Knowing which diseases are the most common dog diseases to look out for when raising your pup is crucial for any dog owner. Similar to human beings, dogs can be prone to a range of health conditions, some of which can be more severe than others.
Your dog might even have a higher risk of certain diseases due to their DNA.
It goes without saying that most of the common dog diseases are most common in older dogs. Older dogs are at a much higher risk of developing diseases than younger dogs. However, we’ll also discuss certain diseases that can affect a dog of any age.
Many of these common dog diseases will require owners to invest in long-term treatment plans, which can include feeding your pup a specific diet, taking them for regular screenings at the vet, or giving them daily medication. The earlier you can recognize the signs of specific conditions, the faster you can give your furry best friend the care they need.
While many different health issues can affect dogs throughout their lives, some diseases are more common than others. There are also specific issues which may occur more frequently in dogs of a certain breed, and as mentioned, in elderly dogs.
Most Common Dog Diseases Affecting Dogs of Any Age
Some of the most common dog diseases are equally prevalent in all breeds, dogs of all sizes, and dogs of all ages. However, the severity of these conditions, and the risk they pose to your canine friend, will depend on numerous factors. These factors include their breed, age, sex, and whether or not they’re neutered.
According to the Royal Veterinary College, the 3 most common dog diseases for dogs of any age are:
Tooth and Gum Disease
Unfortunately, dogs can’t brush their teeth themselves or protect their oral hygiene in the same way as us humans. This means they’re more likely to suffer from problems affecting their teeth and gums. In fact, 80% of dogs are expected to suffer some dental problems by the age of 3.
Similar to human beings, dogs can experience a build-up of plaque around their gums and teeth over time. This plaque can harden to become tartar, which eventually leads to gum disease, and cavities. Some of the most common signs of tooth and gum disease include:
· Bad breath
· Excessive drooling
· Redness or discoloration on the gums
· Bleeding gums
· Pawing at the face
· Loss of interest in food or chewing
Chronic Ear Infections
Particles, waste, and bacteria can often collect and become trapped in a dog’s ears. Their narrow, long ear canals make it extremely difficult for your pooch to keep their dog’s ears clean. Because of this, around 20% of dogs are estimated to suffer from acute or chronic ear infections.
It’s possible to reduce the risk of ear infections by regularly cleaning your dog’s ears. This is particularly important if you have a pooch with long, floppy ears. Some of the key symptoms to watch out for include:
· Constant head shaking
· Chronic head tilt (although this could also be a sign of a more serious disease)
· Scratching around the ears
· Unusual odours or discharge coming from the ears
· Swelling or discoloration around the ear
· Poor balance
· Wincing or yelping when their ears are touched
Unfortunately, obesity is one of the most common dog diseases for any breed or type of dog. As much as we may love to give our pups plenty of treats as pet owners, they often don’t have the capacity to control their eating habits, which can lead to overconsumption of calories. They might keep bugging you for more treats, and if you’re bad at saying no, you’ll have to learn how.
While some breeds of dogs are more prone to obesity, such as pugs, dachshunds, and golden retrievers, all canines may experience this problem if you’re not careful to provide a balanced diet. Ensure you know which foods to feed your specific breed of dog, and make sure they get plenty of exercise. Common signs of obesity to watch for include:
· Constant panting after a short amount exercise
· No clear tapering around the waist area
· Larger, rounder faces or bodies
· Lethargy or tiredness
· Inability to jump or run
· Reduced interest in play
Common Dog Disease in Older Dogs
Similar to human beings, many dogs are more likely to encounter ailments and diseases as they get older.
Some common dog diseases to watch for in senior dogs include:
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Dog Dementia)
Often referred to as dog dementia, canine cognitive dysfunction could arise as a dog approaches its senior years. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that up to 35% of dogs over the age of 8 may experience some cognitive decline.
Regular training, exercise, and the right diet can all help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in your pet. However, it’s worth watching out for common symptoms of dementia to ensure you can seek out personalized treatment from your vet if your dog starts to deteriorate.
Below are some signs of cognitive dysfunction:
· Disorientation or confusion
· Regression in skills (such as forgetting how to sit or pee outside)
· Your dog seems to have forgotten where things are (such as the location of their bed, or the location of their water bowl)
· Inactivity or lethargy
· Excessive barking
· Avoiding physical contact
· Your dog doesn’t seem like themself anymore
Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome
CIVS or Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome is also known as old dog syndrome. While it can occur in dogs of all ages, this condition is most common in senior dogs. The issue stems from an inner ear condition, in which information sent to the brain and body from the inner ear can be disrupted. This condition often causes issues with orientation, mobility, and balance.
The causes of this condition are difficult to define, but some experts believe it may be a result of hypothyroidism, middle ear infections, and head trauma. Signs to watch for include:
· Wide stance or bracing
· Walking in circles
· Constant head tilt (this can be very scary to see)
· Frequent falling over
· Abnormal eye movement
· Frequent head shaking
· Inability to walk in a straight line
· Lying down to drink or eat
Your dog’s kidneys are crucial for removing waste products from the bloodstream, and regulating the flow of essential minerals throughout the body. As your pup gets older, their kidneys may not function as well as they once did. Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed with the right treatment, to prolong and improve your dog’s life.
In many cases, vets will recommend specially formulated diets and medication to improve the performance of the kidneys. Blood tests may also be used to track the progression of the condition. Some common signs to watch for include:
· Sudden inability to see correctly
· Drinking excessively and urinating frequently
· Loss of appetite and weight loss
· Ulcers in the mouth
· Pale gums caused by anemia
· Vomiting and diarrhea
· Accidental soiling in the home
Arthritis is one of the most common dog diseases for all kinds of canines, but it can often happen to older dogs. This joint disease is caused by inflammation around the joints, and can sometimes be prompted by an infection or tick-borne disease. The most common reason for arthritis in dogs is aging. Large breeds such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are particularly prone to arthritis, as are more obese dogs.
Arthritis can occur in a number of different ways, from osteoarthritis, to hip, elbow, or knee dysplasia. The exact type of joint disease your dog has will influence its symptoms. However, some common signs to watch out for in all cases include:
· Limping or stiffness when walking
· Swelling around the joints
· Slow movement
· Unwillingness to walk or exercise
· Whining, panting, or whimpering
· Unusual appetite changes or weight gain
Preventing the Most Common Dog Diseases for Your Dog
Understanding the most common dog diseases and their symptoms can ensure you can access the right treatment for your beloved pet as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, some conditions can be difficult to detect at first, particularly if you don’t have the right training.
Regular vet checkups can help to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy for as long as possible. However, you can also improve your awareness and understanding of which conditions your dog is most likely to be susceptible to, with the right test.
A CirclePaw DNA test for dogs can provide useful insights into the genetic health risks for your dog, including diseases they might be at higher risk of developing due to their DNA. This helps you be more hypervigilant, as you’ll know what symptoms to watch out for. You can also use your dog’s DNA test results to learn more about your dog’s personality and behavior traits, which will help you get to know your dog better and take better care of them.
- RVC: Get brushing: Dental disease tops the list of most common problems in UK dogs, according to new study by the RVC
https://www.rvc.ac.uk/vetcompass/news/get-brushing-dental-disease-tops-the-list-of-most-common-problems-in-uk-dogs-according-to-new-study-by-the-rvc#:~:text=A new study from the,disease%2C obesity and ear infections.
- VCA: Dental Disease in Dogs
- AKC: Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-ear-infections/#:~:text=Ear infections are common conditions,affect one or both ears.
- Cornell University: Decoding dementia in dogs could help fight Alzheimer’s
- Pet Health Network: Arthritis in Dogs
https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/arthritis-dogs#:~:text=Large breeds%2C such as Labrador,and tear on their joints.