• For the Dog Lover in You!

10 Common Health Issues in Dogs and How to Prevent Them

on October 04, 2023

Dogs have been our loyal companions for centuries and bring immeasurable joy to our lives. In exchange for their love and companionship, it's our responsibility as pet parents to keep them healthy, happy, and safe. In this blog, we'll shed light on ten common health issues dogs face and tips on how to help prevent these issues, helping ensure your furry friend lives a long, vibrant life.

Note: This article aims to inform and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Always contact your veterinarian when your dog experiences any health issues or when you have concerns.

a man wearing a face mask sitting next to a dog

1. Obesity:

Obesity is a common issue among dogs; it’s estimated that at least 50% of dogs suffer from being obese in their lifetime. Some breeds are more prone to obesity than others, and traditional breed size can also affect a dog’s obesity risk.

Symptoms: Weight gain, lethargy, difficulty walking or breathing.

Prevention: Feed your dog a balanced diet, limit treats, and ensure regular exercise. Attend regular vet check-ups to monitor your dog's weight.

Bonus: Diabetes:

Diabetes is sometimes a secondary issue related to obesity in dogs. Diabetes in dogs somewhat mirrors diabetes in humans, as there are multiple types with various causes.

Symptoms: Increased thirst and urination, weight loss.

Prevention: If your dog is suffering from type II diabetes, it may be prevented with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Regular vet visits can help detect early signs of diabetes.

2. Dental Disease:

Dental disease in dogs is highly prevalent, with as many as 85% of dogs suffering from some type of the disease within their lifetime. Dental disease, while highly common, is equally manageable, and preventing and treating it can lead to health benefits beyond those in your dog’s mouth.

Symptoms: Bad breath, yellowing teeth, and swollen gums.

Prevention: Regularly brush your dog's teeth using dog-specific toothpaste and offer dental chews at regular intervals. Additionally, schedule annual dental check-ups with your vet and take any treatment recommendations with the same importance as other types of care.

grayscale photo of short coated dog

3. Fleas and Ticks:

Fleas and ticks can happen anywhere, but this common issue in dogs is highly preventable and manageable when you partner with your veterinarian.

Symptoms: Scratching, red spots, and visible fleas/ticks on the coat.

Prevention: Use flea and tick preventatives recommended by your vet. Regularly check your dog’s skin and fur after outdoor activities, especially in wooded areas.

4. Heartworm:

Heartworms are essentially what they sound like: a worm that can live in various parts of your dog, including their heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Heartworm is spread by mosquitos and is relatively easy to prevent – the main difficulty with the disease is that it takes time for the disease to present in a dog, thus the importance of regular tests and preventative measures.

Symptoms: Coughing, lethargy, and weight loss.

Prevention: Administer heartworm prevention medication as prescribed by your vet. It’s ideal to keep your dog on this preventative medication year-round for optimal protection.

5. Arthritis:

Arthritis is the deterioration and subsequent joint pain in your dog’s body. Dogs of all ages can experience arthritis depending on many factors, including genetics.

Symptoms: Limping, stiffness, and difficulty climbing stairs.

Prevention: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce joint stress. Offer joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to help the joints. Provide a soft bed and consider dog-specific physiotherapy.

brown and black german shepherd

6. Ear Infections:

Dogs, with their unique ear shapes, are more prone to ear issues than humans. And many breeds, such as basset hounds with their long floppy ears, are even more prone to such problems.

Symptoms: Head shaking, scratching at ears, and foul odor from ears.

Prevention: Clean your dog's ears with a vet-approved solution. Avoid letting water get in their ears during baths and outdoor adventures in the water.

7. Skin Allergies:

Like humans, dog skin allergies are caused by an overreaction of their immune systems to environmental allergens. This common ailment can be tricky to prevent, but it’s not impossible and can be highly manageable.

Symptoms: Itchy skin, redness, and frequent scratching.

Prevention: Identify and eliminate allergens. Offer hypoallergenic dog food and use sensitive skin shampoos. Consult your vet about additional treatments as needed.

8. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Symptoms: Frequent urination, blood in urine, whimpering during urination.

Prevention: Provide ample opportunities for your dog to urinate, ensure a clean water supply, and avoid holding urine for long periods. If your dog is prone to UTIs, cranberry supplements can also help as a preventive measure but always consult your vet first.

black and brown Australian cattle dog puppy drinking water on beach

9. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is arguably one of the most common ailments dogs can experience. Not dissimilar to a human cold, it causes coughing fits and is highly transmissible between animals.

Symptoms: Persistent, dry cough, runny nose.

Prevention: Vaccination, avoiding crowded dog areas, proper hygiene.

10. Gastrointestinal Disorders:

Gastrointestinal disorders are common in all dogs and can range from issues related to viruses and bacteria to a shift in their usual brand of dog food.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Prevention: Provide a balanced diet and fresh water, and avoid giving your dog human foods that might upset their stomach or exposing them to toys and chews that are prone to causing blockages. Always consult your vet if symptoms persist.

white and black short coated dog wearing white and black polka dot shirt


As a bonus, we’d like to remind you that dog vaccinations are life-saving! One of the best examples is parvovirus. While not 100% preventable, diseases like parvo, which mainly affect puppies, can be mitigated with proper veterinary visits for your dog. Click here to read our blog on the importance of annual checkups.

Canine Parvovirus

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite.

Prevention: Vaccination is critical. Ensure your puppy gets its Parvo vaccine as recommended by the vet. Also, avoid exposing young or unvaccinated dogs to unknown dogs, especially in public places.

In Conclusion:

Awareness of dogs’ most common health issues is the first step towards prevention. Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, and exercise can go a long way in ensuring your dog remains healthy. Always consult your veterinarian when making health decisions for your furry family member.

Don’t forget to look at all of K9 & Company’s boutique offerings for all of your dog’s needs.


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