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The Top Health Concerns to Watch For in Dogs

The Top Health Concerns to Watch For in Dogs
Keeping your furry friend in their best health is important to you and part of keeping them healthy is recognizing when they contract an illness or require medical attention.  Here are some of the most common health concerns found in dogs, along with their causes and symptoms.  Keep on alert for any of these illnesses and seek medical attention should you believe your dog may be ill.  It should be noted that many conditions have the same symptoms, so it is best to consult with your veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis and begin a proper treatment regimen.
Here are some of the most common health conditions to watch for in your dog:

Ear Infection

  • What is it?  It is an infection of the ear which occurs when the ear becomes inflamed (commonly caused by a bacterial infection). Most of the time, cleaning and medicating the canal of the ear will clear up an ear infection fairly quickly. However, if left untreated, more serious courses of action, such as surgery, can be necessary.
  • Causes:  Allergies, ear mites, bacteria, yeast
  • Symptoms: Odor from the ears, loss of balance, outer ear swelling, persistent ear scratching, head shaking/tilting, ear canal redness and brown or yellow discharge.


  • What is it?  Canine distemper is a serious, highly contagious virus which affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, central nervous system and membranes of the eye.  The chances for recovery from the illness increase with proper medical care, so if you believe your pet may be infected, call your veterinarian right away. To prevent the condition, be sure to vaccinate your pet.
  • Causes:  It passed via direct, dog to dog contact or contact with infected urine, blood or saliva. It can also be contracted through sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls.
  • Symptoms: Sneezing, cold-like symptoms, eye discharge, pneumonia, fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and seizures.


  • What is it?  Canine obesity is a disease defined as a dog with an excess of body fat who has reached an unhealthy body weight.  A little less than 1/3 of the dog population can be classified as obese, but the good news is that this is a condition which is both preventable and reversible.
  • Causes: Overfeeding, lack of exercise, breed predisposition
  • Symptoms: Overweight appearance and a weight above average for the breed.

 Kennel Cough

  • What is it?  Kennel Cough is a viral and bacterial infection which causes inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe.  It is a form of bronchitis which can be compared to a chest cold in humans.  Treatment should begin as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of serious complications.
  • Causes:  Kennel cough is highly contagious and is contracted from inhaling bacteria or virus (commonly Bordetella bronchiseptica) particles into the respiratory tract.
  • Symptoms:  Dry “honking” cough, fever and nasal discharge.

 Urinary Tract Infections

  • What is it?  Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are uncomfortable and painful infections, present anywhere within the urinary tract, that are caused by bacteria.
  • Causes: UTIs are caused by bacteria settling in your dog’s bladder, kidneys or urethra and are a fairly common illness. 
  • Symptoms: Loss of bladder control, cloudy (or bloody) urine, more frequent urination, urine odor, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, appetite changes, increased thirst and inflammation.

Dental Disease

  • What is it? Also known as periodontal disease, this condition is an infection of the gums and affects approximately 80% of dogs by the time they reach age 2.  This disease can cause more serious issues if left untreated but, fortunately, it is completely preventable through a proper oral hygiene regimen
  • Causes:  Dental Disease is caused by poor oral hygiene and plaque build-up in the oral cavity.
  • Symptoms: Bad breath, facial swelling, difficulty chewing and red gums.

Intestinal Parasites

  • What is it?  Intestinal parasites are parasites that infect a dog’s digestive system and are most common in younger dogs or puppies. Because of this, puppies should always be “dewormed” to avoid contracting these parasites.  Common parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. 
  • Causes:  Intestinal parasites can be contracted through ingestion of raw meat, infected soil, uncooked vegetables or feces.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms of parasites are often non-existent or extremely difficult to recognize.  Some symptoms to watch for include stunted growth & a rounded belly (in puppies), dull coat, thin build, diarrhea and lack of energy.

The Top Health Concerns to Watch For in Dogs

  • What is it? As with humans, dogs can fall victim to allergies which are caused by irritants that come in contact with, or are inhaled or ingested by your pet. 
  • Causes: Dog allergies can be caused by fleas or insects, allergens (such as grass, mold, pollen and dust mites), various foods or medications or irritants that come in direct contact with your dog’s skin.
  • Symptoms: Itching, hair loss, skin lesions, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, discharge from nose or eyes, hives, chewing paws and scabbed skin.
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