As a quintessential member of the family, dogs provide companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love to their owners. As much as we adore them, ensuring our furry friends are healthy and happy is important. However, dogs can experience a range of health problems that require attention from their owners and veterinary professionals.
This article aims to provide an overview of common dog health issues and concerns pet owners should know about. From minor issues such as fleas and ticks to more serious conditions like cancer and heart disease, understanding these health problems will help you take proactive measures in caring for your dog’s well-being. By being informed about these common ailments, you can keep your dog healthy and happy for years to come.
Common Dog Health Issues
Dogs are generally pretty healthy creatures and can live to be 18 years or older. In fact, the average life expectancy of a dog is between 10 and 15 years, with some breeds living longer than others. But dogs do get sick, just like we do. Being aware of the most common dog health issues will help you identify symptoms and take your dog for treatment as soon as possible.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of dogs. They are small and brown and can be identified by their jumping behaviour. Fleas can carry tapeworms, which is why it is important to keep your dog free of fleas. Some dogs have a higher tolerance for fleas than others; some are highly allergic to them. Here are the signs and symptoms that your dog is suffering from fleas:
- Your dog is scratching a lot.
- You see small, dark brown spots on your dog’s skin
- Your dog has hair loss around the neck and tail area
- Your dog is suffering from anaemia (low red blood cells)
If you suspect that your dog has fleas, make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is important to treat the infestation properly because fleas can carry tapeworms and other parasites. Herbal flea treatments are a popular alternative to traditional flea treatments. Some natural remedies include using essential oils, such as lavender or cedarwood, which can repel fleas. You can dilute these oils with water and spritz them onto your dog’s fur or add a few drops to their shampoo during bath time.
Another effective herbal treatment is diatomaceous earth, which is a fine powder made from fossilized algae. It acts as a natural insecticide and can be sprinkled onto your dog’s bedding or carpets to kill fleas. Additionally, regularly washing your dog’s bedding and vacuuming your home can help remove flea eggs and larvae from the environment.
Obesity and Overweight
Another of the most common health problems for dogs is obesity. Overweight dogs are at risk for all kinds of health issues, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. If your dog is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about how to get him or her on a weight-loss program. These are the common causes of obesity and overweight in dogs:
Here are some common practices that may lead to overfeeding your pet:
Providing excessive food without adequate exercise
- Using large feeding bowls
- Allowing your pet to eat from human dishes on the couch or floor instead of using designated pet dishes on the ground
- Overindulging your pet with treats
- Giving in to your pet’s begging behaviour
Arthritis and Joint Problems
Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in older dogs and a common reason why they become overweight. If you have an arthritic dog who has been on medication for some time, it may be difficult to determine whether the medication or the diet is helping to control the symptoms. Here are some of the more common signs of arthritis:
- Dislikes stairs, hardwood floors, or slippery floors such as ceramic tile
- May have secretions from the eyes and nose
- Maybe more irritable than normal
- The level of activity decreases in general
- Noises such as chewing, walking, or even moving in the bed can be painful
- May get up and down more slowly than normal
If you notice these signs in your dog, have him examined by your veterinarian. A complete history and examination are essential and may indicate that your dog needs to be on a special diet and perhaps medication as well. You may also want to talk with the veterinarian about options such as acupuncture or herbal therapy. These are proven to be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
Allergies and Skin Conditions
Another health problem that is often overlooked by dog owners is allergies. Allergies may affect one or more areas of the body and can trigger itching, redness, and swelling. These symptoms are very similar to those caused by other conditions, such as infections and hot spots. If your dog has allergies, you will notice symptoms such as the following:
- Itching and scratching
- Redness and swelling of the skin
- Scabs or bumps on the skin that ooze, crust over, and bleed easily
Many different things can cause allergies. Allergens can include pollens, dust mites, mould, flea saliva, and certain foods. In most cases, allergies will only affect one area of the body. Skin conditions are a common cause of itching in dogs. There are many of them, and they can be easily treated with the help of a veterinarian. Topical medications are used to treat skin conditions in dogs. These include moisturizers, shampoos, rinses, lotions and creams.
You may also want to check his diet and switch from regular dog food to a grain-free diet. Grain is one of the most common ingredients to add carbohydrates to dog food. However, this ingredient could cause discomfort to some dogs, causing some or all the symptoms mentioned above.
When to Visit the Vet
Although many people think these health issues are common, other problems need the attention of a veterinarian. For instance, if your dog has been scratching for more than a week, it is time to visit the vet. You should also see the vet if your dog has an open wound or an irritated skin condition. It is important that you get your dog checked for fleas and ticks as well. The presence of these parasites may be causing your dog to itch. Additionally, you should see the vet if your dog is scratching excessively and has a fever or diarrhoea.
In the end, your dog’s health is in your hands. Take good care of your dog, and always be on the lookout for anything that may be wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or big issue. It is still your responsibility to get it checked out. Now that you know the common signs of illness, you should be able to spot them easily. The more you know about your dog’s health, the better decisions you can make for their care.