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The UK's Most Googled Dog Health Issues And How to Treat Them

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

It can be quite concerning for us as pet owners when our furry friends are acting out of the ordinary. To find out what's causing the problem, many of us turn to Dr Google in hope of a quick answer.

To help, dog food company has discovered the top health issues we've been searching for and asked their Head Vet, Sean McCormack for his expert advice on how to ease these symptoms at home and when to seek the advice of a veterinarian...

Kennel cough - searched 15,000 times a month The more common name for infectious canine tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that causes inflammation to the throat and lungs. The most common symptom is a dry, hacking cough that sometimes sounds like honking but others include a discharge from the nose and retching. In severe cases, symptoms can progress into pneumonia, fever, lethargy and a lack of appetite.

Treatment plans vary depending on the severity of the disease. In most cases it is suggested that you allow the cough to simply run its course. In other instances, a course of anti-inflammatories or antibiotics to treat secondary infection may be needed. Your vet will know best on how to treat your pooch but here are some tips to help them through the process:

  • Keep them isolated from other pets.

  • Use a humidifier or vaporiser to provide relief. If you do not have one of these, let your pet join you in the bathroom while you shower instead.

  • Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke or other irritating fumes.

  • If your pet is a puller, try replacing their collar with a harness for the duration of the cough to prevent further pain.

  • Monitor your pet’s eating and drinking habits.

If you're worried about your dog catching kennel cough, you can have them vaccinated against it. This can be done at a routine vet appointment.

Ticks on dogs - searched 8,200 times a month For many dog owners, discovering the presence of ticks on their furry friend is one of their biggest fears. Through the nature of their blood-sucking tendencies, they can transmit a range of infections and diseases including Babesiosis and Lyme Disease, which affects both dogs and humans. They are most commonly associated with Lyme Disease though, and as symptoms usually don't appear for up to several weeks after the initial bite, this can often lie undetected.

The sooner a tick can be removed, the less likely it is that you or your dog can get infected by nasty bacteria. If you find one on either yourself or your pooch, make sure to remove it effectively using a tick removal tool. These are readily available online and in pet shops, and allow you to twist and lift the tick off of the skin by going underneath its biting mouthparts. It's important to make sure you remove the tick properly and get the head out as if it's left embedded in the skin, it could risk infection. If you're struggling to remove a tick yourself, contact your local vet for help. Diarrhoea - searched 5,200 times a month It’s not unusual for dogs to have stinky or runny poos. In fact, dog diarrhoea is one of the most common problems vets see every year. There are many causes for it, but the most likely reasons include a sudden change in diet, the consumption of a foreign object, parasites, infections and inflammatory disorders. Sometimes it can even quite simply be stress, anxiety or overexcitement.

You know your dog better than anyone else so if you feel like there's something wrong, don't hesitate to take them to the vet. Especially if constipation or diarrhoea doesn't go away after a few days. Fleas - searched 3,000 times a month Nobody likes fleas - even the thought of the pesky parasites makes our skin crawl! But don't worry if you see them on your dog, there are lots of ways you can treat them.

One of the most effective products is a liquid spot-on medication which is applied to the skin on the back of your dog’s neck. Application errors can sometimes be an issue with these treatments though, so if you suspect your dog has fleas, it's a good idea to speak with your vet first about the best way to tackle them.

Don't forget to treat your house too! More than 95% of fleas live in wood floor crevices, carpets and soft furnishings, not on animals. And they can remain alive in the cracks for up to two years! That's why it's super important to tackle the eggs and larvae in the environment as well as the adult fleas on your dog. If you don't, you'll never get rid of the infestation.

Ear infection - searched 2,900 times a month Usually caused by an underlying condition such as ear mites, a skin problem or excess earwax, ear infections are an irritating and painful overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the ear canal.

The most common symptoms include ear scratching, pain and head shaking. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has an ear infection as the quicker they are treated, the faster their recovery is likely to be. Pay close attention to your pooch too, as a head tilt or loss of balance is a sign your dog’s infection has moved deeper into the ear.

Arthritis - searched 2,700 times a month Much like with humans, arthritis is a very common condition that causes stiff, painful or swollen joints and can make moving around very difficult and uncomfortable for your pooch. To prevent it, keep your dog's joints as healthy as possible by giving them regular, sensible exercise and keeping them slim. Unfortunately, arthritis can’t be cured but there are several treatment options to slow its progression and manage pain. These include painkillers, hydrotherapy and even surgery. Nutritional supplements or special diets tailored to your dog's needs containing omega 3 oils, glucosamine and chondroitin can also be helpful. If you suspect your dog has arthritis, visit a vet as soon as possible.

Vomiting - searched 2,500 times a month Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms in dogs, which vets attend to every day. It can be caused by a variety of things and in most cases, improves within 24 hours. But some causes are more serious and require treatment from a vet. It's not always necessary to visit the vet if your dog throws up, but it’s extremely important to monitor them closely and call for advice if they vomit more than once, seem unwell or have any other symptoms.

Do contact your vet immediately if your dog is repeatedly trying to vomit but not bringing anything up though, especially if they have a bloated tummy. This can be a sign of something more serious that needs to be investigated further. Gastroenteritis - searched 1,900 times a month Caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and medications, gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and the intestines. Most dogs suffering with it will have intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea. They may also have a foamy yellowish bile vomit, especially after the stomach has been emptied. Some owners may see dry heaving or gagging after their dog eats or drinks too. Seek veterinary help right away if you think your pet has gastroenteritis, as they may need immediate treatment.

Cataracts - searched 1,500 times a month Usually the result of a genetic or hereditary defect, a cataract is an abnormal cloudiness of the eye caused by a change in the lens. It stops light reaching the back of the eye, reduces vision and eventually causes blindness.

Common causes include old age, diabetes and eye disease but many breeds are predisposed to hereditary cataracts, which may occur at birth or develop later in life. Cataracts are slow growing, so you may not notice them until later on, but here are a few symptoms for you to be aware of:

  • A cloudiness or grey tinge in your dog’s eye(s).

  • Loss of vision, especially in low light conditions - this can be tricky to notice because it often develops slowly and most dogs are good at adapting by using their hearing and sense of smell instead.

  • Pain - cataracts aren’t painful, but some of the underlying conditions that cause them are (such as eye injury or glaucoma).

Contact your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s eyes, or if you think they are losing their vision. Ultimately you know your pooch best, if they are acting out of the ordinary and you are concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

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