Pet professionals play an important roll in educating owners on the common dog health problems. Here are 5 of the most common dog health concerns.

Certainly, many of the most popular dog health issues can be managed. However, with the right advice and awareness, some common dog health concerns can be prevented.

5 common dog health problems

Of course, there are numerous health issues that can affect dogs, but let’s take a look at a few of the most widespread illnesses.

1. Sickness and diarrhoea

It’s unlikely there is any pet owner who hasn’t dealt with a case of sickness and diarrhoea in their dog. It’s an extremely common dog health issue and there can be lots of reasons for it.

Firstly, and possibly most common, dogs tend to eat inappropriate food. Be it scraps from the bin or food dropped on the floor, dogs love to gobble up everything. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to stop them from eating the same food next time!

Another cause of vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs is parvovirus. According to Greencross Vets, it’s a highly contagious disease that affects puppies and unvaccinated dogs.

Parvovirus can be deadly, so it’s important to educate owners on this common dog health problem. To prevent parvovirus, owners should have their puppies vaccinated at the appropriate times.

Additional steps include:

  • Keeping puppies away from other dogs/dog parks until they are fully immunised
  • Regularly washing bedding
  • Picking up after dogs to prevent environmental contamination

2. Heartworm

Little is known about the prevalence of heartworm in Australian dogs. Nonetheless, it’s important to help pet owners to understand the risks and signs.

While many pet owners believe canine heartworm is spread by birds and through food, it’s actually transmitted via mosquitoes. It’s not a minor disease either; heartworm can lead to lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and even death.

Unfortunately, it’s not until the disease progresses that the signs are apparent. Symptoms of heartworm include:

  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Weight loss

Indeed, heartworm can be prevented but only providing treatment is given in a timely manner. In other words, not a month after it’s due!

As pet professionals, you can advise on the different treatments available or suggest the owner talk with their local vet. It’s important for pet owners to choose the treatment method that works best for them. This will help ensure their dog gets the medication is needs at the right time.

3. Obesity

Pet obesity is a growing concern. Obesity in pets is associated with numerous medical problems, such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, liver disease and increased surgical risk.

What’s more, overweight or obese pets are likely to have a shorter life span and a poorer quality of life. I’m sure no pet parent wants this for his or her fur pal. As such, it’s important to educate and remind owners of the actions they can take to maintain a healthy weight for their pet.

Firstly, pet owners can check the Body Conditioning Score to evaluate whether or not their pet is overweight.

Secondly, owners can ensure they are feeding their pets a nutritionally balanced diet. They should check labels to ensure quality and make certain they are not over-feeding their dog. Ideally, recommend that just one person in the house take on Rover’s feeding duty. This will help avoid feeding Rover twice!

Regular exercise is paramount to keeping dogs in good shape. Also, remind owners that treats are a ‘sometimes food’!

4. Cataracts

Cataracts is fairly common in dogs, with certain breeds being more susceptible. Breeds of dog more likely to be affected include Bichon Frises, Boston Terriers, Poodles, Welsh Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers

One of the issues with cataracts is the fact that by the time owners notice their dog has a cloudy lens, it has already reached a late stage. Instead, owners will usually notice their dog is more clumsy than usual and might be banging into things.

Other signs to watch for include a reluctance to climb stairs or jump over objects, eye redness, rubbing of the eye area.

While dogs can undergo treatment, including surgery for cataracts—prevention is a primary step. Pet professionals can remind owners of the importance of getting their dogs’ eyes regularly checked by a vet.

Pet owners can also be educated on the fact that diabetes is a common cause of cataracts. Thus, owners should do their best to keep their dogs’ weight in check.

5. Arthritis

Certainly, arthritis is common amongst senior dogs. Advising owners on the signs of arthritis can help ensure pets get early intervention and appropriate treatment to help reduce their pain and discomfort in the long term. The symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:

  • Limping/lameness
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Yelping when touched
  • Licking its joints
  • Reluctance to walk or play

Furthermore, helping pet owners to understand the risk factors for arthritis can be helpful in preventing it. Alongside age, the other risk factors include poor nutrition, obesity, repetitive stress injury and genetics.

There are some larger breeds of dog that are more prone to arthritis. This includes German Shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers.


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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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