Good Health Maintenance Basics
The better job of health maintenance you provide for your Golden, the more certain you can be of preventing problems from becoming big issues. Golden Retrievers are a relatively healthy breed, but they are prone to some chronic problems.
Prevent Ear Infections
Ear infections are one common problem in Goldens. Golden ears are floppy. Because this breed also loves to swim and roll in mud puddles, Goldens are more prone to ear infections than other breeds of dogs. As a maintenance basic, you should wipe out your Golden's ears with a tissue or piece of gauze once a week. The inside of the ear should be healthy pink, with very little black dirt or wax. The black dirt is often wax that should easily wipe out. Buy an ear cleaner at the veterinary office that has a drying agent, and put a squirt of it in each ear. Let your dog shake his head, and then wipe out the excess.
The ear canal is deep and at a right angle, so don't be worried that you will puncture the ear drum — you won't be able to reach it with your finger wrapped in gauze.
If the ear is not pink and healthy but is red and irritated-looking instead, or if there is a lot of black crud, take him to the vet for a check. Ears that are red and irritated-looking might mean an ear infection. Some dogs hold their heads to one side or shake frequently when they are beginning to get an ear infection, but others show no obvious signs.
The Golden's teeth are easy to maintain and keep healthy. As a breed, they are not all that prone to a lot of tartar buildup, though this may depend upon the quality of their diet. Maintaining healthy teeth requires a gauze pad and a small amount of dog toothpaste. The human kind irritates the doggie stomach and should not be used. Put a small amount of paste on the gauze, and rub it on the teeth. Do this daily if possible for maximum results. Most dogs don't really mind this much. If yours does, break the process down into simple steps, and use treats to reward your dog for holding still.
Look at the Eyes
Goldens don't usually have a lot of trouble with excessive eye discharge. Still, it's a good idea to wipe your dog's eyes with a tissue every morning. This way you can be sure that the discharge doesn't build up and irritate the eye. Goldens are prone to scratches on their eyes from rolling in grass and dirt. If your dog is squinting or has a yellow or green discharge from one or both eyes, it's a good idea to bring him in for a check. Dogs can get conjunctivitis just as people do. The form they get is not transmissible to humans, but it is extremely contagious to other dogs. Your veterinarian will check for scratches on the lenses of the eyes and give you the appropriate ointment.
An eleven-year-old female Golden.
The Paw Pads
Cut paw pads are a given with any active breed, and Goldens are no exception. A cut pad cannot be stitched — the skin on the pad is dead and callused and heals from the inside out. Cut pads should be seen by a veterinarian and washed and bandaged carefully. The bandage will have to be changed several times over the course of a week or two before the tissue granulates in enough for your Golden to walk around without a bandage. It is crucial that the bandage is not too tight and that it is kept clean and dry.
How can I keep the bandage on my dog's paw dry?
A great trick for keeping a bandaged paw dry is to put an inside-out latex glove on the paw and secure it with masking tape.