The 10 Most Common Canine Health Problems

In this article, we’ve put together a list of the most common canine health problems. The various disease and conditions listed below are the 10 most common canine health problems reported by vets during the previous year. 

Although each year, the order may change slightly, you will find that the same 10 or so conditions claim the top spot on this list.

If you’d like to read more about any of these common canine health problems, click the button below each extract for information on symptoms, causes, treatment and more.

canine atopic dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Canine atopic dermatitis is the term given to the skin irritation that develops in dogs with allergies to certain common allergens such as pollen.

Canine atopic dermatitis is fairly common and is estimated to affect around 7-10% of dogs. It can take time for the allergies responsible for the skin irritation to develop, which means that symptoms of the condition may not appear until 1-3 years of age.

Continue reading to find out more about the various symptoms and treatments for canine atopic dermatitis.

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canine otitis externa ear inflammation

Otitis Externa

Canine otitis externa refers to the inflammation of the external ear, the ear canal. Other types of canine otitis include otitis media and otitis interna, referring to inflammation of the middle and inner ear.

Canine otitis externa is relatively common amongst dogs, estimated to affect between 14-20%. All ages and breeds can develop the condition, although long-eared breeds are more susceptible. The high prevalence can be attributed to the ‘L-shaped’ ear canal of dogs, which makes natural draining of fluid difficult.

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hot spots on dogs

Pyoderma/Hot Spots

Hot spots on dogs (also known as canine acute moist dermatitis) are bacterial skin infections caused by irritation. Hot spots usually occur on the paw, limbs, hip, chest or ears but can develop almost anywhere on the body.

Hot spot related bacterial infections arise initially as a result ofbiting or scratching at a site of irritation. This irritation could be the result of a number of causes (listed below).  The irritated area quickly becomes inflamed and itchy. If left untreated a hot spot can develop rapidly becoming relatively large. A hot spot can grow from a coin sized sore to a human-fist sized, inflamed swelling in less than a day.

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lipoma papilloma adenoma

Benign Tumours

Canine benign tumours are non-cancerous masses of cells. Benign tumours (unlike malignant, cancerous tumours) generally do not spread and have a slow growth rate.

Although canine benign tumours are not cancerous, they can still have negative health effects. The most obvious health issue caused by benign tumours is their ‘mass effect’. The size of an unusual benign growth can cause compression on surrounding tissue. This can potentially cause nerve damage and reduce blood flow to the area resulting in tissue death. In most cases however, the tumour causes no obvious ill-effect.

In some rare instances, canine benign tumours can become cancerous as they develop, but the removal of the benign tumour is usually recommended before this occurs.

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lethargic dog canine gastritis

Gastritis and Gastroenteritis

Canine gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining, which may be caused by irritation, disease or damage. The condition is fairly common amongst dogs and rarely causes complications.

Cases of canine gastritis are considered either acute or chronic. Acute canine gastritis has a rapid onset but will usually clear up after 24-48, whilst chronic canine gastritis is a persistent condition that can indicate underlying health problems, such as a food intolerance.

There are many causes of canine gastritis, which can require a lengthy diagnosis process. Fortunately, the prognosis is good, especially for acute canine gastritis, which usually clears up after around 48 hours.

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Osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative disorder, typically affecting joints such as the hips, knees or elbows. Joint structure, function and integrity slowly deteriorate as the condition worsens.

Degeneration of the articular cartilage leads to osteoarthritis. A reduction in protective cartilage means interaction between bare bones at a joint is more likely to occur. Typical everyday functioning of the joint can therefore cause damage, pain and inflammation. In a healthy individual articular cartilage would protect the joints from this.

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yorkshire terrier protein losing enteropathy

Protein Losing Enteropathy

Protein losing enteropathy in dogs is a condition that affects the ability of the intestines to absorb protein from the diet. Dogs with protein losing enteropathy have to deal with a net loss of protein, which means they lose more protein than they are able to take in from the diet. This can affect the dog’s health quite severely, as proteins are needed for numerous roles within the body.

Dogs with protein losing enteropathy (PLE) are still able to absorb protein from the diet through the intestines, but these proteins are able to leak back in to the gut and end up being excreted.

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canine urinary tract infections

Urinary Tract Infections

Canine urinary tract infections (UTIs), also know as bladder infections or cystitis, are a type of bacterial infection that can be caused by a number of different bacteria. They occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and are able to colonise a section of the tract.

Canine urinary tract infections can be uncomfortable or even painful for the patient. Urination can become especially painful, as the passing of urine becomes difficult due to the inflammation caused by bacterial colonies.

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periodontal gum disease in dogs

Periodontal Disease

Canine periodontal disease is a type of inflammation of the gum and deeper supporting structures of the teeth that can lead tobone loss, tissue damage and tooth loss. 

The term gum disease is usually used to describe periodontal disease in dogs, but can also refer to gingivitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum caused by dental plaque. Whilst gingivitis is completely treatable and reversible, if left unchecked, it can progress to periodontal disease (periodontitis).

Gum disease is extremely common in both dogs and cats. Gingivitis or mild periodontal disease is present in up to 84% of dogs aged 3 or over.

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soft tissue trauma dog

Soft Tissue Trauma

Soft tissue trauma is amongst one of the most common injuries that pets can sustain. In our largely urbanised society, pets are at a high risk of injuring themselves. For example, debris left on the ground can prove to be one of many potential hazards for our pets.

It can be beneficial for pet owners to understand the best way to deal with soft tissue trauma and other minor injuries. Especially knowing when an injury requires veterinary attention, or if it can be treated at home and what supplies are needed to do so. In this article, we’re going to investigate soft tissue trauma in dogs and how you should react.

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Dogs may also suffer from pink eye or conjunctivitis. If your pet shows symptoms of pink eye, there are dog pink eye products you can safely use on your dog.

About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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  1. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Hello sir,
    My dog is 2yrs plus.she has a little sore in her left leg and it’s affecting her movement.I know it’s a soft tissue truant.Can i give a little amount of B.complex tablet to speed the healing process.

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