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How to Prevent the Most Common Dog Conditions

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What are the most common conditions in dogs? After we published that article we got dozens of emails saying "Okay, you told me what the common conditions are-- how can I prevent them?"

Thank you so much for bringing up this excellent point. I wanted to help my readers take better care of their pets, so we researched ways to protect your pet against developing the conditions mentioned. Some are preventable and some aren't, but every little bit of precaution helps.

Below are tips on how to avoid the conditions which are considered preventable.


1. Ear Infections - Otitis externa, commonly referred to as an "ear infection", is a condition characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal. It affects up to 20 percent of dogs, especially those with floppy ears. You can prevent ear infections by gently drying your dog's ears after bathing or swimming. It's a good idea to take a look into their ears at least once a week – problems are MUCH easier to treat if they're detected early. If you notice any odor, redness or discharge from your dog's ears, please call your vet sooner rather than later.

2. Skin Allergies/Dermatitis – Most skin allergies are either from fleas (the most common cause) or substances in the environment (such as pollen and mold). There is not much you can do to prevent airborne allergens but you can prevent flea problems by putting your dog on a good year-round flea preventative. And yes, year-round prevention is important, as fleas can survive indoors through the winter months. Frequent vacuuming and the changing of air filters can cut down on the amount of allergens your dog might inhale.

3. Diarrhea – Almost all dog owners are familiar with this condition characterized by loose, watery stool. The most common causes are the ingestion of table scraps and spoiled food, excess plant material, and a sudden change in food.

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 suffering from any number of non-serious conditions. To prevent vomiting don't give your dog table food, change their food gradually, and monitor him to prevent him eating things he can't digest.

5. Pyoderma – This common condition is a bacterial infection of the skin. There are several causes and some are more easily prevented than others. The best ways to curb pyoderma are to prevent fleas and ticks and bathe your dog periodically. Problems are easier to treat if they are detected early so if you see redness, swelling or discharge, please talk to your vet.

6. Urinary Tract Infection - Inflammation of the urinary bladder is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Offer plenty of fresh clean water and give your dog many opportunities to urinate. Reducing the need to "hold it" can help prevent infections.

7. Conjunctivitis – Yet another issue is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue coating the eye and lining the eyelids. There isn't much you can do to prevent conjunctivitis. However, you can reduce the likelihood of your dog's eyes becoming irritated by preventing things from blowing in your dog's eyes. If you use spray cleaners, paints or other aerosols that may irritate the sensitive eye tissue, remove your dog from the area until they are out of the air.

8. Mass - Skin growths or masses are lumps of tissue that are within or can be felt under the skin. There is nothing you can do to prevent skin masses but early treatment and surgical removal are much more affordable than more complex procedures.

9. Giardia – I'm happy to say that this one is easier to prevent. Giardia is a protozoan parasite found all over the world which frequently causes diarrhea. It is common in animals under close confinement, such as those in kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores. Giardia is common in contaminated water. Prevent your dog from drinking out of old water puddles, especially in dog parks.

10. Foreign Body Ingestion - This condition is caused by an indigestible objects being caught in your dog's stomach or intestines. To prevent problems, keep all items that your dog might ingest but shouldn't out of his reach. Observe his behavior when playing with toys to ensure he doesn't try to "eat" them. Check toys regularly to make sure they are not getting too worn out.

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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