Every dog owner has to deal with certain dog health problems at some point in their relationship with their pet. It is knowing exactly what to look for in order to identify specific issues that you can either treat on your own and when you need to seek the professional medical advice or treatment of a veterinarian.
Certain dog health problems can be breed specific, such as hip dysplasia (common in larger breeds), hearing related issues in Dalmatians, or skin problems common with Labs or Retrievers. A dog with long floppy ears may be predisposed to ear infections because the materials that build up in the ear tend to be trapped in the ear, and shaking their head vigorously may cause rips or tears and infections in the ear flaps.
Sometimes dog health problems may be genetic or breed specific and sometimes they may be directly related to the type of food you are feeding your dog – and the ingredients contained in that food. You can save yourself a lot of money in veterinarian costs if you keep a close watch on your dog, his behavior, and what you feed your dog.
There are times when health issues are beyond an owner’s control, but most often, there are certain precautions that can be taken. As a dog owner, there are many things that you must do as regular “maintenance” of your pet. These types of things include keeping your dog’s teeth clean, checking his ears and cleaning them, as well as regular bathing and grooming your dog. Longer haired dogs should be brushed on a regular basis to keep mats from forming. In addition, running your hands along your dog’s body will let you know immediately if there are any lumps or issues that need a closer examination.
Cancers can begin almost immediately, and often, if you regularly feel and inspect your dog’s body, you can find a lump if it is forming on their side, head, back or leg. The sooner you notice something, the better the chance of receiving effective treatment. This can be the difference between life and death for your dog.
Dog Ear Infection
Dogs are often afflicted with ear infections caused by yeast or bacteria.
Breeds that have long droopy ears require a cleaning regime to prevent infections, but sometimes a dog ear infection can occur even if you clean your dog’s ears regularly.
If you notice that your dog is shaking his head often, pawing at his ears or scratching them often, you should examine the ears more closely to see if there is an infection.
Your dog will react to a dog ear infection by repeating these behaviors because he is trying to get rid of the irritation. Another obvious sign of a dog ear infection is inflammation, redness within the ears, discharge and a stinky odor.
Your vet will examine your dog’s ears with an otoscope. Next, he will take a sample of any material found within your dog’s ear canal and examine it under a microscope.
He will then be able to determine the cause of the infection and the course of treatment.
Your dog will be prescribed with a medication based on the particular infection.
You will need to be vigilant about administering this medication for the full course of the treatment to ensure that it is effective. Hopefully, your dog will allow you to administer the medication into the ear canal.
Ear infections in dogs are very painful and can be a great source of misery for your dog. Identifying and treating the infection as soon as possible is very important and the most effective way to deal with ear infections.
Steps to treating your dog’s ear infection:
- Lift the ear and dose the medication directly into the ear canal, as per the directions.
- Place your fingers around the ear holding it over the ear canal and massage the ear between your finger and thumb.
- Once you have done this, allow your dog to shake his head.
- Next, clean the ear with a cotton ball, never use “qtips”, they can worsen the infection by pushing debris back into the ear.
- Repeat this process 2x daily for the amount of time specified on the medication.
Dog Ear Wax
Just as with your own ears, there is a certain amount of wax produced by a dog’s ears and dog ear wax is perfectly normal; however, when you notice changes, which is when you should be concerned. What kind of changes?
- The wax is a color other than yellowish or brownish color;
- There is discharge from the ear, pus or lesions inside the ear;
- Strong smelly odor coming from the ear;
- An excessive amount of wax is being produced.
If you notice any of these types of changes in dog ear wax, you should take a closer look at your dog’s ears and determine if there is an infection or some other type of issue.
You should regularly clean your dog’s ears with a gentle solution or ear cleaner that you can purchase at any pet supply store. Always add a few drops into the ear canal and all it to run into the ear canal, then massage the ear over the canal and dab with cotton balls.
It is important to never use qtips or swabs because they tend to push the debris back into the ear and may cause an infection where one is not present. Allow your dog to shake his head after you have cleaned his ears because a dog’s ears are very sensitive and any liquid within his ears will be uncomfortable for him.
If you notice ear wax that is lodged within the ear canal, you may offer your dog a chewy dog treat, which will work that wax out with the action of the dog’s jaw.
If your dog is stressed out or anxious, this may also cause an overproduction of ear wax. You can use a variety of natural remedies to keep your dog’s ears clean, including olive oil and vitamin E or vinegar.
Dog Eye Infection
There are many different types of dog eye infection and they can be caused by a variety of occurrences. Often what happens is that a foreign object can become lodged in your dog’s eyelid or can enter in the eye area.
One common dog eye infection is conjunctivitis, which is caused by bacteria and is basically like pinkeye in humans. It can be caused by many different scenarios, including Lyme disease, a foreign object, the inflammation of the tear ducts or discharge that normally leaves the eye area, but has collected in the eye area.
What you will need to do is to use a clean cloth or a cotton ball that has been dampened and then gently clean the eye area thoroughly to remove any pus or discharge from the eye.
Any pet store will have a solution that you can apply into the eye to clear up the infection. The most important part of the treatment is to be vigilant and to repeat the cleansing and application of ointment two to three times per day.
If your dog has long hair, you may need to trim the hair that is around the eyes, because this hair can get caught in the eye which is an irritant and can lead to infection.
If your dog’s eyes are itchy, swollen, red, or are discharging material that is yellow or green, this is usually a good indication of infection.
Some really effective home remedies include rinsing the eye area with Chamomile tea (brew it and then cool it before applying). You may also try using the actual tea bag from the tea as a swab to dab the eyes.
It helps to remove and prevent infection and to clear up the existing infection.
Of course, if the eye infection does not clear up or show signs of improvement within a few days, you should take your dog to the vet for a check up to eliminate any other causes of the infection such as damage to the eye or allergies.
Bad Breath Remedies
Although it is normal for your dog to have “doggie breath”, this does not mean that the breath should be abnormally smelly or disgusting.
If your dog has a breath odor problem, you may try some of these bad breath remedies:
- Commercial dog bones that are designed to freshen your dog’s breath. Many of these bones are designed to chip off tartar buildup that can become very smelly over time.
- Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth. Yes, you can do this. There are a wide variety of doggy toothpaste available in flavors your dog will love, such as beef, chicken, liver, etc. and you can also purchase a special brush that you put on your fingertip. You can also use damp gauze with baking soda, although your dog probably won’t like this very much.
- Ensure that your dog is eating a healthy diet and do not give him too many treats.
If these bad breath remedies do not work or are not effective at all, you may wish to visit your vet for a checkup. There are some diseases that can cause bad breath in dogs, including, Addison’s disease which is a problem with the adrenal hormones.
Regular and vigilant care of your dog’s teeth is one of the best bad breath remedies that you can employ. It is very important to look after your dog’s teeth, because once they rot or have too much tartar build up, you may be facing some serious vet bills to have your dog’s teeth repaired or pulled. Dogs do not have a dental plan, you are their dentist, and they rely upon you to care for their teeth as best as you can.
As a dog owner, it is a really good idea to start off by brushing your dog’s teeth while he is a puppy.
This does not mean that you can’t brush your older dog’s teeth; they can learn to enjoy the process so long as you are gentle and use a toothpaste with a flavor that your dog loves.
Ear Mites In Dogs
The common species of ear mites in dogs is Otodectes cynotis; however, all types of mites are treated in the same way.
If you notice that your dog is scratching his ears constantly or is tossing or shaking his head, it usually indicates some issue with the ear. You will need to examine the inside of your dog’s ear up close. If the ear mites are fairly new and the infestation is not yet that severe, you may not notice much of anything. You do not have to worry about “catching” mites from your dog; they do not transmit from animals to humans.
On the other hand, if you notice what looks like coffee grounds inside your dog’s ear, this is an indication of a severe infection of ear mites in dogs. These “coffee grounds” are bits of dried blood that has build up inside the ear.
It is important not only to recognize these symptoms but also to treat them as soon as you notice that there is an infestation.
Failure to treat and eradicate ear mites can lead to more serious issues such as permanent damage to your dog’s ear canal and eardrum, and might even lead to a loss of hearing.
Once you have determined that your dog does have mites, you should examine your dog from head to tail.
Mites can live anywhere on your dog’s body, not just his ears, and so once you begin treating the mites, you will want to ensure that you kill them all.
The most common treatment for ear mites is with a medication containing insecticide, most often pyrethrin. It is a waste of time to use any treatment that does not contain an insecticide because it will be ineffective.
Mites are not like fleas, and cannot survive away from the dog’s body, so there it is not necessary to wash bedding and treat your house or your yard.
Dog Anal Gland
Often, secretions and materials can build up around the dog anal gland which can cause infection or an abscess which can result in a great deal of irritation and pain for your dog.
If you notice that your dog is sitting and then dragging itself across your lawn, or even worse, your living room carpet, then you need to examine your dog anal gland.
Routine cleaning of the area with a warm wet sponge can be very effective in keeping the area free from debris and preventing any build up of feces.
If this alone does not prove effective, you may need to express the anal glands.
As disgusting as this sounds (and it is) it can be necessary with certain breeds or dogs that have anal gland issues. There are two small glands located just inside the anus that contain fluid and when the fluid does not drain regularly, you may need to force that drainage by squeezing the glands.
Be warned, this is not for the faint at heart.
What you will need to do is put some latex gloves on and lube them with some Vaseline. Next, insert a lubed finger into your dog’s anus. Once you locate the gland by feeling around just inside the anus, take hold of the gland and squeeze it gently. You will need to have some paper towel handy to collect the material that is expressed. Repeat this procedure to express the gland on the other side as well.
If you are not comfortable undertaking this procedure, you may have to take your dog to your vet and have them do the job for you.
Of course, there are products available that you can use which will keep the glands from clogging and using these kinds of products regularly will eliminate the need for you having to undertake the expression of your dog’s glands.
Some dogs do not have any issue with their anal glands while certain breeds have a lot of problems. It is up to you to be aware of the need for regular maintenance of your dog’s glands as well as how often it needs to be done. If you notice any infection or abscess is present, you should immediately seek treatment for your dog with your vet.
Dog Yeast Infection
The major cause of the dog yeast infection is a microorganism that is found naturally in the stomach and intestines of both humans and dogs. This yeast is not harmful and in fact, aids with digestion and the processing of food and nutrients. It is when the PH balance of a dog’s stomach is out of balance and it causes the beneficial bacteria to be destroyed that the yeast starts to overproduce, out of control, causing problems and health issues.
What are some of the main causes of a dog yeast infection?
- The overuse of antibiotics which kills everything, including “good” bacteria;
- Depression or stress;
- Certain flea and heartworm medications;
- Thyroid issues;
- Poor nutrition;
- Hormonal changes – “heat” in females, lactation or whelping;
The main issue with a dog yeast infection is that it throws all of the dog’s body systems out of whack. What is taking place inside your dog’s body with the overgrowth of yeast begins to manifest itself on the outside of the body and becomes an external problem over time.
Some of the symptoms that you may see externally include itchy skin and paws, inflammation or redness, the odor coming from ears or just a “smelly” dog in general; recurring infections of the ears, bladder, and skin.
The most common symptom of an overgrowth of yeast is recurring ear infections. It is a good idea to check your dog’s ears often and to use a good ear cleaning solution in his ears. Dogs with long, floppy ears are much more susceptible to chronic ear infections. This is why routine cleaning becomes very important.
If your dog has a serious yeast infection, you may want to get to your vet’s office for treatment advice, since it is one of those things that needs to be treated from the inside out.
It may be that a yeast infection is only a symptom of an underlying problem, and so having your vet check your dog over is never a bad idea.