A dog is probably the most popular pet around the globe. It’s loving nature, faithfulness, energy, obedience, and intelligence endear it to humans. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Chances are you will find one that suits your personality and moods. Just like humans, dogs too get afflicted by a lot of diseases. We will discuss common health issues in dogs in this article. We will divide the dogs into two major groups which are;
- Senior or old dogs
Let us first define both of them.
The seniority of the dog depends largely on its particular breed, diet, environment, and genetics. Generally speaking, a senior dog is the one whose age is in the bracket of 5-10 years and is healthy and agile.
Right from birth up to the age of two, a dog is considered as a puppy.
We will first discuss dog health problems common for all types of dogs, regardless of age. Then we will list down the health issues that are most prevalent in senior dogs and puppies. We will now discuss common health issues in dogs.
Dogs common health issues, causes, symptoms, and prevention
If your dog is consistently coughing or making sounds like it is choking on something, it is suffering from the condition called Kennel cough. It is one of the many common health issues in dogs. A bacterium and a virus are the culprits here. The virus helps the bacterium get a hold in the body. It is not a serious illness, and most of the time, a healthy dog will recover without treatment whatsoever.
Causes for Kennel Cough
A bacterium causes Kennel cough and is contagious. It spreads in places where a large number of dogs get together like a park, a daycare center, etc. The dogs get this cough while inhaling airborne infected droplets and while touching noses on the infected surfaces.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
Symptoms include coughing with a strong blowing sound, sneezing, low fever, runny nose, loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.
Kennel Cough Prevention
There are vaccines available for it, which should be administered thoroughly. It is also essential that you keep your dog’s kennel clean in addition to being airy. Exposure to dust, cold temperatures, and poorly ventilated areas may weaken the coating of the mucus along the dog’s respiratory tract. This coating is the natural line of defense against predatory germs, weakening it means they get susceptible to conditions like kennel cough.
Breeds Affected by Kennel Cough
All breeds of dogs are affected by kennel cough. It is a common condition and can infect even a healthy dog.
A heart murmur is the abnormal heartbeat sound caused by a disturbance in the blood flow. There are different categories and grades of heart murmur ranging from the mild to the extreme. Doctor can detect heart murmur using a stethoscope and, in severe cases, the hand’s touch.
Causes for Heart Murmur
A heart murmur can have different reasons like a blockage in the heart valves, weakening of the heart muscles’ walls, congenital heartworm disease, infection in the heart walls, and clogging of the heart valves or tumor.
Heart Murmur Symptoms
To detect a heart murmur in your dog, look for signs like difficulty in breathing and a wheezing sound while breathing. Some of the other symptoms of a heart murmur are fainting or collapsing, abnormal heartbeat, lethargy, losing interest in physical activities, etc..
Heart Murmur Prevention
You can save your dog from this disease by feeding him a balanced and healthy diet. Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight. Do not let your dog be obese or overweight. Take him out for walks and indulge him in physical activities. Routine medical checks are essential too. It helps in the early detection of many underlying heart conditions. Take the vet’s advice and medication seriously. All these measures will keep this common health issue of dogs at bay.
Breeds Affected by Heart Murmur
German Shepherds, Doberman, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pinschers are most likely to have heart murmurs.
Canine umbilical hernia
A canine umbilical hernia is another common health issue in dogs, especially puppies. It is like a soft lump in the umbilical area. Most of the time, it will go away on its own. But when the size of the lump is big, and it also traps the contents of the abdomen in it, then it is a matter of concern. Some cases may require surgery.
Causes for Canine Umbilical Hernia
A canine umbilical hernia is usually an inherited phenomenon. Sometimes trauma can cause it too.
Canine Umbilical Hernia Symptoms
Signs include swelling in the underbelly, continuous increase in the size of that swelling, your dog feels uneasiness and pain when you touch it, that area seems warmer compared to other parts of the body, lack of appetite, etc.
Canine Umbilical Hernia Prevention
Most umbilical hernias are congenital, and it is difficult to prevent them. Spaying and neutering can help prevent certain types of hernias from occurring.
Breeds Affected by Canine Umbilical Hernia
Breeds like Pekingese, Airedales, and Basenji are more at risk of having an umbilical hernia.
Bowel Incontinence is another common health issue in dogs, especially old dogs. It occurs when the dog loses control over his urination and defecation faculties. It is a treatable and curable condition. However, it may lead to more serious conditions like kidney problems, bladder, and urinary tract infection and diarrhea if not treated well.
Causes for Bowel Incontinence
There can be multiple causes like infections, previous diseases, parasites, diet, muscular damage or weakness, nerve damage, etc.
Bowel Incontinence Symptoms
Symptoms include a bloated stomach, sensitive to being touched around the tail, defecating on unspecified areas, etc.
Bowel Incontinence Prevention
Diet is the key here. Avoid giving your dog too much food from your table too frequently. Also, take care not to overfeed the dog. Give them a wholesome diet rich in all the ingredients that their bodies need.
Breeds Affected by Bowel Incontinence
It can affect middle-aged dogs, but species like Cocker spaniels, Springer spaniels, Doberman pinschers, and Old English sheepdogs are more at risk.
Scabies is a skin infection caused by a mite. It dwells in the skin, lays eggs there, and causes severe itching. It causes the formation of scabs, red skin, and hair loss. The mites can attack any time of the year, and they are highly contagious.
Causes for Scabies
Scabies is caused by a parasitic mite and is transmitted when your dog comes into contact with the infected dog. If your dog is weak in health, it is more likely to be affected. The mites can also transfer through grooming tools like a comb or brush.
The symptoms include uncontrollable itching, scratching, redness of the skin, hair loss, inflammation of the skin, bleeding, the formation of small bumps, loss of appetite, etc.
Take care not to use any other dog’s things on your dog. Make sure your dog mingles with a healthy dog only. Feeding a healthy diet will make it strong to fight health issues.
Breeds Affected by Scabies
Nearly every breed is susceptible to this skin issue. Particularly dogs with weak immune systems are more at risk.
Ear infections are common dogs’ health issues. It can affect one or both ears. Usually, it is the buildup of bacteria, yeast, or wax that are the culprits here. Allergies can also cause infections.
Causes for Ear infections
The causes for ear infection can be an injury, reaction to some medicine, wax or buildup of debris in the ear, excess growth of hair around ears, tumor, ruptured eardrum, old age, and deformity by birth to name a few.
Ear infections Symptoms
The symptoms of ear infections include pawning of the ears, shaking of the head, yellow or brown discharge from the ear, crusty ears uncontrollable itching, scratching, redness of the skin, hair loss, inflammation of the skin, bleeding, the formation of small bumps, loss of appetite, bad odor, etc.
Ear infections Prevention
Regular cleaning of ears helps prevent ear infections. It will stop the buildup of wax and other impurities. Remember, a dog has a much higher sense of hearing than we do. You should not expose your dog to loud, sudden, and booming sounds. Maintaining a healthy diet is also essential.
Breeds Affected by Ear infections
Dalmatians, Australian Shepherds, Jack Russel terriers, Basset Hounds, and English setters are genetically predisposed to develop deafness in later years. Any species with big and long ears are more likely to develop ear infections. Because the dark, damp, and warm environment become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and other parasites.
The pancreas is a vital organ in dogs as it is in humans. It produces digestive enzymes that aids in food digestion. A dog suffering from Pancreatitis will have an inflamed pancreas, meaning thereby the enzymes produced by it will activate themselves inside the pancreas without reaching the small intestine. In this way, these enzymes will not only harm the pancreas but the surrounding tissues as well. It can be a fatal condition and require immediate medical attention.
Causes for Pancreatitis
Unhealthy and unbalanced diet is the leading cause of this condition. Notably, a diet high in fat content can cause it. Obesity can be another significant cause. Other causes may include Hypothyroidism, diabetes, reaction to certain medications, etc.
Symptoms can be misleading as owners of the dogs can confuse it for something less serious. Usual signs include a swollen belly, laziness, diarrhea, restlessness, and abnormal posturing.
Weight management is crucial for your dog. Don’t let it be overweight. Feed your dog a balanced diet. Don’t feed your dog with human food, especially when it is not used to having it. Watch out for the medicines you are giving him. Stick to vet prescribed drugs only. These measures will ensure the well-being of your dog and save it from Pancreatitis.
Breeds Affected by Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can afflict any type of dog. But species like Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Miniature Schnauzer are more at risk. Similarly, obese dogs, middle-to-old-age dogs are also prone to get it.
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that entails the inability of the blood to clot itself. A dog suffering from this disease experience bouts of uncontrolled and excessive bleeding from different parts of its body. It could be an injured part, nose, mouth, eyes, umbilical cord, etc. Profuse bleeding in hemophiliac dogs, especially in puppies, can be fatal.
Causes for Hemophilia
Hemophilia is caused by the abnormality in a specific gene, which causes a deficiency of Factor VIII in the blood. Factor VIII is responsible for coagulation. In its absence, the animal can bleed to death.
The common symptoms of hemophilia include bleeding from nose and gums, excessive bleeding during or post-surgery, bloody urine or stool, etc.
Since this is a hereditary disorder, there is little you can do to prevent it. If your dog has it, then you have to be careful and protect it from getting bruised or injured. Keep a lookout for any symptoms that could be dangerous also inform your vet about this condition if your dog requires surgery of any form.
Breeds Affected by Hemophilia
Hemophilia can affect any breed—every purebred or mixed-breed variety. However, German Shepherd is the most commonly affected species.
Hip dysplasia is another health problem in dogs, which is fairly common. It is mostly genetic. A dog with hip dysplasia has poorly developed hip joints. Due to this condition, the dog has difficulty moving around, causing deterioration in the bones of the hip and legs.
Causes for Hip Dysplasia
Generally, it is inherited. But there are some external factors too that led to its development. Those factors include obesity that puts extra strain on limbs and joints, unhealthy dietary habits, lack of physical activity, etc.
Hip Dysplasia Symptoms
Symptoms are similar to any joints issue or arthritis. It may include physical lethargy, inability to run, climb or jump, decreased thigh muscle mass, swaying gait, feeling of pain when touched around hip or pelvis, etc.
Hip Dysplasia Prevention
There is little you can do to prevent it as it is hereditary. However, you can control certain external factors that can prevent its development. These include giving your dog a wholesome and healthy diet. If you have a puppy, make sure you feed it, so its bones and joints develop well. Give your dog its due dose of physical activity and exercise. Maintain a healthy weight of your dog. Do not let it gain overweight.
Breeds Affected by Hip Dysplasia
Large breeds of dogs like St. Bernard, Great Dane, Labrador are particularly at risk, but it can also affect smaller species.
Dog fleas are a major and one of the most common dog health problems. A tiny bug that is barely visible spreads it. The bug finds a host in the soft and warm body of your dog, lays eggs there, and feeds on its host’s blood. In the process, the dog suffers as it itches and scratches itself incessantly. The dog can develop allergies too.
Causes for Dog Fleas
Dog Fleas are caused by a small mite that your dog can get from outside. It usually hides in long grass waiting for a host.
Dog Fleas Symptoms
The obvious sign is persistent scratching. Your dog can develop flea allergy, which will manifest itself in red skin or sores. You can also notice black and white specks on your dog’s skin, which will be flea dirt and droppings and flea eggs, respectively.
Dog Fleas Prevention
To avoid fleas hosting on your dog’s body, you must keep the house clean. Fleas can also survive on carpets waiting for a suitable host to pass by. Washing carpets with hot temperature is a good idea. Keep your lawn manicured so that fleas do not hide in it. Also, keep your dog clean and wash and bathe him with a dishwashing soap that will kill fleas if there are any.
Breeds Affected by Dog Fleas
Fleas can attack all the breeds of dogs. But they prefer some over others. Although research is ongoing in this regard, they usually prefer short-haired dogs over long-haired ones. Dogs with a specific odor repel fleas and so on.
Dog eye infections
Just like humans’ dogs, too, get infections in the eye. Dogs are not as dependent on their eyes as we humans are, but they use them to get around. Eye infections in dogs can be inflammation of the cornea, inflammation in the inner parts of the eye, conjunctivitis, and problems in the tear glands and eyelids.
Causes for Eye infections in dogs
Several bacteria and viruses can cause eye infections in dogs. It can also be caused by an injury, fungus, pollutants, foreign objects, or parasites.
Dog eye infections Symptoms
Symptoms of eye infection include clear, watery, or thick smelly discharge from the eye, redness, swelling, blinking, pawning the eye, avoiding light, etc.
Dog eye infections Prevention
Keep your dog’s eyes clean. When going out, take care that no foreign object gets inside the eye. Protect your dog’s eyes from smoke, dirt, and smog. Use specially designed googles for your dogs. Trim the hair around the eyes.
Breeds Affected by Dog eye infections
Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Pekingese, Maltese, Shih-Tzu are all prone to different types of eye infections.
A dog can suffer from a range of skin allergies. They can expose your pet to further health complications, so it is better to take skin allergies seriously.
Causes for Skin Allergies in Dogs
Skin allergy in a dog can be caused by fleas called dermatitis. Food and environment can also cause different reactions to the skin and cause allergies.
Skin Allergy Symptoms
The obvious symptoms of skin allergy include redness of the skin, swelling, itching, scratching, sneezing, ear infections, runny eyes, vomiting, etc.
Skin Allergy Prevention
To prevent skin allergies, you must keep your dog clean. Ensure your dog gets a nutritious diet to develop immunity against allergies and give it medication only after the vet’s advice.
Breeds Affected by Skin Allergy
Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Shish-Tzu, and Bulldogs can have skin-related issues.
Dry skin among dogs is usually a symptom of a more serious dog health problems. It causes discomfort to the dog and calls for a visit to the vet.
Causes for Dry Skin in Dogs
As mentioned, dry skin is usually indicative of some underlying health issues. It could mean the presence of parasites in the body. It could be due to some allergy, infection, or any other disease like Hyperthyroidism. To determine the exact reason for dry skin, seek medical help.
Dry Skin Symptoms
The usual symptoms of dry skin are itchy and scratchy skin, hair loss, inflammation, flakes, pimples, scaling, etc.
Dry Skin Prevention
Firstly, give your dog a healthy and balanced diet. Keep your dog clean and well-groomed. Check for parasites now and then. Provide supplements, if prescribed by the vet, and lastly, go for regular medical checkups.
Breeds Affected by Dry Skin
Chinese Shar-Peis, American Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pit Bull Terriers, Spaniels, Standard poodles, etc. are the breeds that can develop dry skin and other skin related problems.
Poisoning refers to the unintentional consumption of poison or poisonous food. It also asks for medical help at the earliest.
Causes for Poisoning
Poisoning can occur if the dog munches on some chemicals, insecticides, medicines, or even chocolates. If a dog eats or bites a dead rodent, killed after eating poison, the dog will get poisoned.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, laziness, loss of appetite, seizures, inability to urinate, blood-stained stool, bruises, etc.
Remove any harmful thing from the dog’s sight, which can cause harm to it. Don’t let your dog eat from garbage and feed your dog as per the schedule. It should not roam around with a hungry mouth, which will minimize the risk of your dog eating poison.
Breeds Affected by Poisoning
Any breed of dog can accidentally and unintentionally poison itself.
Ear mites are tiny organisms that reside inside the ears. They are very contagious and can travel between dogs and cats to dogs as well.
Causes for Ear mites in dogs
Ear mites are caused when your dog gets in contact with an infected dog or cat.
Ear mites Symptoms
The common symptoms include itching, wounds around-ear caused by the dog’s constant scratching using his hind leg, clumps, crusts in the ear, etc.
Ear mites Prevention
Keep on checking the ears of your dog for any discharge or redness. Also, keep them clean. The dog house, it’s bedding, and any other area where the dog spends a lot of time should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. It is very easily transmitted from one animal to another, so care should be exercised while socializing with other animals.
Breeds Affected by Ear mites
All dog breeds, especially the ones with long ears, can be infected with ear mites.
Bad breath in dogs can be quite a turnoff. As unpleasant as it smells, dog breath is not uncommon. The main reason is many dog owners play it down and think it is regular “doggie breath.” This is not true. Often bad breath is caused by some more serious health disorders.
Causes for Bad Breath in dogs
As simple a reason can cause bad breath in dogs as bad oral hygiene or eating habits to something as serious as liver and kidney disease or diabetes. You have to do your research to know which type of breath smell means what.
Bad breath Symptoms:
Its symptom is bad breath (noxious smell and offensive). A fruity, foul poop-like smell can indicate other ailments. Consult a vet about it.
Bad breath Prevention
Prevention lies in cleaning your dog’s teeth. Regular brushing of dog’s teeth will ensure no plaque gets accumulated. Chewing toys help too. They also prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.
Breeds Affected by Bad breath
All breeds of dogs have bad breath, and you need to work on them.
By nature, dogs are agile and athletic. They love to run, climb, and jump. So, it’s natural they run into accidents and break their bones. Sometimes it is just a dislocation and sometimes a full-blown fracture.
Causes for Broken bones
The primary cause is dogs hit another object while running or chasing. That object could be a moving car, a tree, a pole, etc. Sometimes they break bones while jumping from a high point.
Broken bones Symptoms
In extreme cases, you can see the bone sticking out or hanging loose. In milder forms, the dog will be in pain, and having a hard time moving around. See a vet who will do the x-ray to determine whether it is a fracture or not.
Broken bones Prevention
Dogs will jump around and run with full might. You cannot control that. What you can do is to ensure the dog has an open space free from obstructions and dangers. In this way, the risk of accidents can be minimized.
Breeds Affected by Broken bones
Dogs that have an adventurous nature, hunting dogs, and those who live outdoors or go out often will have a higher chance of getting such injuries.
All the active running, jumping, and climbing takes its toll on a dog’s bones and joints. Joint pain is a common health problem in dogs. It is also called osteoarthritis, degenerative joints disease, or DJD. It is the gradual and progressive withering away of cartilage in legs, shoulders, and hips joints.
Causes for Joints Pain
There are no specific causes for primary Degenerative joint disease (DJD). Its subset, which is called secondary Degenerative joint disease, has some causes, including obesity among dogs, lack of exercise/physical activity, diabetes, steroids, lack of nutritious diet, trauma, and defects by birth.
Joints Pain Symptoms
The symptoms of DJD may include lethargy in your dog’s behavior, limp or stiff gait, lack of energy, etc.
Joints Pain Prevention
You must feed your dog a balanced and nutrient-rich diet. It will help your dog maintain a healthy weight and keep diseases like diabetes at bay. Exercise is also crucial for dogs. You must give him ample time and space to run and walk daily. Depending on the dog’s breed, exposing him to harsh weather may also cause a deformity in bones and joints.
Breeds Affected by Joints Pain
Big species of dogs like German shepherds, Golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers are more at risk of developing joints issues as they age. Obese dogs may have this problem too.
A virus causes Rabies, and it affects the spinal cord and brain of the affected animal. It is transmitted through the bite of the infected animal or when infected saliva touches a festering wound.
Causes for Rabies in Dogs
It is caused by a virus. Wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, etc. are its carriers. The virus remains dormant in the body for 2-8 weeks.
Initially, the infected dog will show changes in its behavior and traits. It will become restless and aggressive. As the days pass, the dog will become irritable, disoriented, and reclusive. A foamy mouth might also occur at this stage due to jaw and throat seizures. Other signs include fever, loss of appetite, and even death.
Law requires that you vaccinate your dog against Rabies. Put your dog on a leash when going out, and don’t let him mingle with wild animals.
Breeds Affected by Rabies
All breeds are at risk. It can hit anybody.
We can summarize the above in the table below;
Breeds at Risk
Blockage in the heart valves,
Proper diet and healthy lifestyle,
Canine umbilical hernia
Swelling in the underbelly,
Being hereditary it is hard to prevent.
Bloated stomach Irritable to being touched around
Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Doberman, Pinschers, Old English Sheepdogs.
Pawning of the ears, Shaking of the head, Yellow or brown
Regular checkups by the vet,
Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzer.
Bleeding from nose and gums,
Care for the dog,
Purebred and Mixed breed.
Large breeds of dogs like St. Bernard, Great Dane and Labrador.
Clear, watery or thick smelly discharge from the eye,
Cocker Spaniels, Poodles,
Redness of the skin, Swellings,
Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel,
Itchy and scratchy skin,
Chinese Shar-Peis, American Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pit Bull Terriers, Spaniels,
Eating or drinking harmful chemicals.
Check what the dog eats.
Any breed can be at affected.
Check dog’s ears,
Smelly and bad breath.
Open space for your dog.
Limp or stiff gait,
Senior Dog Health Issues
Let’s turn our attention to health issues that are common in senior dogs.
Arthritis is common in dogs of the age of 7 and more. It is a natural result of advancing years. The bones and the joints decay with time. The cartilage in the joints also depletes, which results in bones rubbing with each other and causing discomfort and pain. You cannot stop it from happening, but you can delay its onset by following a healthy lifestyle that includes a wholesome diet, physical mobility, and weight management. Bone supplements may help too, but they should be taken only on vet advice.
As the dogs get old, their kidneys begin to lose their functions. In extreme cases, kidney failure also occurs. It is also one of the common health problems in dogs. Blood testing can help detect any underlying kidney disease. Kidney problems can be summarized in three major conditions;
- Kidney failure
- Urinary tract infection and
- Kidney or bladder stones
There isn’t any particular reason for the malfunctioning of kidneys in dogs. It could occur as a natural result of aging, or it could be a reaction to some medication for any other disease. Cancer, diabetes, and hereditary factors also contribute to kidney diseases. Its common symptoms include blood in urine, diarrhea, frequent passing of the urine, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, etc.
You must take good care of your dog’s diet. Your dog should have easy access to clean water all the time. Do not experiment with your dog and give it only those medications prescribed by the vet. Also, make sure the dog does not consume any potentially dangerous thing.
Cancer is another major health issue in dogs. It is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10. As the dog’s age, they are likely to develop tumors around their bodies. These may or not be cancerous, but it is better to get them screened for potential malignancy. The causes of cancer among dogs are almost the same as in humans. They include environmental hazards like pollution, smog, exposure to carcinogens through food and water, viruses, etc. The signs of cancer among dogs are also identical to humans. They include lumps or bumps or abnormal swelling somewhere on the body, a wound that doesn’t heal, profuse bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, etc. Keeping the dog in a healthy environment helps prevent cancer. Feed him a natural toxin-free diet and also minimize his sun exposure.
A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells, as we all know. A dog, more than five years old, is likely to develop a brain tumor. The exact causes of it are unknown. It could be the result of multiple factors like environmental, genetics, immunity, and dietary habits. Its treatment includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Its exact causes are not known, so it is difficult to suggest any preventive measures.
Dementia in dogs is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. As dogs grow old, they begin to lose their cognitive functions and abilities. It manifests itself in aloofness, confusion, and other neurological conditions. Similar to human dementia, the exact causes of dog dementia remain unknown. However, scientists believe that it has to do with the breakdowns in the neurons and the sticky protein surrounding them.
The early symptoms of dog dementia include your dog acting confused, changes in its behavior towards you and its surroundings, useless roaming, defecating/urinating in the house, aggression, listlessness, changed sleeping patterns, etc. There is no specific cure for this disease. But with your help, your dog can manage and contain it. Diet again is the key to prevent and then slow its onset. Some drugs help the brain function better. Plus, you can engage your dog into simple and fun games that stimulate its mind and thinking abilities.
Another common health problem in senior dogs is heart diseases. As the dogs advance in years, their chest gets congested. The heart cannot pump blood to and from the body, which may lead to congestive heart failure. Two primary reasons for heart diseases in dogs are genetics and lack of healthy enzymes. The latter is called Hyperthyroidism. Infections, injury, and old age may also increase the chance of getting a heart disease. Commons signs of heart problems in dogs include difficulty in breathing, coughing, loss of interest in physical activity, weight loss, fatigue, loss of diet, etc. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, going to a vet regularly, keeping the teeth clean, and getting rid of parasites can help your dog’s heart remain healthy.
Diabetes is another health condition associated with senior dogs. It can be complicated or uncomplicated. Complicated diabetes is when the dog is vomiting, not eating, and has a fever. It requires hospitalization. Diabetes in dogs is a lifelong phenomenon. It requires almost daily injection of insulin. It can be managed with the help of lifestyle changes, supplements, and healthy eating habits.
It is one of the most common dog health problems that come with old age. It so happens that the tissues in the eyes start to decay with age. A cataract may also form our eyes, which may result in partial to complete loss of vision. The loss of vision may occur due to glaucoma or macular degeneration. Untreated eye infections, diabetes, chronic dry eye, and cancerous tumor also cause near to complete blindness among dogs.
Symptoms of vision impairment in dogs range from the subtle to the obvious. Your dog may feel anxious, too clingy and nervous. It can also stop making eye contact with you and will be hesitant to run, jump, or climb. It will bump into your furniture. Do not take eye infection of any sort lightly. It can cause your dog dearly in the long run. If your dog has developed a cataract, the doctor can remove it easily via surgery. A dog with vision impairment can live quite normally thanks to its acute sense of smell and memory. You will have to help him adapt to his new situation.
Loss of hearing is another common senior dogs’ health issue. It can affect one or both ears. It can also be partial to complete and temporary to permanent. The causes of hearing loss can be an injury, reaction to some medicine, wax or buildup of debris in the ear, excess growth of hair around ears, tumor, ruptured eardrum, ear infections left untreated, old age, and deformity, etc.
The symptoms of hearing loss in a dog can be unresponsive to your commands, and every day sounds like a doorbell. The dog may not respond to its name. It may show nervousness and tilt his head sideways or bark excessively. Regular cleaning of ears helps retain the hearing. It will stop the buildup of wax and other impurities. Remember, a dog has a much higher sense of hearing than we do. You should not expose your dog to loud, sudden, and booming sounds. Maintaining a healthy diet is also essential.
Obesity is the accumulation of excess body fat. Your dog is obese if it is overweight and has excess body fat. A weight which is 20% higher than the ideal body weight is considered obese. Obesity leads to many other dog health problems. They include diabetes, joint pain, heart disease, cancer, and urinary bladder stones, to name just a few.
The leading causes of obesity are improper diet and physical inactivity. Certain species of dogs may be more prone to obesity. Offering food high in calorie, leftover human food, and frequent treat meals also add to the problem. The obvious signs of obesity are increased weight, excess body fat, and disinterest in physical activities. Prevention lies in treating your dog to a balanced diet and taking care of what it eats. Dogs need regular physical activity to keep themselves fit and active. Make sure you help them provide their dose of physical activity.
Dental issues are another common health issue in old dogs. A senior dog naturally, will experience wear and tear of teeth. If you do not pay attention to your dog’s dental health, he can develop tooth infection, which can cause him great discomfort. You should check your dog’s teeth regularly. You can do this by simply lifting the lip on either side of the mouth. Look for a brown or yellow stain on teeth, which is the buildup of plaque and tartar, which can invite bacteria. By brushing your dog’s teeth, you can prevent this plaque from forming.
Also, look for decaying teeth, they cause pain, and you better remove them. Seek the vet’ s advice and get rid of such teeth. Your dog can survive on the remaining number of teeth. Use dental products specifically made for dogs. Again, ask your vet about them. He will guide which product to use. Chew toys can help too. A little care will go a long way in ensuring healthy living for your beloved pet.
Puppy health issues
We now turn to some common puppy health problems.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that usually affects puppies and young dogs. If not treated, this could be fatal. It affects the stomach and small intestine the most, damaging the gut barrier and the cells. It weakens the immune system and can affect the heart too. Parvo is caused by a virus called Parvovirus. It is transmitted to the puppies directly via their noses and the mouths. There can be indirect transmission when a puppy comes into contact with an infected object, environment, or person.
Parvo symptoms include severe and bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, weakness, fever, weight loss, etc. Vaccination is your best bet against this virus. Even though it is not a guarantee, but you can save your dog to a great extent if you vaccinate it completely. Vaccination against parvo starts from the time when your puppy is six weeks old. Then the 2nd shot is administered when the puppy is 10-12 weeks old, and the third one is 14-16 weeks old. One year later, a booster shot is needed and then one shot after every three years.
Adenovirus primarily affects the respiratory system of young dogs. It then targets other organs of the body and causes infectious hepatitis that damages the liver. It has a fatality rate of 30 percent and therefore requires good medical care. Its usual symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, discharge from nose and eye and bluish eyes, etc. A strong and highly contagious virus spreads them who can survive on surfaces for months. Saliva, feces, and urine transmit the virus. There is no cure for this disease. Vets administer medicines to mitigate the severity of symptoms.
Vaccination is the best defense against it. So, always keep your dog properly vaccinated and keep checking with your vet if the vaccination needs to be updated.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease which is caused by a bacterium. Humans can contract this disease too. Its bacteria are present in water and wet soil. It can lead to illness in dogs which, if exacerbated, can affect the liver, heart, and kidneys. Bacteria enter the body through mucous membranes. After entering, it multiplies in the host animal’s bloodstream and continues to reproduce in organs like kidneys and other tissues. The symptoms include fever, renal failure, respiratory stress, anorexia, depression, lethargy, etc. Since it is water-borne, so make sure your pup drinks clean water. Also, keep the kennel clean and do not let garbage accumulate. It can attract stray animals, and they can be the carrier of this disease. The vaccine is also available against it, which should be given to the puppy at the right age.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are fairly common among puppies. It is temporary, but if it persists, it is likely to be any of the conditions discussed above. More often, the puppy has consumed and licked something that it shouldn’t have. If that is the case, then that object will come out. Intestinal parasites can also cause these conditions. To determine that, a stool sample will be required for analysis in a laboratory. If not, then you better see the doctor to ascertain the exact cause of it.
Signs include vomiting, both mild and severe, and watery stool. To keep your puppy safe give, it a balanced and healthy diet. Don’t forget the water. They need to be properly hydrated. Remove any objects from the puppy’s range that can be harmful to it. Keep the puppy’s house clean and sanitized.
No matter how much you protect your four-legged friends, chances are they will get parasites. You can control their intensity and magnitude by following some basic hygienic guidelines. Parasites can be external and internal. External parasites include fleas, ticks, etc. and internal parasites imply tapeworm, ringworm, etc. that reside in the stomach. There are different treatments to get rid of them.
For internal parasites, the vet may prescribe a dewormer. You can administer it orally. For external parasites, there are shampoos and lotions to get rid of the nasty bugs. These parasites, if left on their own, can cause serious health complications for the poor puppy. So, better get rid of them as per the vet’s advice.
It is a common skin problem among puppies caused by a mite. The mite lives inside the hair follicles where it multiplies in numbers. Nearly every dog has it. The problem arises when it leads to skin infection, hair loss, and skin lesions. Symptoms are mild if it is localized, which includes scaly and itchy skin, reddish-brown, and thinning of hair. If it is generalized skin lesion is more widespread and visible. Maintaining good health of your puppy is your best defense against this condition. Give your puppy a healthy diet, take care of its hygiene, and provide him a clean environment. Visiting a vet for routine checkups will help too.
Puppies are susceptible to different intestinal problems. Among them, E.coli, Campylobacter, and Giardia are most common. Bacteria cause them, and all of them carry identical symptoms. Those symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. You better consult the vet who can make the exact diagnosis and prescribe medication and other necessary treatment. In the formative years, you should be extra careful regarding the diet of the puppy. Feed him clean and nutritious food. Keep him and his pad clean too. It will help in containing these issues.
Distemper is another viral disease. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system of the infected dog. It causes cough, fever, and catarrh. You can confuse it with flu due to the common symptoms. It is incurable and often leads to death. A canine distemper virus or CDV causes Distemper. It is spread by coming into contact with the infected dog. Coughing and sneezing help its spread. Its symptoms include cough, fever, clear discharge from the nose, pus-like discharge from the eye, vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, etc. The vaccine will immunize your puppy.
A cleft palate is an opening between the mouth and the nose. It gets formed when the tissues that form the palate do not combine. It is a defect that happens by birth. Due to this, the puppy is unable to suckle the mother’s milk. A puppy with a severe cleft may die because of malnourishment. Those with mild cleft live on, but they will not achieve optimum growth, have issues with coughing and breathing and other infections. Its treatment usually involves surgery. But it depends on the age and health of the puppy. Your vet will be your ultimate guide as to when and how to go about surgery.
The testicles of a puppy are present inside the abdomen when it is born. As it grows, the testicles move to their right location, which is the scrotum. It so happens that sometimes one or both of the testicles do not move to the scrotum. This condition is called undescended testicles. If not treated, it can have serious consequences leading to testicular cancer. The undescended testicle in the abdomen can also twist or turn and cause significant pain. Its only workable treatment is to have both testicles removed and have the pup neutered. The puppy will heal in 10-14 days and continue to lead a happy and healthy life.
Retained deciduous (baby teeth)
Retained deciduous means that the baby tooth is present despite the permanent tooth’s eruption, which can deform the shape of the permanent tooth. The upper and lower teeth do not meet together properly, resulting in an incorrect bite and overcrowding of teeth in the mouth. It is easy to treat if diagnosed early. A vet can diagnose it by having a manual check of the mouth or through an x-ray. Its treatment includes surgically removing the baby tooth so that the permanent one grows unhindered and in perfect shape.
A dog can have several skeletal abnormalities. Most of these are congenital, but some develop later due to external factors. Hip dysplasia, bone fractures, osteochondrosis dissecans are some of the common skeletal abnormalities. Their treatment depends on the nature of the deformity itself. Sometimes it requires surgery; other times, it will require a full care and exercise regimen, and sometimes it will heal itself. To avoid skeletal abnormalities, you must maintain a healthy weight of your dog, make sure it is getting all the right nutrients and give him time and space to do physical activity. Such measures will help retain healthy and strong bones for a long time.
Hypoglycemia refers to low levels of sugar in the blood. The brain, which depends on glucose for energy, will begin to function slowly and eventually cease to work which is caused when your puppy has gone without any food for a long period. It has expended more energy and consumed less. It depletes the glycogen levels in the body and erodes its normal functioning. Its symptoms include nausea, physical inactivity, lethargy, drowsiness, and the inability to eat food even when hungry. You must feed your puppy at regular intervals. Take care of its dietary routine and feed a healthy diet. Also, do not let your dog play too much for too long, which will tire it unnecessarily.
A portal vein carries blood from vital organs like the pancreas, spleen, and gastrointestinal system to the liver where it is purified. Sometimes a connection occurs between the portal vein or one of its branches and another vein, due to which the blood does not reach the liver and is bypassed. This condition is called a liver shunt. The cause of this liver shunt is called portosystemic shunt, as it is mostly genetic. More precisely, it is known as a congenital portosystemic shunt. If this shunt takes place due to some illness, then it is called acquired portosystemic shunt.
The nutrients in the food absorbed by the intestine do not reach the liver and keep moving in the body, which negatively affects the functioning of the liver. Its tell-tale signs include poor growth, weak muscles, confused behavior by the dog, etc. The vet can diagnose it based on clinical signs or blood and urine tests. Its treatment includes medication, right diet, and intravenous fluids. Most dogs recover by treatment. Surgical treatment is also available where a device called ameroid constrictor is placed to close the shunt gradually.
Megaesophagus is the enlargement of the esophagus, a tube that connects the stomach with the throat. It is usually present at birth. In some cases, your dog acquires it later. The exact reason for its occurrence is not known. In the latter case, it may be acquired due to esophageal tumors, inflammation of the esophagus, parasites, neuromuscular disease, etc. Its most common symptom is regurgitation, and other signs include vomiting, nasal discharge, cough, slow growth, weight loss, noisy respiration, etc.
If you suspect your dog has this condition see a vet who will do a thorough check of the dog and also perform blood and urine test. Its treatment usually involves trying to find out the exact reason behind it and then removing it. Your vet will perform surgery if required.
Certain congenital heart defects
Sometimes a puppy is born with some defect in the heart or the cardiovascular system, which may be due to environmental factors, genetic conditions, medication taken by the mother, undernourished mother, Poisoning, etc. The incidence of congenital heart defects has reduced to fewer than 1% in dogs. Still, it is crucial that if your puppy is suffering from any such defect, it should be detected for proper treatment. The treatment can range from simple lifestyle changes to surgery. A vet can determine the congenital heart defect by conducting a physical examination or an X-ray or ultrasound.
So, these are some of the most common and popular health issues in dogs. We hope this has been helpful. A dog needs your attention, care, and love to live a healthy and happy life. You should not ignore any changes in its behavior, eating habits, and general mood. Your dog is your responsibility. If you take good care of it, it will stay with you for a long period. Its health and well-being depend on how you choose to treat it.