none of her normal zest.
This must be attended to, as the condition can prove fatal if not checked. You must seek medical
advice because she will need a hysterectomy.
Some bitches are prone to false pregnancies, sometimes called phantom pregnancies. This is not
due to over-maternal felings but the result of hormone imbalance. Some collies even come into
full lactation when this happens. Often, then, it is advisable to have her spayed.
Some collie bitches are prone to mastitis. This is an inflammation of the mammary glands which
can occur during and after pregnancy. It can be most painful, and sometimes, an abscess may form.
An early symptom to watch for is a hardening around the teat area. If the bitch is nursing, you
will find that the puppies will not cuckle from these teats. The condition occurs when the bitch
has a build up of milk. A very maternal bitch will come into milk before the puppies are born,
but mastitis can also happen when there is a small litter, or if the pups are too weak to suckle,
which causes the teats to go hard and lumpy. The vet will prescribe antibiotics, but you can help
by placing warm flannels over the sore area and expressing some of the milk. The antibiotics will
not harm any suckling puppies.
Having your collie castrated is a choice you have to make for yourself. If you do not want to
breed from your male, then it is an option to you, as castration will prevent your collie from
straying. It will not alter his character. He will still be loyal and loving. However, care must
be taken with diet as the castrated male can put on weight more easily. Do remember that once
your male collie has been used at stud he will always be on the lookout for another bitch to
mate. Unless your collie is a top show winner it is unfar to allow him to be used at stud.
Here the rough collie is lucky as, although there have been a few collies with hip dysplasia, the
breed is not rife with this dreadful, painful condition. Also, the rough collie has a huge gene
pool to work with and, should a problem arise, it is quite easy to eradicate it in a few
generations. The breed is not so lucky with the eyes, though, as most collie breeds suffer with
the recessive gene for Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). This is an ocular defect, which is present at
birth, with one or more distinct and sometimes unrelated features appearing in affected eyes.
Although CEA can be severe and, sometimes, cause blindness, the defects are often so slight that
both dog and owner are unaware of the problem. Most breeders are very careful with their breeding
stock and will only embark on a breeding programme with eye-tested stock. When you are buying
your puppy, or choosing a stud dog, or buying a brood bitch, check to ensure that it has been eye
tested and certified clear by a qualified eye specialist. Mild CEA does not affect the collie in
its normal daily life and even if a collie has CEA more severely, it will still be able to lead a
useful life as a companion. It is most rare that a collie will go blind from this defect unless
it has a detatched retina.
Endoparasites live within the body and there are anumber of types which affect dogs.
Roundworm (Toxocara Canis)
This parasite is long, thin and pointed at both ends. The roundworm larvae lie dormant in the
bitch, but when she becomes pregnant the larvae will migrate to the uterus and into the unborn
puppies and that is why all puppies have roundworm. If you are going to mate your bitch, make
sure that she has been wormed prior to the mating. Bitches that have not been wormed will
produce puppies that, by the time they are a few weeks old, will be full of worms. They will have
diarrhoea, poor, harsh coats, hard, distended stomachs, and they wil cry, making a mewing sound.
There is a safe wormer that you can obtain from your vet thet can be used from day two of birth,
and if it is used as directed, you should have no problems. If left untreated, these worms can
cause untold damage in young stock and can lead to death.
If you keep your collie clean and free from fleas, you should never see a tapeworm. It is the
common flea that acts as the intermediate host. A collie that is infested with tapeworm will soon
loose condition. Tapeworms are easy to identify as the segments will appear in the dog's stools.
The worm itself is made up of two distinct sections: the head and the segmented body. The
segments break up and appear in the dog's stools, looking very much like flat rice. Sometimes
these rice-like segments stick to the dog's coat on the underside of the tail and around the anus.
The tapeworm can sometimes be as long as 18 or more inches. If left untreated, it can break up.
The dog then passes the rice-like segments but retains the head, which is smaller than a pinhead.
This ten attaches itself to the intestinal wall, causing much discomfort. Sometimes a dog may
drag his bottom along the ground. Fleas spread tapeworm, and there are several stages. The flea
sucks the dog's blood, then lays its eggs in the dog's bedding or in the carpets and soft
furnishings. If the collie ingested the flea while biting itself, the wormheads are then released
into the dogs intestine and mature into adult tapeworms. The eggs that were in the bedding and
carpets hatch into larvae. They feed on dust and soon the larvae form a cocoon. In less than 15
days the flea emerges to start all over again. One flea can lay over 500 eggs in a lifetime, and
the tapeworm can produce thousands of eggs in each tiny segment. The flea feeds off these eggs,
starting the procedure once more. This sounds dreadful - but both fleas and tapeworms are quite
easy to destroy. Follow a routine of worming your dog on a regular basis and use a good flea
spray in your home, paying extra attention to the dog's sleeping area. It is advisable to use a
total worming product. Flea collars are very good, but they are not ideal on a rough collie, as
they interfere with the huge neck coat. A good flea spray should suffice.
This is not often diagnosed in the UK, but it is prevalent in onther countries, including the USA.
When a dog is imported into the UK from an area that has a problem, the dog would be on heartworm
medication for a few months to make sure that is clear of any infection. This type of worm is
transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, and it can take up to six months for the worm to
develop in the heart.
These leech-like parasites are not common in the UK, but are found elsewhere. They live on blood
that is sucked from the intestinal walls. This causes anaemia, fits and a drastic loss of
appetite in the dog.
There are many people today who are regular users of homoeopathic medicines but it should be
remembered that they should only be used for common ailments.
* Aconite is often used for travel sickness.
* Apis Mel for insect bites.
* Argent Nit for colic and flatulence.
* Arnica for bruises and sprains.
* Arson B for loss of appetite.
* Belladonna for heat stroke.
* Calc Fluor for incontinence in older bitches.
* Carbo Veg for bad breath.
* Euphrasia for hayfever.
* Gelsimium for nervousness in show animals.
* Phosphorus for anxiety caused by the sudden noise of fireworks or thunder.
* Sulphur for offensive smells.
* Thuja for warty growths.
Before using any of these medicines, speak to a person who specialises in homoeopathic remedies
and who is qualified to give advice.