10 Most Common Health Issues in Dogs

We all want our dogs to lead healthy lives. To help accomplish this, owners must be able to detect the common illnesses seen in dogs.

Mar 15, 2023By Heather Jarek, BA Veterinary Technology
most common health issues in dogs

Dogs are no longer just dogs. They are a part of the family. They ride shotgun in our cars, join in on family vacations, and settle in for the night at the foot of our beds. These days, owners are doing an excellent job of ensuring their dogs visit their veterinarian regularly. However, there are times when they still need medical attention in between vet visits.

We have compiled a list of the most common health issues that affect dogs. As a dedicated dog owner, it’s essential to be familiar with these conditions. Quick detection and treatment can help your loyal companion live a better quality of life.

1. Skin Issues

dog scratching back

We know that the skin is the largest organ of the human body. This is true for dogs too. Your dog’s skin is vital for protection from the environment and regulating internal body temperature. Ensuring their skin is healthy is essential to your dog’s overall well-being.

Unfortunately, being the largest organ of the body means your dog’s skin is susceptible to many medical problems. These can range from allergies to infections. If your dog is scratching or if their skin looks red or flaky, it’s time to call the vet.

2. Ear Infections

dog scratching ear
Rachel Claire/Pexels Images

Ear infections can be painful and irritating to dogs. If gone unnoticed, they progress quickly. Untreated conditions may lead to expensive surgical interventions and even hearing loss. Signs your dog is suffering from an ear infection usually include head shaking and scratching at the ears.

Allergies are a common cause of ear infections in dogs. Water that gets into the ear canal after swimming or bathing can also be a culprit. Always clean your dog’s ears after a bath or a day at the lake.

3. Obesity

dog playing exercising
Zen Chung/Pexels Images

Obesity in dogs is one of the most frustrating conditions for veterinarians to treat. That’s because it’s almost always preventable. The importance of a nutritious diet for your dog, as well as proper exercise, should not be overlooked. Keeping your dog at a healthy body condition score can help prevent heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and more.

4. Arthritis

old dog pet golden retriever
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Arthritis is a painful condition that is caused by inflammation of the joints. It is most common in older dogs, but any age or breed of dog can be affected. Obesity, genetics, and old injuries are a few predisposing factors. If your dog is limping, having trouble getting up, or has developed exercise intolerance, it may be time to talk to your vet.

Fortunately, there are a lot of treatment options for canine arthritis. Proper weight management, prescription foods, and glucosamine supplements are common treatments for arthritis in dogs.

5. Dental Disease

dog teeth checked dental vet

Proper dental care for dogs has become a priority in the last decade. Research has proven that dental hygiene is essential to overall health in dogs. Untreated dental disease can lead to heart problems, infection, and kidney failure.

If you notice a foul smell coming from your pet’s mouth, this is not normal and indicates unhealthy teeth and gums. Hesitating to eat or dropping food when eating can signify your dog is experiencing discomfort related to a dental issue.

6. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

dog holding leash

If your potty-trained dog has suddenly started urinating in the house, a vet visit might be in order. Accidents in the house are one of the common signs of a UTI. Other signs of UTI in dogs include painful urinating, straining to urinate, blood in your dog’s urine, and foul-smelling urine.

Kidney disease, diabetes, and bacteria can all cause UTIs in dogs. These conditions can leave your dog in severe pain and infection if left untreated. Most UTIs need antibiotic therapy to be resolved.

7. Gastrointestinal Parasites

puppy sleeping labrador

Controlling parasites is a large part of dog ownership. They are susceptible to intestinal parasites such as roundworms, heartworms, Giardia, etc. Dogs acquire internal parasites by ingesting fleas, drinking from infected water, or ingesting infected soil.

It can be challenging to detect if your pet has intestinal parasites, as most species, are microscopic organisms. Tapeworms and roundworms are the only two that can be seen in your dog’s stool with the naked eye. A dog infected with intestinal parasites may have diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, or abdominal pain.

8. External Parasites

dog fleas preventative

External parasites affect your dog’s coat and skin. They consist of fleas, ticks, and mites and are usually easier to detect than gastrointestinal parasites. They can cause severe scratching and skin inflammation if left untreated, and can lead to skin infections.

There are a variety of flea and tick preventatives to choose from, and most of these medications can also help prevent mites and intestinal parasites. It’s important to talk to your vet to decide which preventative measure is best for your dog.

9. Diarrhea

dog table vet terrier

A single instance of diarrhea is standard for most dogs, but there are cases when you should take a dog to the vet. These include diarrhea with vomiting, lethargy, inappetence, or abdominal pain.

Persistent diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration and can signify other health issues. New medications, food allergies, internal parasites, and other factors can cause diarrhea in dogs.

10. Vomiting

dog blanket sleeping sick

Dogs eat things they are not supposed to and tend to vomit a lot more than humans do. Also, they drink their water too fast and eat too quickly. These can all be regular occurrences for your dog and are not a cause for worry.

If your dog has stopped eating or drinking, seems lethargic, or has diarrhea, it’s time to see the vet. Continual vomiting or vomiting with the above symptoms can be signs of severe illness and should not be ignored.

Always consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s health. Contact your vet or an emergency hospital if your dog has ingested something toxic. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline for support and guidance.

Heather Jarek
By Heather JarekBA Veterinary Technology

Heather is a lover of all animals, big and small. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology in 2014. She has been working as a licensed veterinary technician for the last eight years. Her favorite hobby is horseback riding, and she has been riding horses since the age of eight. She enjoys spending time with her family at the lake with their golden retriever Calista in her free time.