Top Dog Health Problems and What to Do About Them
No matter how much we wish that our pets never got sick or injured, we are still not at a place in modern medicine where we can prevent these things entirely. While good wellness care goes a long way, Androscoggin Animal Hospital still sees plenty of sick patients. We would love to share with you, though, the top dog health problems we see and our advice to navigate them better.
Allergic Skin Disease and Associated Dog Health Problems
Humans with allergies have respiratory problems, while dogs with allergies often suffer from skin problems. Dogs can be allergic to airborne allergens like pollens, environmental allergens, flea bites, and even their food.
Allergic skin disease results in itchy skin which may become red and irritated. Hair loss can also occur. Oftentimes ear infections in dogs are related to allergic skin disease as the outer canal of the ear becomes irritated (instead of the middle ear infections people most often experience). Secondary skin infections and anal gland problems can also occur.
If you think that your dog might be suffering from allergic skin problems, be sure to:
- Try a good bath with a hypoallergenic shampoo (rinse well)
- Clean the ears if your pet is comfortable enough to allow it
- Be sure that your dog is on a good quality flea preventive
- Make note of any recent dietary changes
- Call us for an appointment if things aren’t improving quickly- with allergies generally the sooner we intervene the better
Perhaps one of the most common dog health problems we encounter, osteoarthritis affects almost all pets at some point in their lifetime. Arthritis occurs within the body’s joints. The toll of normal wear and tear or injury can damage the cartilage within the joint, resulting in degenerative joint disease.
Affected animals often experience:
- Decreased range of motion
- Reluctance to do certain activities like jumping up into the care
- Slow rising
- Decrease in muscle mass
While osteoarthritis is not entirely preventable, there are some things you can do to lessen its impact. Preventatively using nutraceuticals like glucosamine supplements can be helpful, as can managing your pet’s weight.
If you notice early signs of arthritis, notify one of our veterinarians as soon as possible so that we can intervene early.
It is pretty easy for our pets to become overweight. Maintaining an optimal weight can help your pet live a longer life and decrease the risk of problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and even cancer.
In order to prevent unwanted weight gain or help your pet lose a few extra pounds, you will need to:
- Understand how many calories per day your pet should be eating and how to find this information on your pet’s food (let us know if you need help)
- Measure your pet’s food
- Recognize added calories in treats, dental chews, and dietary supplements
- Encourage healthy daily activity
- Avoid self feeders that take away your control
- Substitute low calorie veggies in for treats or part of a meal (carrots, celery, and green beans are great options)
If your pet is on a weight loss program, you should aim for them to drop about one to five pounds per month. Most dogs can achieve their goal weight within six months. Let us know if you need help!
Humans are often familiar with ACL injuries in the knee. In dogs this same ligament iis actually called the CCL.
The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the main structures stabilizing the knee. We humans tend to rupture the ligament traumatically, but animals often have more chronic injuries to the cruciate ligament due to their four-legged anatomy.
Pets with cruciate ligament disease will often show intermittent signs of lameness, difficulty rising, and muscle loss until the ligament eventually fully ruptures. When this occurs it can seem pretty dramatic with an acute non-weight bearing lameness. These pets are often only willing to touch their toes to the ground.
The gold standard for treating a CCL rupture is surgery. This pet problem requires veterinary attention for appropriate treatment and pain management.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of pet care, dental health is pretty important. Most dogs develop some form of dental disease by the age of three, so paying attention is important. Dental disease in pets can lead to pain, foul breath, and even more systemic problems when the bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream.
Be sure to have your pet’s teeth examined and cleaned regularly under anesthesia as recommended. We can also help you to develop a home oral health care program.
Even though dog health problems happen, Androscoggin Animal Hospital will be there for you when they do. We are honored to be a part of your family and take our role in helping your pets seriously.