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Common health problems for dogs and how to prevent them

August 13, 2020

Sometimes, our furry best friends can tell when we’re sick and they do their best to cheer us up. Can you tell when your dog is not feeling well? As dog parents, we should be aware of the common canine health issues and notice when something is bothering your furry one.

It’s easier to treat a condition that’s identified early on, so be attentive of any symptoms and take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Ear infections

Canine ear canals are shaped differently than humans, making it easier for wax and debris to accumulate and causing bacteria or yeast to breed. Ear infection is a common doggie problem and breeds with long, floppy ears seem to be more vulnerable to it. If a simple infection of the outer ear canal isn’t taken care of, it can spread further into the ear and become a very painful ordeal for your furry best friend.

Symptoms:

  • Shaking head and/or scratch ears often
  • Redness or swelling
  • Bad odour
  • Discharge

How to prevent it: Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears will help reduce the chances of infection. Grooming dogs with long fur and drying their ears after a swim or bath are also prevention measures you can take. However, some ear infections may be caused by other factors such as allergies, injury, or thyroid disorders. Ask your vet for help if you’re unsure of the cause of the infection.  

Fleas and ticks

Not only do they make dogs very itchy and uncomfortable, fleas and ticks can cause real harm to your furry best friend’s health. They can carry serious diseases and they can suck a large amount of blood from our canine friends, leading to anaemia and other complications. Even if your doggie isn’t outside that often, these parasites can easily be brought home on your shoes, bags, or clothes!

Symptoms:

  • Shaking head
  • Excessive scratching, licking, or biting
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs
  • Bumps on dog’s body

How to prevent it: It’s inevitable your dog will come into contact with fleas and ticks, especially in Hong Kong’s warm climate. There are pest control products available for pets, as well as tick collars. Be vigilante about checking your pup’s fur for any sign of fleas or ticks. It’s easier to deal with the pests early on before the infestation gets serious.

Heartworm disease

Heartworm is just as terrible as it sounds – it is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes that settles in the heart and surrounding blood vessels. It can lead to heart failure, serious damage to the lungs and other organs, and even death. As heartworms take time to mature and multiply, it may be a few years before an infected dog shows symptoms. The parasite is not directly transferrable to other dogs and it’s rare for humans to be infected.

Symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • More lethargic and tire easily
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing

How to prevent it: Treating heartworm can be a long and difficult process, not to mention expensive. The good news is that heartworm is preventable. You can choose either to bring your furry friend for an annual injection or take a monthly tablet to prevent the dangerous parasite. Your vet can perform a blood test to determine whether there is a heartworm infection.

Arthritis

Creaky knees and stiff joints comes with aging, for both humans and dogs. But when the joint cartilages are worn down, it can cause a lot of pain for our canine friends and affect their mobility. The most common type of arthritis for dogs is called degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis.

Symptoms:

  • Limping
  • Reluctance to walk, run, or jump
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling in the joints

How to prevent it: Managing your pup’s weight is the best way to prevent osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts more pressure on the joints, speeding up the degeneration of cartilages. Make sure your furry companion is eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise!

Vomiting/diarrhea

This is a tricky one as there can be many possible reasons why your dog is vomiting and/or suffering from diarrhea. The culprit could be anything from viruses, bacteria, food allergies, or ingesting something toxic. If the symptoms persist, or if you notice blood in your dog’s vomit or poop, it’s important to get him or her to the vet right away.

Prevention is definitely the best medicine. But despite our best efforts, our furry ones may still fall sick and require medical attention. Pawfect Care offers affordable and comprehensive coverage to help pet parents give their furry ones the care they need. Check out our Dog Insurance page for more details.