Common Health Problems for Dogs

Proper care for your dog — including regular exercise, routine vet appointments, a nutritious diet, and regular grooming — helps keep your dog healthy. However, even the best care can’t prevent illness. Sometimes your dog can get sick or develop a health problem despite your best efforts. Here are a few common health problems for dogs, and what you can do about them.

Ear infections

The American Kennel Club reports that as many as 20% of dogs develop some type of ear disease. Various things can cause ear infections in dogs: allergies, bacteria, excess moisture, wax buildup, autoimmune disorders, injury, foreign bodies.

Talk to your dog’s vet immediately if you notice redness, swelling, dark discharge, odor, buildup, or pain in your dog’s ear. Constant head shaking and scratching can also indicate an ear infection.


Parasites such as fleas, heartworm, tapeworm, and ticks are one of the most common health problems for dogs. If left untreated, parasites can cause health problems weight loss, infections, and transmission of disease. If your dog is not already taking parasite preventive medication, talk to your dog’s veterinarian.

Skin irritation

A number of things can irritate your dog’s skin: cold or dry weather, diet, excessive bathing, the wrong shampoo, allergies, parasites, and stress. Sometimes large patches of skin may become irritated and sometimes your dog develops hot spots.

Start by checking for fleas and ticks.

You can often treat mild flaking or dermatitis by making small adjustments such as changing your dog’s food, less frequent bathing, or changing your dog’s shampoo.

Talk to your dog’s vet for serious skin irritation.


Occasionally vomiting isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Maybe your dog ate something he wasn’t supposed to eat, maybe he ate too much, or a change in food caused an upset stomach. However, you should talk to your vet immediately if your dog continues to throw up or vomiting is accompanied by other worrying symptoms.


As with vomiting, occasional diarrhea doesn’t indicate a serious problem and doesn’t require medical attention. Diarrhea is only a problem if it persists, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms.


A dog’s risk for arthritis increases as he gets older. With arthritis comes loss of mobility, lost range of motion, and a loss of energy. You may find that your dog isn’t able to get up and move as quickly as he once did.

One way to help prevent arthritis in dogs is make sure that your dog lives a healthy active life as a young pup. Talk to your dog’s vet if you think that his quality of life suffers from arthritis.


People don’t always think of a few extra pounds on their pooch as a health problem. However, being overweight or obese is just as much a problem for dogs as it is for people. It increases the risk of various diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Yes, dogs can get diabetes!

A healthy, active lifestyle and a nutritious diet (with proper portion sizes) can help your dog stay at a healthy weight.

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