Dogs of all ages and sizes can suffer from a variety of health problems, no matter how happy they seem. You will be surprised to hear how common some of them can be. It is important to keep an eye (or an ear) out for any symptoms that may suggest your dog is suffering so you may treat it rapidly and with minimal effort.
Below is a list of some of the most common illnesses you may come across - how to spot them and how they can be treated.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes stiff, painful, and swollen joints. It can be very common in dogs (especially older ones), occurring in about 80% of dogs by the age of 8. However, they may not show many symptoms. The way to spot if your dog is arthritic is if they seem less energetic than usual, with more of a reluctance to move. In more severe cases, your dog may develop a limp and may have some swelling around the joints.
The way to treat arthritis is to firstly provide your dog with a healthy, balanced diet and light exercise – which is key for preventing strain on their joints. Feeding your dog omega-3 supplements can help reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system, while anti-arthritic drugs can help your dog overcome any pain experienced due to the arthritis.
Ear infections can also be common in dogs, occurring in about 20% of dogs, and although it may not seem as severe as other illnesses, it can be painful so you want to recognise this and get it treated as soon as possible.
The way to recognising if your dog has an infection is if they keep pawing or scratching at their ear or they are excessively shaking their head or may simply be complaining. Pain in your dogs ears often stems from an ear infection. If the infection is in the outer ear or ear canal, it is called otitis externa.
The possibility of an ear infection occurring can be reduced by regularly cleaning your dogs ears. However, if your dog does develop an infection, it can be treated with antibiotic ear drops prescribed by your vet.
Between 25-40% of dogs suffer from obesity and although it may not seem like an urgent health concern at first, if left untreated, it can lead to numerous severe health risks such as heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis and more.
Obesity can be caused by dietary and hormonal issues and symptoms to look out for are if your dog experiences any breathing difficulties or a diminished ability to function in heat or during and after exercise.
One of the main ways to help prevent obesity is to ensure your dog has a healthy and balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Speak to your vet about healthy portion sizes, feeding times, frequency of treats, proper foods and exercise options. There are also a variety of commercial and prescription dog foods that are formulated for weight loss.
Kennel Cough is like the common cold in humans and not something that can really be avoided. The infection is spread when an infected dog coughs and splutters on another, or perhaps on bowls/bedding etc. The most common and obvious sign is a strong cough, often with a “honking” sound, while other symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and a low fever. Kennel cough is highly contagious to other dogs, it is advised that you keep your dog away from other dogs for around two weeks, but this can vary depending on the severity of the infection. To minimize suffering in your dog, it is best to give them plenty of rest, food and water if these symptoms develop. If symptoms persist, your vet may prescribe your dog antibiotics.
Generally dogs recover completely within three weeks, although can be longer in older dogs.
Dental disease is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world for dogs, as 80% of dogs over the age of 3 suffer from it. It is caused by bacteria that results in an inflammation in the gum tissue.
Symptoms to look out for are if your dog exhibits pain while eating, they have a reduced appetite and have undergone weight loss.
To help prevent this from happening to your dog, there are special dog mouthwashes you can buy, use of these regularly helps keep the dog's gums clean and significantly reduces the possibility of bacteria build up. Also be careful about the type food and treats that you give your dog and preferably only give those specifically designed for pets. If your dog already has inflammation of the gums, then there are anti-inflammatory pain relief and antibiotics that can be prescribed by your vet. In many cases, surgery may need to be performed, which can range from a simple scale and polish to tooth removal.
Dog insurance can offer great peace of mind if your pet falls ill, especially when treatments can often be expensive! Pet insurance can help offset routine medical expenses and can be especially helpful for the unknown.