Dog Health Issues

Clare Deming
Dog's gums

Canine Gum Disease

Some dog health issues are more common than others. For example, many dogs have bad breath, but their owners don't know why. Bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums and tartar buildup can indicate gum disease. Regular brushing can slow down this process, but an advanced case of gum disease should be treated by a vet because it could lead to chronic pain, tooth loss, or a poor appetite. Severe periodontal disease can exacerbate other medical problems, such as diabetes. Read on to learn about other common dog health problems, their symptoms and treatment.

Vet looking in dog's ears

Ear Problems

Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria and yeast. Signs include red and swollen ears, foul odor, head shaking and pain, or excessive discharge. Infections are treated by thoroughly cleaning the ears and applying antibiotic drops for seven to ten days. Once your pet has finished the antibiotics, you'll need to have him rechecked by your vet to make sure the infection has completely cleared.

Ear mite infestations are caused by tiny parasites. Signs include head shaking, pawing at the ears, coffee-ground discharge and inflammation. Treatment includes thoroughly cleaning the ears and filling the canals with miticide medication.

Dog with ice pack on his head

Kennel Cough

This very common infection produces symptoms much like a common cold, particularly a hacking cough. A simple case of kennel cough lasts about three weeks and clears on its own. Excessive mucus discharge, labored breathing, loss of appetite, or severe lethargy may be signs of a secondary respiratory infection that requires treatment with antibiotics. Some strains of kennel cough can be prevented by vaccination. Care measures include keeping the dog warm, hydrated and comfortable.

Sick looking white dog

Vomiting and Diarrhea

These two symptoms often go hand in hand. Your dog's upset stomach can be caused by a variety of things including viruses, dietary indiscretion, cancer within the digestive system, parasites, bowel infections and other digestive upsets. Left untreated for more than 48 hours, they can induce dehydration and weakness. Initial treatment includes withholding solid food for 24 hours and offering electrolyte replacement fluids such as Pedialyte. Veterinary care may be required if a young puppy experiences these symptoms, or if vomiting and diarrhea persist in an adult pet.

Dog laying down

Lameness

Dogs become lame for a variety of reasons, including injuries, hereditary dysplasia, arthritis, tick-borne diseases and neurological problems. Signs include stiffness upon rising, inability to climb stairs, limping and even a complete inability to walk. Veterinary diagnosis is usually required to pinpoint the cause of lameness and treat it accordingly. Anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy and surgery are just a few treatment options.

Dog with skin issue

Skin Problems

Skin problems are wide ranging and can be caused by parasites (fleas, ticks, mites), yeast or fungi, allergies and a variety of hereditary and hormonal diseases. Signs include hair loss, inflamed skin, or itching and oozing sores. Veterinary diagnosis of the exact cause is usually required before the correct treatment can be determined.

Parasite

Parasites

Parasitic infestations include a variety of external pests that attack the skin such as ticks, fleas and mites. Worms are internal pests that can rob your dog of nutrition, leaving him tired, thin and anemic. Heartworms can clog your dog's arteries and lead to death. External infestations can be treated with topical products or pesticidal dips and shampoos, but may also require antibiotic or medications to relieve itching. Internal infestations are treated with dewormers and other appropriate medications.

Tired looking dog

Heat Stroke

Not all dogs can handle the summer heat, particularly those with a brachycephalic (snub-nosed) shape. An overheated dog will display rapid, unrelenting panting, weakness, confusion, vomiting, or a dog might even collapse. Treatment consists of cooling the dog's body with water or wet towels and offering small drinks of water or Pedialyte. Take an immediate trip to the vet for further care because heat stroke is often life-threatening and the most serious symptoms can be delayed by a few hours.

Miserable looking dog

Anal Gland Problems

The anal glands can become impacted, infected or even abscessed when they don't empty properly. Signs of a problem include biting or licking at the rear end, brown discharge on furniture or flooring, scooting and a strong foul odor (sometimes described as fishy). Treatment includes manual expression, antibiotics (if infected) and for chronic problems, adding insoluble fiber to the diet to firm stools and help the glands empty more efficiently.

Gray dog looking sick

More Dog Health Issues

The health issues touched on in this slideshow are just a sample of the illnesses that many pets face. Visit our article on Symptoms of a Sick Dog for more information on keeping your dog healthy.

Clare Deming
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Dog Health Issues