5 canine health conditions you must know about

When people are sick we notice their sickness…..right? Actually, not all ailments are noticeable but luckily, when we are depressed, tired or have a stiff neck, we can tell someone about it. Unfortunately, our animal friends do not possess the gift of speech. Unconditionally loving, our pets take their lot as it comes. Arthritis, depression, asthma and many common ailments become a way of life for them, and we often notice it only after it is too late.

As voluntary guardians of our pets we take interest in their wellbeing. Intent is all very well but without knowledge we are powerless. Here are some symptoms and information about five common ailments which our canine friends are susceptible to.

Asthma Asthma is not just a human disease but can affect animals including dogs. Asthma is the inflammation and spasming of the airways as well as excessive production of mucus which results in difficulty in breathing. It affects dogs of any breed and age. In a severe asthma attack, respiratory distress may occur, the symptoms of which are: the dog breathing with difficulty through the mouth and a purple color to the tongue and gums due to lack of oxygen. This must be treated as an emergency and medical attention must be administered as soon as possible. Symptoms: Coughing is normally the first sign. During an attack, wheezing is evident (whistling sound made by air traveling through narrowed airways, normally loudest on the exhale). Dogs breathing will be shallow, rapid and labored. There is lots of effort put into inhaling and exhaling as well as dramatic movement of the abdomen. Some dogs lose weight and become lethargic. In less severe cases the only symptom is a chronic cough. Most pets seem quite normal between attacks.

Aggression Some breeds are more aggressive than others. Aggression is sometimes related to common problems such as past abuse, physical discomfort and related breeding problems. It is also normally related to specific situations such as only when eating. If your dog is constantly aggressive, this could be due to underlying causes like tension and stress. Symptoms: Barking, snarling, snapping, raised fur along back of neck and along the ridge of the spine.

Joint and muscle disease Sprains and strains are common in active canine though certain breeds may be more prone than others. Certain dogs may also be more prone due to their genealogy. Serious medical conditions are not uncommon. Arthritis (inflammation of joints), spinal diseases such as spondylosis and spondylitis are more likely to affect older dogs. Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip ball and socket) can affect any dog but especially certain breeds. Symptoms: Overall stiffness (especially after rest), whimpering when getting up, difficulty in climbing stairs or in and out of the car, reluctance to exercise, lameness, unusual movements, disjointed or wobbly gait, swelling and tenderness in limbs or spine, shying away from being stroked along back, thickening of joints of affected limb, favoring the use of one limb more than another and irritability.

Fleas This is a common parasite among dogs. Some pets suffer very little from bites but some develop an allergic reaction to flea saliva which leads to severe skin reaction known as ‘flea bite dermatitus’. Flea saliva left under the dogs skin contains around 15 different allergens that can cause reactions in sensitive dogs. This can affect dogs of any age, gender and breed. The flea bites become red, swollen and itchy which leads to chronic inflammation, scratching of the skin and ongoing discomfort. Symptoms: Signs of chronic biting, scratching and rubbing of the skin, especially around the base of the tail. This may in turn lead to hair loss and thinning of the coat. Skin may appear red and inflamed. Flea allergy will be noticeably seasonal causing worse symptoms in summer and fall when fleas are more common.

Ringworm This is a contagious skin condition which is not caused by a worm but by a fungus. It causes various lesions on the skin though not always in the shape of a ring. The dog will scratch at areas which look scaly and inflamed. In time, hair on these patches may be lost. The problem is that it looks similar to other skin conditions like mange and allergic conditions. You should always take your do to the veterinarian to make sure.

Important note It is important that any condition is diagnosed correctly so, always take your pet to the veterinarian to be certain about any ailment. Homeopathic medicines are very effective and can be used alongside conventional medicines or completely on its own, but, once again check with a veterinarian. Prevention is better than cure so be sure to supplement your pets’ diet with vitamin supplements formulated especially for animals and combine with a healthy lifestyle. This should contribute to happy, healthy and natural wellbeing.