Health Matters

Dental care is very important for the Silky. Toy breeds in general seem to have a much greater problem with tartar build-up and teeth loosening than the larger breeds do. In part this may be attributed to the owners, who insist of feeding moist (tinned) foods instead of good quality dry kibble. Dogs need to have the dry kibble as their primary diet to help keep their teeth clean. Dog biscuits also help; just be sure to reduce the amount of regular kibble your dog gets if you give more than a couple of biscuits a day. Ask your butcher to save you some solid beef bones for your dog to chew. Feed these raw: NEVER give your dog cooked bones of any type. Tearing at the raw meat left on the bone as well as chewing on the bone itself, will also help to keep the teeth clean and healthy... and your dog will love it. You can also buy a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste and clean your pet’s teeth daily. NEVER use people toothpaste!

Patellar luxation is a condition that affects many toy breeds. Basically it is a loose kneecap. The knee cap (patella) normally fits into a groove in the thigh bone (femur). The patella slides up and down in this groove as the leg bends and straightens. Patellar luxation means that the knee cap has slipped out of the groove, and your dog will not put weight on the leg, resulting in a hopping or skipping gait as it runs. There are several reasons why this happens, including malformation of the groove. Luxation may happen only occasionally, or may happen continuously. The knee cap may pop back into the groove on its own, or your veterinarian may need to push it back into place. Severe cases may require surgery. Although patellar luxation eliminates a dog for the show ring, the condition usually can be ignored in a pet unless it appears to be painful to the dog or causing undue difficulties, in which case it can be surgically corrected. Generally, the dog just skips occasionally.

Legges Calves Perthes is a condition that affects the dog’s ability to walk normally. It is similar to hip dysplasia except that the hip itself is not affected; it is the ball joint of the leg where it connects to the hip that is. The cause is unknown. There have been lengthy studies done but the medical journals think there may be a hereditary factor, although none of the studies have been able to prove this. It is also believed that stress to the area (such as a puppy falling or jumping off a sofa) and certain dietary deficiencies can also be blamed for the condition occurring. Regardless of the cause, the joint starts to deteriorate and the puppy starts losing muscle tone on that leg and begins to limp. An x-ray will determine the result (but not the cause). Some vets have reported success in reversing the problems if it is caught early enough. Otherwise it is surgically correctable. It affects puppies usually between the ages of 6 months to a year. Again, it only occurs occasionally, but use common sense about allowing your puppy access to the sofa or to steep stairs.


Of course, to help ensure your pet’s ongoing good health, it is important to keep up-to-date with all of its inoculations. In rural areas especially, not having proof that your dog has had its rabies vaccine can result in your dog being destroyed if rabid skunks or other animals have been found on your property. (The authorities do NOT need to prove your pet was in contact with the affected animal.)  Also, you are not able to take your pet across the border or board in it any reputable kennel without proof that its shots are up to date.


You should also talk to your vet about preventive medications. You may live in an area where there is a risk of Heartworm. If so, there are a variety of medication choices for this. There are also a variety of flea prevention medications available for your dog. Some are once-a-month pills; some are applied monthly as a topical liquid on the back of your dog’s neck; and there is also that old standby, the flea collar. During the summer, check your dog regularly for fleas and/or ticks. If found, they need to be dealt with immediately. Left untreated they can make your dog ill and, in extreme cases, even cause death. Don't pull ticks out yourself unless your vet has shown you how to do it properly. If you don't remove the entire tick (including parts under the skin) the area can become infected.


Neutering refers to the male specifically, and involves removal of the testicles to prevent reproduction. The benefits of this are reduced incidences or elimination of marking in the house and reduced incidence or elimination of various forms of cancer, including testicular and prostate. Neutered dogs generally are less inclined to try to escape yards and roam, thereby increasing their lifespan. It also eliminates the possibility of an angry neighbour arriving at the door threatening a lawsuit unless you pay for all the vet bills and puppy care expenses for his female’s new litter—sired by YOUR dog. It is best to neuter your male Silky by 5 or 6 months,  prior to sexual maturity.

Spaying refers to the female specifically, and involves removal of the ovaries to prevent reproduction. The benefits of this are elimination of seasons every 5-8 months, thereby eliminating blood dripping on the carpets and furniture. It also reduces incidences or elimination of various forms of cancer, including mammary. Spayed females tend to be more affectionate and stay closer to home, increasing their lifespan. Spaying also eliminates possibility of an unwanted litter and along with it the large vet bills, possible surgery for your female if something goes wrong, and the possibility of having to hand-feed an orphan litter every two hours  around the clock just to keep them alive. It is best to spay your female Silky by 5 or 6 months of age, prior to sexual maturity.


If you have purchased a show quality dog because you want to compete in dog shows, don't neuter or spay. Either will eliminate your dog from being eligible to compete in most shows.

If you plan to breed your dog in the future, and are financially prepared to cope with all the resulting expenses therein, don't spay or neuter. If your vet determines your dog to be allergic or very susceptible to anaesthetics and the operation could prove to be dangerous for your pet, don't spay or neuter.


Your Silky should be fed a good quality dog food. Talk to your vet about a brand that they recommend if your breeder hasn't already given you their choices. There are many 'junk' brands readily available in most supermarkets, but you will find that 'junk in, lots of junk out':  a poor quality food will not be properly absorbed by your pets system and not only will it not be getting enough nutrition, it will be giving you lots and lots and lots of extra stools to clean up in your yard. A quality food may cost more per bag, but you usually can feed less at a time because the nutrition value is superior and more stays in the dog to benefit him.


Don't forget the water. Fresh water should be readily available for your pet throughout the day.

A tip when housetraining: remove any food or water from 7:00pm until the next morning. Your puppy will have a better chance of making it through the night dry if it doesn't have a full bladder or stomach!


It is as important for your Silky to stay physically fit as it is for you! So, why not exercise together? Join an obedience class and enjoy the achievement of both training and exercising your dog at the same time! Or, take your dog for a walk every day and you'll both feel the benefit. If you aren't up to that, most Silkys adore playing fetch with tennis balls.