Healthy dogs are happy dogs and what is the best way to keep your dog healthy? Feed them the best food you can afford, maintain their ideal body weight and condition, and know how to recognize common dog health problems before they shift from being a ‘problem’ to being a ‘disaster’.
Simply put, arthritis is an inflammation and there are dozens of conditions that come under the umbrella of arthritis. Twenty-five to thirty percent of dogs suffer from arthritis and it is recognized by marked by stiffness, pain, limping upon rising, swelling, and eventually a reluctance to exercise.
Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD) are the two most common forms of arthritis in dogs. Because dogs develop osteoarthritis almost immediately after a trauma, it is vital that any injuries are appropriately treated. Treatment includes weight management, holistic supplements, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Dog Ear Infections – Otitis Externa
Twenty percent of dogs will suffer an inflammation of the ear at some point in their life caused by injury, self-injury from scratching, hereditary disease, excessive moisture in dogs with heavy earflaps, food or environmental allergies, parasites or foreign bodies such as spear grass.
A healthy ear should be dry, pink, free of any discharge, wax, swelling or inflammation and have little to no smell. Anyone of these symptoms present could be indicative of an ear infection or problem developing.
Ear infections are treated with a variety of drugs dependent on what is causing the infection. It is vital to continue the treatment as your vet prescribes and to monitor the ear for continued good health once the treatment is complete.
Canine Diarrhea (Canine Enteritis) & Canine Vomiting (Canine Gastritis)
Diarrhea and vomiting are two of the most common reasons a dog will visit a vet. Often caused by eating either a poor quality diet causing a chronic problem, being fed a diet that they are allergic to or sneaking an inappropriate treat such as chocolate , rat poison or garbage. Vomiting and diarrhea in dogs can also be a symptom of a larger problem and should always be treated by a veterinarian, especially if there is any doubt to the cause.
Unproductive vomiting (heaving but nothing comes up) is a symptom of a life threatening condition called bloat, gastric torsion or gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) requiring immediate medical attention.
Canine Heart Disease
Heart disease in dogs is almost as common as it is in humans. From heart murmurs that are detected at birth to congenital disorders to infections that damage heart valves to parasites, heart conditions in dogs come in all shapes and symptoms.
Symptoms of canine heart disease are much the same as they are in humans as well. Symptoms include shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, weight loss, lack of appetite, lack of energy, hollow coughing, fast and irregular breathing, fainting and abdominal swelling.
It is estimated that veterinarians consider forty-seven percent of North America dogs obese while only seventeen percent of the owners feel their dog may have a weight problem. What does that tell you? Owners do not understand or recognize what constitutes an ideal weight in their dog.
Obesity is linked to osteoarthritis, cardiac disease, heat or exercise intolerance, respiratory conditions, diabetes, compromised immune function, skin and coat problems, increased risk of rupturing a cruciate ligament or intervertebral disk. Learning to recognize when your dog needs to go on a diet can save you both a lot of heartache down the road.
Hip dysplasia is a frighteningly common problem in many breeds of dogs. The hip is a ball and socket joint and when the socket does not grow in keeping with the ball, hip dysplasia develops. Eventually the hip develops osteoarthritis and pain increase while the range of motion decreases.
Hip dysplasia is also a congenital disease and adults with the condition must be removed from any breeding program. Obesity contributes to this disease as does injury or over use.
Symptoms include stiffness upon rising, a hopping run and a reluctance to run. Treatment is much the same as osteoarthritis – control body weight, controlled exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and possible surgery.
Canine Kidney Disease
Kidney disease can be broken down into two categories: Acute Renal Failure (ARF) and Chronic Renal Failure (CRF). ARF is a sudden loss of kidney function usually associated with ingesting a toxic substance or injury. CRF is a progressive form of kidney disease marked by slow onset and/or frequent recurrence.
Symptoms include either an increase or decrease in urine production, increased water consumption, vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia or stumbling, lethargy, lack of appetite and eventually seizures and death.
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the renal failure, the severity and the overall health of the dog however, a visit to the vet is critical in treating this condition.
A parasite is anything that lives off another living being. In the dog world, parasites include fleas, ticks, sarcoptic mange, roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, whipworms, tapeworms and mites.
Parasitic infestations are all easily preventable and treatable conditions. Visit your veterinarian if you feel your dog is suffering from any of these common canine health problems.
Treating Common Health Problems in Dogs
Aside from obesity, all of these conditions require medical intervention for the safety and health of your pet. Canine obesity is a common sense problem – feed your favorite food hound less at each meal, cut back on treats and increase the activity level.
Common health problems should not come between you and a long, happy life with your pet. Learn to recognize when your pet requires medical care and you will both appreciate the happy times to come!
Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.