Spotting Common Dog Illnesses
Having a sick dog is every pet owner’s worst nightmare. Sometimes, a small change in behavior or a minor shift in appetite can be hard to spot, and when you do notice it, it can be tricky to guess whether you should be alarmed over your pet’s health or maybe they’re just having an off day.
Unlike children, dogs can’t talk, and so as owners, we can’t rely on verbal communication to understand how they are feeling. The best way is to watch out for typical signs and symptoms that are suggestive of common illnesses experienced by our canine companions.
Of course, when you do figure out that something is wrong, the best course of action to take is to bring your pet to the vet immediately. Sometimes, that one-day difference between waiting it out and deciding to seek professional help can actually mean life or death for your dog.
My Dog Has a Runny Nose
Seeing discharge coming out from your dog’s nostrils is usually a cause for concern, whether it is a serous, clear drip that may be caused by allergies or a thicker, green or yellow-colored mucus that may be suggestive of bacterial or viral respiratory disease.
Respiratory problems in dogs, when left untreated, may advance into pneumonia which can be life-threatening, so it is critical to seek veterinary care immediately. Several respiratory diseases caused by viruses, such as Canine Distemper, Canine Parainfluenza, and Canine Influenza, can be easily prevented by routine vaccination.
My Dog is Coughing
Is your dog making hacking or honking sounds as if they are choking or gagging? Like humans, dogs can get cough too, and common culprits include bacterial or viral infections, heart or lung problems, allergies, and irritation. Kennel cough, for example, is a highly contagious respiratory disease affecting multi-dog households and shelters. It may be caused by a complex group of bacteria and viruses, but the most common culprit is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Can humans get kennel cough? Bordetella bronchiseptica in humans has been reported but is relatively rare, so it is not usually something to worry about especially among generally healthy pet owners. Additionally, a bacterin (a vaccine counterpart for bacteria) is available for dogs to help minimize their risks of getting kennel cough. If you own many dogs, always keep your house clean and provide ample ventilation for your pets.
My Dog’s Breath Smells Like Death
Bad breath is another common issue that pet owners easily notice from getting a whiff out of their dog’s mouth as they pant or affectionately lick your face off. Periodontal disease is a common problem especially as dogs age and plaque builds up around their teeth.
This can be slowed down and prevented by regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, feeding them dry kibbles, and bringing them to the vet for routine dental cleaning. Sometimes, however, halitosis in dogs may be an underlying symptom of a more serious condition, such as kidney disease. Getting routine clinical tests as recommended by your vet can help in the early diagnosis of such illnesses.
My Dog is Puking or Experiencing Diarrhea
Gastrointestinal discomfort is easily one of the most common health problems experienced by dogs. Tummy sickness can be caused by a wide range of factors, including viral or protozoal infection, bacterial gastroenteritis, and worms. Many dogs also have a bad habit of ingesting either human food that can lead to toxicity or inedible objects which can then cause foreign body obstruction in the gut.
Gastrointestinal parasitism – or the presence of worms in the gut – can be prevented by regularly deworming your dogs. Protozoal infections like amoebiasis and giardiasis can be avoided by only giving your dogs clean, potable water. Avoid feeding them raw meat and eggs to minimize the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria. Puppies are especially prone to canine parvoviral enteritis, a very messy and deadly disease that usually involves a lot of puking, bloody diarrhea, and weakness that can wipe out the entire litter. This can be easily prevented by having them vaccinated at an early age.
It is important to remember that not everything that is safe for human consumption is safe for dogs. Common food that you should not give your pup include chocolates, grapes, raisins, onion, garlic, and coffee.
My Dog is Peeing Blood
Seeing your dog pee blood is usually an alarming sign, unless they are female dogs merely going into heat. Urinary tract infection or UTI is fairly common among dogs, but while peeing blood is easy to observe, it is not always present in dogs with UTI. Other symptoms underlying a urinary problem can be harder to notice, such as fever, straining and painful urination, increased thirst, and a change in their peeing habits, such as an increase in frequency or more accidents in the house.
UTI can be avoided by always having a bowl of fresh, clean drinking water available for your dog. Don’t let them hold in their pee for long hours, especially if they are strictly housetrained. Let them out frequently to let them relieve themselves more often. Regularly bathe them and have them groomed to keep the genital area clean to prevent ascending bacterial infection, and keep them on a well-balanced diet that is low in sodium to avoid kidney problems as they age.
My Dog Has Skin Issues
With the skin being the largest organ of your dog (and yours), a lot of dermatological issues can arise throughout your canine companion’s life, from something as simple as a heat rash to a condition as serious as cancer. Aside from noticing a difference in the texture, color, and hair growth on their skin, you may suspect a skin issue when your pup constantly licks and scratches on the same spots over and over again, appearing irritated or disturbed.
You can avoid many common skin problems for your dog by regularly bathing them and routinely giving them anti-tick and flea medications to prevent bacterial, fungal, and ectoparasitic skin infections, and by regularly visiting the veterinarian.