As an owner, it’s easy to assume your dog is healthy and happy. You see, even if a dog is unwell, they may not show obvious signs of sickness. The excitement you see when they greet you after a long day at work, or just at the sight of food, may trick you into thinking nothing is wrong. But sometimes there is, and you need to be on the lookout for these subtle, but important symptoms.
Here are four, often unnoticed, conditions that affect your dog's health and the accompanying symptoms you need to look out for...
Ear infections can be really painful and itchy for your pup, and in extreme cases can lead to hearing loss. Dogs will try to fight the itch or pain by shaking their heads or scratching their ears - so lookout for this as an early warning sign. Additionally, there could be redness on the skin around the ear, and you may notice an unusual odour coming from inside the ear canal.
One cause of ear infections in dogs is an overexposure to water (think jumping in lakes or rivers, bathing etc.) and the ear canal becomes moist. Microorganisms can grow in that moisture and lead to infection. Another reason an ear infection might occur is due to allergic reactions. Allergies cause inflammation in the skin, which can cause an overgrowth of the bacteria and yeast that usually inhabits their skin.
To prevent ear infections, make sure you dry your dog's ears thoroughly when they go in the water, and perform frequent ear washes on your dog to check for any redness or inflammation. Ask your vet which ear cleaner would be best for your dog and give them the care they need to ensure their ears are clear and bacteria-free.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be one of the most uncomfortable things for a dog to experience. UTIs are bacterial infections that occur in the urinary system, and for dogs, it usually occurs in the bladder, and less commonly (but not never) in the kidneys. UTIs can be accompanied by cystitis, which is inflammation in the bladder. If there is an infection in the kidney, the symptoms may be harsher than other UTIs.
Common symptoms of UTIs could include one or more of these signs:
If you find your pooch exhibiting any of these behaviours, get in touch with a vet right away. Don’t worry though, there a number of antibiotic solutions that will them get back to tip-top shape in no time.
When it comes to prevention, there isn’t a whole lot you can do aside from making sure your dog is drinking and eating clean, wholesome food/water. UTIs can strike at the most random times and can still develop in very healthy dogs, so just be prepared and look out for the symptoms!
Parasites are everywhere, and there are two main types: internal and external. The internal parasites affect either the heart and lungs or the gastrointestinal system, while the external ones affect their skin or hair, but can lead to internal problems. Parasites can be treated, but prevention is far more convenient for you, your family and your beloved dog.
Common internal parasites include heartworms and intestinal worms.
Heartworms: Are transmitted by mosquitoes, and once they are inside the dog, they base themselves inside the heart and lungs. Heartworms can grow up to 16 inches long and can be fatal if untreated! This is one of the most threatening infections dogs can get. Signs of heartworm disease include mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, early fatigue, decreased activity, and weight loss. If your pup exhibits any of these symptoms, consult a vet immediately.
Intestinal worms: Dogs can pick up infectious worms from their environment, too, like from infected soil outside. The symptoms of these worms; tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, can sometimes be unseen. Other times, signs might be vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy.
Common external parasites include fleas and mites. These can be contagious to pets and humans so watch out!
Fleas: Fleas can jump around the body of an animal and survive by sucking their blood. Flea infestations can lead to medical problems, such as anaemia and tapeworm infection. The longer the flea infestation is there, the harder it is to deal with it. Excessive scratching is the most common symptom of fleas.
Mites: Mites come in different forms, but all will irritate the dog’s skin and can cause hair loss. Mites sit on the skin and hair and can be treated with medication over a period of time. The dog’s immune system can keep the mite population under control, so if your dog has a weak immune system it’s important to keep an eye for mites. Symptoms of mites in dogs include hair loss, dandruff, excessive scratching and even visible evidence of these little critters on your pup's skin.
To prevent the accumulation of both kinds of parasites - it’s quite simple. Have your dog eat healthy food, exercise and wash them frequently. And what is frequently exactly? Well, it depends on your dog. Dogs with very thin hair can be washed just once every 3 months whereas a dog with thicker hair (that gets dirtier easier) can be washed as frequently as once a week. For the exact number of washes, consult your local vet!
You should also stay on top of their regular vaccinations and flea treatment. Talk to your vet about both of these.
Joint-related conditions in dogs are often called by vets as the #1 “silent killer” of dogs. Why? When a dog starts experiencing joint-related conditions, he/she will become less mobile. When this happens, a host of other health conditions begin to cascade on top of it like heart problems and obesity. In other words, joint pain is the base level condition that leads to all these other problems!
There are many joint-related conditions but the most common is arthritis which affects 50% of dogs at some point in their life. Arthritis occurs when a dog’s joints become inflamed due to the cartilage between the bones degrading. When the cartilage disappears, the bones actually begin rubbing against each other, causing painful inflammation and inhibiting movement.
The most common symptoms of arthritis (and any joint-related condition for that matter) are:
If you notice any of these symptoms you should notify your vet immediately to diagnose the condition.
The most important thing you can do right now is to be aware of these symptoms and conditions. Take your time. Read through each of these conditions and memorise what to look out for. Your dog’s wellbeing depends on it!