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Common Dog Diseases and Illnesses that Every New Dog Owner Should Know

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Dogs can’t tell us what health problems they are having. It’s up to us dog owners to react as soon as we notice any strange behaviors or symptoms.

If you have a dog then you know that they are susceptible to certain health problems, especially if they are of a certain breed or age. Noticing the symptoms of health problems sooner allows you to get to the veterinarian and begin treatment before it becomes an even bigger health crisis. As a dog owner, it’s important to know about certain health problems and the associated symptoms of those health problems to ensure you’re keeping your dog as healthy as possible.

Dog Ear Infections

Dog ear infections are similar to human ear infections in terms of the symptoms you might notice. One of the most common symptoms of an ear infection in dogs is that your dog will begin to scratch at his ears. The scratching is due to the severe itching that comes with an ear infection and it could get to the point where the ear is red and inflamed.

You may notice a foul smell coming from the ears and there might be come dark discharge coming out. Itching is very common and it can lead to redness around the affected ear and also some swelling due to the irritation. Your dog also might be pawing at the ear or even whining when he goes to scratch the ear. Symptoms such as your dog shaking his head a lot and having scaly skin around the ears might also be present when there’s an ear infection.

Dogs that have floppy ears are more likely to develop ear infections, which means certain breeds like the Basset Hound is more susceptible to ear infections. The infection on the outside of the ear is called otitis eterna and otitis media is the middle ear. Otitis interna is when there is an ear infection in the inner ear canal.

Usually an external ear infection will spread and quickly become an internal ear infection. If the ear infection progresses, it can cause serious health issues such as circling, deafness, and even paralysis of the face. The veterinarian will often times prescribe both antibiotics and steroids to help treat the infection. Sometimes pain medication is also given to the dog until the infection clears.

Dog Parasites

Dog parasites are fairly common and come in both internal and external forms. External parasites are issues such as fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. Internal parasites are often times heartworms. The intestinal parasites include tapeworms, ringworms, hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. All of these parasites can cause your dog severe health issues if not treated appropriately.

There are many preventive measures you can take to keep parasites away from your dog. Preventive medications like heartworm medication are a great start. You should ask your veterinarian what the best preventive medications are for internal, external, and intestinal parasites.

You also want to make sure your dog has clean water dishes and food bowls. The best way to prevent parasites is to have a clean household and environment for your dog. Make sure his bed is cleaned regularly and blankets are washed. You also want to keep your dog away from dead creatures and garbage, which is what many parasites feed on.

Keep your dog away from any cat or dog that is infested with parasites to help prevent the transmission or spread of the disease. Make sure you also are getting regular screenings from your veterinarian, such as blood work done yearly. Changes in appetite or how much water your dog is drinking could be the first clue of an issue so you should monitor your dog and take note of any sudden changes.

Dog Arthritis

You might be surprised to learn that arthritis can affect a dog just like it can humans, and it can be very painful for your dog to live with this condition. Arthritis mostly affects older dogs and you will notice the symptoms quickly since it will impact quality of life for your dog. Aging is the biggest factor in a dog developing arthritis, but old injuries or other factors could also be to blame.

Symptoms of arthritis include difficulty getting around or moving, avoids running or going up stairs, and your dog might not be interested in playing. Your dog also might seem more lethargic and tired than normal and is sleeping more often. Appetite changes and possible weight gain are also signs of arthritis, and your dog also might have some personality changes.

Treatment for this condition revolves around controlling pain and also helping your dog regain movement and function of his extremities. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be given to help reduce the joint inflammation. Weight management and exercise are also used to help treat the condition. In serious cases surgery might be required to repair any severely damaged joints.

Dog Kennel Cough

You’ve probably heard the term kennel cough before, as it’s one of the more common health issues that impacts dogs of various ages and breeds. It’s a contagious condition that happens most often when dogs are in crowded areas like a shelter or kennel. Cold temperatures, stress caused by travel, and even dust or cigarette smoke could cause kennel cough.

The most distinguishable symptom of kennel cough is a cough that is forceful and persistent. This cough sounds almost like a goose honking, and little dogs will often times have this sound with kennel cough. Other symptoms you might notice include eye discharge, a runny nose, and sneezing.

There are many causes of kennel cough although a certain bacteria is often times responsible. Kennel cough happens when a dog inhales the particles of the virus or bacteria through their respiratory tract. There is inflammation of both the trachea and the larynx with this health condition.

It’s important you contact your veterinarian right away if you believe your dog has kennel cough, and you also need to keep him away from other dogs. Kennel cough usually clears itself within three weeks, although older dogs or dogs with other health issues might experience symptoms for six weeks. Antibiotics can be given to help reduce the time your dog has kennel cough and also can help reduce the symptoms.

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