The worse thing about owning a dog is seeing them suffer from any kind of disease and pain 🙁
For most of us, and especially for the first time dog owners, it is difficult to grasp what kind of health problems our dogs could suffer from. We are unaware of what they can be facing and they obviously have limited ways of expressing. Knowing beforehand could help us prevent these problems. Every breed has certain diseases to which they are more prone to – but still, there are some common issues that almost all our canine friends face.
Further, I can also tell you first-hand that the extreme air pollution levels are also having a negative impact on our dogs. Just recently, my Boxer (Bingo) developed a cough that lasted so many days that eventually I had to stop taking him for a walk on the road.
The 5 most common dog health Problems in India
1. Diarrhea Or Upset Tummy
By far the most common dog health problem in India. Dogs keep licking and eating all kinds of stuff every day. From their own food to leftovers, scraps, insects, and so on. Eventually, they will eat something that will disagree with their digestion. We know that in India, hygiene awareness is low even for humans, so for pets, the chances of picking up germs are quite high.
In itself, and as an isolated incident, diarrhea is not that severe a health issue. Most dogs will skip a meal or two and get back to their own jumping self soon. However, if this is combined with other symptoms like extreme lethargy, fever, vomiting or if the condition does not resolve on its own – make sure you go to a vet.
Diarrhea causes rapid dehydration in dogs (as it does in people). Hence, if you see the symptoms extreme (too much fluid being passed out), pay an urgent visit to your vet so that fluids can be administered.
Once the symptoms mellow down, administer a bland diet to ease the digestive system.
Foods that cause diarrhea in dogs
Milk & Dairy Products
Dogs love milk and related products (cheese, butter, ice cream). Unfortunately, their digestive system is not suited for these. These products contain Lactose, and dogs do not produce enough Lactase to break it down. The end result can be an upset stomach. While small amounts are generally fine, they can be a very likely cause of diarrhea. An exception is yogurt (Dahi), which contains beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. Apart from this, keep your pooch away from dairy in case of upset tummy symptoms.
Raw Meat or Eggs
Can dogs eat raw meat? Chances are that most experts would differ on this. While dogs may once have had the ability to perfectly digest raw meat, the current domesticated breeds often find it tough for their stomach. Even if you have tried giving your dog some meat and felt that it was fine, always know that raw meat or undercooked eggs – both have a chance of having Salmonella. This is a very nasty bacteria and will cause extreme diarrhea. So take caution when feeding these to your dog. Some dogs have the habit of hunting small animals and might have eaten those as well. That, again, can be a cause of diarrhea.
Fatty and/or spoiled food
Had some antique leftovers in your fridge and fed them to your dog? Yup, not good for them. Living with us, they no longer have an iron digestive system. Greasy/fried food can also upset their tummy.
What foods to give if your dog is suffering from Diarrhea
Fasting for 12-24 Hours is often recommended to treat diarrhea in dogs. If the symptoms subside, start feeding it light food to get back on track.
- Boiled rice water is a good source of nutrition and will keep the dog hydrated. Remove the grains and only feed the creamy water.
- Yogurt with its beneficial bacteria helps sooth the stomach.
- Boiled potatoes, boiled pasta, and rice can be given to dogs. These are all easy to digest carbohydrates.
- Pumpkin is often recommended.
- WATER – Keep the pup hydrated with an always easy access to water.
Again, diarrhea could be a symptom of other serious health problem so if the condition persists – rush to a vet.
Quite like Diarrhea, vomiting is a type of an internal clearance action from dogs. In itself, it is likely not serious and should pass with basic care (and love!). However, when combined with other symptoms (diarrhea, fever, a passing of blood) – it needs an immediate visit to a vet. Also, if the condition repeats itself frequently – there are chances of some other underlying cause. Visit a vet!
What can cause vomiting?
Anything from food poisoning, infection, heat stroke, eating too quickly – the causes of vomiting are diverse. Eating grass or something that the stomach just didn’t like (chocolates) could be one of the reasons.
What to do if your dog is vomiting?
Firstly relax – don’t stress the dog. Stress can exacerbate the situation.
For grown dogs, remove the immediate source of food that caused this. Keep water near them for easy access and give them some relaxing love. If the bout repeats, call your vet.
For puppies – and this is important – DO NOT WAIT. Puppies are very delicate, are getting their immune systems developed and susceptible to a lot of viruses. Go to your vet immediately.
3. Ear Infections
One of the most common dog diseases in India, and one of the most commonly ignored as well. After all, dogs scratch all the time right?
Ear infections are painful and annoying for your pet. So pay attention to aggressive scratching, head shaking, swelling or discharge on the ear and unusual problems in maintaining balance.
Make sure that whenever you are giving your dog a bath, you check its ears for redness. Keep the ears free from wax build up. This is extremely important in the dust filled environment of India where germs roam aplenty.
Cleaning of the ear is pretty simple and the vet can do it in a couple of minutes if there are no deep problems. Usually, a cleaning solution is put in the ears, and then a cotton ball inserted. The ears are rubbed to make sure the fluid covers all parts and then cleaned up. You can do it on your own as well, but know how deep you can go – else you will hurt the eardrums.
Ear infections are common in dogs with floppy ears like hounds, poodles, spaniels. The covered ears cause a build-up of wax & foreign particles and lead to infections. Keep checking regularly if your dog is of these breeds.
Dogs attract fleas. And a single female flea can have 600-1000 offsprings in a month – they multiply fast! So, it is obviously better to control it right at the beginning.
Fleas thrive in warm temperature and humidity. In India, the wet season in summers is when the pets are most susceptible to fleas.
The symptoms are quite apparent – dogs will scratch, lick or bite at the spot, sometimes so much that the fur will be removed from the spot. The dog will also be irritated and display annoyed behavior due to this.
Look through your dog’s fur for fleas or flea droppings. If you find evidence, talk to your vet. In initial stages, a simple topical liquid could cure this. In advanced stages, oral medicine might be required.
If the disease comes back repeatedly, look at the available flea collars on the market. These are mainly of two types: One which repels fleas by emitting a gas and other which seeps medication for treatment of the infestation. Your vet can guide you further if it is needed.
Hookworms, Roundworms, Tapeworms, and whipworms are commonly found in dogs. The usual ‘licking this and tasting that’ lifestyle of our pets means that worms are not far away.
Even for a healthy dog, deworming tablets should be administered every 2-3 months. If a dog has worms, the symptoms could be a loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea (with blood), vomiting.
If the dog is showing above, a trip to the vet is needed. Remember, the treatment for a different type of worms are different – so do not self-administer medication.
As always, puppies require more frequent monitoring for worms.
To summarise, keeping our dogs healthy in India will require active knowledge and preventive checks. Be aware of the common diseases, of a change in your pet’s behavior and do regular vet checkups.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.