The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms and Treatment

The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms and Treatment

Have you ever wondered what the most common diseases are that affect dogs? Well, believe it or not, there are a number of ailments that dogs are susceptible to that are fairly common and can be easily treated.  Most of these ailments are not serious, however, if they go undetected and therefore untreated, some do have the potential to pose a serious health issue to your dog.

Because we are in the pet care business here at Hillrose, we often get asked about these things; what are the common dog diseases, what are their symptoms and most importantly, what are the treatments for them? We did some research on this topic and here’s what we learned.

Most Common Illnesses

  • Ear Infections
  • Itchy skin/Skin Infections
  • Dental Disease
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Stiffness and Pain
  • Urinary Problems
  • Obesity

Symptoms and Treatment

Dental Disease
Oral infections are actually the most common dog disease and tend to become an issue in dogs after the age of three. Tartar and gingivitis are among the most common oral issues while the more severe periodontal diseases, such as abscesses tend to occur more often in older dogs in the later stages of their life.  Symptoms of dental disease are bad breath, loose teeth, changes in appetite particularly refusal to eat dry food, discharge of blood or pus from the mouth, drooling, bad temper, lumps on the gums or under the tongue and discolored teeth and gums.

Treatments for dental disease include teeth cleaning, extractions, and sometimes even a root canal is needed.  All of these treatments would need to be administered by your dog’s vet.  Oral care for your pet is very important and regular vet visits are the best way to keep the serious dental disease at bay.  If your pet is groomed regularly, ask your groomer to clean his teeth as well.  Here at Hillrose, teeth cleaning is part of our grooming package.

Ear Infections
If your dog suffers from recurring ear infections, it’s very likely that allergies are the culprit and the most likely allergens are corn, wheat, and soy in their food. However, dogs with large, pendulous ears tend to be more susceptible to ear infections. If you notice your dog scratching or pawing at his ears, shaking his head or rubbing his ear against the floor or furniture, that is a good indication that he may have an ear infection. More severe symptoms might include redness of the ear canal, scabs or crusts around the ear, hair loss around the ear, balance issues, walking in circles, pain and hearing loss.

To treat an ear infection in your dog, the first step is to clean and dry the ear.  If he is in a lot of pain, he may need to be sedated for this. An examination by your vet will determine what type of infection your dog may have and can likely be treated with a topical antibiotic or anti-fungal.

Itchy skin or skin infections
All dogs scratch on a daily basis but if you notice your dog scratching incessantly, that is a sign that something else is going on.  The number one cause of itchy skin in dogs is a food allergy. The most common food allergens are corn, wheat, and soy found in many dog foods.  Switching to a low-allergen food such as lamb and rice may be the key to relieving your dog’s itchy skin.  However, if a diet change does not make a difference, then a visit to your vet would be in order. Bacterial and yeast infections can also be the cause of canine itching and can lead to problems known as Hot Spots. Hot Spots cause very painful sores, especially for dogs with thick fur.

Depending on the type of infection, your vet may recommend something as simple as a shampoo to treat allergies or an antibiotic ointment for more severe skin infections. There can be a number of reasons for your dog’s itchy skin so getting a proper diagnosis is the first step in treating the issue.

Vomiting and Diarrhea
Just like people, dogs will have digestive upset from time to time and, just like people, these issues will tend to resolve themselves after a few days.  However, if you notice that your dog is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea too often or that either or both conditions seem to be lingering then you should call your vet immediately.  Persistent vomiting and diarrhea could be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Parvovirus, intestinal worms, and parasites are illnesses that will cause intestinal upset in your dog.  A proper diagnosis from your vet will determine the exact problem and treatment to be administered.

Stiffness and Pain
If your dog is six years of age or older, you may notice that getting up from a sitting or lying down position seems more difficult or perhaps climbing stairs seems difficult as well.  These are symptoms that he is experiencing stiffness and pain.

To treat pain and stiffness in your dog, first, keep your dog at a healthy weight.  Increasing age is inevitable; increasing weight is not. In addition to helping your dog maintain a healthy weight, you may want to consider using a glucosamine or a chondroitin supplement to maintain joint health.  Your vet can recommend one to you.

Urinary Tract Problems
UTIs become evident through symptoms such as frequent urination, breaking housetraining, blood in the urine, dribbling urine, crying out while urinating, straining to urinate or frequently and obsessively licking the genital area.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, take him to your vet. Your vet will conduct a urine sample to determine the type of infection and prescribe the proper antibiotic treatment.

The best way to tell if your dog needs to lose weight is to run your hands over their ribcage.  If you cannot feel their ribs, that is a sure indication that your dog is overweight. In most dogs, obesity is quite obvious, but for those dogs that are a bit furrier, the ribcage test is the best way to determine if they need to lose weight.

The best treatment for obesity is to provide a high-quality diet for your dog and make sure he is getting regular exercise.

Remember, it’s important to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and watch for changes that may indicate his discomfort.  While these diseases are common and most are not serious, they do have the potential to become serious if they are not treated properly.  If you have any doubts about your dog’s health call and talk to your vet about your concerns.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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