The top 10 dog health problems I see day to day as a vet

Updated: Feb 20

Over the last 15 years as working as a vet there are some particular conditions I see day in day out. Sometimes the consequences of the symptoms can be serious and sometimes they are easily treated. Being vigilant and picking up on any changes in health and contacting your vet can help stop conditions progressing and getting worse.

Skin issues


Skin issues can occur for a number of reasons. Skin problems are usually associated with itching, scratching and biting. The skin look different, for example red, inflamed, scaby, weepy and flaky. Hair loss can occur with some conditions. There are so many triggers including Atopy (allergy), bacterial infections, yeast infections, hormonal and parasites to name a few. A health check with your vet can usually pinpoint the cause and the correct course of medication can be started.


Urinary tract infections


UTI's can be quite common in dogs, owners usually notice their dog is urinating more than normal and sometimes having accidents in the house. There can sometimes be blood visible in the urine or it may smell particularly strong. Dogs can show discomfort urinating. The dog may drink more than normal and be unwell in their self. If you suspect your dog has a UTI make an appointment to see your vet and take a urine sample with you. Changes in urination can also be a sign of many other conditions so these need ruled out by your vet.

Most urine infections are easily treated with a course of medication.


Ear infections

dog ear infection

Owners usually start to suspect an ear infection when their dog starts shaking their head or scratching their ears with their feet. You may notice a bad smell from the ears or see a discharge. The ears can feel hotter than normal and even be painful.

Ear infections should always be treated by the vet as they can get worse and worse and cause permanent damage to the inner ear as well as pain and distress. Depending on the cause your vet may treat with topical drops or oral medication. Ear swabs may be required for diagnosis and in severe cases your dog may need sedated to examine and clean the ears. Ear problems can also be caused by skin allergies.


Diarrhoea


This is particularly common in dogs, there are so many causes, some are trivial and self resolving but some are very serious and even life threatening. One or two episodes in a day and the dog is still bright and well may be nothing to worry about ( see blog on OTC diarroea treatment), but if it persists more than a day or so or the dog is unwell then you should arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. The diarrhoea can also contain blood and mucus which is another reason to contact your vet.

Some causes of diarrhoea are diet, parasites, stress, infections, blockages, toxicity to name just a few.


Vomiting

Vomiting has so many triggers as it does in humans. It can vary from a mild bout of vomiting to severe life threatening causes. Vomiting should not be ignored and monitored carefully. A few examples of causes of vomiting are: if the dog has eaten something toxic which can potentially be very serious, blockages, pancreatitis, parasites, infections, diet changes, underling diseases like diabetes, cancer...

If you dog vomits once or twice and is otherwise fine it may be nothing to worry about but if the dog is unwell continuing to vomit, can't hold fluids down or there are other accompanying signs then I would recommend to contact your vet as soon as possible.


Dental concerns

dog with dental disease

Dental disease can be a serious, painful condition that can be overlooked by many owners. Owners visit the vets complaining their dog has bad breath but have no idea how bad their teeth are. Plaque and tartar build up causing gingivitis and tooth loss. The bacteria in this build up can enter the bloodstream and can potentially spread to the heart and kidneys. There are many dental procedures your vet can do to improve the health of your dogs mouth. See my dental blog for more info.


Parasites


Parasites can be picked up anywhere, They can ben internal and external and include fleas, ticks, worms and lice. There are many ways to prevent these horrid things so speak to your vet for the best preventative treatment for your pet. It is incredibly important to worm your animals regularly, particularly if you have young children as they are more susceptible to catching them.


Obesity


This is an incredibly common problem seen in dogs and also one of the most preventable. In the uk 30-40% of dogs are overweight!! Obesity can lead to a number of serious and life limiting conditions so isn't something to be ignored. See my obesity blog for more information.


Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints and usually occurs as dogs age though can occur after boney injuries or congenital problems like hip dysplasia.

If your dog is showing signs of discomfort or stiffness then contact your vet as there are many options your vet can suggest to help with arthritis in your dog.

See my blog on arthritis for more detail.


Toxicity and poisoning


Dogs are curious and often very greedy, so for this reason they are prone to eating things they shouldn't. There are many toxic substances out there, plants, medications, human foods, household items etc. If you think your dog has eaten something it shouldn't always contact your vet immediately as a lot of treatments are time sensitive. Your vet may decide to give a special injection to cause vomiting if its caught within the first few hours of ingestion. But beware as inducing vomiting can worsen symptoms of some toxicities so always seek veterinary care. See my blog on toxic foods for more information.


So this is just a drop in the ocean of conditions that can affect your dog. It is important that owners recognise signs of illness and seek veterinary help when needed as our dogs depend on us for good care. Pay close attention to their behaviour and monitor for changes indicating discomfort. It is a wise decision to have your dog insured incase they need a trip to the vet which can be pretty costly if they are unwell, for more insurance info see my blog .



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