Like every living being, getting sick and facing health issues is part and parcel of life or growing old. We would then watch our and our furkids’ diet and ensure that we lead fairly healthy lives.
However, sometimes there are also biological factors that increase the likelihood of some health issues in certain species of dogs. Other than skin issues and obesity, here are 11 other health issues that dogs usually face and their causes.
If you’ve got a senior or ageing dog, you’d probably notice the center of their eyes turning a little grey or opaque. This is known as cataract which is a cloudiness that develops within the crystalline lens and can range in size from a small dot to the entire size of the lens.
When a dog’s lens becomes opaque, it prevents an image to form on the retina thus resulting in vision loss. However, light may still pass through the lens enabling your doggo to differentiate between light and dark.
This issue commonly occurs in older dogs but genetics are a larger determinant as to whether a dog develops cataracts. To some extent, it even develops at less than a year of age.
Breeds with the higher likelihood include Boston Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Siberian Huskies and Miniature Poodles.
Some factors that lead to the development of cataracts in dogs include hereditary/genetic, congenital (occurring at birth), diabetes mellitus, glaucoma as well as trauma or inflammation to the eye.
Raising a doggo from a little pupper is a lot of fun! They grow from a little furball of energy to perhaps being a little more calm and chill as they age. However, if you’re noticing an increase in their hesitation to use the stairs, preference to lie down rather than sitting or walking as well as whimpering, growling or snapping when you touch an affected joint, these may be signs of arthritis.
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint that can lead to the development of joint disorders. As a pretty common health issue, it causes a wide range of impact on our pets from minor aches and discomforts to an interference with mobility.
It’s commonly seen in breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Newfoundland’s, St. Bernard’s, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Great Danes, and Old English Sheep Dogs.
Breeds with long bodies and short legs such as Daschunds, Corgis and Basset Hounds would be among the few smaller dog breeds to be affected by this health issue. Due to their sausage-like build, the brunt of physical activities would be felt by their backs.
Hence it is especially important to keep their weight in check and be mindful of them jumping off high couches or beds as their body develops.
Some other causes of arthritis also includes injury to ligaments, joint instability, cartilage issues, joint infection and autoimmune disorders.
3. Ear Infection
It’s uncomfortable for both us humans and our dogs. While the symptoms may merely appear as wax and discharge buildup in the ear canal, it often causes significant discomfort to our dogs. Some signs of an ear infection are odor, head shaking, itchiness, scratching at the affected ear, dark discharge, redness and swelling of the ear canal, pain or crusting or scabs in the ears.
As our doggo’s ear canal is more vertical than ours, it forms an L-shape that tends to hold fluid, making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, yeast or a combination of both.
Some factors that could cause ear infections includes moisture, wax buildup, foreign bodies, injury to the ear canal, excessive cleaning, allergies, endocrine disorders, and autoimmune disorders.
However, certain breeds are also more prone to experiencing ear infections due to the physical attributes such as:
- Allergic dermatitis in Boxer, Irish Setter, Shih Tzu and West Highland Terrier
- Droopy ears in Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Basset Hound, beagle and Bloodhound
- Hairs inside the ear canal in Schnauzer and Poodle
- Narrow ear canal in Chow Chow
- Larger ears in German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever
4. Kennel Cough
Otherwise known as infection bronchitis in dogs, it’s commonly caused by bacterial or viral infections in their respiratory system, causing them to cough.
The most obvious symptom of kennel cough is a forceful, hacking cough which would sound like your dog has something stuck in their throat. Some dogs would experience a runny nose, sneezing or eye discharge with no loss of appetite.
This sickness is airborne and highly contagious with an incubation period of 2-14 days or being dormant in carrier dogs for months. It’s also transmitted with bacteria on toys, food bowls or other shared objects making it important to isolate the infected doggo and sanitise its items to contain the spread of this sickness.
5. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Successfully training our furkids is one of the accomplishments pet parents look forward to achieving. Knowing their toilet schedule allows us to preempt and let them out for their scheduled peeing/pooping time.
However, if you’re noticing your pup whining to be let out to pee or peeing more often than usual with pain and difficulty, they may be experiencing a UTI. Some other signs of a UTI include blood in urine, dripping urine, frequent licking of the genitals or whining while peeing due to the pain.
Generally, a UTI occurs when the bladder gets infected due to the presence of bacteria that has travelled up the urethra. Some dogs would also develop bladder stones with the UTI.
Other causes of a UTI to develop include an ageing female dog, dogs with diabetes or bladder stones, abnormalities in the urinary tract structure, tumors in the bladder or urinary tract or a weakened immune system.
6. Dental Problems
Besides dental hygiene across all dog breeds, some breeds are more predisposed to experiencing dental diseases due to the anatomy of their mouths, heads and faces. Some common causes in smaller dog breeds are tooth crowding, rotation of teeth, decreased oral activity (lesser chewing as compared to larger dogs), and shorter tooth roots.
However, here are some dog breeds and the dental issues that they are more prone to experience:
- Boxers, Great Danes, and Mastiffs: Gingival hyperplasia, a disorder caused by overgrown gums
- Chihuahuas: Overcrowded teeth, plaque buildup, and gum disease
- Collie: Overbite and periodontal pockets
- Dachshunds: Narrow, elongated snouts making them more likely to develop periodontal pockets.
- Pugs, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers: Malocclusion and tooth overcrowding
- Yorkies, Maltese, Poodles, and Pomeranians: Snaggle teeth that cause food and debris to become trapped in hard to reach areas, increasing the risk of gum disease
7. Cushing’s Disease
Perhaps you’ve been noticing your doggo acting like a middle aged man going through a quarter life crisis — drinking alot more (water), eating everything in sight, losing hair and developing a potbelly.
Cushing’s Disease commonly develops slowly and occers naturally in middle aged to older dogs which is why they’re easily overlooked as signs of your doggo getting older. However, all it requires is a visit to the vet and some diagnostic tests to confirm if your pet has hyperadrenocorticism aka Cushing’s disease.
It’s caused by an imbalance of a steroid hormone called cortisol that’s produced by the adrenal glands in front of the kidneys. This hormone is what controls both humans’ and animals’ “fight or flight” responses.
Hence, the imbalance (either too much or too little) in the amount of cortisol released by the adrenal glands happens when your doggo is diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.
While it’s typically a lifelong condition, it’s usually managed with prescribed medications and care from a veterinarian.
8. Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
The heart is made out of muscles that contain enough strength and elasticity to stimulate a healthy blood flow in living beings. When a dog is diagnosed with this primary disease of the cardiac muscle, it means that the disease has decreased the ability of its heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system.
This results in heart muscle dysfunction, chamber dilation and even tual congestive heart failure or death in affected patients.
While the exact cause of canine DCM is still unknown, there are a few factors including nutritional, infectious and genetic predispositions that have been pointed out. It’s also said to happen predominantly in large and giant breed dogs. Some of the few breeds with a higher risk including Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Boxers and Cocker Spaniels.
9. Diabetes Mellitus
All our furkids may be sweet adorable doggos but it’s estimated that 1 in 500 dogs has canine diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus, otherwise known as sugar diabetes is caused by a lack of available insulin for the healthy regulation of blood sugar levels. It’s caused by insufficient insulin production by the pancreas and failure of the body cells to respond to insulin.
This subsequently results in the cells not being able to absorb enough glucose thus causing a heightened concentration of glucose in the blood.
Other factors that would increase the risk factors of having diabetes includes having pancreatitis or Cushing’s disease as well as being of certain breeds such as Australian Terriers, Bichon Frises, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Keeshonden, Poodles (toy, miniature and standard), Pugs, Samoyeds and Schnauzers (both miniature and standard).
No, they do not crawl to your furkid’s tummy and give them butterflies in their stomach. But rather they’re a fatal parasite that could lead to lung disease, heart failure and other organ damage.
A heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a variety of parasitic roundworms that mature into adult worms that may look like 5 to 12 inch cooked spaghetti. These worms will then mate and produce offspring while living inside your dog for 5 to 7 years.
During their infestation, they would make themselves at home in your dogs muscles, blood vessels, the pulmonary artery and heart.
The cause of this illness stems from being bitten by an infected mosquito and is not transferable from one dog to another. However, it’s best to get your doggo routinely checked by its veterinarian and watch for early symptoms such as occasional cough and tiredness after moderate activity.
Speaking of infectious illnesses, the canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs. This virus would affect their gastrointestinal tracts and is spread via direct dog-to-dog contact with contaminated poop, environment or people. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than 4 months old are the most at risk of contracting this virus.
Some signs of this illness include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, fever or low body temperature, vomiting and severe, often bloody diarrhea.
Should your doggo exhibit any of these signs, you should immediately isolate it from the rest of your furkids along with their belongings (toys, food and water bowl, etc) and notify your vet immediately.
Reasons being, the persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration and the damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock which could be fatal.
There are certain factors that are out of our control when it comes to ensuring that our pets don’t fall sick. However what we can do is ensure that they live in a clean and safe environment, and eat healthy, nutritious food—guess what, we can help with the latter!
If you want to find out how, click here to have a quick chat with our friendly Petchef Advisors and request a free sample on us!
Feature Image Credit: Petsofy