Dogs are not just pets. They are furry companions, slobbering sidekicks, and the perfect complement to any family. So naturally, dog owners do everything in their power to keep Rover happy, healthy, and resilient. Preventative measures make a difference in the long run; like humans with vitamins, canines need that little bit of “insurance” when it comes to their health, too. Which is why your veterinarian may be dog’s best friend (next to you, of course).
Routine checkups are crucial in order to keep your four-legged member of the family wagging his tail for years to come. Read on to find out five of the most common health ailments for dogs and how you as a pet owner can prevent those dark, and sometimes deadly, hazards from harming your pup.
1. Worms: Ringworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Just the sound of these internal parasites gives people the willies, but their damage in pooches can be seriously dangerous. And while any of these pesky worm infestations are enough to make dogs uncomfortable, some of them, like hookworms, can be fatal for puppies. Catching the signs sooner rather than later is obviously beneficial.
What to look for: A change in appetite, weight loss, diarrhea (can be bloody), scooting on his bottom, a rough, dry coat, or a generally poor appearance. Even if you’re somewhat iffy about it, take your pup to the veterinarian, where the proper diagnosis can be given. Treatment type is dependent on what type of worm it is; medication that cures roundworms does not kill tapeworms so a vet visit can guarantee that the proper treatment is given.
2. Fleas: We all know what they are: irritating, almost invisible, and incredibly infuriating — for dog owners and dogs alike. What’s even worse is that it takes one flea a measly three weeks to grow to a full blown 1,000 bug infestation. The good news is that while fleas are easy for your pooch to pick up, they are also almost as easy to treat.
What to look for: Excessive scratching, biting and licking, hot spots, hair loss, tapeworms (fleas carry them), allergic dermatitis, or flea dirt (small black dots) on your dog’s skin. If left untreated, fleas can get out of control and lead to allergic reactions and infestations. Some of the most common treatments that vets offer are shampoos, oral medicines, and topical liquids and sprays.
3. Obesity: Like humans, dogs need exercise too. And while obesity in pets is common, it can be prevented and corrected. Obese dogs should be checked by veterinarians to make sure the cause of the problem isn’t related to some other disorder. In fact, sudden changes in appetite and a swollen abdomen when the rest of the body is slim can be signs of other serious health problems.
Once the necessary tests are made, the vet can then prescribe a weight loss plan in order to shed Rover’s extra pounds. Staying active is not only important for your canine, but for people, as well. Chances are if your pet is fit, you’ll be fit, too.
4. Vomiting: There are dozens of reasons your pooch may be vomiting, including intestinal parasites, kidney failure, pancreatitis, poisoning, and heatstroke. The symptoms are fairly obvious: abdominal heaving and drooling, bloody vomit, diarrhea, seems lethargic, and the inability to hold liquids down.
Contacting your vet immediately is crucial, as your dog may become dehydrated, which is life threatening. Treatment is dependent on the cause of the vomiting and may include remedies like fluid therapy and foods like homemade skinless chicken, rice, and boiled potatoes.
5. Ear Infections: Allergies, ear mites, yeast, bacteria, and hair growth in the ear canal can all be to blame for ear infections in dogs’ ears. Watch for symptoms like vigorous scratching of the ears, constant head shaking, lack of balance, ear odor, redness or swelling of the ear canal and outer ear, or brown and yellow discharge.
In most cases, a veterinary technician will cleanse and medicate the infection for a speedy recovery. In more severe cases like chronic infections or a ruptured vessel along the outer part of the ear, surgery may be needed.
Sandra Mills is a freelance writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, especially those related to animal care. Most recently, she has written about career training programs that focus on animals.