4 Common Health Problems in Dogs

While it may be true that some dog health issues appear to be breed, size and shape specific, there are some medical concerns that can affect our four-legged friends no matter what their make. These are four of the most common reasons for dogs to visit their veterinarian for treatment.

Skin Irritation

If you have ever seen your dog frantically chewing at himself, then you will understand how distressing and uncomfortable skin-related problems can be. Watch for any of the following symptoms: a rash, hair loss, and odor, greasiness, crusting or flaking of the skin.

Common causes of such skin conditions are allergies and parasites, however other secondary factors like constant licking or using the wrong shampoo can worsen any problem. Do not try to manage skin problems yourself, because you may well make things worse. Your veterinarian is the best person to help you reach a diagnosis and start appropriate treatment, which may include anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics and medicated shampoos.

Ear Problems

Ear infections are painful. If you have a look in your dog’s ears, you may notice obvious signs like redness, swelling, odor or even discharge. He may shake his head frequently or scratch at his ears with his foot. Some dogs do not show any of these signs but their ears may be tender to the touch.

Ear problems can be caused by any number of irritants, including mites, bacteria, grass seeds, trauma, hair growth in the canal, water in the ear and even allergies. They can be challenging to treat, so if you are concerned about your canine companions ears, have him checked by your vet sooner rather than later.

Gastrointestinal Upsets

Dogs can experience vomiting and diarrhea for a variety of reasons, including intestinal parasites, allergies, dietary changes or eating things they should not. Many episodes of intestinal upset are brief, and your dog recovers quickly. If the vomiting and diarrhea persist, then it is time to see the vet. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can quickly set in, and this can make his condition worse.

Treatment may include intravenous fluids, anti-diarrhea medications, antibiotics and even surgery to remove a foreign body.


As with people, arthritis is more likely to be seen in older canines, however it can and does affect dogs of any age, size or breed. In the US alone, arthritis is thought to affect one in five adult dogs.

Arthritis causes pain in the joints, which can severely affect your dog’s enjoyment of life. Symptoms include lameness, stiffness on rising, swelling of affected joints, and a lack of interest in going for a walk. Symptoms may initially be subtle; your dog may just appear a little more irritable.

Your vet may suggest x-rays to obtain a definite diagnosis, and treatment can consist of anti-inflammatory medication and nutraceutical such as glucosamine or green-lipped mussel extract. Acupuncture may also help, and weight loss is a critical part of any arthritis management program.

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