Providing unconditional love, companionship, and loyalty to their owners, dogs are a beloved part of every household. According to a report, more than 48 million US citizens own a dog. However, like humans, our canine friends are also susceptible to environmental parasites and infections that can take a toll on their health and well-being. Thus, all pet owners need to educate themselves about the symptoms of a sick pup. In this article, we have compiled a list of five common dog illnesses and conditions. Make sure to look out for the symptoms and take your pet to the vet as soon as you suspect an unusual change in their eating, playing, walking, or sleeping habits.
1. Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
Canine parvovirus is a life-threatening DNA virus that attacks the gastrointestinal system and bone marrow. Even though parvovirus is common in adolescent dogs and puppies, it can also affect senior or adult dogs, especially if your pet is unvaccinated. The virus is spread by direct contact with your dog with contaminated collars, bowls, equipment, and stool. The following symptoms of the canine parvovirus start after 3 to 7 days of exposure:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
Because there is no proper treatment for canine parvovirus, all you can do is provide your pet with the best care during the period of illness. Supportive care includes antiemetics to stop the vomiting, hospitalization to inject intravenous fluids and prevent dehydration, and a feeding tube to give your pup a nutritious diet.
2. Kennel Cough
With approximately 5.5 million cases every year, kennel cough is amongst the most common dog illnesses and conditions. Otherwise known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), kennel cough causes inflammation in the bronchioles and trachea, resulting in dry coughs. The sound of the cough might indicate that your pet has something stuck in its throat.
Several microorganisms, including mycoplasma, parainfluenza, canine adenovirus, bronchiseptica bacteria, and Bordetella, can cause CIRD. If not treated on time, kennel cough can lead to life-threatening pneumonia. Symptoms of kennel cough include:
- Tracheal sensitivity
- Persistent dry coughs
- Retching with a white foam
- Loss of appetite
The treatment for CIRD can vary depending on the severity of the infection. The vet will ask you to isolate your dog and use a vaporizer or humidifier to provide relief for itching breathing passages. Make sure to give your canine the antimicrobial or cough suppressant according to the prescription and replace the leash with a harness until your dog gets well.
3. Dog Ear Infections
Does your dog suffer from a recurring ear infection? If yes, chances are that your canine is allergic to soy, wheat, and corn in their food. According to vets, dogs with large pendulous ears are at a higher risk of getting an ear infection. Causes of ear infection in dogs include wax buildup, autoimmune disorder, allergies, and moisture in the ears. Look out for the following symptoms to determine if your four-legged friend is suffering from an ear infection or not:
- Dark discharge
- Redness or swelling in the ear
Untreated ear infections can develop into serious health conditions causing facial paralysis and even deafness. Therefore, taking your dog to a vet is imperative as soon as you spot any of the mentioned ear infection symptoms. The vet will prescribe the dog an anti-fungal or antibiotic to kill the infection.
4. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Commonly known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is an infection that causes swelling (inflammation) of the tissue covering the eyelids and eyeball, conjunctiva. Unlike humans, dogs have a third eyelid called the “Nictitating Membrane,” made up of the conjunctive and located near the corner of the eye. While healthy and normal conjunctiva is light pink-colored, conjunctivitis turns the mucous membrane bright red or pink. There are typically three types of conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis, and bacterial conjunctivitis. The symptoms of these dog illnesses and conditions include:
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Itching and burning of the eye
- Pain in the eyes
- Cloudy white, green, or yellow mucus-like discharge
- Hair loss around the eyes
- Nasal discharge
- Sneezing or coughing
The treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause of the disease. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with ointments, eye drops, and oral steroids. On the other hand, topical antibiotics are used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. Whereas viral conjunctivitis is treated with oral antioxidants. In case of abnormalities of the eyelash or eyelid, surgery will be required to reduce the risk of chronic illness.
While the name ringworm conjures an image of the long wriggly parasite, it is actually a fungal infection of the skin. Ringworm can spread not only from one dog to another but from animal to human. While it is possible for the dog to have ringworm and not show any symptoms, in most cases, you can notice the following signs:
- Skin lesions on the paws, head, ears, and forelimbs
- Some broken hairs
- Scratching, itchiness, or excessive grooming
- Circular, crusted, and patchy spots all over the dog’s body
The treatment for ringworm depends on how severe the infection is. While in some cases, the vet might give your dog an ointment or shampoo to kill the fungus, others will prescribe oral medications. You must ensure to follow the vet’s instructions to the tee. If you have other pets in your home, wash the infected pup’s toys, food bowl, and bedding with a disinfectant daily to reduce the risk of spreading.
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