Dog Health Conditions – Keeping Your Puppy Alive & Well

By Michael Tarran

December 30, 2021

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Getting a new puppy is rarely associated with them being sick. I mean, who wants to think about the worst-case scenarios when they first get their furry companion?

However, over time, some health conditions might start to pop up - from mild ones to some that are rather severe.

Caring for your pooch also includes knowing what the most common symptoms of your pup being ill are. If you spot the symptoms right away, you can, more often than not, eliminate the possibility of the worst possible outcome.

So, to get yourself acquainted - continue scrolling, and let's dive into the rabbit hole that is dog health conditions!

Common Health Issues In Dogs

Some dog breeds, as you know, are more prone to developing certain health problems, as are certain dog sizes. For large dogs and larger breeds, it's more common for dogs to develop joint problems - while toy breeds experience dental issues more often.

Now, I have to add something:

All of this isn't the rule or guarantee that your dog will experience any of this. It's merely a guide to what you can expect to happen.

So below, I'll discuss the most common health concerns, their symptoms - and what you can do to treat them!

Obesity 

An overweight dog laying in the grass

Obesity falls into the category of the most common health problem in dogs. Yes, I'm serious:

Over half of all dogs in the world are dealing with obesity or being overweight.

It's not hard to see the common signs of obesity, but I advise you to weigh your dog regularly to avoid getting more dog health issues. Keep a diary of your dog's weight as it's one of the best ways to know if your dog is gaining weight or not.

If you see that your dog's gaining weight in the early stages, it can be pretty simple to help them come back to the appropriate weight. A proper diet and plenty of exercise are crucial for a dog's health - and for preventing obesity, as well.

A healthy diet is, in short, a diet that provides your pooch all the nutrients they need - without the excessive calories and carbs. On top of that, regular exercise will burn off the accumulated calories, keeping your pup at a healthy weight.

If your dog gained a few pounds or ounces, I advise you to visit the vet and find out what is the best course of action.

The vet will know how to adjust the diet and exercise. On the flip side, if you do it on your own, you might start giving your dog too little food, which can result in more health problems. Your vet will give your pup the best exercise routine and dog's diet plan. So, stick to their advice!

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions are perhaps one of the most common health problems present in dogs - and they can affect dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes.

The most common allergies are food allergies, where your pet can be allergic to a common allergen or even something completely normal, such as fish or chicken.

That being said, your dog can be allergic to pretty much anything - from dust, mites, pollen, and other seasonal things, to fleas.

Now, there are a few things you need to check as pet parents if you suspect your dog is dealing with an allergic reaction.

The most common form of allergic reaction is skin scratching - but it might be accompanied by some coughing, and swollen neck or face, along with other symptoms. If you notice excessive swelling, you must see the vet immediately.

Providing your dog relief from the allergy symptoms will require finding what your dog is allergic to in the first place.

Doing that isn't always easy, though - even the food allergies.

Seasonal allergies are generally manageable with canine antihistamines - and, if possible, reduce the exposure to the allergen. Don't give your dog antihistamines - or any other kind of allergy treatment - without previous consultation with your vet, though.

If you, for any reason, cannot detect what your dog is allergic to, consider doing dog allergy testing. It will reveal whether your dog's dealing with this relatively common health problem - making it much easier to figure out what you can do about it!

Dental Diseases

A dog showing its teeth at a vet's office

A dog with a dental problem is a common health issue; over 80% of all dogs have some kind of dental problem by the time they reach three years of age.

With that said, periodontal disease is one of the most common types of dental disease.

Periodontal disease is a health condition that affects the gums and the bone structures that support the teeth. So, the signs your dog could be dealing with dental disease are the general difficulty (or inability) to chew and swallow, bad breath, and drooling more than usual.

The treatment for periodontal disease is mainly focused on reducing the symptom. It cannot be cured - but it can be treated on time to prevent the disease from becoming very bad for your dog's teeth.

What you can do as a dog owner is brush your pooch's teeth regularly - and don't skip the yearly dental cleaning at the vet.

These two actions can do more than most pet parents think. If you aren't sure how to brush your pup's teeth yourself, you can always ask your vet about the best practices for teeth-brushing - don't worry, it's pretty simple!

Arthritis

Arthritis is among health issues that occur in older dogs almost exclusively.

When it comes to the signs to look for, arthritis in dogs is symptomized with fewer movements, your dog becoming more lethargic and tired - generally spending more time sitting or lying down - topped off with exercise intolerance.

Arthritis causes painful joints, so it's a joint problem for senior dogs. Some dogs might prevent their pet parent from touching the painful joints. Unfortunately, arthritis is not a curable disease - despite being one of the most common health problems.

For most dogs, there are treatment options that can reduce pain and make your older dogs a bit more comfortable living with arthritis. The good news, though, is that physical therapy, a good diet, and a decent amount of exercise can make a real difference for senior dogs.

These treatments will prevent the disease from developing further in older dogs.

Another thing that can make a difference is giving your senior dogs arthritic supplements, which aid joint health and pet health in general.

Physical therapy is something you can do a home with your pooch, but after a consultation with your vet. For older dogs with extremely painful joints, the vet can prescribe pain medications to make your dog more comfortable.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is among the common dog health issues - and to make it worse, it's pretty easy to spread it between dogs. This disease is essentially a respiratory infection affecting the lungs of your poor pup.

The symptoms to look for if you're worried your dog may have come down with the kennel cough are lethargic behavior, frequent coughing, a runny nose with clear discharge, runny eyes, and even refusal to eat.

The best course of treatment for the kennel cough is keeping your dog up to date with the vaccinations. The vaccine prevents most types of kennel cough, so the best treatment here is - well, prevention. Oh, and while we're at it - don't let your dog play with unknown dogs.

If your dog does catch the kennel cough, talk to your vet about meds. There are medications that could make recovery much faster.

Ear Infections

A dog having its ear spread as wide as possible

A dog catching an ear infection is incredibly common - and it's among the common health issues in dogs. You will easily catch if your dog has an infected ear because he will shake his head and scratch a lot at the ears.

Despite being one of the most common health problems, it's still uncomfortable. If you are worried your dog has come down with an ear infection, check their ears. If there is some discharge, debris, or a bad smell coming from the ears, be almost sure your dog's ears are infected.

The ear infections must be treated in the first few weeks, or they can cause very serious complications such as heart disease. The infection is sometimes associated with skin infections, so check your dog's skin as well.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary infections are incredibly common, and they are rather easy to treat. The primary symptom to expect here is inappropriate urination, along with the increased frequency of urinating - which many owners overlook, labeling it as the dog being "still in training."

As the infection progresses, you can expect your dog to be more thirsty than usual, lethargic, and may even have bloody urine. If left untreated, the urinary infection can turn from one of the most common health conditions into kidney disease, so make sure to take your pet to the vet.

Parasites

Although common, parasites are incredibly annoying - and dogs typically get them from other dogs.

The external parasites are the ticks and the fleas, while the internal parasites are intestinal worms and heartworms. Heartworms can be very annoying to deal with - and potentially very dangerous - which is why you need to keep an eye out for everything unusual!

If you are worried about your dog catching parasites, talk to your vet about the preventative treatments done each month. There are many different things you can do to keep your dog safe and parasite-free.

Skin Infections

Skin infections can sometimes be associated with ear infections, and they can be caused by various things. The symptoms that occur often are scratching and chewing at the skin, with hair loss at the affected area. The skin is raw, red, flaky, and inflamed.

For these infections, the causes are many, but they're usually secondary conditions caused by allergens or irritants. If you notice that your dog seems rather unhappy and constantly itchy, visit the vet, as the infection can spread and make it even worse for your pup.

Cancer

Cancer is something no pet parent likes to think about - but it does happen. It can be devastating news for the owner; there's no doubt about that. The symptoms vary on the type of cancer - but generally, look for lumps, loss of appetite, and rapid weight loss.

If you find out that your dog has cancer early enough, the dog has the best odds of recovering - but you should know that treatment can be pretty expensive.

The vet can opt for surgery, chemo, or radiation treatment to try and cure your pup. And if your dog is obviously in pain, the vet can prescribe pain meds to reduce the discomfort.

Diabetes

Diabetes can be associated with obesity in some dogs. It's fairly easy to spot the early stages of diabetes as the appetite is changed drastically, often accompanied by increased thirst and urination.

If the diabetes is not managed properly, your dog may develop cataracts, heart disease, kidney disease, UTIs, and even go blind. On that note, the vet will prescribe how often you should give your dog insulin injections - usually once or twice a day.

Along with it, the dog might take oral medications - but the right diet is key. If your dog's diet is good, life with diabetes will be easy-peasy!

Do note that diabetic dogs can rack up quite a bit of vet bills. You should consider pet insurance; it will be far more affordable.

Dog Health Conditions - Bottom Line

To conclude, there are plenty of health conditions your dog could come down with during its lifetime. The key for most of these diseases is prevention and acting early - before it turns into a more serious issue. If you can tell that your pup is struggling, don't put off going to the vet.

Oh, and one more thing:

Remember that each breed has its specifics and diseases - such as hip dysplasia or heart disease. So, be sure to talk to your vet about what your dog's breed is prone to, and last but not least - consider getting pet insurance!

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Michael Tarran

About Me

I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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