No matter how much we love our canine friends, sometimes they suffer from health problems which affect most dogs in their lifetime. Even with first-class care and preventative measures, they can fall ill just like we do. Dogs are particularly susceptible to a few common health issues which, thankfully, are usually easy to treat or manage.
Having a good grasp of these common canine health problems helps you to take better care of your dog and catch any issue before it escalates. As with us humans, the earlier you catch a problem in your dog, the better.
Unfortunately, canines aren't known for being very expressive. Even when they are in pain, they tend to go silent and broody which makes it hard to know if they are okay. That is why you should keep an eye open for these common dog health problems.
1. Ear Infections
If you see your dog frequently pawing at their ears, shaking its head, or even having a discharge in the ears, there's a good chance that it may be suffering from an ear infection. Ear infections are caused by foreign objects, bacteria, and ear mites.
Grass seeds are common causes of ear problems because their sharp tips can pierce and stick to the skin inside the ears. There, they cause irritation and can eventually result in inflammation and discharge.
If you notice brown particles resembling coffee grains just inside the ears coupled with a thick black or brown wax secretion, your dog could also be suffering from ear mites. These tiny animals also irritate the ears and can interrupt blood flow in the ears.
These and other common ear problems in canines are easily diagnosed by your vet and can be treated by ear drops, antibiotics, and other medication. Because ear problems are more common with dogs which play outside more, you should inspect your dog's ears at least every week for these kinds of symptoms.
2. Skin Allergies and Infections
Skin problems in dogs are a common problem, and are usually caused by internal factors such as parasites or allergens. According to VCA hospitals, a healthy dog should have smooth, pink or black skin free from bumps, scabs, crusts, scaling, or inflamed areas. The fur should be thick, strong, and shiny with no bald patches or broken hairs.
Skin problems in canines result from any of the following:
Fleas or Ticks
Dogs pick up fleas and ticks from outdoor areas such as parks, gardens, or even out in the woods. These pesky parasites are dangerous to dogs and their humans alike, which is why you should inspect your dog's coat for these parasites regularly. Treat your dog regularly with flea and tick medicine and talk to your vet if your dog is scratching, pawing, or chewing their fur in some places.
These are more commonly caused by yeast or other fungus infecting the skin, especially around the ears and paws. Their most common sign is discolored skin, itchiness, and bumps.
Dry skin is evidenced by scaly or flaky skin, redness, and inflammation. It is commonly caused by allergic reactions to dog care products, diet, or the environment. Your vet will know what to do about such problems.
There are many other potential skin problems your dog can suffer from. If you notice excessive scratching and chewing on the skin, that's usually a sign to contact a vet at once.
As your dog ages, it can suffer from arthritis and joint problems. As you can imagine, this is a very painful condition usually shown by a reluctance to any activity, whining, or a stiff gait. Arthritis is caused by the cartilage in joints eroding which causes the bones to rub against each other.
Arthritis usually gets worse with cold, and it can even occur in young dogs. If your vet diagnoses it in your canine, they will probably recommend a lifetime course of medication inclusive of painkillers.
Overweight and obese dogs are very common nowadays, mainly due to overfeeding and lack of exercise. It is up to us to decide how much dogs eat or play around, and too much rich food without proper exercise causes them to start putting on weight.
Your dog is overweight if he or she is up to 20% above their recommended weight, and obese if more than 20% over that threshold. The condition makes your canine pal more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease and reduces expectancy by as much as two years.
DogTime warns that as many as 56% of dogs in the US are overweight. You can easily check if your dog is overweight by pressing your hand flat against your dog's rib cage — if you can't feel the ribs and other bones in the spine or shoulders, that's a cause for concern.
Obesity in dogs is usually managed by following professionally developed meal plans to reduce calorie intake, while at the same time increasing exercise and general activity to burn off more fat.
5. Diarrhea and Other Gut Problems
Diarrhea in a dog is usually an indicator that your dog ate some bad food, is suffering from an allergic reaction, or has a different health problem. The most common cause of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, where less "good" bacteria reduce permeability to food and causes a stomach upset.
If you notice frequent release of gas, foul stool, and vomiting, these are signs of an unhealthy gut in your dog which requires the attention of your vet. You should especially avoid grain and grain fiber as well as various dog food additives that can irritate the gut.
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