Common Dog Health Problems & Symptoms

Many are relatively benign, if caught early and dealt with properly. Petting and grooming your dog regularly allows you to find "unusual" conditions or symptoms that may need to be checked out further by your friendly local veterinarian. Even in cases where you choose to wait a little while to see if the symptoms ease, keep a diary or log of the condition to see whether or not it changes in any way.

Some . These can include things like or conditions like .

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Below is a list of some of the more common health problems that can be seen in dogs of any age and breed.

  • Lumps and bumps. It's easy to immediately think "tumor" when you find a strange lump on your dog. However, many lumps are benign and will not cause the dog problems. Bring your dog to the vet to get it checked out - there are so many types of lumps it's not possible to "self-diagnose" them. It's best to have the vet use his or her experience to determine whether further testing needs to be done.

  • Obesity. This can occur in dogs of any age. If your dog takes in more calories than he burns, then he will gain weight. Extra weight can cause problems of its own in addition to making it less enjoyable for your dog run around, as he may tire easily or develop .

    Extra weight can cause pressure on the dog's joints, resulting in , even in younger dogs! Joint problems don't just occur in big dogs, either - , such as a luxating patella which can be aggravated by excess weight.

    The feeding guidelines on the back of commercial dog food bags is just that: a guideline. You will need to adjust your dog's intake to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight means you should be able to feel your dog's ribs easily with just slight pressure. Your dog should have a definite "waist" and a "tucked tummy". If your dog is shaped like a solid little cylinder (or worse, a saggy cylinder!), then perhaps it's time to adjust his feeding.

    If your dog needs a little extra help, "light" dog food formulas are available. These types of food have fewer calories but allows your dog to still consume the same (or similar) volume of food. Another option is to feed him his regular food, just less of it - and to keep him feeling like he ate a full meal, make up the volume with chopped veggies (carrots or green beans are great).

  • Dental problems. Yes, dogs need to keep their teeth clean, too! Many, if not most, dogs have some build-up of plaque and tartar. Oral disease, if untreated, can become serious and cause more health problems - particularly if the bacteria enters the bloodstream.

    When dental issues become a problem, that's when dogs need to be put under general anesthetic for a cleaning. There's always risk associated with anesthesia, so it's better for your dog if you can keep on top of his dental hygiene needs.

    You can help keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy with an in-home dental routine. Brush your dog's teeth regularly. Most pet supply stores carry special dog toothbrushes (which have very soft bristles) and toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste, as it is far too strong for dogs). We find our dogs actually like the taste of the toothpaste! You can also experiment with various dental sprays, gels, or rinses.

    Check your dog's mouth regularly for signs of gum inflammation, cracked or missing teeth, pain or bleeding.

  • Allergies and allergic reactions. Dogs can be allergic to many different substances, including substances found in their food. We once knew a dog that was allergic to nearly everything, including grass!

    Signs of allergies can include persistent scratching or paw licking. or digestive issues aren't uncommon in dogs either, so tell your vet if you suspect your dog may have food allergies.

    Because there are so many things that could be causing allergies, your vet is the best person to advise you on how to start managing the problem (and to determine whether allergies are indeed the problem).

  • "Hot spots". These are lesions found on the skin and will look red & irritated, moist and inflamed. Dogs usually scratch or lick them (which makes it worse, and can make them bigger too).

    Hot spots can be caused by a number of things. For example, allergies, flea bites, seeds or burrs, mites, or simply poor grooming. They're much more common in warmer weather.

    If you suspect your dog has a hot spot, take him to the vet who can prescribe medication to stop its growth. Hot spots normally go away after treatment (although another one in another location may occur later on).

  • Injuries. happen all the time, whether it's during play or through regular activity. , and are common.

  • That's not to say that just because a dog is older, he's automatically going to have health issues. However, the reality is that there are some issues that are more common in older pets such as , , and . is another disease that it isn't uncommon in some breeds of dogs. Older dogs may also being to lose their vision or become or deaf.

  • Digestive issues. and can occur in dogs of any age.

These are just a few common dog health problems. Always consult with your vet if you believe your dog may be ill. Early intervention can make a big difference in your pet's well-being.