There is nothing quite like having a faithful dog by your side. They provide us with an endless amount of love and companionship through their lives but they do need something from us in return. When we own a dog, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that they are cared for properly. Just as in marriage, this type of care takes place in sickness and in health.
Although it may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, there are going to be times when dogs require specialized care because of illness or injury. Some of those issues may be relatively common and are not necessarily serious. Others, however, could potentially be life-threatening and may require critical care.
Fortunately, there is much that can be done for dogs when they are sick or injured to help make them comfortable and even to get well again. Part of the process of caring for the dog in such a way is recognizing when they have such a problem and noticing the symptoms. That is what this page is designed to help you do.
Dog Illness Symptoms – What to Look for
Obviously, your dog is not going to be able to look at you and tell you that they aren’t feeling well. They may recognize that something is not quite right but communicating that fact to you does not happen verbally, as it would if a human had such a problem. There are some common signs of dog health problems. If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, they would require your attention.
Excessive Drinking and Urination – You may notice that your dog is drinking a lot more water than they used to drink or they may need to go to the bathroom more frequently than usual. This is a classic sign of many different health issues and it is commonly one of the first signs you will recognize that your dog is having a problem.
Bad Breath/Drooling – Many of us would consider bad breath in a dog to be more of an inconvenience for us, but it can actually be a sign of a serious health issue. The same is also true of excessive drooling. Admittedly, there are going to be times when our dog may eat something that gives them bad breath or they may just be experiencing a sour stomach. If the bad breath becomes chronic and the drooling is quite noticeable, however, keep a close eye on it.
Change in Appetite or Weight – Just like in a human, a dog may experience a change in their appetite or they may gain or lose weight if they are sick.
Sleep Disturbances – When your dog is having a difficulty sleeping, regardless of whether they are sleeping too much or not sleeping at all, it could be a sign of a health problem. This is one of the dog illness symptoms that should not be overlooked.
Lethargy – When a dog seems listless or if their level of activity changes suddenly and significantly, keep a close eye on the situation.
Skin Problems – There may be a wide variety of skin problems that could be symptoms of anything from a simple rash to a serious issue. Look for dry and itchy skin, lumps or sores.
Shaking the Head – When a dog shakes their head constantly or violently, it may be a sign of a problem with the ears.
Digestive Upset – A problem with either constipation or diarrhea could signal a more serious issue that would require your attention.
Coughing or Sneezing – This may be more than a problem with a “common cold” in dogs. If it becomes chronic, it could require veterinary care.
Difficulty Breathing – When a dog has a problem with their breathing and it becomes labored, keep a close eye on the situation.
Red, Dry or Cloudy Eyes – The eyes can often tell the tale for many dog health issues. It may be specific issues with the eyes that are causing the problem or it could be a secondary problem.
These are just some of the more common symptoms that are associated with dog health problems. If you notice anything unusual about your dog in the way that they look or act, keep a close eye on it and take appropriate action when necessary.
Dog Allergies – A Very Common Dog Health Problem
Most of us are familiar with allergy problems. Perhaps we experience them ourselves or we may know somebody who has severe allergies. You might be surprised to learn that dogs can also have a problem with allergies. In fact, it is one of the dog health problems that are often overlooked!
There are many different types of allergies that could cause a problem with dogs. They can affect many parts of the dog as well, from causing dry and itchy skin to affecting the breathing in the animal. Here are a few of the common types of allergies the dog may experience.
Food Allergies – If there is one thing that most of us know about dogs, it’s the fact that they love food. Unfortunately, some dogs may experience allergies to certain types of foods, including ingredients that may be in their regular dog food or the treats we provide.
If a dog is experiencing food allergies, they will likely nibble at their paws or lick them regularly. They may also have itchy skin or hotspots in the area of the face, legs, on the haunches or around the anal area.
Environmental Allergies – Dogs can also be allergic to pollen, mold, dust, mildew and many other things that cause common allergy symptoms in humans as well. Some of those allergies may be seasonal, so they could come and go during the year. Others may be experienced year-round.
If your dog is experiencing dog health problems with environmental allergies, they will likely have a problem with dry and scratchy skin. This could occur in the feet (because they come in contact with the environment through their feet), the face or the armpits.
Contact Allergies – This is not a very common problem with dogs, but it is worth noting because it could be an issue that goes undetected. Your dog may be allergic to many different things in the environment that are not naturally found in an animal’s environment. This could include carpeting in the home, cleaners, the dog bed or even the grass in your backyard. Anything that the dog comes in contact with could be a problem.
When a dog has contact allergies, they will likely experience symptoms in the area where they came in contact with it. The most likely areas for this to occur are on the paws, belly, elbows and the muzzle. Of course, it could take part in any part of the body, depending on where the contact takes place.
Flea Allergies – Fleas are not only a problem because they tend to bite the dog, many dogs are also allergic to those bites as well. Even a single bite from a flea could cause a dog to begin scratching and before long, a hotspot has formed. Fleas are more likely to cause problems around the base of the tail or the back legs of the dog.
If you suspect that your dog is having a problem with allergies, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. They can run various tests to determine what type of allergies your dog may be experiencing.
If your dog is suffering from a food allergy, they may be put on a specialized diet that is similar to an elimination diet in humans. A simple raw food dog diet that eliminates table scraps or any commercialized dog food will often do the trick.
When a dog is suffering from a flea allergy, it is necessary to eliminate the flea infestation. There are a number of ways to do this, including some topical medications that may help to keep the fleas at bay. Your veterinarian can give you additional guidance in this regard.
For many different types of allergies that affect the dog and make them uncomfortable, a medication may be prescribed by the veterinarian. Some of them are available over-the-counter, others, including steroids, may require a prescription. These medications could have negative side effects but they will often go a long way in helping your dog to be comfortable. They don’t cure the allergies but they do block the symptoms.
Dog Health Problems – Dealing with Worms
One of the dog health issues that are relatively common, although they are often preventable, is an issue with internal parasites. Some of these parasites are relatively common, others are fairly rare. In any case, an infestation of worms can cause serious health issues and at times, the issue could be fatal.
The following are some of the more common types of intestinal parasites that your dog may experience. This includes information on how you can recognize a problem and what you can do to either prevent or treat the issue.
Roundworms – These are the most common type of intestinal parasite that is experienced by dogs. They are often seen in puppies, leading to an appearance as if the dog has a potbelly and it may stunt their growth. You can often see the worms visibly in the stool or in vomit but if the infestation is severe enough, intestinal blockage may be a problem.
Roundworms enter into the dog when they ingest the eggs, commonly from soil that has been contaminated. When the eggs hatch in the intestines, the larva is carried in the bloodstream to the lungs. The worms can be quite long, up to 7 inches, and a female roundworm can lay 200,000 eggs daily. Those eggs can last in the soil for many years. When the roundworms eventually enter into the windpipe and crawl up into the back of the throat, it could cause the dog to gag as they swallow the worm.
Roundworms are usually treated with over-the-counter drugs but your veterinarian may have additional suggestions.
Hookworms – These worms are small and thin and they suck the blood of the dog after attaching to the wall of the small intestine. The dogs ingest the larva from contaminated soil and then the hookworm grows inside of the intestine. Hookworms can also be contracted in vitro or by drinking the mother’s milk.
A severe problem with hookworms can lead to anemia and it could be fatal to puppies. Signs of a hookworm infestation include weight loss, anemia, diarrhea and weakness. Your veterinarian can run tests to diagnose a hookworm infestation and provide medication.
Tapeworms – These intestinal parasites are ingested when a dog eats fleas that are carrying them. When the dog defecates, it passes segments of the tapeworm and they can be seen visibly in the stool. Veterinarian can provide medication to kill tapeworms.
Whipworms – These intestinal parasites live in the first area of the large intestine in dogs. They are visible to the naked eye and look like pieces of thread that has an enlarged end. Whipworm infestations will need to be diagnosed by a veterinarian and medications are available.
Some of the worms that affect dogs can also affect humans as well. It is not only important to treat the dog for the infestation; you should also remove dog feces from the environment regularly. If you walk your dog in a public area, be sure that you remove the feces so you don’t contaminate that area as well.
Common Dog Pests – Symptoms and Treatments
Although there are many dog health questions that people may ask, some of the most common are in regards to fleas and ticks. It is a problem that not only causes dog health issues; it can cause health issues in humans as well.
Fortunately, both fleas and ticks are readily treated but it does take persistence in order to overcome the issue. There are also some medications that may be necessary to treat and infestation. Considering the fact that both ticks and fleas can lead to further canine health problems, it is best to treat them as soon as the problem arises.
First of all, both fleas and ticks can occur in almost any area and they are a problem in all 50 states in the United States. Fleas often originate from other animals, including the neighbor’s dog or cat or wildlife, such as raccoons or opossums. Ticks are often found in high grass areas but they can also be seen as an infestation in the house, leading to even further problems.
Both fleas and ticks can cause dog health issues and they can also affect the health of humans as well. What are those health issues and how is this problem treated?
Fleas – A flea infestation can be difficult to control once it gets started. Fleas are very prolific and they can live on the dog and in the dog’s environment, hiding in areas that make them difficult to control.
One of the most common issues associated with fleas is skin problems with the dogs. Many dogs are allergic to flea bites, as are humans. If the flea infestation is particularly severe, the loss of blood from the fleas feeling on the animal could lead to anemia. Fleas may also transmit tapeworms to the dog.
There are a number of things you can do if your dog has fleas and if your home is now infested. Perhaps one of the first steps is to get the dog a medication that will stop the fleas from biting them and jumping on them. There may be certain side effects associated with these medications but your veterinarian can review the positive and negative aspects of using them.
You may also need to have your home treated to kill the fleas that are living in the environment. This may also require additional treatments, as the eggs hatching may infest your home again. With persistence, it is possible to be done with the fleas once and for all.
Ticks – A problem with ticks can be more severe than a problem with fleas. Although ticks may not infest your dog with the sheer numbers that fleas do, they can carry some rather serious diseases that affect both dogs and humans. Two of those diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, which can make humans very sick.
There are some medications that can help to keep the ticks off of dogs and it may be necessary for your dog to use those medications if they tend to get ticks regularly. It is also good to regularly check your dog for ticks, including areas where the ticks may hide. Those areas include between the toes and in and around the ears.
If you do find a tick that has latched on to your dog’s body (or your body), it is important to remove them properly. Avoid the old wives tales of burning them with a match or covering them with Vicks vapor rub. The proper way to remove the tick is to grasp it firmly near where it attaches to the skin and to gently pull on the tick until it lets go. Do not pull too hard or you could leave part of the tick under the skin.
Serious Canine Health Problems
Like humans, dogs may sometimes suffer from serious illnesses that could even be fatal. These illnesses include diabetes, heart disease and cancer. When your dog suffers from these problems, it is important to get them the care that they need. This would often include visiting a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and medication, if any is available.
It can be difficult to have a dog that is seriously ill. We want to ensure that our dogs are as comfortable as possible, but when this type of serious illness occurs, it can be difficult to do so. Sometimes the best that we can do is to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible and to provide them with companionship and reassurance while they are dealing with the problem.
Some of those health problems may also occur as a dog gets older. Senior dogs certainly do have problems that are specific to their age, such as arthritis, dental disease and obesity. What a dog gets older, it’s important to schedule visits to the veterinarian on a regular basis. You may also need to modify the dog’s diet and to help them get a little bit of exercise for them to be as healthy as possible.
Owning a dog is a big responsibility. They provide us with much companionship and love but it is also necessary for us to provide the best dog health care that we possibly can. By recognizing the symptoms of illness and dealing with any dog health issues that arise, it is possible for us to give the care that they need and to provide a life for them that is worthy of the love they give to us.