Common Dog Health Problems

There are a number of reasons your dog can become sick. While taking good care of your dog can decrease their risk, there are still some health issues that can occur. Taking steps to keep your dog healthy can minimize the incidence of issues like these. In addition, seeing your vet for routine wellness exams can help you discover health problems before they get out of control. Always watch your dog for any signs of illness. There are many health issues that can affect dogs. The following are among the most common.

Skin Issues

Puppy scratching behind his ear

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Many dogs experience a variety of skin issues. Itching and scratching are typical signs of skin issues in dogs. The skin may appear red, inflamed, flaky, scaly or otherwise abnormal. They may also lose patches of hair. There are several reasons a dog may develop skin problems, including allergies, parasites, skin infections, and more. If your dog is constantly scratching or chewing, or if the skin appears abnormal, see your vet before your dog becomes downright miserable.

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Ear Infections

Veterinarian examining dog ear

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Ear infections often cause dogs to shake their heads and scratch their ears. Often, there is ear discharge or debris and the ears can have a bad odor. Ear infections may be itchy or even painful. When left untreated, they can cause serious damage. If your dog is exhibiting signs of an ear infection for more than a day or two, go to your vet. Ear infections sometimes accompany skin issues. In addition, they may be related to allergies.

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Urinary Tract Infections

Beagle puppy lying down

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Urinary issues are common in dogs. It’s so frustrating to deal with a dog who is peeing in the house. Many owners chalk it up to behavioral issues or lack of training. However, your dog may have a urinary tract infection, especially if they are puppies, or have other underlying medical conditions. Signs of UTI include inappropriate urination, frequent urination, increased thirst, bloody urine, and lethargy. These symptoms can also be associated with other medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes, so if this sounds familiar, bring your dog to the vet so the urine can be checked.

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Fluffy patient

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There are so many reasons a dog can develop vomiting. While you don’t need to rush to the vet every time your dog throws up, it’s also not something to ignore. Vomiting can be a sign of toxicity, gastrointestinal blockage, or other serious diseases. The cause can also be as simple as dietary indiscretion. Don’t try to guess; if your dog keeps vomiting, or has other symptoms such as diarrhea, inappetence, or weakness, you should get your vet involved.

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Sick dog

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Diarrhea may accompany vomiting or simply occur on its own. The potential causes of diarrhea are similar to those of vomiting. While one or two episodes of diarrhea are no emergency, ongoing diarrhea can lead to dehydration. See your vet if diarrhea persists, or if it accompanies vomiting and/or lethargy.

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Closeup of tick infected on dog fur skin

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Parasites are everywhere in your dog’s world. They may be external parasites, like fleas and ticks, or internal parasites like heartworms and intestinal worms. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent parasites from attacking your dog, usually with monthly preventive treatments. Educate yourself about canine parasites so you can protect your dog

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Dental Disease

Veterinarian checking young French Bulldog's teeth.

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Dental disease (in particular, periodontal disease, a disease of the gums and tooth attachments), is a serious and often overlooked health concern for dogs. Bad breath is not normal in dogs and can be a sign of dental disease. Plaque and tartar in your dog’s mouth harbor dangerous bacteria, causing damage to the teeth and gums.

Even worse, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to other serious issues in the body, such as heart disease and kidney failure. The key to protecting your dog is prevention.

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Obese basset hounds

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Obesity is a common health problem seen in dogs.

It’s also one of the most preventable. Obesity can lead to serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and orthopedic problems. Fortunately, obesity can be prevented (and can usually be reversed) through proper diet and exercise.

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Senior woman hugging her dog outdoors

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Arthritis is defined as inflammation of a joint or multiple joints in the body. In dogs, the most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also called Degenerative Joint Disease. Osteoarthritis most often occurs in seniors, though it may also be an effect of old injuries or congenital disorders like hip dysplasia. The good news is that it can typically be managed. If you suspect your dog has osteoarthritis, talk to your vet about the options.

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Dog watching father and sons doing dishes at kitchen sink

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Dogs are curious and often food-driven. So, it comes as no surprise that they are susceptible to poisoning or toxicity. Toxins come in many forms and are often (but not always) ingested. Plants, medications, household items, and even some foods can poison your dog. Find out what dangers may exist in your dog’s environment.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

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