There are many illnesses that can befall our precious pets, some curable, some not. Sadly, some of the most common diseases are eminently preventable if dog owners would just be more responsible about vaccinating their dogs.
There are too many cases where puppies are given “free to a good home,” but then these puppies are not vaccinated or dewormed, leading to diseases. There are also diseases that are more incidental and that loving, caring pet owners could not have prevented. So, what are the most common diseases in dogs?
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that, while more prevalent in larger breeds, has been seen in smaller breeds too. It is caused when the ball of the hip joint, or the head of the femur, does not develop at the same pace as the socket. This can lead to the ball being too small, causing the hip to dislocate from time to time and causing pain and lameness in the dog.
Alternatively, the ball can also be too large for the socket, causing the bones to grind together, causing inflammation, pain and, ultimately, arthritis. The disease is not preventable, but you would do well to research the breeder if you are purchasing a breed prone to this condition.
Some indiscriminate breeders exacerbate the problem by inbreeding to get a more “desirable looking” pup, with no regard to the detrimental effect on the pup’s health. There are interventions and treatments to slow the progression of this condition, making your dog more comfortable. Given its seriousness, you certainly need to learn more about hip dysplasia in dogs.
This is a completely preventable disease that is prevented by simply vaccinating your puppy; however, failure to do so can lead to your dog contracting the virus that is, in most cases, fatal. It is spread in an infected dog’s feces and once infected, your dog will develop diarrhea and vomiting, making him weak and lethargic as he becomes more and more dehydrated. Many dogs succumb to this disease, which is prevented by timeous vaccinations.
Another completely preventable disease, Rabies is always fatal for dogs once they have been bitten by an infected creature (it can infect any species, including squirrels, raccoons, rats etc.). Rabies causes paralysis of the throat and tongue, causing the dog to salivate excessively due to his inability to swallow.
As it advances, he may become aggressive and, if he bites, the infection will be spread – even to humans, who must have a course of shots as soon as possible to prevent their own demise. Rabies shots are easily available and every dog owner should ensure to have their dogs vaccinated.
This tick-borne disease can be prevented by ensuring your dog is bathed regularly in a tick repellent shampoo. You can also purchase collars that prevent tick infestations for months – they are an excellent way to make sure your best friend does not end up with this awful disease. If your dog suddenly displays lethargy and loss of appetite, you will need to act quickly to get her on antibiotics, which will clear the bacteria from her blood.
Like humans, some dogs have sensitive skin and can develop itches and rashes on their bodies. Some skin disorders are caused by specific, identifiable allergens, like grain or fish by-products, where the pet owner can change his diet and he will be fine.
Some dogs are allergic to grass seeds, which is very sad, as dogs love to bound around in open grasslands. However, as with humans, the trigger for some dogs’ skin disorders is never identified. These doggies will need to be treated symptomatically for their entire lifetime.
Ear Infections and Ear Mites
Ear infections are more prevalent in dogs with “droopy” ears, such as Dalmatians, Spaniels, even more so in dogs with very large ears, like Basset Hounds. These closed-up areas offer the ideal breeding ground for both fungal and bacterial infections, being warm and moist all the time.
You will know your pet is battling if he shakes his head constantly or scratches at his ears. These conditions are easily treated, either with antibiotics or antifungals, depending on the type of infection. You can prevent recurrence by cleaning your dog’s ears regularly with a damp cotton ball, ensuring to clean out any visible build-up.
This is not necessarily preventable and it can seem to sneak up on you as a dog owner. Your dog may drop weight and appear more lethargic. He will drink excessive amounts of water and urinate more frequently. This condition can be insidious as it is usually a slow degeneration.
You will initially notice he loses his shine and somehow, he seems a little less energetic, but all other aspects appear normal. Then he may start to lose more fur than usual and lose weight and general condition. Your key symptoms are weight loss and an increase in water consumption. The disease is degenerative and progressive and, while you can take steps to slow it down, it cannot be cured.