Being informed about the most common ailments that prevail in dogs is an essential part of being a responsible pet parent. As a dog parent, you should be able to recognize the symptoms of common ailments in your dog so that you can help your canine companion with suitable treatment recommended by the vet. Here are the most common ailments in dogs and what you need to know in order to treat them.
- Diarrhea and Vomiting:
Dogs, like humans, also suffer from an upset stomach from time to time. These issues tend to resolve themselves after a few days, however, if your dog is vomiting and experiencing diarrhea too often then you need to call your vet. Symptoms like black stool/blood in stool, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, symptoms that last more than 48 hours are an indication that you should take your dog to the vet immediately.
If your dog doesn’t meet the above criteria and has mild symptoms of diarrhea then one of the best things to do is to put your dog on a 24-hour rice-water diet. The rice balls contain active probiotic culture which helps speed recovery. You can also give them an intestinal protectant like kaolin clay and pectin or a suspension containing bismuth subsalicylate (PeptoBismol™) and if it doesn’t resolve easily- as a dose of Loperamide.
*Do not give these OTC medicines to Collies without consultation and proper precautions. Do not administer them for more than 5 days and don’t give them to cats as medicines like Pepto-Bismol and Kaolin and pectin can be poisonous to felines.
- Dental Issues:
Dental problems and oral infections are one of the most common ailments in dogs. Gingivitis and tartar are the most common oral issues, while more severe periodontal problems like abscesses are more common to occur in older dogs. Meanwhile, symptoms like loose teeth, bad breath, changes in appetite (a refusal to eat dry food), blood/pus from the mouth, excess drooling, lumps on gums/under the tongue, irritation, discoloured teeth/gums are an indication of dental problems.
Treatment includes teeth extraction, root canal, teeth cleaning. Oral care is an important and regular visit to the vet is best to keep serious dental issues at bay.
- Skin Infections and Excessive Shedding:
Dogs scratch themselves on a daily basis, however, if you find your dog scratching incessantly then it’s a sign that something is wrong. The number one cause of itchy skin in dogs is due to food allergy. The most common allergies are to wheat, corn, soy (found in many dog foods). You can switch to a low-allergen food like rice and lamb to relieve your dog’s itchy skin. If the diet change doesn’t make a difference, it is best to visit a vet. Bacterial/yeast infections can lead to severe itching and cause serious problems like hot spots (painful sores). Depending on the type of infection, the vet can recommend something as simple as a shampoo or an antibiotic ointment.
Meanwhile- all healthy dogs shed- but if your pet is experiencing excessive hair fall, then you can get a different brush recommendation from your vet. If the shedding is due to underlying causes like the stress of food allergy, products from quality pet food suppliers will help your dog get proper nutrients.
- Anal Sac Impaction:
Anal sac disease is quite common among dogs. Anal sacs which are small pouches located at either side of a dog’s anus become plugged due to inflammation of the ducts. Due to anal sac impaction, passing feces becomes difficult and extremely painful for your dogs. The secretion from the sacs also causes bacterial growth which allows abscesses to form. While normally the bacteria gets flushed out during a bowel movement, sac impaction prevents the fluid from flushing out and thus gets infected. The fluid then becomes bloody and the sac becomes filled with pus.
If your dog is constantly scooting and dragging, excessive licking/biting the end of his tail (around the anal area), getting easily irritated/snapping they might have anal sac disease. The vet can treat this by emptying the sacs. If they recur you may opt to have them surgically removed.
- Ear Infections:
If your dog suffers from reoccurring ear infections then allergies are a likely cause. Foods like soy, corn, and wheat are common allergens. Plus dogs with large pendulum ears are susceptible to infections. Symptoms include dog pawing their ears, rubbing ears against the floor, or shaking his head. A more severe infection can cause redness in the ear canal, shedding near the ear, scabs around the ear, balance issues, pacing in circles, and even hearing loss.
The first step to get rid of an ear infection is to clean and dry the ear. If the dog is in extreme pain, he may need to be sedated. An examination from your vet will confirm what type of ear infection your dog has as well as if it can be treated with an anti-fungal or a topical antibiotic.
- Stiffness/ Joint Pain:
Any dog getting older will experience stiffness and joint pain. You can’t prevent age but can ensure that your dog remains at a healthy weight throughout his life so that he doesn’t experience joint pain prematurely. Additionally, you can consider giving him glucosamine or a chondroitin supplement to maintain joint health – with vet recommendation.
While these health problems are common and not serious, they have the potential to turn dangerous if left untreated. It is your duty as a pet parent to make sure your dog lives a wholesome, healthy life physically and mentally.