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6 Most Common Dog Health Problems

Our dogs are faithful companions, and they depend on us for good care. To help your canine friend live a healthy life, you should know some of the most common health problems dogs face, their signs, and what you can do about them.

Dogs and Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common canine health problem, and they can be caused by allergies, yeast, ear mites, bacteria, hair growth deep in the ear canal, and more. Symptoms your dog may have with an ear infection include:

  • Head shaking or head tilting
  • Ear odor
  • Vigorous scratching
  • Lack of balance
  • Unusual back-and-forth eye movements
  • Redness of the ear canal
  • Swelling of the outer portion of the ear
  • Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge

Always take your dog to the veterinarian if you think he has an ear infection. In most cases, cleaning and medicating the ear canal will quickly clear up an infection. However, surgery can be needed for chronic infections or if forceful head shaking results in the rupture of a vessel within the outer part of the ear.

Read more about ear infections in dogs.

Dogs and Worms

Tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common internal parasites in dogs. And although any worm infestation can make your pooch uncomfortable, some, like hookworms, can be fatal in puppies. Signs your dog may have worms include:

  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Weight loss
  • A change in appetite
  • A rough, dry coat
  • Scooting on his bottom
  • An overall poor appearance

The best way to diagnose a worm problem is with a visit to the vet. Treatment depends on which type of worm your dog has, but generally includes an oral medication and may require follow-up. Don't try treating worms yourself: A medication that kills roundworms, for example, doesn't kill tapeworms.

Read more about worms in dogs.

When Fleas Find Your Dog

It takes just three weeks for one flea to turn into an infestation of 1,000 biting bugs. A very common canine health problem, fleas are easy for your dog to pick up, but they're also easy to treat. Signs your dog may have fleas include:

  • Excessive scratching, licking, or biting at the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Tapeworms (which are carried by fleas)
  • Flea dirt (looks like small black dots) against your dog's skin

Untreated, fleas not only make your dog intensely uncomfortable, they can also cause allergic reactions, infections, and even lead to anemia from blood loss.

Talk to your vet about the right flea medicine for your dog, which may include oral medicine, shampoos, sprays, or topical liquids.

Read more about flea control and prevention in dogs.

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