10 most common dog health problems

Thursday June 30, 2016

We all want our dogs to be as happy and healthy as possible, and as your dog’s primary caregiver, it’s up to you to help keep them that way between vet visits. A fantastic way to help support your dog’s health is by regularly adding Dig-In Digestive Gravy Powder to their daily meal. In much the same way that you take vitamins to support your nutritious diet, our all natural Digestive Gravy Powder supplements your dog’s diet, helping them to be their healthiest self! Given that the flavour is doggy-approved, your furry friend will be too busy enjoying the taste to realise the gravy is also good for them!

Aside from feeding your dog a nutritious diet, providing them with an appropriate amount of exercise, and giving them lots of love and attention, it’s important to be mindful of any changes in your dog’s health or behaviour. There are 10 common dog health problems to be aware of:

  1. Intestinal worms. There are a number of different worms that can affect your dog including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. General signs your dog may have worms include diarrhoea, weight loss, changes in appetite, and scooting their bottom along the floor. Consult your vet to determine the best ongoing treatment plan for your dog and to diagnose any suspected worm problem.
  2. Heartworm. A parasitic worm that is transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworm live inside the arteries of the lung and chambers of a dog’s heart. While few signs of infection may initially be apparent, early symptoms may include shortness of breath, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, weight loss, or a mild and persistent cough. Thankfully, heartworm is preventable, with your vet being able to advise on the most suitable medication for your dog.
  3. Topical infections. Minor infections of your dog’s skin or ears can develop into a bigger concern if left untreated.
    • Ear infections may result from allergies, ear mites or bacteria in the ear canal. Symptoms of ear infections can include vigorous scratching or head shaking, smelly ears, redness of the ear canal, or an unusual amount of discharge. Always take your dog to the vet if you think they may have an ear infection.
    • If your dog is scratching or licking more than usual, or if their skin is rough, flaky or irritated, they may be suffering from a skin condition. Most skin problems are due to parasites, skin infections and allergies, but your vet will be able to determine the exact cause.
  4. Poor oral hygiene. Taking care of your dog’s gums and teeth is not just about your desire to combat ‘doggy breath’, it’s also a way to prevent the development of tartar, gum disease and cavities. Hard chew toys, bones or dental chews can help remove plaque, but your vet will also regularly assess the health of your dog’s teeth and gums.
  5. The best way to limit a flea infestation is to treat your dog with preventative medication, vacuum your house regularly, and always be on the lookout for signs of fleas. The most obvious sign that your dog has fleas is if they begin scratching, licking or biting excessively, particularly around the base of their tail. Talk to your vet about the right flea treatment for your dog, which may include oral medication, shampoos or liquids.
  6. Ticks. Paralysis ticks are small parasites which can attach to your dog’s skin, secreting a potentially life-threatening toxin into the bloodstream as they feed. Most commonly found in bushland areas, ticks can be carried on other animals such as birds, but can also be distributed by the wind. Potential symptoms may include vomiting, breathing difficulties and loss of functionality in the legs. Your vet can advise you about the range of preventative treatments available, however it’s important to also perform daily checks of your dog’s skin.
  7. Mites (scabies). Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites. Also known as canine scabies, sarcoptic mange is caused by tiny mites which burrow through the skin and may cause intense itching, restlessness, irritation and hair loss. If you notice any of these symptoms, a vet visit is required to identify the cause and determine an appropriate treatment plan. While treatable, scabies is a highly contagious condition for other animals and humans.
  8. Vomiting and diarrhoea. Your dog may vomit or experience diarrhoea simply because they have an upset stomach – especially if your dog is known to scavenge and sometimes eat things they shouldn’t! If your dog only vomits or suffers from diarrhoea on occasion, it’s likely no cause for concern. However if these problems continue for a prolonged period of time, or if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, fever, or loss of appetite, consult with your vet as soon as possible to rule out other health concerns.
  9. Overweight and obese dogs are more likely to live shorter lives and have a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. A balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise are both necessary for keeping your dog in a healthy weight range. There’s no quick fix for obesity, so consult with your vet before making drastic changes to your dog’s diet or exercise program.
  10. Arthritis. The most common source of chronic pain that veterinarians treat, arthritis is not just found in older dogs – it can occur in dogs of all ages, breeds and size. While arthritis can affect many joints in the body, the most commonly affected joints in dogs are the hips, knees, shoulders and elbows. Signs of arthritis may include a reluctance to walk or play, lagging behind when exercising, and pain or stiffness when getting up or down. To determine whether your dog has arthritis you’ll need to make an appointment with your vet for a full physical examination and assessment.

By monitoring your dog closely, many common health problems can be controlled and sometimes even prevented. If you notice anything which may suggest your dog is uncomfortable or in pain, immediately consult your vet, to help your dog get back to full health as soon as possible.