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How to Identify the Most Common Dog Conditions

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What are the most 10 most frequently diagnosed problems in dogs? Here they are:

1. Otitis Externa - Commonly referred to as an "ear infection", otitis externa is a condition characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal. It is particularly prevalent in dogs with long, floppy ears such as beagles. Ear infections represent one of the top 10 reasons dogs are brought to veterinarians and these infections may affect up to 20 percent of dogs. Common signs of an ear infection are scratching at the ears or shaking the head, as well as odor, inflammation and discharge in the ear.

2. Skin Allergies/Dermatitis - Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs and is caused by flea bites, specifically the saliva of the flea. The disease typically results in excessive itching predisposes to the development of secondary skin infections in the irritated areas. Another common skin allergy is caused by "atopy." Atopy is a pruritic (itchy) skin disease of animals which is caused by an allergy to environmental substances. These substances, such as pollen and mold spores, are contacted through the air either by absorption through the respiratory tract or contact through the skin. Signs of skin allergies are itching, redness of the skin and hair loss.

3. Diarrhea - Acute diarrhea is a common clinical problem in veterinary practice. It is characterized by a sudden onset and short duration (three weeks or less) of watery or watery-mucoid diarrhea. Occasionally the fecal material is also obviously bloody.

4. Vomiting - At one time or another, your dog may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he'll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, exercised too soon after eating or is affected by any number of non-serious conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem, or it may be a sign of something very serious.

5. Pyoderma – This refers to a bacterial infection of the skin. Superficial infections (those within the top layer of skin and the hair follicles) can cause intense itching leading to discomfort.

6. Urinary Tract Infection - Inflammation of the urinary bladder, sometimes called a urinary tract infection, is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Most cases of bacterial cystitis are "ascending," meaning that the offending bacteria arise from the dog's own intestinal tract and "ascend" to the bladder, beginning at the perineum (the skin around the anus) and proceeding to the urethra and ultimately the bladder. Common signs are increased urinary frequency, straining to urinate, accidents in the house and/or blood in the urine.

7. Conjunctivitis – Another common condition is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue coating the eye and lining the eyelids. Conjunctivitis is a common eye problem in dogs. It may be the only eye disease present, or may be associated with other diseases or eye problems. Common signs are redness of the conjunctiva, squinting, eye discharge or scratching at the eyes.

8. Skin Masses - These lumps of tissue that are within the skin or can be felt under the skin. These lumps and bumps are fairly common occurrences, especially in the older dog. A skin growth or mass may be a malignant or benign tumor, an abscess, a cyst, a hematoma (blood-filled mass) or a reaction by the skin to an allergen (hives).

9. Giardia – A highly contagious condition, Giardia is a protozoan parasite found all over the world. Giardia lives in the canine intestinal tract and infection may result in gastrointestinal symptoms or present no symptoms at all. Common signs are stomach upset and diarrhea.

10. Foreign Body Ingestion (Stomach) - The ingestion of a foreign object can cause serious health problems including laceration and trauma of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This condition is preventable with the correct precautions. Keep all items that your dog might ingest out of his reach. Observe his behavior when playing with toys to ensure he doesn't try to "eat" them.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your dog, please see your veterinarian. I hope this helps you to better understand some common conditions in dogs as well as how to recognize them. Hopefully your dog won't ever be affected by any of them. But, if something ever happens, it is best to be prepared. One way to be prepared is to have pet insurance.

Pet insurance companies, such as Embrace Pet Insurance, provide simple and easy to understand coverage that allows you to do the best for your pet.

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