What’s your best guess as to the most common health complaint for a dog?
Putting my thinking cap on, I see an awful lot of tummy upsets, ear infections and itchy dogs — oh yes, and anal glands. How could I forget anal glands? (Approaching things the other way round, the most common condition dogs have — but their people are not concerned about — is a dirty mouth and dental disease.)
I was therefore interested to come across this list of the 10 most common canine conditions. This was compiled by an insurance company and its analysis of the reason for claims. Since “common things are common,” let’s take a quick romp through the list (in reverse order).
10. Soft Tissue Injuries
This covers everything from strains and sprains to skin lacerations and fight wounds.
This group of conditions is largely “accidental” and part of being an active dog. Don’t let the risk of injury inhibit you from taking your pet pal out and about; after all, it’s what being a dog is all about.
9. Dental Disease
This is dental disease so severe that it requires medical and surgical intervention. This might be a broken tooth, gum disease or tooth root infection.
However, a huge percentage of dogs walk around with unrecognized dental disease. To check your dog’s dental health, do this simple sniff test: Put your nose next to the dog’s mouth, and what do you smell? If you recoil in disgust or start gagging, then odds are the dog has a dirty mouth that needs attention (and they’re just not complaining). Go visit your vet!
8. Urinary Tract Infections
Signs of a urinary tract infection or cystitis include the frequent need to pass water, discomfort when urinating or blood in the urine. If you notice any of these signs, seek urgent veterinary attention for the dog.
Not only is cystitis uncomfortable, but also the signs can be nonspecific. A dog may strain to urinate or try more often. More serious still is if a bladder stone or a plug of debris blocks the exit to the bladder. This needs urgent treatment, so don’t delay getting help.
Diarrhea is a symptom rather than a diagnosis and has a wide variety of causes, some of which include:
If there’s no blood in the diarrhea and the dog is bright, then withhold food for 24 hours and reintroduce a bland diet for a few days. However, if there’s blood, vomiting or lethargy — or the dog seems otherwise unwell — then don’t wait. Get them checked by a vet.
Our dogs are living longer, so they are more likely to suffer from this common condition.
The good news is that there are now more ways than ever to give the dog back their quality of life. From pain-relieving medications to nutraceuticals that nourish the joints, physiotherapy, laser therapy or stem cell therapy, there are lots of options that can make a significant difference.
Some vets have special arthritis clinics to advise on how best to manage the patient’s mobility. Again, there are a surprising number of ways you can help at home, so if your vet isn’t clued up, then ask to be referred to a veterinary physiotherapist.
Vomiting should be taken seriously — the dog can quickly become dehydrated, which introduces a whole new set of problems.
As a rule of thumb, visit the vet if the dog is depressed and vomiting, vomiting for more than 4 hours and also has diarrhea — or you see blood.
This is another case of vomiting being a symptom rather than a diagnosis, with the causes including:
- A foreign body in the gut
- Garbage gut
- Disease elsewhere in the body that is causing toxicity (such as pyometra or kidney disease)
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