Dog Health Problems & Symptoms

Being a fur baby parent means giving your dog tender, loving care every day. Lots of walks, cuddles, and healthy treats are always on the agenda. You watch your dog’s diet carefully to make sure they stay healthy and well, and you keep up on their preventative care with vaccinations, heartworm medication, and flea preventatives.

Like humans, all dog breeds can feel under the weather from time to time. We can feel unwell from time to time from a cold or stomach troubles. Much to our dismay, our fur babies can’t speak and tell us how they are feeling or let us know when they’re dealing with health issues.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of common dog health problems can help us figure out what the cause of our pets’ troubles may be. Just like when your pooch exhibits common dog behavior issues like destructive chewing or nipping, you always want to get to the root cause when your pup deals with medical conditions or minor health problems.

Once we gather their symptoms, we can pass this information on to their veterinarian, who can then decide the best course of action. Let’s detail some common dog health problems and their symptoms.

Ear Infections

Our dogs have the cutest ears that will go to attention when they find something interesting or they are happy to see us. Some breeds, like Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, have floppy ears that we love to pet on.

With how cute dogs' ears are, they weren’t designed to ward off ear infections easily. Water can get into our dog’s ear canals easily. Those floppy-eared cuties can also be more susceptible to trapped moisture in the ear, creating the ultimate breeding ground for bacteria to develop and thrive. Ear infections result from bacteria or fungus and moisture in the ear, and they can make our fur babies feel downright miserable.

When your dog is experiencing an ear infection, several symptoms may present themselves. The most noticeable symptoms are your dog scratching and pawing at their ears. They may also tilt their head in one direction or the other as they try to find a way to make the pain go away. The inside of their ear may be red, look inflamed, and may feel warm to the touch. You may also see discharge and scabs inside the ear canal as well.

Once you witness these symptoms, take your dog to their veterinarian for prompt treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. Ear infections can get downright nasty and can even cause your dog to lose their hearing if the infection is allowed to go on for too long.

These infections are also painful for our poor pups. The key to preventing ear infections is ensuring that your fur babies' ears stay clean and dry.

Dental Issues

Although we wouldn’t recommend putting your dog’s toothbrush in the same cup as yours, we do encourage you to follow the advice of veterinarians and frequently brush your dog’s teeth.

Preventable dental issues can crop up when our dog’s pearly whites are neglected. These issues are most common in older dogs. Particles of food and bacteria from wherever their mouth was (think trash, yard waste, the other crazy things our dogs choose to lick) can come together and form the hard plaque that eventually turns into tartar. This tartar is what can cause our dog’s gums to become inflamed, and this is where any doggy dental issues can develop.

Periodontal disease can go undetected in most dogs until it is in its advanced stages. When at this stage, your dog’s teeth and gums begin to break down, which can cause pain and other infections to develop.

We know our dogs are not going to have minty-fresh breath, but bad breath can indicate an infection in the mouth. Take a peek, and if you see that their gums are inflamed or bleeding, then there may be some dental issues. If your dog favors one side of their mouth and isn’t wanting to eat, their teeth or gums could be in pain.

Your veterinarian will be able to set up an action plan that may include dental cleanings or even the removal of teeth that are not healthy enough to be saved. Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to prevent dental issues from occurring, and there are treats and toys designed to help with dislodging any plaque that has started to form. Never use human toothbrushes or toothpaste for your fluffy friends.

Tummy Troubles

This is one of the most common health problems among dogs. Tummy troubles are no fun for humans, and they are definitely not fun for our four-legged pals. Sometimes, our dogs might bring their digestive woes onto themselves with their affinity to get into the trash can and devour leftovers from the night before. Or perhaps you also may have switched your dog to a new dog food, and their stomach isn’t quite used to it.

No matter the case, if your dog’s tummy is rumbling, you may see them do a few things. Not having a lot of energy is a key sign that something is amiss. If your dog is licking their lips more than usual or licking the air, they could be feeling nauseous. Your dog may also vomit or deal with incontinence and poop more than usual.

Some tummy troubles don’t necessarily warrant a visit to the vet. Closely monitor your dog to help determine if this is an ailment that can only be resolved by time or if it’s time to pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood vet. If your dog is experiencing severe vomiting or blood in their stool, it definitely warrants a vet visit.

Otherwise, sometimes your dog’s body just needs to work things out on its own. You can help the process by offering some bone broth or bland chicken to your dog. Canned pumpkin is also a soothing remedy to help calm your dog’s tummy. Of course, first, check with your vet before changing up your pup’s diet.

Before long, your dog will bounce back, and they’ll be ready for their umpteenth treat of the day.

Hot Spots

Has your dog been licking or scratching at a spot, and now it is an ugly wound? This could be a hot spot, a common dermatological issue for dogs.

If your dog has a spot of irritation on their skin, this common health condition can be exacerbated by constant scratching and licking. As this spot becomes more inflamed and bacteria from the mouth or paws gets into the wound, an infection can develop, which causes an even bigger problem.

Hot spots can be very uncomfortable for your dog, and you may see them in a grumpy mood because of the pain. The skin patch will be inflamed and red and will likely be bald due to constant scratching and their fur falling out.

A visit to the veterinarian is in order when a hot spot is suspected. Vets might prescribe antibiotics or pain relievers. Your dog may also need to wear a cone while the hot spot is healing so that they don’t further irritate the spot by licking and scratching.


Urinary Tract Infections can be a more common condition for female dogs than males. (They’re also more common in senior dogs.) A number of reasons can cause UTIs, but the stemming issue is that bacteria multiplied in your dog's urinary tract.

Common symptoms of canine UTIs include increased thirst and licking of genitals. If your dog is emptying their water bowl more often, this can be a sign that their body is trying to process more water to create urine.

One of the more common signs that pet parents notice is when their dog has uncharacteristic accidents in the house and goes to the door more often. Concerned pet parents will also find blood in the urine while cleaning up any inside accidents. It can be a very jarring discovery, and a phone call to the veterinarian’s office is the next step.

The bacteria that causes UTIs can be resistant to antibiotics, so it is essential to finish the entire prescription of meds prescribed by the veterinarian. UTIs do need treatment, and visiting a veterinarian right away for treatment prevents the infection from becoming worse.

Other Common Dog Issues

Below are several more common conditions in dogs of all ages:

  • Hair loss
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Side effects from food or medication
  • Kennel Cough

Non-medical issues that many dogs deal with include:

  • Excessive barking
  • Separation anxiety
  • Resource guarding

Full Circle with PAWZ

You already know that PAWZ is the best place to shop for all the best dog-centric apparel and accessories. You may also know our mission of wanting to help all dogs find loving and safe homes.

You are already an amazing pet parent who keeps a close and loving eye on your dog. You know when something is not quite right with your pooch, and you are quick to take action when you think your dog needs care. Dogs who are in shelters may not have that same advantage, and they don’t have a caring pet parent to comfort them when they are not feeling their best.

Know that when you shop with PAWZ, 10% of our net profits go to help no-kill animal shelters and animal welfare organizations, like Best Friends Animal Society. We help dogs find loving, caring, and safe homes so that every pooch has a loving pet parent to care for them when they need a little TLC.

Check us out at PAWZ today!


Periodontal Disease in Small Animals | Merck Veterinary Manual

How To Help Your Dog's Upset Stomach | Care First Animal Hospital

Urinary Tract Infections UTIs in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital

Hot Spots in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital


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