If you’re thinking about getting a dog, many dog owners will tell you how rewarding it is to have one. Having a dog brings us years of loyal companionship and happiness.
However, owning one also requires a lot of time, hard work, and patience. Our canine friend depends on us to take good care of him or her. Doing so allows your dog to live healthy and happy lives.
To ensure that our furry friend lives comfortably and happily, we need to be aware of some common health problems that our dog may face. By being aware, we can detect early signs of health problems and act quickly before the problem worsens.
• Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease (gum disease) in dogs is a major health concern that can lead to tooth loss. It affects over 87% of dogs over three years of age. If left untreated and the periodontal disease progresses, it can destroy your dog’s teeth, gums, and jaw.
Periodontal disease in dogs is usually caused by bacteria. After your dog eats, the bacteria in the mouth will start to eat the leftover food particles that are still there. A sticky, white-grayish film called the plaque will start to develop.
If the plaque thickens, the bacteria in the plaque will release toxins that can lead to gingivitis, tooth loss, gum loss, and eventual loss of bone around the teeth. Even worse, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease and kidney failure.
You’ll notice bleeding, red gums, bloody saliva, lumps in the mouth, or receding gums. Your dog may have difficulty picking up and chewing the food.
To prevent your dog from periodontal disease, brush the teeth twice a day to reduce plaque and bacteria buildup. Give your dog a few chew toys that are tooth-friendly. To learn more and find a few tooth-friendly chew toys for your dogs, you can check out Dog Leash Pro.
Early prevention is key. Once the gum disease gets severe, you’ll have to visit the veterinarian. The vet will have to put your dog under anesthesia to examine the mouth completely, take dental x-rays, and remove any loose or infected teeth. If there’s a gum infection, the vet may also prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.
• Skin Issues
If your dog is itching or scratching the skin constantly even after a bath, then they may be experiencing skin issues. Consistent itching and scratching of the skin can cause flaky, scaly, inflamed, and red skin. Patches of hair may also be missing around the area.
Commonly known as hot spots, the red and inflamed skin tells you that your dog may have a bacterial skin infection. Hot spots are painful and if left untreated, they can grow larger very quickly.
Hot spots can be caused by many things, including skin infections, allergies, and parasites. If the hot spot is near the hip, it can be caused by fleas. If the hot spot is near the ear, your dog may have an ear infection.
To treat the hot spots, we recommend that you visit your veterinarian first. Your vet will look into it and determine what caused the hot spot.
The hot spots may be treated in one of several ways including shaving the irritated area and cleaning it, treating it with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS, steroids, allergy medications, or topical medications. The treatment depends on how severe the hot spots are and the amount of pain your dog is in.
• Canine Parasites
There are different types of canine parasites that can attack your dogs. Canine parasites can be external and internal. External parasites include ticks and fleas. Internal parasites include intestinal worms, tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms. If you have puppies, be aware that hookworms in puppies can be deadly.
If your dogs have internal parasites, don’t try to treat the worms yourself. Visit the veterinarian right away. The vet will provide proper treatments depending on which parasite your dogs have.
For example, if your dogs have roundworms, your vet will treat them with medication that kills the roundworms. If your dogs have tapeworms, she will provide medications that kill the tapeworms. Note that medication to kill tapeworms does not kill roundworms. Oral medication may be required as well as follow-up visits.
If your furry friends have external parasites like fleas and ticks, talk to your veterinarian. A single flea can create 1,000 fleas in just three weeks. Fleas can cause hot spots on your dogs’ skin.
Luckily, fleas are easy to treat. Your veterinarian will provide the right flea medicine for your dogs, including oral medicine, topical liquids, shampoos, and sprays.
The good news is that prevention is key. To prevent the various parasites from harming your dogs, there are monthly preventative treatments available. Ask your veterinarian to learn about the different parasites that can attack your dog and ways to protect your pup.
• Ear Infections
Ear infections can be caused by ear mites, yeast, bacteria, allergies, or hair growth deep in the ear canal. If you see symptoms such as head shaking, head tilting, ear odor, ear discharge, lack of balance, swelling of the outer ear, constant scratching of the ear, or redness of the ear canal, these are signs that your dog may have an ear infection.
When your dog is showing signs of ear infection for more than two days, it is best to visit the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will clean and medicate the ear canal which should clear up the infection. Depending on the severity of the ear infection, surgery may be required.
Surgery is needed for chronic infections or if the head shaking and tilting lead to the rupture of a vessel near the outer part of the ear. If left untreated, an ear infection can lead to other types of problems like skin issues.
Obesity is one of the most preventable health problems in dogs. Always give your dog a balanced and healthy diet to avoid obesity.
If the food intake is overlooked, there is a high chance that your dog will become obese. Obesity leads to numerous serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease. With proper diet and daily exercise, obesity can be prevented.
Early Detection and Prevention
Remember, early detection is key. Make sure to take the necessary steps to prevent the common health problem above. Doing so will ensure that your canine companion will live a healthy, comfortable, and happy life. If you see any of these common health problems listed above, make sure to visit your veterinarian right away.