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Dog Sickness & Disease – 10 Most Common Health Issues in Dogs

As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the common health issues that your furry friend may face throughout their life. Understanding the symptoms, causes & treatments of these issues can help you provide the best care for your dog and ensure their well-being. In this article, we will discuss the 10 most common health problems and issues that dogs face, as well as preventative measures, pet insurance and what dogs usually die from.

10 Most Common Health Problems & Issues in Dogs

1. Obesity

Obesity is a common issue in dogs, which can lead to several health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and joint issues. Obesity occurs when a dog consumes more calories than it burns, leading to excessive weight gain.

  • Symptoms: Signs of obesity include difficulty in breathing, decreased stamina, reluctance to exercise and visible fat deposits on the body.
  • Causes: Overfeeding, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition and certain medical conditions can contribute to obesity in dogs.
  • Treatment: Treatment for obesity includes implementing a balanced diet, increasing exercise and monitoring weight loss progress. In some cases, veterinarians may prescribe medication to help with weight loss.
2. Dental Disease

Dental disease is prevalent in dogs, with periodontal disease being the most common form. Dental diseases can cause bad breath, tooth loss and even systemic infections.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include bad breath, yellow or brown plaque on teeth, red or swollen gums, difficulty eating and tooth loss.
  • Causes: Poor dental hygiene, diet, genetics & age are contributing factors to dental disease in dogs.
  • Treatment: Treatment includes professional dental cleanings, regular tooth brushing, dental chews and special diets to prevent plaque buildup.
3. Ear Infections

Ear infections are common in dogs, particularly those with floppy ears. Bacterial and yeast infections are the most common causes of ear infections in dogs.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include scratching or rubbing the ears, head shaking, discharge or odor from the ear, redness or swelling and sensitivity to touch.
  • Causes: Ear infections can be caused by bacteria, yeast, ear mites, allergies, or trapped moisture in the ear canal.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves cleaning the ear, administering prescribed medication and addressing the underlying cause of the infection.
4. Allergies

Dogs can suffer from allergies just like humans and these can be caused by food, environmental factors, or contact with specific substances.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include itching, red or inflamed skin, hair loss and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Causes: Causes of allergies in dogs include pollen, mold spores, dust mites, fleas and certain ingredients in food.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves identifying and avoiding the allergen, using medications to control symptoms and implementing special diets or supplements.
5. Parasites

Parasites, such as fleas, ticks and heartworms, can cause various health problems in dogs.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms vary depending on the type of parasite, but can include itching, hair loss, anemia and respiratory issues.
  • Causes: Parasites can be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, or in the case of heartworms, through mosquito bites.
  • Treatment: Treatment depends on the type of parasite and may involve medication, topical treatments, or preventative measures.
6. Arthritis

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects many dogs, causing pain, inflammation and reduced mobility.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include stiffness, limping, difficulty moving and reluctance to jump or climb stairs.
  • Causes: Arthritis can be caused by age-related wear and tear, obesity, injury, or genetic predisposition.
  • Treatment: Treatment options include weight management, anti-inflammatory medication, joint supplements and physical therapy.
7. Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects a dog’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes in dogs: Type 1, which requires insulin therapy and Type 2, which can often be managed with diet and exercise.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased appetite and lethargy.
  • Causes: Causes of diabetes in dogs can include genetic predisposition, obesity and autoimmune disorders.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves insulin therapy, a balanced diet, exercise and regular blood sugar monitoring.
8. Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in dogs and can cause discomfort and potential complications if left untreated.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine and foul-smelling urine.
  • Causes: UTIs can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites entering the urinary tract.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves antibiotics or other medications, increasing water intake and preventing future infections through proper hygiene and regular veterinary checkups.
9. Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs, with many different types affecting various parts of the body.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer but may include abnormal growths, unexplained weight loss, lethargy and persistent sores or wounds.
  • Causes: Cancer can be caused by genetic factors, exposure to carcinogens, or age.
  • Treatment: Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.
10. Heart disease

Heart disease is a common health issue in dogs, with different types affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, reduced stamina and fainting.
  • Causes: Causes of heart disease in dogs include age, genetic factors, infection and obesity.
  • Treatment: Treatment depends on the type and severity of heart disease and may involve medication, dietary changes and exercise restrictions.

Precautions & Preventative Measures

To minimize the risk of health problems in dogs, owners should take the following precautions and preventative measures:

Schedule regular veterinary checkups: Regular checkups help detect potential health issues early, allowing for timely intervention and treatment. This is particularly important for breeds with predispositions to certain health issues.

Provide a balanced diet and exercise regimen: Ensure your dog receives a diet tailored to its size, age and activity level. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes overall physical and mental well-being.

Maintain proper dental care: Dogs are prone to dental issues. Regular tooth brushing, dental chews and professional dental cleanings help prevent plaque buildup and dental disease.

Groom and maintain hygiene: Regular grooming, including brushing and trimming nails, keeps your dog’s coat and skin healthy. Pay special attention to breeds with specific grooming requirements or those prone to skin and ear infections.

Keep up-to-date on vaccinations: Vaccinations protect your dog from potentially life-threatening diseases. Discuss with your veterinarian which vaccinations are necessary for your dog’s specific needs.

Employ parasite prevention methods: Dogs can be affected by parasites such as fleas, ticks and heartworms. Consult your veterinarian for appropriate preventative treatments.

Should You Get Pet Insurance for Your Dog?

Pet insurance can be a good investment for pet owners, as it can help cover the costs of unexpected veterinary bills. However, it is important to research and compare policies before purchasing. Consider factors such as coverage options, exclusions, deductibles and premiums. It is also important to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of the policy before signing up.

What Dogs Usually Die From?

Dogs usually die from a combination of old age and health issues such as cancer, organ failure and infectious diseases. Factors such as genetics, environment and lifestyle can all play a role in a dog’s lifespan.

Health Information by Breed

Are you trying to find out specific health information for a particular breed? See below for detailed health information on all of the most popular breeds.

Dog Sickness & Disease – 10 Most Common Health Issues in Dogs