Common Dog Health Issues

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Dog with cone on headNo two dogs are alike. Likewise, no two dog breeds are alike, especially when it comes to their health. Dog health problems range from infections to cancers, and it’s up to the pet parents to keep their companions happy and healthy by understanding some common dog illnesses and diseases.

Depending on the size of your pup, some health problems are more prevalent than others. For instance, big dogs tend to deal with more bone and joint problems, whereas smaller dogs tend to suffer more with organ and breathing disorders. Again, each breed is unique, but it is important to understand what common dog illnesses and health issues affect your pet. See below for the most common types of dog health issues and make sure to take immediate action if you think something serious is wrong with your dog.

Common Dog Ailments

Arthritis

  • What to look for: Arthritis usually, but not always, affects dogs as they grow older. It is the most common health problem in older pets. Your dog will eventually begin to move around less and take more time getting up from lying or seated positions.
  • How to treat: Sadly, arthritis cannot be cured, but there are things you can do to make it easier on your pet as he ages. Diet and nutrition are the two biggest things you can do to slow down the aging (and arthritis) process. Regular walks and a balanced diet of proper (age appropriate) food will keep your dog’s nutrition levels where they should be. Look for food labeled “Senior” and pay attention not to over or under feed. If your dog’s arthritis is severe, your vet can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Read more about canine arthritis.

Worms

  • What to look for: Weight loss, swollen belly, diarrhea, lack of energy.
  • How to treat: Talk to your vet, who might prescribe medication for your dog. Follow up with regular fecal checks to make sure all the worms are gone.

Read more about worms in dogs.

Allergies

  • What to look for: Since there are so many kinds of allergies dogs can have (from food to flea/tick bites and a wide range of other possibilities), it’s important to look for any change in behavior when exposed to something new. If your dog goes a few days showing lack of energy, has a consistent cough or sneeze, or if anything else seems out-of-place, you might be dealing with allergies.
  • How to treat: First, determine what the allergen is. Common allergies can be treated by changing your dog’s food or the shampoo you use when bathing. Seasonal or environmental allergies can be treated with medications, but those will eventually weaken the immune system if administered repeatedly.

Read more about allergy symptoms.

Common Dog Illnesses

Kennel Cough

  • What to look for: Since kennel cough is a respiratory infection, it can be easily transmitted from one dog to another when they interact. Look for lethargy, coughing, leaky nose and eyes or loss of appetite as common signs that your dog might have kennel cough.
  • How to treat: Vaccines can be administered regularly to prevent some types of kennel cough. If your dog catches kennel cough you should take him to your vet where he might be prescribed medications that will speed up the recovery process. Keep your pup away from other dogs (especially in public places where the illness can spread rapidly), and give him lots of rest. Once you see signs of recovery, take him for regular walks until he is himself again.

Vomiting

  • What to look for: If your dog is vomiting, there could be any number of causes. Generally speaking, it’s best to assess your dog’s behavior leading up to the vomiting to see if there might be a more serious issue. General vomiting, initially, is normal and could have been from something your dog ate.
  • How to treat: Again, assess the behavior leading up to the vomiting. If there was nothing unusual, then there’s probably no need to be concerned. If the vomiting is persistent, however, or you noticed your dog acting differently before the vomiting, there could be a number of things wrong and it’s best to take your dog to your vet to get him checked out.

Read more about a dog’s upset stomach.

Dog Obesity

  • What to look for: The signs of obesity might seem obvious, but having regular weight checks is important in order to keep records of your dog’s weight over time. It is important to recognize your dog’s weight gain early to give him the best chance possible for recourse.
  • How to treat: A steady diet and regular exercise are the two things needed when your dog is overweight. It’s important to recognize the severity of your dog’s obesity and be sure to administer the right changes in nutrition and exercise. Too much exercise, or too significant a reduction in food, can cause other issues, so you should consult your vet before making any drastic changes to the diet.

Learn more about pet obesity in the video below:

Common dog diseases

Diabetes

  • What to look for: Symptoms of diabetes in dogs include changes in appetite, excessive thirst and vomiting. UTI’s and cataracts can occur if the diabetes goes untreated for an extended period of time.
  • How to treat: Like humans, dogs should get regular insulin injections (up to twice a day) to control diabetes. Oral medications and a high-fiber diet can also work to reverse the disease and get your dog back to a healthy state.

Learn more about canine diabetes.

Cancer

  • Almost 50% of disease-related pet deaths are due to cancer.
  • What to look for: No one wants to think about their dog getting cancer. It is one of the biggest killers in dogs and one of the most expensive diseases to treat. Look out for unusual odors, lumps, drastic weight loss, or long-lasting changes in behavior.
  • How to treat: Early detection gives your dog the best chance for recovery. Surgery can remove the tumor in some cases, depending on the type and location of the cancer. In others, medications can be prescribed to allow your dog to tolerate the pain better. See your vet immediately if you suspect your dog might have cancer.

Rabies

  • What to look for: Thankfully, rabies is not as common today as it once was due to the development of vaccinations, but it is still possible for your dog to become infected with rabies even if he has received his shots. Symptoms of rabies include heavy, thick drool and aggressive behavior.
  • How to treat: Prevention is your best option. It starts with getting your dog shots every year. You should also monitor your dog’s activity to make sure he isn’t interacting with rabies infected animals in the wild. If you suspect that your dog has rabies, call Animal Control immediately and avoid your dog as much as possible.

Learn more about rabies in dogs.

Common Dog Health Issues List

We created a list for you and and any other dog owners too, so feel free to share! Print it out and/or save somewhere you can easily reference that way you have these conditions top of mind and know what symptoms to look for in case your dog is ill.

Common Dog Health Issues

 

Being familiar with these common dog health issues should help you know which ones you can treat yourself, and when it’s time to see a vet. If you find yourself visiting the vet often perhaps pet insurance is something you should consider. It can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket cost when visiting your veterinarian. Check out our Pet Insurance Comparison to see which pet insurance providers might be a good fit for your family.

What experiences have you had with common dog health issues?

Ryan Rauch graduated from Scripps School of Journalism in 2009 and has been writing for Canine Journal since 2012. Ryan enjoys writing and researching new and evolving home security measures, and has a passion for technology.

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11 Comments on "Common Dog Health Issues"

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Dennis Sims
Dennis Sims
Although the dog is an animal, still, he is one of the most honest companions of the human being. He usually relies on his pet owner for healthy care. Well, being a pet owner you must be aware of your canine friend health condition. In this regard, I can say that the ear infection(signs- swelling, redness of the ear canal, vigorous scratching), worms-including(tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms), flea attacks(signs- excessive licking, hair loss), hot spots, vomiting, diarrhea etc, are some of the common health issues that your canine friend usually suffers from the lack of care and treatment. Thus, my suggestion is, you must stop this negligence and consult an
experienced vet to execute the regular checkups in order to give your pet a healthy and comfortable life. In addition that, you should not change your dog’s diet without taking the permission of a skilled veterinarian.
Judy
Judy
My dog was having seizures quite regularly, I had been to vets and they did not have answers. This is my empty nest child. So we constantly were changing his diet, I prayed about his health constantly and one day my husband and I were talking about it and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. STOP THE DAIRY! I used to feed him cheese like it was good for him. We have stopped the dairy for over a month and he hasn’t had a seizure since. I know this probably isn’t the answer for all fur babies but it was for mine and it changed his life.
JP
I got my dog (1-1/12 yr old/F/German Sheppard/Australian Cattle dog mix) one yr ago. She was unwanted and came to a good home. She is up to date on all vaccines and has been in good health. She is super energetic and playful 99% of the time, however, bout every 3-4 months she goes through some phase of lethargy/no eating and pain. She can barely drag herself onto the couch and limos around. When you put pressure on her ribs she yelps. She is like this for about 2 weeks then ia back to normal. Asked the Banfield vets about it, they did expensive tests for cancer and valley fever but don’t know what’s wrong with her. Has anyone else experienced this?
John Lawrence
John Lawrence
When a dog is suspected a common disease, do not think twice. bring the dog in the veterinarian as much as possible to not deteriorate.
Jane
Jane
American bull dog reoccurring ear infections? Remedies
Steve
Steve
My 13 yr old male miniature (24lb) neutered Dachshund has started to urinate when at rest. Usually at night, other than that he is acting normal & eating well. He does drink a lot but not really any more than what he has normally consumed before this all started. We are waiting for the results of his urinalysis. Any suggestions out there?
gyle
gyle
Good day! I want to ask about the situation of my 2 month old puppy that suddenly became weak, won’t want to eat and is vomiting. Can anyone please tell me what’s the best thing to do?
slugger
slugger
My dog will all the sudden get a burst of energy and run so fast he can’t stop and he will run right into things. Now he does this exorcist thing with his head, turning it back violently, teeth chattering and trying to bite his ear kind of thing and will not let anyone near him at all. I think he is having seizures but I’m not sure. I need help. Anyone??
Michelle Schenker
Admin
Michelle Schenker
I am sorry to hear about this, Slugger. We would advise that anytime there is a such a drastic change in your pet’s behavior that you call to consult a vet. This sounds like a very specific incident that it will be hard to diagnose and treat from reading articles. Sending lots of healing vibes your way.
Holly
Holly
Please take your pup to the vet immediately
Adam Brooks
Adam Brooks
Really good discussion 🙂
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