Common dog health problems and what to do about them

By: Roger Coryell
Dog's mouths need regular care

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a new puppy parent, it’s essential to know about the health problems your furry friend might face. Of course, we all worry about the “big” health issues like cancer or epilepsy, but do you know what health problems are most common in dogs? And, more importantly, what can you do to prevent them?

According to a study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College and The Kennel Club in 2021, the top three most commonly diagnosed health problems in dogs are gum disease, ear infections, and obesity. While some breeds might be more predisposed to these issues, there are things that all dog owners can do to minimize their dog’s risk.

Gum disease is the most common health problem in dogs. When your dog eats, bacteria, food, saliva, and other particles mix to form a sticky film over their teeth called ‘plaque’. Over time, this plaque can harden and become tartar, which is a hard, rough substance that is challenging to remove. Tartar and plaque are rich in bacteria and can lead to gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. Some signs of gum disease include bad breath, bleeding gums, and loss of interest in food or chew toys.

Ear infections are the second most common health issue in dogs. Particles and waste can easily collect and get trapped in a dog’s ear, leading to infections. Dogs with long, floppy ears are particularly prone to ear infections because their ear flaps prevent moisture from escaping, creating a warm, damp environment for bacteria and yeast to grow. Signs of ear infections include repeated scratching or rubbing of the ears, an unpleasant discharge, and a smelly odor.

Obesity is another common issue for dogs, affecting between 30 and 60% of the canine population. Dogs need a balanced diet and the right amount of exercise to stay healthy and fit, but finding the right balance isn’t always simple. Signs of obesity include no clear waist when looking at your dog from above and the side, difficulty feeling their ribs, a larger and rounder face, a thick, fatty neck, and not being keen to exercise.

Other common health problems in dogs include overgrown nails, anal sac impaction, diarrhea, vomiting, lameness, and arthritis. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize your dog’s risk of developing these issues. Regular brushing and cleaning your dog’s teeth and ears can help prevent gum disease and ear infections. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent obesity. And, of course, regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help catch any issues early on.

Remember, your dog relies on you for everything, so taking good care of them is important. With a little extra attention and care, you can keep your furry friend healthy and happy for years to come.


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