The Most Common Dog Illnesses and Treatment

health issues

As a dog owner, you know that your furry companion is more than just a pet – they are a beloved member of your family. You want to protect them from potential harm, ensure that they are well-cared-for, and do everything in your power to keep them healthy and happy. But just like humans, our four-legged friends can fall prey to various illnesses and health issues, leaving you concerned and uncertain of how best to tackle these issues. This blog post will dive into the most common dog illnesses, their symptoms, and the treatments available, helping you become better equipped to recognize potential problems and support your doggo through their journey back to health. Because a healthy pup is a happy pup – and that’s what we all want for our adored canine companions.

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1. Oral infections and dental disease

1. Oral Infections and Dental Disease

Oral infections and dental disease are common ailments affecting a majority of dogs, especially those over the age of three. Some of the most prevalent dental issues include tartar buildup, gingivitis, and more severe periodontal diseases, such as abscesses. Symptoms of dental disease may manifest as bad breath, loose teeth, changes in appetite, discharge from the mouth, drooling, irritability, lumps on the gums, or discolored teeth and gums.

To keep these dental problems at bay, it’s essential to maintain proper oral care for your pet, which includes regular veterinarian visits and teeth cleaning by a groomer. Treatments for dental diseases range from professional teeth cleaning to extractions and, in some cases, root canals, all of which must be administered by a veterinarian.

In addition to routine oral care, dog owners can also incorporate dental diets, dog chew toys, and treats to help reduce or delay plaque and tartar buildup. By being proactive in maintaining your dog’s dental health, you are helping to prevent the onset of oral infections and dental issues, ensuring a healthier and happier life for your furry friend. [1][2]

dog ear infections

2. Ear infections and allergies

2. Ear Infections and Allergies

Ear infections are a common issue in dogs, with an estimated 20% of our canine friends experiencing some form of ear disease. Dogs with floppy ears, like Basset Hounds and Poodles, are more prone to ear infections due to the shape and structure of their ears. In many cases, ear infections in dogs are triggered by allergies, whether from contact, inhalation, or food.

Allergies can cause inflammation and irritation in a dog’s ears, disrupting the natural balance of yeast and bacteria found in their ears. This leads to infections, known medically as otitis externa. When left untreated, these infections can progress to the middle or inner ear, causing severe complications such as eardrum rupture or hearing loss.

Signs of ear infection in dogs include head shaking, scratching at the affected ear, redness and swelling of the ear canal, crusting or scabs in their ears, and fluid or waxy substance build-up. If you suspect your dog has an ear infection due to allergies, it is crucial to visit your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. The vet will clean your dog’s ears and may prescribe medication to address the infection, as well as help identify and manage the underlying allergy, ensuring your furry companion stays healthy and comfortable. [3][4]

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3. Itchy skin and skin infections

Itchy Skin and Skin Infections in Dogs: Common Causes and Treatments

Itchy skin and skin infections are among the most common health issues faced by dogs. These conditions can cause significant discomfort for your pet, leading to constant scratching, licking, and even hair loss. Itchy skin in dogs – also known as pruritus – can be caused by various factors such as allergic reactions, parasites, and underlying health problems.

Allergies in dogs can be triggered by grooming products, food, or environmental irritants like pollen or dust. Dogs with skin allergies may develop itchy rashes or hot spots, which can be treated with corticosteroids or newer medications. But the most effective approach is to identify and avoid exposure to the allergens causing the reaction.

Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites can cause skin infections and itchiness. Mange, for example, is a skin disorder resulting from mite infestation that leads to intense itching, red skin, sores, and hair loss. Treatment for mange and other parasite-induced skin conditions may include medicated shampoos, ointments, or oral medications.

Underlying health issues like hormonal imbalances or illnesses can also cause skin problems in dogs. If your dog’s itchy skin persists for more than a week or is accompanied by other symptoms like hair loss or scabs, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian to determine the root cause and appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, itchy skin and skin infections in dogs can be caused by various factors, and understanding these causes is essential for effective treatment. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will ensure that your dog remains healthy and comfortable. [5][6]

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4. Joint pain and arthritis

4. Joint pain and arthritis

Joint pain and arthritis are common issues for dogs, especially in their senior years or for large breeds. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive condition characterized by the degeneration and inflammation of the joints, leading to decreased mobility and pain for the affected dog. Various factors can contribute to the development of OA, including age, body conformation, weight, abnormal joint development, and a history of injuries or infections.

Detecting the early signs of joint pain and arthritis is crucial for ensuring prompt treatment and maintaining the dog’s quality of life. Symptoms may include stiffness, lameness, difficulty getting up or down, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, irritability, and loss of muscle mass. Consultation with a veterinarian is essential for diagnosis, which may involve a physical examination, palpation, and X-rays.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for OA; however, managing the condition usually involves a multimodal approach, including weight management, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and nutritional supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids. These treatments aim to control pain, decrease inflammation, improve joint function, and slow the progressive deterioration of the affected joints. Regular veterinary check-ups will help ensure that your dog’s treatment plan remains effective in managing their joint pain and arthritis. [7][8]

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5. Kennel cough and respiratory infections

5. Kennel Cough and Respiratory Infections

Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease commonly affecting dogs in close proximity, such as boarding facilities, dog parks, and training groups. Kennel cough is caused by various bacteria and viruses, including the bordetella bacterium, canine adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, and mycoplasmas. When infected, dogs often exhibit symptoms like a loud, honking cough, runny eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

While kennel cough is typically mild and treatable, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis since other serious illnesses, such as canine distemper virus and heart disease, may present similarly. Treatment for kennel cough may include rest, antibiotics, and supportive care. To prevent the condition, vaccines are available that offer protection against bordetella, the most common cause of kennel cough. Dog owners are encouraged to vaccinate their pets, especially if they regularly expose their dogs to crowded environments.

Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action regarding vaccination and treatment for your dog. [9][10]

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6. Obesity and weight management

6. Obesity and Weight Management

Obesity is a prevalent issue among dogs, with more than 50% of them being overweight in North America. This excess body fat can lead to numerous health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and even certain types of cancer. It is essential for pet owners to recognize and address weight management issues to ensure their dogs lead a healthy and happy life.

To determine if your dog is overweight, you can examine their rib coverage or consult with your veterinarian. Regular weigh-ins and body condition assessments will help monitor your dog’s progress toward an ideal body weight. It is crucial to adjust your dog’s diet and exercise routine to promote weight loss. Feeding them low-fat, low-calorie, and high-fiber dog food can help them feel full without overeating. Combining proper nutrition with regular outdoor activities, such as walking and playing fetch, will enable your dog to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight.

Remember to consult your veterinarian about your dog’s target weight and appropriate exercise routines. They can also recommend suitable dog food and provide advice on weight management strategies. Ensuring your pet maintains a healthy weight will reduce their risk of obesity-related illnesses and promote their overall well-being. [11][12]

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7. Ringworm and skin lesions

7. Ringworm and Skin Lesions

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, is a common fungal infection in dogs that affects their skin, hair, and nails. It is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, which can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact or touching contaminated objects. Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm, and the infected areas are not always ring-shaped.

In dogs, ringworm lesions usually appear as circular areas of hair loss (alopecia) that may become scaly, inflamed, or develop a scabby covering. These lesions are not usually itchy, but can become painful if left untreated. Some dogs may have ringworm fungi present without showing any clinical signs, making them carriers of the infection and potential sources of transmission to other animals or humans.

Diagnosis of ringworm in dogs is typically done through a combination of visual examination, using a special ultraviolet lamp known as a Wood’s lamp, and laboratory testing such as a culture of skin and hair samples. Treatment often involves a combination of topical therapies like creams, ointments, or shampoos, and systemic therapies, such as oral antifungal drugs. It’s crucial to eliminate all environmental contamination during treatment, and to continue treatment as recommended by your veterinarian even if the symptoms appear to have resolved.

In addition to ringworm, skin lesions in dogs can also be caused by other factors such as allergies, bacterial infections, hormonal imbalances, and poor nutrition. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian if your dog displays any signs of skin problems. [13][14]

Common Types of Intestinal Worms 0

8. Intestinal worms and parasites

8. Intestinal Worms and Parasites

Intestinal worms and parasites are a common nuisance in dogs, potentially leading to serious health issues if left untreated. Some prevalent parasites that can affect your furry friend include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia. It’s important to be aware that most intestinal parasites don’t show symptoms until the infestation is severe. As a responsible pet owner, always ensure that your dog undergoes regular fecal examinations by a veterinarian, to catch any infestation before it becomes life-threatening.

The symptoms of intestinal parasites in dogs may vary, but some common signs include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and visible worms or segments in their feces. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The treatment for intestinal parasites typically involves prescription oral medications or injections, which may need to be administered multiple times, depending on the severity of the infestation. In addition, maintaining a clean environment for your dog, and following a prevention plan provided by your veterinarian, will greatly help reduce the risk of intestinal worms and parasites. Be mindful that some of these parasites can also be transmitted to humans, making it imperative to handle your dog’s feces carefully, and maintain good personal hygiene. [15][16]


9. Vomiting and diarrhea

9. Vomiting and Diarrhea in Dogs

Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms in dogs that can result from various causes, including dietary indiscretion, ingestion of harmful substances, viral infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. It is essential to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and other signs, such as the presence of blood or changes in stool consistency, as these may indicate a more severe underlying issue requiring veterinary attention.

When it comes to treating mild vomiting or diarrhea at home, the first step is to withhold food for a short period, typically between 12 to 24 hours. However, puppies and small dogs should not be fasted to prevent low blood sugar levels. You can then offer a bland diet, such as boiled rice or potatoes with cooked chicken breast or lean hamburger, in small portions throughout the day. Gradually re-introduce your dog’s regular food after a few days of improved symptoms, and always provide ample access to fresh water.

In more serious cases or if the condition persists, consulting a veterinarian is vital. The vet will assess your dog’s health and recommend appropriate treatment, such as medication or fluid therapy, to prevent dehydration and address the underlying issue. In severe cases, timely veterinary care can make all the difference in your dog’s recovery and well-being. [17][18]

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10. Aging and senior dog health concerns

Aging and Senior Dog Health Concerns

As our beloved canine companions age, it is essential to be aware of the common health concerns that may affect them in their senior years. Establishing a regular healthcare routine and monitoring for changes in behavior and overall health can greatly improve the quality of life for aging dogs. Here are some critical health issues to look out for in senior dogs.

1. Vision and Hearing: Tissue degeneration in the eyes and ears can cause varying degrees of deafness and blindness. Cataracts are also common in older dogs, leading to partial or total blindness.

2. Joint Problems: Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint pain in senior dogs, resulting in reduced mobility, stiffness, and discomfort.

3. Cognitive Dysfunction: Similar to dementia in humans, cognitive dysfunction in dogs can present as confusion, disorientation, and even bathroom accidents.

4. Cancer: Older dogs are at a higher risk of developing cancer, making it crucial to monitor for any unusual lumps or bumps.

5. Heart Disease: Heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure, can deteriorate as dogs age.

6. Obesity: Less active senior dogs are more prone to obesity, which can exacerbate existing health issues.

7. Dental Problems: Senior dogs are more likely to suffer from dental issues, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which can lead to severe pain and infection.

8. Kidney Failure: Age-related kidney failure can be caused by a variety of factors, including kidney stones or a rupture of the bladder.

9. Diabetes: Senior dogs, especially specific breeds, are more prone to developing diabetes.

10. Blindness: Gradual vision loss is a common part of aging for dogs, often starting with cataract formation.

By staying vigilant of these potential health issues and seeking veterinary care when needed, you can ensure your senior dog continues to live a happy and healthy life during their golden years. [19][20]

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