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Common Health Conditions In Dogs: How To Know If Your Dog Is Sick

Common Health Conditions In Dogs: How To Know If Your Dog Is Sick

Being responsible pet owners means being able to recognize when your dog is exhibiting symptoms of illness or injury. That being said, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between a simple stomach upset or a more serious malady and if you need to take your dog to the vet.

In addition to being able to identify when your dog is sick, you’ll also need to know how to take care of him when he is unwell.

Here’s a list of some of the most common dog health conditions and how to know if your dog is showing any of them.

Ear Infection

The first sign of an ear infection can be a variety of things; your dog may lick or scratch its ears often and shake its head excessively. They may be sensitive to touch in the area as well. An ear infection is when there’s a buildup of bacteria and yeast in your dog’s ear.

Dogs can get an ear infection from swimming, allergies, or from scratching at their ears. They may also get it from rolling around on the ground and picking up dirt that gets lodged inside their ears.

If you suspect your dog might have an ear infection, take him to the vet for treatment. The vet can prescribe medication for him and give him antibiotics if necessary.

Skin Or Food Allergies

Skin allergies are the most common type of allergy that dogs suffer from. They’re not hard to recognize as they’ll often result in a dog scratching, licking, or biting their skin. The symptoms are also accompanied by hair loss and sores.

If your dog has a skin or food allergy or if he’s showing signs of one, it’s important to take him to the vet right away. Allergies can cause serious issues if they’re left untreated.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the hip joint. It affects many breeds, but it usually occurs in larger dogs such as German Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers.

Hip dysplasia causes an arthritis-like condition in dogs as they age, and it can be a painful condition for dogs to live with.

A significant number of dogs show very few symptoms of hip dysplasia throughout their entire lives, and only a veterinary examination can determine whether or not your dog has this condition.

If your dog does have hip dysplasia, there are some things he will need to avoid doing in order to make his life more comfortable. For example, jumping or going up and down stairs may cause pain if your dog has hip dysplasia.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that can affect dogs of any age, breed, or sex. Kennel cough is a type of flu that affects dogs and can be easily spread from one dog to another.

The symptoms are similar to human seasonal influenza and include coughing, sneezing, fever, runny nose, and loss of appetite.

Regular vaccinations help to protect your dog against kennel cough; however, they are at more of a risk in areas with lots of dogs, such as kennels or crowded dog parks.

For more information on this condition, check out the guide from Native Pets on kennel cough.

Urinary Infection

Urinary infections are common in dogs. The infection can be caused by bacteria or a virus, and it typically occurs when the dog has an underlying medical condition that affects his urinary tract., such as bladder stones or kidney disease.

A urinary tract infection will make your dog uncomfortable and will result in symptoms like frequent urination or difficulty urinating.


Arthritis is a common condition in dogs that can cause inflammation of the joints. If you think your dog might be suffering from arthritis, there are some signs to look out for.

  • Your pet shows difficulty when jumping or climbing stairs.
  • They’re unwilling to move certain parts of their body, like their hind legs or front legs.
  • They have trouble getting up after sleeping.

If you notice these symptoms, it may be time to take your dog to the vet for examination. The vet will likely confirm that your pet is suffering from arthritis and prescribe medications for easing pain and improving mobility and quality of life.

Dental Disease

Dental disease can lead to other health problems, including heart and liver disease, not to mention tooth loss. If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, he may be suffering from dental disease:

  • Tartar buildup on his teeth
  • Bleeding gums or loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing food, especially dry food
  • Bad breath

You should schedule a visit with your dog’s veterinarian if you see any of these signs of dental problems in your pet. The vet will likely recommend a number of treatments depending on the severity of the disease.


Obesity is a common health condition in dogs, and it’s often related to a poor diet and lack of exercise. If your dog is overweight, you’ll notice signs like a waddle when they walk or skin folds on their abdomen as they sit.

In order to treat obesity, you need to monitor your dog’s food intake, monitor their energy levels, and take them out for regular walks.

If your dog is unable to walk due to their weight, you may need to consider taking them to a water therapy center.

Here, professionals will put your dog on a treadmill submerged in water to ease the strain on your dog’s limbs, which will help your dog lose weight.


Gastroenteritis is an infection or inflammation of the stomach lining. If your dog has had a bout with gastroenteritis, you may notice that they’re just not acting like themselves. They may be lethargic, might not want to eat or drink, or could be suffering from vomiting and diarrhea.

If you notice a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea in your dog, take them to the vet immediately for treatment.


Cataracts are a vision problem that is common in older dogs. The lenses in the eye become cloudy and can no longer transmit light properly.

You may notice his eye getting cloudy or that he has trouble seeing when looking at you or another object.

This is a condition that can be corrected with surgery, but it primarily affects older dogs. It is often treated with pain medication if needed, as performing surgery on older dogs carries a lot of risks.


Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and lungs of dogs. If you notice your dog has a chronic cough or labored breathing, is easily tired, or has trouble exercising, these are symptoms of heartworm and should be checked out by a veterinarian.

As with many conditions, the earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat and manage.


While there are many possible health conditions, these are the most common that dog owners need to watch for.

If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, and you believe they may be serious, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A veterinarian can help you determine the cause of your pet’s symptoms by performing a physical examination and running a series of tests.

These tests may include blood work, x-rays, ultrasounds, or a urinalysis, and in some cases, may require your dog to stay at the veterinary surgery overnight.

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