However, there are a handful of health issues that most dogs experience in their lifetime. The purpose of the below list is to inform pet parents so that you can prepare for the potential issues your dog may face. (This list is in no particular order)
1. Intestinal Parasites
These include tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, among others. The most common, as cited by Perdue University include tapeworms and roundworms. The intestinal parasite that is the most dangerous to your dog is heartworm. Heartworm is a serious condition and treatment is very difficult. The best way to protect your pet against heartworm is to give a prevention medication monthly. Please discuss your options for prevention with your veterinarian.
Dental disease is such a common issue for dogs that the veterinary community has dedicated the entire month of February to educating pet parents about dental disease prevention and treatment. Signs of dental disease include bad breath and a change in the way your dog chews their food. The best practice for preventing dental disease is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and visit your veterinarian annually for exams.
According to PetObesityPrevention.org, as of 2013 52.5% of dogs were overweight or obese. These statistics aren’t all that surprising seeing how the number has increased in the human population as well. When determining if your pet is the correct weight, I recommend using the Body Condition Score chart. Always work with your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight and Body Condition Score.
According to VetStreet.com, 65% of dogs between the ages of 7 and 11 years old suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is exacerbated by excessive weight, and will sometimes worsen with age. Although there are many medications available to treat arthritis, there are some holistic methods as well. Some veterinarians will recommend starting your dog on supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to help support cartilage and joint function.
5. Allergies/Skin Issues
I am grouping together allergies and skin issues here. However, it is important to understand that they are not one in the same. Some skin issues experienced by dogs are caused by allergies (like flea allergy and inhaled allergy), but some are not. Additionally, allergies can present in ways other than skin issues.
Why are skin issues so prevalent in dogs?
Well, maybe because there are over 160 different skin disorders seen in dogs, and some of these are chronic issues (PetMD). Some skin issues are curable, and some are not. Additionally, some issues can be a symptom of something else occurring with your dog, like a thyroid disorder. It is imperative to work with your veterinarian to diagnose your dog’s skin issues and produce a treatment plan.
I heard the following phrase all the time at the veterinary hospital, “My dog can’t have an ear infection, he hasn’t even been swimming”. When the reality is, all dogs have the ability to develop an ear infection regardless of the amount of hair in the ear, the shape of the ear, or their exposure to water. Most dogs develop ear infections as a secondary reaction to environmental or food allergies. Signs of an ear infection include, but are not limited to, shaking of the ear, scratching the ears, and redness of the ears.
Our dogs can be curious creatures, and, unfortunately, our everyday lives contain a lot of items that can be toxic or poisonous to them. According to the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) the Top 10 poisons from 2011 were; foods (chocolate/xylitol/grapes/raisins), insecticides, mouse or rat poison, NSAIDS human drugs, household cleaners, antidepressants, fertilizers, acetaminophen (Tylenol), amphetamine human drugs (ADD/ADHD medications), and veterinary pain relievers (Rimadyl, Dermaxx and Previcox). If you ever have the suspicion that your pet ate something poisonous, please immediately call your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian, or the Pet Poison Helpline.
8. Upset Stomach/Vomiting
A number of different things can cause vomiting or stomach upset. Whatever you think the cause may be, vomiting is not natural and should be addressed with your veterinarian. Vomiting is often a sign of a gastrointestinal blockage, toxicity, or other serious diseases or disorders.
9. Intestinal Upset/Diarrhea
Diarrhea is another clear signal that something is not right with your pet. Ongoing diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it is important to speak with your veterinarian to determine the cause and create a treatment plan.
10. Bladder Infection/Urinary Tract Infections
Often pet parents think the reason their dog is urinating in the house is due to a behavioral issue. However, it is always important to first rule out an infection. UTIs or Bladder infections are typically coupled with frequent urination, increased water consumption, lethargy, and inappropriate urination. If your pet is showing any of these signs, it is important that you take them to see your veterinarian.
I hope that this information provided you with some valuable insight into the common health issues for dogs. Please share in the comment below your personal experiences regarding these issues.
Perdue University: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/4h/4-h-852-w.pdf
Veterinary Pet Insurance: https://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-health/Top-10-Dog-Medical-Conditions.aspx
American Veterinary Dental College: http://www.avdc.org/periodontaldisease.html
Pet Obesity Prevention: http://www.petobesityprevention.org/2012-national-pet-obesity-survey-results/
Pet Poison Helpline http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2012/01/top-10-most-frequently-reported-poison-dangers-for-dogs-in-2011/
Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, corgi mom, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.
After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science & Management, she worked as a Veterinary Assistant for 3 years. Her daily interactions with pet parents inspired her to start her blog focused on pet health, pet rescue, and pet products. She has a true enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and animal science, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with pet parents.