Just like human beings, dogs also need immediate medical attention even for certain minor ailments. Dog-specific health problems range from ear infections to cancers. By understanding and educating yourself about common health problems in dogs, you can keep your faithful companions healthy and happy.
10 Common Health Problems In Dogs And How You Can Treat Them
Depending on how big your dog is, some health problems are more frequent than others. For example, bigger dogs tend to suffer from more bone and joint issues, while small-sized dogs tend to face more of breathing and organ disorders. While each breed is unique, it is still important to understand what common dog illnesses could affect your dog.
Arthritis usually, though not always, affects dogs as they age and is considered the most common health problem in older pets. You will eventually notice your dog moving around much less and taking a little while to get up from seated or lying positions.
How To Treat: Unfortunately, arthritis isn’t something that can be cured, but there are many things you can do to make life easier for your pet as he grows older. Giving your dog proper nutrition and diet are the two most important things you can do to help slow down the syptoms of both old age and arthritis. Take your dog for regular walks and give him a well-balanced diet of age appropriate food. Look specifically for dog food that’s labeled “Senior” and make sure you don’t over or under feed your pet. In case of severe arthritis, you can visit your vet for prescribed medication to help bring down the seriousness of the symptoms.
Dogs of all ages are susceptible to a wide range of severe intestinal parasites, otherwise referred to as worms. The most common parasites likely to infect your dog are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Symptoms include a swollen belly, weight loss, lack of energy, and acute diarrhea.
How To Treat: Make sure to deworm your dog regularly as recommended by your vet. This way you can prevent your dog from being a prospective host to these nasty parasites. In case your dog has contracted worms, consult with your vet, who may prescribe deworming medication for your pet. Be sure to follow this up with regular fecal checks so that you are sure the worms are gone.
3. Ear Infections
Ear infections are common in dogs of all sizes and any age and may be caused by yeast, bacteria, allergies, ear mites, or even hair growth deep inside the ear canal. Some common symptoms of ear infection that your dog may display include:
- Vigorous shaking of the head or excessive head tilting
- A distinctly strong ear odor
- Repeated scratching
- Lack of balance
- Unusual back-and-forth eye movements
- Swelling of the outer part of the ear
- Redness of the ear canal
- Yellow, brown, or bloody discharge
How To Treat: Rush your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect an ear infection. Most of the time, a thorough cleaning and medicating the ear canal will clear up the infection quickly. In the case of chronic infections, however, surgery may be the best course of action to take. Sometimes, vessels within the outer region of your dog’s ear may rupture due to excessive shaking of the head, and your vet is most likely to recommend surgery to resolve this problem.
There are many kinds of allergies that may affect your dog from food to flea or tick bites. It is, therefore, very important to observe and keep a sharp lookout for any change in your dog’s behavior when exposed to anything new. If you notice your dog showing a distinct lack of energy over a period of a few days and shows consistent coughing or sneezing, you might be dealing with an allergy.
How To Treat: First, try and determine what caused the allergy in the first place. Common allergies can be successfully treated by either changing your dog’s shampoo, or his diet. Some allergies may be seasonal or environmental and can be treated with medications prescribed by your vet. Bear in mind, however, that these will eventually weaken your pet’s immune system if administered on a regular basis.
5. Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection and can easily be transmitted from dog to dog when they interact with each other. In terms of symptoms, look out specifically for lethargy, leaky nose and/or eyes, coughing, or a sudden loss of appetite.
How To Treat: Take your dog to your vet who might prescribe him vaccines. These may be administered on a regular basis to keep certain types of kennel cough at bay. Remember to keep your dog away from other dogs, especially in public places where this infection can spread easily, and ensure to allow your pet plenty of rest. Once your dog recovers, you may start taking him for walks as usual.
There could be a number of reasons for your dog vomiting. A good rule of thumb is to observe your dog’s behavior that leads up to the vomiting; this will help you see if there may be a more serious cause of concern. General vomiting is perfectly normal and could easily be because of something your dog ate, though if this persists beyond a few days, you may have a reason to worry.
How To Treat: Assess your dog’s behavior leading up to the vomiting. If there was nothing unusual noted, you probably have no reason to be worried. However, if your dog continues vomiting, or behaves strangely before vomiting, there could be a variety of serious causes and it’s best to schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.
7. Dog Obesity
While signs and symptoms of obesity may seem quite obvious, checking your dog’s weight regularly is very important. This will not only help you maintain a record of your dog’s health over the months but will also help you keep a check on his weight to make sure he doesn’t become overweight.
How To Treat: Give your overweight dog a steady diet and a regular, healthy dose of exercise. Ensure you recognize the severity of your dog’s excess weight, and take extra care to administer the appropriate changes in his nutrition and exercise routine. A sudden increase in exercise or a major reduction in food can lead to other health complications, so please make sure you consult with your vet before making any drastic changes.
If your dog shows changes in appetite, or excessive vomiting and thirst, chances are that it’s a case of diabetes. Cataracts and urinary tract infections (UTIs) may also occur if your dog’s diabetes remains untreated for a long time.
How To Treat: Just as in the case of humans, dogs should also get regular insulin injections to help control diabetes. Your vet may also recommend oral medications and a diet that’s high in fiber content to reverse the symptoms of this disease and bring your dog back to good health.
Cancer is recognized as one of the most fearsome killer disease in dogs and is also very expensive to treat. Stay on the alert for drastic weight loss, unusual odors, lumps, or sudden changes in behavior lasting over a long period of time.
How To Treat: The sooner you are able to detect cancer in your dog, the better are your pet’s chances for recovery. Depending on the type and location of the cancer, surgery may be advised to remove the tumor in some cases. In more milder cases, medications may be administered to help relieve your dog of the pain. Consult your vet immediately if you suspect your dog having cancer.
Fortunately, rabies is not as prevalent today as it used to be years ago, and its all thanks to the advanced vaccinations that are now available to us. It is, however, still possible for your dog to contract rabies, even after he has received all his shots. Watch out for symptoms like thick and heavy drool and overtly aggressive behavior.
How To Treat: Like all other diseases, it is best to try preventing your dog from being infected with rabies. For starters, make sure your dog gets his shots every year without fail. Monitor his activity diligently to make sure he isn’t interacting with animals in the wild that may be infected with rabies. In case you suspect your dog having rabies, call Animal Control right away and avoid interaction with your dog as much as you can.
Familiarizing yourself with these common dog health issues should make you more confident when dealing with your sick pet. You will be able to clearly tell which ailments you can treat yourself, and when it’s time to consult your vet.
Bear in mind that your dog depends solely on you for everything from love and attention to good health and nutrition. Educating yourself as much as possible about dog diseases and ailments will help you take better care of your canine friend so he can live a happy life.