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Top Health Risks Common to Dogs

The following is a guest post by Chelsy Ranard

The Top Health Risks Common to Dogs

Health risks are generally different for every dog, just as their personalities are different, each bark is different, and each paw print is different. Despite the fact that the health issues for each animal depends on their genetics, breeding history, age, size, lifestyle, and breed, there are certain health risks that are most commonly seen by veterinarians. Fortunately if you’re aware of how common these risks can be to your fuzzy friend, you can more easily prevent or treat these issues sooner rather than later.

Fleas

An itchy pup doesn’t always mean a flea infestation, but it can be. In extreme situations you may be able to see the fleas jumping or moving on your dog’s body, but that is not usual. More commonly it’s less obvious and you may need to investigate your dog’s skin if you see them itching more than normal.

Fleas tend to hide in the armpits, groin, and ears – so use a flea comb to check those areas carefully. However, you still may not be able to see them. Make a visit to your vet to be sure. Fortunately, treatment is available to keep your pup itch free. Fleas aren’t an issue that only stray dogs experience, either, so don’t make the mistake of assuming your pup can’t get fleas.

Infection

There are a few different types of infections that plague dogs. The more serious infections are Parvovirus and Rabies, both of which have become far less common with vaccinations being available and required.

The more common infections are bladder infections and ear infections. If your dog urinates frequently with minimal output, is thirsty more often, or is urinating blood, they may be suffering from a bladder infection which can be treated with antibiotics. Ear infections can also be treated easily and can present with symptoms like inflammation, foul smell, brown or red wax, and frequent ear scratching.

Worms

There are five types of worms that affect dogs: roundworms, heartworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Each of these worms can be dangerous if not treated, so be sure to watch out for the symptoms associated with them. Coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, pot belly, weight loss, and lethargy are all symptoms of worms. This is difficult because these symptoms can mean any number of things, but if your dog is exhibiting any of these things it’s best to see a veterinarian in order to rule out worms or treat them. Dewormer is an option for treating many types of worms, but the key is early detection.

Vomiting/Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are incredibly common health issues that veterinarians see animals over. Vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of any number of health issues including change in diet, stress, ingesting toxic food, worms, infection, etc. so it’s an incredibly common occurrence with many possible causes. Also, some dogs just have a sensitive stomach. If your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea that is persisting over time, it’s best to visit your vet to rule out any serious health problems.

Dehydration

There are many different health issues that can plague your pup during the summer months, and dehydration is one of the most common. Keep your eyes open for signs of dehydration if they seem lethargic, are excessively panting, if they have a dry mouth, their skin loses elasticity, or they collapse it may be due to dehydration. Dehydration is not only due to heat, it can also be caused by vomiting, diarrhea, or another illness. Make sure your pup always has sufficient water, see a vet if your dog is having issues staying hydrated while ill, and never leave your dog in your car. Your doctor will help you fill your furry friend with electrolytes and maybe an IV in extreme cases.

Arthritis

Larger dogs and certain breeds are more prone to arthritis, and senior dogs experience arthritis more than others. Many veterinarians see dogs come in with stiff joints and pain caused by their size, breed, or age. Keeping your pup in a healthy weight range and eating a well-balanced diet can help issues with some types of arthritis. Dogs should also remain active at a reasonable level for their mobility in order to keep their joints healthy. A veterinarian can prescribe medication or supplements to help with pain and you can also provide your pup with muscle massages and comfortable bedding to make things more comfortable for them.

Your pup is absolutely unique, and the health risks specific to them will be unique to them as well. These common health risks don’t guarantee that your pup will experience them, but they are important to know about in order to help prevent, diagnose, and treat these issues as soon as possible. With more knowledge about the common risks you’ll be a better pet parent and able to spot symptoms of these common health issues and treat them before they become serious. Remember that your veterinarian is the best defense against health issues – so take them in for regular checkups with lots of treats so your pup will learn to trust them too.  

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Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated from the University of Montana with her journalism degree in 2012. She is passionate about animals, can be found volunteering at her local cat shelter, or throwing a Frisbee for her beloved German Shepherd, Titan. Follow her blog
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Alec Schwinghamer

Alec Schwinghamer

I love dogs as much as they love squirrels