Top 10 Dog Conditions

By PetMD Editorial on Feb. 17, 2010

What's Ailing Your Dog?

No matter how well you look after them, dogs will get sick. But if you know the most common ailments and conditions that affect dogs, you'll be in a better position to know when to take your pup to the vet.

#10 Sprains. Has your dog suddenly become lame? Does it show tenderness or pain around a certain body part? It may be a sprain. Sprains can range from mild to severe and can deform a dog's joint(s) if left untreated.

Bring your dog to the vet so that the sprain may be assessed. Then, depending on the type of sprain, your vet will treat the injury with simple wraps, hot and cold therapy, splints, or in severe cases, surgery. Your vet will also suggest that you make sure your dog gets plenty of rest to speed up the recovery process.

#9 Hypothyroidism. If your dog gains weight suddenly but isn't eating more than usual, it could be hypothyroidism. A problem commonly seen in purebred dogs, hypothyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland stops producing the thyroid hormone, which is needed to regulate a dog's metabolism.

Other common symptoms of hypothyroidism include a lack of appetite, baldness, flaky skin, dull coat, droopy eyelids, and stiff joints. Some dogs will also have an awful stench, regardless of how much you bathe them. To treat the condition, your vet will prescribe a thyroid supplement for your dog, which it will require for the rest of his life.

#8 Arthritis. Arthritis is a painful condition that occurs when the space between two or more bones, simply referred to as joints, becomes inflamed. This can make movement significantly more difficult for your dog. If your dog suddenly begins to limp, becomes lethargic, is stiff after getting up from a rest, or stops letting you touch him or her, you will want to consult a vet.

Two common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by old age, poor nutrition, and chronic joint trauma, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes a dog's immune system to attack the joint tissues. Your vet's course of treatment will depend on your dog's specific type of arthritis, but it commonly includes the use of steroid therapy and surgery when joint damage is severe. Some vets like to combine traditional treatments with holistic ones, so make sure you explore your options.

#7 Eye Infections. No one enjoys eye infections and your pooch is no different. Some signs of infection include eye redness, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, and frequent scratching or rubbing at the eyes. Causes include conjunctivitis, jaundice, allergies, and fungal infections.

Treatment will vary, depending on the underlying cause, but may include eye drops, steroids, creams, and antibiotics. Eye infections can quickly become severe, leading to permanent vision problems, so why wait? Take him or her to a vet at the first sign of infection.

#6 Bladder diseases. Like people, dogs are susceptible to bladder issues. If your doggy seems listless, strains when peeing, pees where it shouldn’t, or dribbles urine around the home, take her to the vet. Bacterial infections, stones, tumors, bladder wall inflammation, and bladder defects are just some of the more common causes of bladder disease.

Treating the bladder disease will depend on the underlying cause, but may include antibiotics, flushing out stones, or even surgery, and in the case of advanced tumors, chemotherapy. A blocked bladder is serious; so make sure you bring your dog to the vet if she has trouble peeing.

#5 Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. If your dog has runny poop, poops frequently or just holds it in, visit your vet, as he may have intestinal inflammation. Intestinal inflammation affects both the large and small intestine, and may be due to various factors, including parasites, the ingestion of non-food items and sudden diet changes.

Diagnostic tests and a medical history will help your vet determine what's wrong, but in most cases your dog will need a change in diet, prescribed medications, and fluids administered to replace any which may have been lost during a bout of diarrhea.

#4 Stomach upsets. Did you know pets get upset tummies too? The underlying cause for stomach upset in a dog can be anything from eating something she shouldn’t have, to irritable bowel syndrome, to parasites. If your dog has smelly breath, diarrhea, or a rumblin' tummy, take her to a vet. Other common signs of stomach upsets include a lack of appetite, vomiting, bloating, and pain.

Your dog's course of treatment will ultimately depend on the underlying cause for the stomach upset, but it may include a change in diet, vaccines, medication, or simply some Chamomile tea.

#3 Pyoderma. Pyoderma is just a fancy name for a bacterial skin infection. Luckily, it isn’t contagious to other dogs, so you won’t need to set up an emergency quarantine room in your home, but you will need to mosey on down to the vet.

Some signs to look out for are hair loss, itchy yellow pustules, lesions on the skin, and what may appear like chin acne. Depending on the severity, your vet may shave the affected area(s), give your dog a special antibacterial bath, and a prescription for antibiotics. In extreme cases, your dog may receive a vaccine.

#2 Skin Allergies. If your doggy is scratching more than usual, chewing at her coat, or has a suddenly mangy coat, chances are your dog is allergic to something. Allergies can arise from different things, including diet and environmental factors, but a trip to the vet will help ease your pet’s discomfort.

Vets will often suggest a dietary change along with supplements like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, although special baths, Epsom salts, and oatmeal treatments are also sometimes recommended. Special allergy shots, creams, and antihistamines may also be administered.

#1 Ear Infection. This one isn't a big surprise. Ear infections seems to spread like wildfire, and in your pooch, it may be due to mites, bad hygiene, allergies, excess hair, or a foreign object causing a secondary infection in the ear, among other things. If you see your dog scratching at his ears, shaking his head as if trying to get rid of something, or if he gets irritable when you touch his ears, it’s time to take him to visit the vet.

Your vet will clean the affected ear and run lab tests on the discharge. With minor infections you’ll be able to use a special antibacterial ear cleanser at home, and a solution to help with your dog's itching. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics for your dog, either in pill or ointment form, although pills are usually reserved for severe infections.

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