Understanding common illnesses and diseases that can affect your dog makes sure that you, as pet parents, keep them healthy at all times which in turn results in a happy dog!

No two breeds of dog are the same therefore all illnesses and diseases can affect each dog in very different ways.

The size of your canine friend can denote a  more likelihood of certain illnesses, for example, large dogs often have to deal with bone and joint problems, whereas smaller dogs generally suffer more with organ and breathing disorders.

If in any doubt about your dog’s health always contact your local vet or emergency vet. Always to be on the safe side.

Most Common Dog Ailments

Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the joints within the body causing stiffness, inflammation and soreness.

Symptoms: Older dogs are more affected by arthritis. Slow movements that were once fast and taking time to get up from a lying or seated position. Hesitancy in climbing steps or maybe jumping up. Laying down and sleeping more.

Treatment: Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but paying attention to your dog’s diet and the nutritional value of what you give him can slow down the process quite considerably. Age appropriate food is formulated for various ages of dogs and therefore the Senior food will have the correct nutritional value to alleviate any arthritis as much as is possible. There are many supplements also available e.g.Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate which helps to decrease the inflammation in the joints and improve the body’s ability to repair and strengthen tissues.

Regular exercise can keep the joint moving and so not becoming over stiff.

Worms

There are many different varieties of worms that can infect your dog. Some common worms that affect dogs are heartworms, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms to name but a few.

It is important to get the right treatment for the right worm otherwise the problem can return and be more severe.

Symptoms: General weight loss and diarrhea, swollen stomach and a lack of energy.

Treatment: Each variety of worm condition requires the correct medication as infestations can return or become much worse which can cause additional medical complications for your dog. Always talk to your vet about your concerns and he will prescribe the correct medicine.

Worms that can infect your dog –

Intestinal Worms

Tapeworms

One way of your contracting tapeworms is through eating fleas that feed on tapeworm eggs or other animals that have been already infected with tapeworm. Tapeworms can reach up to six inches long and live within the dog’s intestines and so take in nutrients from their digestive tract. Each section of the tapeworm can individually reproduce and contain eggs, these segments can totally up to ninety different attachments and every time a segment breaks off eggs are released. They attach themselves to the intestine wall with a form of “suckers”. It is generally in the dog’s feces that eggs are spotted. Tapeworms are easily spread to humans.

Sometimes there are no symptoms to be spotted at all when your dog is infested but there are general symptoms including itching around the anus, diarrhea, vomiting and in extreme cases convulsions. A way of preventative treatment is to administer a flea preventative regularly to your dog.

Roundworms

Roundworms are one of the more common types of parasitic worms mainly found in puppies. Puppies are generally de-wormed on their initial visit to the vets as the majority of puppies have traces of roundworm in their tissues at birth. This can be due to the mother passing on the parasite via her milk or from her tissues. The roundworm will travel to the intestines where they will attach themselves to the intestinal wall and continue to grow and then on maturing the eggs are then released and the dog will pass them in their feces. On hatching within the dog, they can then make their way to the lungs where they will be eventually coughed out and swallowed which in turn begins the cycle again and then grow to full-size worms which can be up to five inches long.

Worms can be spotted in the dog’s vomit and feces but also can appear to have a bloated stomach even though having a very healthy appetite. It can be fatal if not treated as the worms can cause blockages within the intestines.

Whipworms

As the name suggests these worms resemble a whip in formation where one end is thicker than the other where the thin end leads to looking almost thread-like. They produce much fewer eggs that other parasitic worms and therefore are harder to diagnose. Whipworms bury their heads in the wall of the large intestine and slowly feed on the dog’s blood. The eggs are secreted in the dog’s feces.

This is one parasite that cannot be transferred to human

Signs of anemia, hemorrhaging, upset stomachs and diarrhea are all symptoms with which your dog could suggest he has an infestation and preventative medication is the only way to treat it.

Hookworms

Hookworms are the most common parasitic worm to be found in dogs. As the name suggests they have hooks which hook into the intestinal wall and feed on the dog’s blood. Eggs will be spotted in the dog’s feces and infestations can be particularly devastating to puppies and older dogs too and should be treated as soon as you suspect your dog may have them.

Poor stamina, overall weakness, anemia, blood in their diarrhea, lack of appetite are all signs of a hookworm infestation. Humans can be infested too and the best prevention for this is by keeping a very clean environment for your dog and the correct medication prescribed by your vet.

Non-intestinal Worms

Heartworms

Heartworms are contracted through infected mosquito bites. The infected mosquito will transfer heartworm larvae directly into the dog’s bloodstream and the eggs will then travel towards the dog’s heart will they will lodge themselves in the right heart ventricle and start to multiply. On increasing in size and number they will soon cause damage to all the main vital organs of the dog. They can live within your dog for up to five years and can be fatal if not diagnosed early.

Symptoms to be aware of are diarrhea, hair loss wheezing, loss of appetite, vomiting, lackluster coat, coughing, lethargy, and weight loss. Treatment is dangerous as toxins have to be injected into the dog’s bloodstream in order to kill off the infestation but this, in turn, can also prove fatal to the already weakened dog. The treatments are numerous and the dog must go into a confined area and remain inactive as much as is possible. Euthanasia is often the only way but this is always a difficult decision for anyone to make but will be in the best interest of the dog and the amount of discomfort that the dog will go through during the advanced stages of a heartworm infection is not pleasant.

 

Allergies

It is common for dogs to suffer from seasonal allergies but there are many kinds of allergies and these can be both frustrating for your dog and for yourself. You can normally tell a dog has allergies by the persistent scratching that does not relieve the itch and the insistent licking when they are spotless!

There are 5 main categories of allergies:

  1. Bacterial
  2. Food
  3. Contact
  4. Flea
  5. inhalant

Bacterial

The most common symptoms of an allergy are scratching. If you cannot decide as to what your dog is allergic to then your best bet is to see your vet who will then do a skin test and will be able to tell you for sure what your dog is allergic to.

Some form of Staph bacteria is found on all dogs and this is a normal occurrence but it is when a dog develops an allergic reaction to the bacteria that will then cause problems for your dog.

Antibiotics are the only way to treat bacterial allergies.

Food

Dogs are more commonly allergic to various foods. A likely culprit for your dog to have allergies for are any of the grains commonly found in dog food for example; wheat and corn. They can also be allergic to dairy products and meats, for example, chicken, beef, pork, lamb or fish. Frequent ear infections, showing signs of smelly ears with black or brown buildup, are a good indication that your dog may have a food allergy. 

If the nail beds may look very red almost blood like, this indicates an inflammatory immune response meaning that something is not right with your dog and he may lick them insistently as they will be sensitive. The nail bed should show white with a pink quick.

Symptoms of the food allergies are going to be gastrointestinal and irritations to the skin. Noticing that your dog is scratching incessantly and he is vomiting and has diarrhea then this will more than likely be an allergic reaction to their food.

Contact

Dogs can also have allergic reactions if they have directly come into contact with items like fabric or bedding, food bowls, flea collars, other pets and even you!

Symptoms to be aware of are bumpy pimple-like protrusions and reddish sore looking skin. This being one of the least common allergies for dogs and the only way of reducing the allergy is to remove the culprit from your dog’s environment altogether.

Fleas

If you are noticing a loss of hair and persistent scratching with your dog then they quite possibly have fleas and/or a flea allergy. Dog’s are allergic to the actual flea saliva and not the actual flea itself. The saliva will cause irritating red bumps and therefore incur the scratching.

The only solution would be to get rid of the fleas and there are various ways of doing so on the market. Other ways of trying to keep a fleas free zone are regularly vacuuming on all carpeted floors and washing your dog’s bedding weekly. Flea collars and medications for your dog are one of the best ways to prevent them returning not only on your dog but in your home!

Inhalant

A most common allergy to our dogs is caused by house dust and pollen this is also known as Atopy. This is one of the most difficult areas for a vet to diagnose and treat due to there being so many allergens that the dog could inhale and be allergic to.

Symptoms are normally continual licking and scratching. One way of finding out which allergens are affecting your dog is for your vet to do an Intradermal Skin Test in which this will determine which allergens your dog is allergic to.

 

It is common to give your dog antihistamines to alleviate the symptoms but unfortunately, antihistamines are only effective in 30% of dogs so always check with your vet prior to administering them.

Omega-3 fatty acid when given can reduce inflammation and reinforces the skin’s barrier and also helps with cardiac and joint problems.

The use of Coconut oil directly on the dog’s skin will alleviate sore symptoms and also repel fleas and giving it orally it is a marvelous immune builder due to containing lauric acid.

It’s always a bit of an educated guess and much required detective work to decipher what specific allergens your dog is allergic to but persevere as there is always something else to try and eventually you will find what is causing all that itching! Like all things, all that scratching, licking and biting poses risk to having secondary infections where the risk of opening up his skin that could introduce bacteria then in turn will require treatment. It is always best to try and nip any allergies in the bud when you first start to notice symptoms. The best advice is to always seeking professional help from your vet.