Similar to humans, there are innumerable health problems that may affect dogs. The most common dog health issues include parasites, rabies, parvo, dysplasia, distemper, and leptospirosis. Several of these conditions can be prevented with vaccinations, good nutrition, and proper veterinary care. Others can happen to any dog in spite of preventative measures.
The most common of dog health issues may be parasite infestation. This includes external pests such as fleas and ticks and different types of worms as well. Fleas are a very common problem; these tiny black or brown insects can be easily seen sprinting through a dog’s coat. They cause intense itching which can lead to skin infections. Several treatment forms are readily available to kill fleas including drops, sprays, and shampoos.
Ticks resemble tiny spiders that embed themselves into a dog’s skin. Removal can be difficult and should be done with care with a small tool made just for this purpose. Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease. Lice may also be found on dogs and may cause a dull rough coat and matting and itching. Both ticks and lice can be killed with chemicals that are made for canine use.
Roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms can all cause serious dog health issues, including loss of appetite and weight loss. The worms can often be found in the dogs feces. Dewormers are effective in treating these parasites. Heartworms are far more serious and can be fatal. Treatment is long term and expensive and is not always effective, and preventative medication is often the best way to address heartworms.
One of the most serious diseases to affect canines is rabies. It is rarely seen due to effective immunizations which are mandatory in most areas. Rabies can cause erratic dog behavior, and infected dogs may attack. It is always fatal to unvaccinated animals and can be transmitted to humans.
Parvovirus infection is another serious disease that can be devastating to dogs. It is easily spread through contact with infected feces and causes dog diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue. Intravenous medications are needed to treat this virus, though they are not always effective.
Hip dysplasia is also among the most common dog health issues, particularly in aging dogs and larger breeds. It is similar to arthritis and causes joint pain and stiffness. Dysplasia may worsen until the canine is unable to walk. Medications to treat this condition can be very effective. Surgery has also helped many dogs with more severe dysplasia.
Canine distemper is very contagious and is spread through an airborne virus. Symptoms range from runny nose and coughing to seizures and paralysis in later stages. This disease has no treatment, but vaccinations have made it quite uncommon.
Leptospirosis is a disease that is spread by bacteria in the urine, saliva, and nasal secretions of dogs. It affects the kidneys and causes vomiting, jaundice, and fever. Treatment requires IV fluids and antibiotics. Even with these measures, a dog may not recover, however. Those that do often have permanent kidney problems.
Overweight dogs are more prone to serious canine diseases such as a heart condition, joint pain, and even diabetes. They also have a lower life expectancy. Dogs that are prone to weight problems should be exercised regularly and fed a low calorie dog food.
There are many dog health issues other than parasites and diseases. Dog poisoning, for example, can easily happen as most of canines will eat anything, including house plants, and have even been known to drink antifreeze. Injuries can result from chasing cars and fighting with other dogs, so the family pet should always be on a leash and well supervised when it is in public areas.