Vet Answers The Most Frequently Asked Dog Health Questions
Over the course of the pandemic, 3.2 million homes across the U.K. welcomed a new pet into their lives.
And it’s easy to see why; dogs have been found to make us happier and can encourage us to live a healthier lifestyle, but if you’re a dog owner it can be quite concerning to see your best furry friend experiencing shivering, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Naturally our curiosity and concern takes us directly to Dr Google to find out what could be causing our pooch to act out of the ordinary.
Dog food company tails.com has discovered the health issues that dog owners all over the UK have been searching for the most, and have asked their Head Vet, Sean McCormack for his advice on how to ease these symptoms at home (and when to seek the advice of a veterinarian).
Kennel Cough – searched 15,000 times a month
Kennel cough is the common name for infectious canine tracheobronchitis which is a highly contagious respiratory disease in the dog world. The disease causes inflammation to the throat and lungs.
The most common symptom of kennel cough is a dry, hacking cough that sometimes sounds like honking. Other symptoms include watery discharge from the nose and retching. In severe cases, symptoms can progress into pneumonia, fever, lethargy, and a lack of appetite.
Sean advises that treatment plans vary depending on the severity, your vet will know best on how to treat your pooch.
In most cases, however, it is suggested that you allow the cough to simply run its course, but make sure you double check this with your veterinarian. Sometimes a course of anti-inflammatories or antibiotics to treat secondary infection may be needed.
If this is the case, here are some tips from Sean on how to help your pet through the process:
Keep them isolated from other pets.
A humidifier or vaporiser can provide some relief. If you do not have either, try allowing your pet in the bathroom while you shower.
Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke or other irritating fumes.
If your pet is a puller, try replacing your pet’s collar with a harness for the duration of the cough to keep from causing any further pain.
Be sure to monitor your pet’s eating and drinking habits, and provide all the support they may need.
Sean goes on to say ‘if you are worried about your dog catching kennel cough then there is the option for your pooch to be vaccinated, to arrange this simply enquire at your local vets.’
Ticks On Dogs – searched 8,200 times a month
One of our biggest fears for our dogs is discovering the presence of ticks. Whilst there’s a common misconception that ticks on dogs are only a problem in the summer months, warmer weather has seen a rise in ticks all year round.
Through the nature of a tick’s blood sucking tendencies, they can transmit a range of infections and diseases including Babesiosis and Lyme Disease, affecting both dogs and their owners. Ticks are most commonly associated with Lyme Disease, an illness that often lies undetected due to symptoms frequently not appearing after the initial bite for up to several weeks.
Sean says: ‘the sooner a tick can be removed, the less likely it is that you or your dog can get infected by nasty bacteria.’
‘To remove a tick effectively, use a tick removal tool (you can get these easily online). This allows you to twist and lift the tick off of the skin by going underneath its biting mouthparts.
‘It’s important to make sure you remove the tick properly and get the head out, as just pulling at the tick can often leave the mouthparts embedded in the skin and risk infection. If you are struggling with removing a tick yourself contact your local vet for help’
Dog Diarrhoea – searched 5,200 a month
It’s not unusual for dogs to have stinky or runny poos. In fact, dog diarrhoea is one of the most common problems vets see every year.
There are many causes for dog or puppy diarrhoea, but here are a few of the most common; sudden change in diet, dietary indiscretion (eating something they shouldn’t), parasites, infections, inflammatory disorders and even quite simply stress, anxiety and over excitement.
Sean explains: ‘The colour of your dog’s poo can also depend solely on your dog’s diet – reddish, greenish, or dark brown poop can all be normal.’
‘If it’s looking black – it could be a sign of internal bleeding, whilst pale yellow or grey poo can be a sign of fat digestion issues in the pancreas or problems in the liver. Seek veterinary help immediately if you notice this in your dog’s stool.’
‘You know your dog better than anyone, if you feel like there’s something wrong – or common problems such as constipation or diarrhoea don’t seem to go away after a few days – don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet, and take a stool sample with you.’
Dog Fleas – searched 3,000 times a month
Fleas, no one likes them, even the thought of the pesky little bugs makes your skin crawl. Did you know, more than 95% of fleas don’t live on animals, but in wood floor crevices, carpets and soft furnishings? And they can remain alive in the cracks for up to two years.
Sean states ‘the most effective flea products are a liquid spot-on medication which is applied to the skin on the back of your dog’s neck, but application errors can be an issue with these treatments, and if it rains or your dog jumps in water the product can wash away before it has a chance to be effective.
‘Double check with your veterinarian the best course of action to tackle fleas. It’s equally important to tackle the eggs and larvae in the environment as well as adult fleas on your dog. If you don’t you’ll never get rid of the infestation’
Also see: How often should I treat my dog for fleas?
Dog Ear Infection – searched 2,900 times a month
An ear infection is an irritating and painful overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the ear canal, usually caused by an underlying condition such as ear mites, a skin problem, or excess earwax.
The most common symptoms of an ear infection can include; ear scratching, pain, and head shaking. Pay attention to your pooch – a head tilt or loss of balance is a sign your dog’s infection has moved deeper into the ear.
Sean says ‘when it comes to treatment for an ear infection, always contact your vet, the quicker your dog is treated, the faster their recovery is likely to be.’
Arthritis In Dogs – searched 2,700 times a month
Much like humans, arthritis is a very common condition that causes stiff, painful or swollen joints. It can make moving around very difficult and uncomfortable for your pooch.
Sean says ‘to prevent arthritis in your four legged friend, keep your dog’s joints as healthy as possible by keeping them slim and giving them regular, sensible exercise.’
‘Unfortunately arthritis can’t be cured but fortunately, there are several treatment options to slow it’s progression and manage pain. Nutritional supplements or special diets tailored to your dog’s needs containing omega 3 oils, glucosamine and chondroitin can be helpful.
Treatment may include painkillers, joint supplements, hydrotherapy, and even surgery – all of which will be available from your vet.’
’If you suspect arthritis in your dog, the best course of action is to visit a vet as soon as possible’.
Dog Vomiting – searched 2,500 times a month
Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms which vets attend to everyday. It can be caused by a variety of things and in most cases, vomiting in dogs improves within 24 hours. But some are more serious and require treatment from a vet.
Sean advises ‘it’s not always necessary to see your vet the first time your dog throws up, but it’s extremely important to monitor them closely and call your vet for advice if they vomit more than once, seem unwell, or have any other symptoms.’
‘Always contact your vet immediately if your dog is repeatedly trying to vomit but not bringing anything up, especially if they have a bloated tummy.
’This can be a sign of something more serious that needs to be investigated further. .
Also see: Why is my dog throwing up in the morning
Gastroenteritis in Dogs – searched 1,900 times a month
Gastroenteritis refers to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, meaning the stomach and the intestines. It can be caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, parasites, medications, or even new foods. Most dogs with gastroenteritis will have intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea.
Sean explains ‘symptoms may include foamy yellowish bile vomit, especially after the stomach has been emptied. Some owners may see dry heaving or gagging after their dog eats or drinks.’
‘If you think your pet may have Gastroenteritis then seek veterinary help right away, your pooch may need immediate treatment.’
Also see: Does my dog have IBD?
Cataracts In Dogs – searched 1,500 times a month
Most cataracts in dogs are the result of a genetic or hereditary defect. Many dog breeds are predisposed to hereditary cataracts, which may occur as early as at birth or develop later in young or middle-aged dogs.
A cataract is an abnormal cloudiness of the eye, caused by a change in the lens.
Sean explains: ‘Cataracts stop light reaching the back of the eye, reduce vision and eventually cause blindness. The most common causes of cataracts are due to old age, diabetes and eye disease.’
He continues ‘Cataracts are slow growing, so you may not notice them until later on but here are a few symptoms for you to be aware of;
A cloudiness, or grey tinge in your dog’s eye(s)
Loss of vision, especially in low light conditions – this can be very tricky to notice because it often develops slowly and most dogs are very good at adapting by using their hearing and sense of smell instead.
Pain – cataracts aren’t painful, but some of the underlying conditions that cause them are (such as eye injury or glaucoma).’
‘Contact your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s eyes, or if you think they are losing their vision.’
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Ultimately you know your pooch best, if they are acting out of the ordinary and you are concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.