February 16, 2022

Common Health Problems In Dogs

We love our furry companions and want the best for them. Our dogs rely solely on us to provide them with top-notch medical care and keep them safe.

However hard we try, dogs will get sick at times. We’ve compiled a useful list of common health conditions that your dog will go through at some point of time in their lives, including: 

  • Dental problems 
  • Parasites
  • Ear infections
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Skin Infections/Itchy Skin
  • Obesity 
  • Arthritis (pain and stiffness)
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea 
Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet
  1. Dental Problems

Oral infections are the most frequent canine ailment, and they usually begin to affect dogs after they reach the age of three.  

Gingivitis and tartar are the most common oral problems, whereas more serious periodontal disorders, such as tooth abscesses, are more common in older canines in their final years. 

Daily tooth cleaning, annual oral check-up’s, feeding high-quality food, avoiding hard treats and chewing toys, and periodically inspecting your dog's teeth are a few of the things you can do to keep your dog's teeth healthy.


In some cases, your dog would most likely eat regularly, wiggle pleasantly when you return home, and act like the same dog you know, even if he had a shattered tooth or periodontal disease that damaged the gums around his teeth. 

Dogs are evolved to be able to mask chronic suffering as it is against their innate nature to display signs of weakness. You may be unaware that your precious pooch is suffering from chronic pain. 

According to Dr. Rachel Tong, Chief Veterinary Officer at Pawlyclinic and Head Veterinarian at Spring Veterinary Care, "the primary symptom of periodontal disease is no signs at all."

"The number of patients who come in a year because they are in discomfort is fewer than 5%," says Dr. Tong, even though more than 80% of dogs have periodontal disease by the age of three. "I want to emphasize that there are rarely any indicators at all of dental pain”, Dr. Tong says. 

Signs of an oral health condition include: 

  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Change in appetite
  • Drooling
  • Bad temper
  • Refusal to eat dried food
  • Discharge of pus or blood from the mouth 
  • Discoloured teeth and gums 
  • Lumps under the tongue or on the gums
  • When chewing, one side of the mouth is preferred
  • Swelling under the eyes
  • Build-up of tatar and yellowish-brown plaque on the teeth


Preventative measures like regular teeth cleaning can help stave off dental disease. Badly decayed teeth will need to be extracted. While you can brush your dog’s teeth with a canine toothbrush and meat-flavoured toothpaste, extractions must be done by your dog's veterinarian. 

2. Parasites

Your pooch may experience discomfort because of internal or external parasites at any point during their lives. The most common external parasites in dogs are fleas and ticks, especially in the hot, humid Singaporean climate. 

Internal parasites such as hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and whipworms are widespread in dogs. Although any worm infestation can be unpleasant for your dog, some, such as hookworms, can be lethal in puppies. 


Symptoms of worms in your dog include:

  • Diarrhoea is a common indication, and stools may be bloody
  • Dry, rough coat
  • Distended belly
  • Scooting around on their bottoms
  • Lethargic overall appearance
  • Presence of small tapeworm segments that look like rice grains in its stool
  • Loss of weight
  • Change in eating habits 

However, parasitic symptoms vary widely, depending on a variety of causes. These factors include the parasite that has afflicted your pet, its location, and the severity of the infestation.  

If you suspect your pooch has a parasitic or worm problem, off to the vet you go!  


Treatment varies depending on the type of worm your dog has, but it usually entails an oral medicine and maybe follow-up. 

Do not attempt to treat worms yourself. Speak to your veterinarian to ensure your pooch is up to date on heartworm and other worm medications as a preventative measure. 

3. Ear infections

Ear infections are more common in dogs with large, pendulous ears. Allergies are most likely the cause of your dog's recurrent ear infections, and the most common allergens in their food are corn, wheat, and soy. 

Ear infection in a dog rarely goes away on its own. Worse, if you wait too long to cure the ear infection, it will become much more difficult to treat. Untreated ear infections can result in long-term problems, hearing loss, and the need for costly surgery.


Some common symptoms of ear infections are:

  • Rubbing the ears constantly against the floor or furniture
  • Scratching and pawing at the ears
  • Shaking the head 
  • Scabbing or crusting around the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Redness in the ear canals
  • Problem balancing
  • Walking in circles


The first step in treating an ear infection in your dog is to wipe and dry the ear. Dogs may need to be sedated for this if the pain is too much.

Your veterinarian will examine your dog to establish what type of illness he or she has, which may usually be treated with an antifungal or topical antibiotic. To prevent ear infections, regular ear cleaning should be done diligently every few days as part of a routine grooming session. 

4. Urinary Tract issues

In dogs, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common health concern. Bacteria, which penetrates upwards through the urethral opening, is the most prevalent cause of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in dogs.  

When feces or debris enter the area, or if your dog's immune system is compromised due to a lack of nutrients, bacteria can grow. 


  • Yelping out while peeing
  • Straining to pee
  • Licking the genital area excessively 
  • Dribbling urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Having indoor accidents even though reliably potty trained 


Take your dog to the vet if you suspect a UTI. A urine sample will be taken to assess the kind of infection and the appropriate antibiotic medication will be prescribed by your veterinarian.

5. Skin infections or itchy skin

All dogs scratch, but if your dog is scratching excessively, it could be an indication of something more serious. 

Food allergies are a common cause of itchy skin in dogs. Corn, wheat, and soy, which are contained in many brands of dried kibble, are the most prevalent food allergens.

Canine itchiness can also be caused by bacterial and yeast infections, which can result in hot spots. Hot spots are painful lesions and can be extremely unpleasant for dogs, especially those with thick fur. 


  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Itching and redness
  • Thickened skin, also known as elephant skin
  • Skin becomes flaky, crusty, or scaly
  • Musty odour from the coat
  • Ear infections that recur or are persistent (otitis externa)
  • Hyperpigmentation 


Switching to a low-allergen food could help your dog's itchy skin go away. If a change in food does not help, a visit to your veterinarian is recommended to test for allergies. 

Your veterinarian may prescribe anything as basic as a shampoo to address allergies or an antibiotic ointment to treat more serious skin infections, depending on the type of condition.

Your dog's itchy skin could be caused by a variety of factors, so getting a good diagnosis is the first step in addressing the problem.

Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet

6. Obesity

Obesity is the most frequent condition in dogs that may be prevented. Obesity can happen with all dogs, but are most commonly linked to:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Reproductive status
  • Activity levels
  • Food consumption
  • Nutrition
  • Environment
  • Lifestyle
  • Any underlying medical conditions that limit exercise and causes weight gain  

Dr. Rachel Tong is of the view that a dog doesn't need to be clinically obese to suffer health problems. "Even being 10% overweight cuts a dog's lifespan in half and puts him at risk for heart, kidney, and liver disorders, as well as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer," she says.

The leading cause of obesity is the mismatch between energy intake and expenditure. In other words, dogs consume more calories than they expend. 

Obesity can become more common in older canines because a dog's capacity to exercise decreases as a result of arthritis or other health conditions.


  • Ribs, spine, and abdomen cannot be seen
  • Sagging of the abdomen
  • Rounder, larger face
  • Reluctance to go for walks or a tendency to fall behind
  • A lot of panting
  • Tiredness and constant fatigue
  • Requiring assistance getting into and out of vehicles
  • Unwillingness to move or participate in games


Obesity is best treated by feeding your dog a high-quality diet and ensuring adequate exercise. 

While most of these diseases aren't life-threatening, if they aren't treated properly, they can become life-threatening. 

Speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's health. It's always preferable to err on the side of caution than to risk being caught off guard.

7. Arthritis, resulting in stiffness and pain

Arthritis is a painful, uncomfortable, and stiffening condition that affects many dogs. Cartilage within a joint like an elbow or hip alters or becomes damaged in dogs with arthritis, causing the bones to rub together.

If your dog is six years old or older, his mobility might be hindered and he might yelp when rising from a sitting or lying position.  


  • Legs or joints become swollen
  • Walking slowly
  • Keeping a leg raised
  • Fear of jumping or taking the stairs
  • Stiffness after resting is a typical condition, particularly in elderly dogs
  • Over-grooming and excessive licking of a specific area 


Keep your dog at a healthy weight to relieve discomfort and stiffness. While getting older is unavoidable, gaining weight is not. You might want to consider giving your dog a chondroitin or glucosamine supplement in addition to helping him maintain a healthy weight. 

Your veterinarian can advise you on the best treatment options.

8. Vomiting and Diarrhoea

When the stomach or intestines become irritated or inflamed, vomiting and diarrhoea develop in dogs. There are numerous reasons for this, including:

  • Swallowing something that obstructs the stomach
  • Parvovirus in pups
  • Food toxicity and eating something inappropriate for dogs 
  • Toxins or poisons
  • Pancreatitis
  • Side effects of medications
  • Inflammatory bowel illness
  • Dietary changes that occur unexpectedly 


The more severe symptoms can include:

  • A bloated abdomen or abdominal pain
  • If your dog is becoming increasingly sluggish or weak
  • Refuses to eat for more than 24 hours or refuses to drink
  • Vomit with blood
  • Feces with blood or stools that are very dark or black
  • Despite not eating for 12 to 24 hours, vomiting continues
  • If your dog can't keep water down or is dehydrated 


If there is no blood in diarrhoea or vomit of the dog, symptomatic treatment at home can often be started.

Small quantities of a bland diet should be offered. Boiled rice or potatoes with very lean beef is an example.

Due to a considerable risk of having severely low blood sugar levels, very tiny dogs and puppies should not fast at all.

If your dog is very sick or dehydrated, he might need to be admitted to the hospital. To correct dehydration and replace lost electrolytes, your dog may need intravenous fluids filled with sodium, potassium, and chloride.

The levels of red and white blood cells, as well as the function of internal organs, can all be checked with blood tests. 

Other tests to discover the source of your dog's vomiting or diarrhoea may be conducted. These include abdominal x-rays or ultrasounds, stool analysis, and tests for disorders such as pancreatitis and parvovirus.

Final thoughts

We love our canine children and want the best for them. While some common ailments are normal, just like us getting the flu, there is a chance that a mild problem can turn severe really quick. 

If you feel your furry friend is ill, contact your veterinarian right away. Better safe than sorry! Thanks for reading, and may you have many long, happy years with your beloved pooch.

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