As a responsible pet owner, you obviously want what's best for your pets. That's why you give your pup the best care possible. If you want to keep your best friend in tip-top shape, arm yourself with information in case an emergency arises. To that end, here are the six most common dog health problems and how to spot them.
1. Ear Infections
Dogs have large ears, and these ears can easily become infected. Common signs of an ear infection are head shaking, scratching, lack of balance or incoordination, ear discharge or redness, or a foul odor. If you suspect an ear infection, see your dog's vet for proper treatment.
Many dogs, especially puppies, struggle with worms. There are many types of worms, including tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and more. Signs of worms include:
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Increase in appetite
- Dragging his bottom across the floor
- A lackluster coat or generally unwell appearance
Worms should always be diagnosed by a vet because treatment varies from one type of worm to the next.
3. Fleas, Ticks and Heartworms
At some point in life, nearly all dogs will experience flea or tick bites. Heartworms are also exceedingly common. Fleas are bugs that look like small, black dots. If you suspect fleas, check your dog's belly, ears and neck for bites, or for the fleas themselves (they may hop away quickly, but you should be able to see them with a flashlight and a quick eye). Ticks are larger bugs that bury themselves into your dog's skin. You can usually spot them with a thorough check; just part your dog's hair and look for the tick's body, which is often just visible above the skin's surface. With both of these pests, scratching and biting are usually the first signs that something is amiss.
Heartworms are a more serious condition that often show no visible signs. Instead, keep an eye out for more subtle signs such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Lethargy/lack of energy
- Persistent cough
The best treatment for fleas, ticks and heartworms is prevention. Trifexis Chewable Tablets are a great way to keep all three pests away. If you suspect your pet already has one of these problems, ask your vet for the best remedies.
Vomiting is a very common problem for dogs, but try not to be overly concerned. Oftentimes, vomiting is just a natural way for dogs to get rid of unhealthy food. However, if your dog vomits more than once or has other symptoms, it's best to take him to the vet ASAP; it may be something more serious, such as poisoning, parasites or kidney failure.
Like vomiting, diarrhea is common for dogs, and it often has fairly innocuous causes. However, if the diarrhea is severe or lasts for more than a day, take him to the vet for a checkup. Your dog may be dehydrated, or he may have a serious illness like parvovirus.
6. Skin Infections
Skin infections (often called "hot spots") are inflamed areas of skin with bacteria as the root cause. They are generally noticeable because the skin will be red and sometimes look like a rash. Your dog may bite or scratch at the area incessantly, which can eventually lead to hair loss and broken or bleeding skin.
To treat a skin infection, you'll need to keep the area clean and apply a topical antibiotic. Your vet may also recommend steroids or NSAIDs if the skin infection is severe or causes excessive discomfort. Always ask for a vet's opinion about hot spots because they're often linked to another health condition. For example, your dog may develop hot spots because of excessive flea bites and scratching.
If you suspect any of these common issues, please see a vet immediately so your dog can live a long, healthy life!
Lannie, writer for Allivet. Allivet provides affordable pet supplies and pet medications, all of which can be purchased online.