Taking care of dogs is full of its ups and downs. An important part of owning a dog is knowing when they are under the weather and taking steps to prevent those problems from happening in the first place. Many common dog health problems are preventable, and the result is a happier and healthier dog.
So, here are the ten most common dog health problems, and how you can help your dog to avoid them. Read on:
1. Dog obesity
It’s no secret – our dogs are getting chubbier right along with the rest of us. Many owners are blind to those extra pounds because fat has become the new normal in terms of body weight. Those extra pounds can lead to a host of conditions, however, such as diabetes and heart disease.
To save your dog from a lifetime of health problems, take him for an extra walk and cut back on the food. He may not thank you for it right away, but he’ll feel better for it.
2. Dog dental disease
Dental disease is another most common dog health problems which your dearest pet will face over time. 80% of all dogs will have gum disease, gingivitis, or some other dental ailment by the time they are 3 years old. As time goes on, this number only climbs.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is very important as periodontal disease can actually be deadly, but may not show signs until it is too late. You’ll know if your dog needs a dental if his breath is smelly or you notice discolored teeth or red gums.
3. Dog Fleas
Dogs regularly fall prey to a small parasite that leaves them itching and sometimes worse. Even if your dog stays all the time indoors and only goes out to potty, he can still get fleas. One flea can become a thousand fleas in a heartbeat, so it’s important to look for these pesky creatures if you notice your dog is itching. Alternatively, you can keep your dog on regular 30-day flea protection and never worry about it.
4. Dog ear infections
If you’re the proud owner of a flop-eared dog, you’re probably familiar with this dog health problem. Many dogs suffer from this uncomfortable malady at least once in their lives, and it is particularly prevalent in dogs with ears that hang down. If you notice a bad smell coming from your dog’s ears, discharge, or hot and swollen skin in the ear area, take your dog to a vet right away.
5. Dog skin problems
Many dogs suffer from hot, itchy skin even when fleas aren’t involved. Hot spots, thinning hair, and swollen red feet are all common signs of skin problems in dogs. A vet can take a skin scraping and let you know if the cause of your dog’s discomfort is related to allergy, or if it is some kind of fungal or bacterial infection. The right shampoo can often make your dog feel better again.
6. Dog arthritis
As dogs get older, arthritis can strike them just like it can in elderly humans. Arthritis is a painful condition that makes it harder for dogs to get around and do the activities they used to enjoy. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to both help reduce symptoms and prevent it in the first place.
A surprising way to keep your dog’s joints healthy in the first place is to keep their nails well trimmed simply. Long nails can push all of your dog’s joints out of alignment, contributing to the faster joint damage.
7. Dog soft tissue injuries
Even the healthiest dog occasionally makes a little athletic slip-up. Whether your dog strained a muscle while training for dock diving, or simply had a clumsy moment on the back deck, limps and sprains are pretty common for pets.
Unfortunately, soft tissue injuries can end up requiring surgery to correct—or they can be just fine with a little rest. Talk to your vet if your dog is limping just to be sure.
8. Dog heartworm
This preventable disease is both frightening and deadly. Heartworms are parasites that migrate into and destroy the heart of your beloved pet. In areas where heartworm has been reported, it is vital to keep your pet on a heartworm preventative in order to avoid your own heartbreak.
Once your dog is infected with heartworm, treatment is extremely difficult, and in the late stages of the disease impossible. You’ll need veterinary attention to tackle this one if your dog tests heartworm positive, and prevention is the preferable method of avoiding this terrible disease.
9. Dog kennel cough
This common dog health problem respiratory illness crops up in dogs fairly regularly. Similar to the common cold in humans, symptoms include coughing, runny nose, and a general under the weather dog. A vaccine is available for this disease but isn’t always effective.
The best case for your pet is to get it checked up by your vet, and then simply let it take its course. Dog kennel cough is highly contagious, so be sure to avoid other doggies if your pet is under the weather.
10. Dog cancer
About half of all dogs that are age 10 or older will end up with cancer. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for dog cancer, and treatments to extend the life of the pet are often expensive and hard on the pet. Recent studies have linked early spay and neuter to cancer later in life to cancer.
If you’re concerned about cancer in your dog, wait until your dog has finished growing to spay or neuter, and give your dog anti-oxidant rich treats such as berries, and green or orange vegetables such as carrots and spinach.
Poor health is never fun when your dog is involved, but with a little knowledge, you can save your pet a lot of pain. By taking care of your dog’s health problems before they become big ones, you can extend their life, and how much of it they get to enjoy in good health. When one of these ten common dog health problems comes around, be smart and help your dog get through it with proper treatment.